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Monday, May 21, 2018

Proverbs 30:5


Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him--Proverbs 30:5


I am a weak, frail, fragile human being--so are you. There will come into all of our lives those moments of time in which our hearts will be will deeply troubled causing our souls to cry out in anguish for deliverance. Mark chapter 4, the Lord gives to us a powerful example of his divine power when he rebuked the wind and raging sea bringing about a great calm (vs 39). Surely we understand that just as the Lord can still the fierce wind and raging water of a mighty ocean, he can calm the most raging storm that besets us in this life. Just as surely as the Lord had the divine power to calm that raging storm in Mark 4, he can deliver us from whatever adversity of this life that troubles our soul.


We do not serve a God who is powerless, we serve a God who is able. O that we all would have the faith of Shadrach, Meshach an Abednego (Daniel 3:17). As a faithful child of God, his presence is ours and even when our hearts are heavy with sorrow, grief and pain, when we grow tired and weary fighting the good fight of faith, we are safe in his arms knowing that he is our shield and defender.


Listen to  the words of David from Psalms 4:8: "I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, LORD, will keep me safe". When we are actively engaged in doing the things that will make our calling and election (2 Peter 1:5-11; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 16:13-14). we can with calmness, quietness and peacefulness of soul pillow our heads in sleep each night knowing the Lord will keep us safe. By the same token when we awaken in the morning we rise from our beds rejoicing, and with thanksgiving thank God that we have been granted the privilege of seeing another sunrise (Psalms 3:5).


Recognizing how awesome and great our God is and that his all seeing eye will be watching over us will impart to us the measure of strength and courage to see us safely thru all the events of this life (Heb. 4:13-15).


Charles Hicks

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Conversion of the Philippian Jailer: more to it than you think

And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:26-34
In any conversion, Jesus wants sinners to embrace Him, not just seek forgiveness. We study the jailer’s salvation.
1.     First of all, note that Paul and Silas didn’t get away from the jail as soon as they could, when the doors had
opened and their chains were unfastened. No, because they were concerned for the salvation of the guard.
2.      “What must I do to be saved?” the jailer pleaded. What was he asking to be saved from? And why?
3.      “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” Paul answered.
4.     Why would you tell a Roman guard, pleading for his life, to believe in Jesus as Lord, without explaining life, death, sin and the gospel of salvation? Acts 10:34-48; Romans 1:13-11:36; Revelation 1:17-18.
5.     You wouldn’t! Clearly, the householders didn’t believe as soon as Paul said to believe in Jesus, because they wouldn’t know enough to believe, or what believing in Jesus even means. You don’t believe simply because someone tells you to believe. Being told to believe is just the starting point to get your attention, so that you realise that your salvation lies with someone other than yourself.
6.     What did it take for the sinful woman’s faith to bring forgiveness in Luke 7:36-50? How was faith shown in Matthew 15:21-28? Jesus didn’t tell the rich, young ruler to simply believe. Matthew 19:16-30.
7.     Remember that, for salvation, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17. There’s teaching and learning involved, followed by a commitment to that teaching. John 8:30-32.
8.     Therefore, it is said in Acts 16 that Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” v.32. But notice that the first thing the jailer does after hearing that word, is wash the wounds of Paul and Silas! There’s no mention yet that he “believed on the Lord Jesus,” though washing their wounds would be a sign of repentance.
9.     In fact, with still no mention of them believing, the jailer and his family are baptized at once! After the initial directive to believe on the Lord Jesus to be saved, there is no mention that they believed. And yet they were baptized! Why? Jesus had said, “Go and preach the gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:15-16. That’s why they were baptized “at once”! Baptism always immediately follows belief in the New Testament because it is a salvation essential. Why waste time when salvation is at stake?
Just as the Ethiopian would have been taught about baptism when Philip “preached Jesus to him”, Acts 8:35, so it is certain the “word of the Lord” spoken to the jailer would have included teaching on baptism.
10.   The jailer of course must have believed the extra “word of the Lord” he heard, because you don’t baptize a person who doesn’t believe. After Jesus gave the Great Commission, baptism and faith always work together for salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-38; 8:26-39; 10:43,47-48; 16:13-15,30-34; 18:8; 22:6-16. (Repentance is a must too. Luke 13:3; 24:46-47; Acts 2:38; 17:30-31).
11.   Lydia, after her baptism, describes herself as “faithful to the Lord.” Acts 16:15. A believer! And observe, in the explanation of conversion in Titus 3:1-8, that those regenerated by washing and renewal, were “those who had believed God.” Believers! Titus 3:8. If there is no faith, there will be no baptism! John 3:3,5,16. In Acts 18, those who “by grace had believed,” v.27, were the ones who had believed and been baptized. V.8. 
12.   After the baptisms of the jailer’s householders, the jailer brings them all to his house to feed them and they all rejoice that they have believed in God. There is no rejoicing after believing in Jesus, until the baptism! Acts 16:34. The rejoicing of the Ethiopian is also after his baptism! Acts 8:35-39. Faith without baptism is not enough. Not till the baptism is believing mentioned. Baptism belief. Baptism is the believer being immersed in Jesus. Romans 6:3-7; Colossians 2:11-14; Galatians 3:26-27. No wonder they rejoice then!
13.   It is clear that believing in the Lord Jesus implies believing in everything Jesus commands, which would include repentance and baptism. If you believe in Jesus, you believe what he commands for salvation.  Matthew 7:21-29; 11:27-30; 28:18-20; Luke 6:46; John 8:30-32; 14:15; 18:37; Acts 3:19-23. When you tell your children to trust their parents, you are telling them to do more than trust at that instant; you are telling them to obey every instruction their parents give.

14.   The command to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved would imply repenting and being baptized as part of that belief. The Book of Acts – the book of conversions - proves it. Faith without genuine commitment is worthless. Repenting and being baptized demonstrate your serious intention to live with and for Jesus. Earlier, in the very first sermon preached in Christianity, when sinful Jews, who realized their guilt, asked what they needed to do, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.
15.   In Acts 22:16 Saul is told to “arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
16.   Since there is “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,” (Ephesians 4:5), if the baptism of the Jews at Pentecost resulted in forgiveness of their sins, then the baptism of the jailer must have resulted in his salvation! The New Testament doesn’t contradict itself. You can’t have salvation coming only after baptism in one conversion, and salvation coming before baptism in another conversion. Everywhere in the New Testament, baptism is necessary for salvation – as necessary as faith and repentance. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:30-31; Romans 6:3-18; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22
17.   Finally, the householders who were baptized were old enough to hear the gospel and believe. Vs 32-34. In the New Testament there are no babies baptized, because baptism requires hearing the gospel and believing for oneself. Also see Acts 10 and Acts 16:13-15 for other examples of household baptisms.
18.   Read Philippians 1:3-26; 4:4-23. “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”  Philippians 4:22. Through evangelistic struggle come many joyous moments, just as in this Roman colony in Philippi. Read Psalms 32 and 51 to see the joy of another converted sinner.

--David Carr

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sinclair Ferguson is a member of the Presbyterian Church

Singing Believers

    Sinclair Ferguson is a member of the Presbyterian Church but he wrote an interesting book called Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. In one chapter, he focuses on the teaching of Colossians 3. What struck me was his comments on how Christians are to dress and in one section, he writes that Christians should have Christ’s word dwelling in them. He draws that point from 3:16: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

    Despite the fact that we have brethren who try to say that this passage and/or Ephesians 5:19 do not refer to corporate worship, most if not all commentators I have read do understand it so, as does Ferguson. He writes that “sanctified praise will have a manward part as well as a Godward dimension” (136). The psalms, comments Ferguson, illustrate his point. A third of the psalms are directed to God; one third are self-addressed; the final third are directed at others.

    Ferguson continues: “Thus, as we sing we are instructing, exhorting, encouraging, and teaching one another. This is one reason the words are always more significant than the music… It is also the reason sanctified believers will be singing believers. The word that indwells them comes with such power to them that it issues from them in heart-felt sung proclamation. Our singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is therefore our corporate ministry of God’s word, a kind of mutual prophesying to one another to hear and live by the gospel. The more the word of Christ fills us by means of the words we sing, and as we sing them with understanding, the more we will be able to bless God, encourage one another, and be strengthened in ourselves” (136-137; emph. in orig.).

    A stronger argument for a capella worship could hardly be made. Our singing portion of worship is specifically intended to “teach and admonish.” When the music covers over the words, either through its volume or its aesthetics, the purpose of the singing has been completely obliterated. We are to be singing believers, not playing believers. Worship is not a talent show.

Paul Holland


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Psalm Bible study

Holy Desperation
Psalm 79

    The churches of Christ today are being attacked from forces on the outside, from our contemporary society, and from forces within. Some Christians have decided that rather than leave the church for a denomination that suits their tastes, they will stay within the church and change it within.

    How do we respond to this “invasion” of false teaching and false practices within God’s people? The question is not new. The song leader and preacher, Asaph in Psalm 79, dealt with the same question as he felt a “holy desperation” at what was happening to his people.


    Verse 1 - The nations have invaded God’s inheritance.

    Verse 2 - Israelites have been killed and their corpses have been used to feed the birds of the heavens.

    Verse 3 - The Israelites’ blood has been poured out like water on the ground.

    Verse 4 - Asaph laments that Israel has become a “reproach” to their neighbors.

    When a church of Christ decides it has to change and be more like the culture, how can they call people to live against the culture? When a church of Christ decides that it will worship like the denominational churches next door, how can they call people to leave denominational teaching? In other words, if a church of Christ teaches that Jesus does not mean what He says in 1 Tim 2:11-12 that limits the role of women in worship, how can they expect their denominational neighbor to accept that Acts 2:38 teaches that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins? We live in a state of “holy desperation,” just like Asaph.

    Verse 5 - Asaph cries to God: “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?”

    God is described as “jealous” 35 times in the OT. God is jealous because God is one. God must be the sole recipient of our devotion and only He has the authority to describe and authorize how that devotion is to be shown.

    Verse 6 - Asaph asks sincerely for God to pour out His wrath on the nations.

    Verse 7 - The nations have “devoured Jacob.”

    What do you do when you feel the utter destruction of God’s people is on the horizon? Asaph prays to God. Let’s take a look at Asaph’s prayer…


    Within this prayer, Asaph addresses nine commands to the God of heaven. He calls on God to do nine specific things in these five verses.

    Verse 8 - Command #1: “Do not remember the iniquities of our forefathers against us.” While we cannot truly repent of the sins that our forefathers have done, we can learn from their mistakes and seek to behave better. If past generations have come across as ugly in their attitudes, then we need to acknowledge that and learn from it. But, just because they may have been wrong in their attitudes does not mean they were wrong in what they taught and practiced.

    Command #2: “Let your compassion come quickly to meet us, for we are brought very low.” The churches of Christ are not on the edge of extinction as some people would like for us to believe. There are Christian universities which are continuing to teach the pattern for Christianity as it is revealed in the NT and you can go to events like Challenge Youth Conference and Lads to Leaders and see where there are scores of churches that are still holding to the NT pattern for Christianity.

    Verse 9 - Command #3: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name.” “Help us for the glory of your name,” is an evangelistic message: to make known to nations around, as well as to unfaithful Israelites, the glory of the name of the God of heaven.

    Command #4: “Deliver us.”

    Command #5: “Forgive our sins for your name’s sake.”

    Verse 10 - Asaph asks a rhetorical question: “Why should [the nations] ask, ‘Where is their God?’” The churches of Christ are not the largest religious body in America or in the world and many, many people have the mentality that if you are small, you are destined to destruction and you cannot be doing something right. But “right” has never been defined in God’s eyes based on some type of popularity contest. Just ask Noah.

    Command #6: “Let there be known vengeance for the blood of your servants.” Asaph wants God’s nature to be known: you don’t mess with God’s inheritance. You don’t mess with the nature of God. You don’t mess with God’s commands and His expectations.

    Verse 11 - Command #7: “Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You [literally, “before your face”].”

    Command #8: “Preserve those who are doomed to die [literally, preserve those who are ‘sons of death’].” It is appropriate to pray that God will destroy the efforts of those who seek to lead our Christian family into a man-made religion. We should also pray that God will open the eyes of those who are being deceived, that they will come to their senses and be saved by God’s powerful arm.

    Verse 12 - Command #9: In holy desperation, Asaph prays that God will “return” over the neighbors, seven times the “reproach” or “scorn” that they had heaped on the nation of Israel. The reproach shown to Israel was not just a mockery of Israel but it was also a mockery of the God of Israel. Anyone who mocks the church of Jesus Christ is also mocking the Christ of the Church. That is not a safe behavior to practice!


    So, how do we respond to an invasion of God’s inheritance? After we have prayed (verses 8-12), Asaph tells us in verse 13 to do two more things:

    1. Give thanks to God forever.

    2. “To all generations,” we must continue to be evangelistic: “we will tell of your praise.”    

    Let us be busy doing that.

    When we feel a “holy desperation” about the state of the church today, let us pray, be thankful, and continue to teach the Gospel.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

How Long is Love?


When Frederick Douglass was young, he and his mother were separated because of slavery.  As Douglass wrote in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:


“It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age.  Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor.  For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child.  This is the inevitable result.”


But Frederick’s mother refused to disconnect from her son.  She found out where he had been taken.  Whenever she could, after working hard in the fields all day, she trudged twelve miles to see Frederick, and then had to walk back again that same night to be ready to work at sun-up!  It was her love of her son and dreams of freedom that kept her going.


In 2011, Lee & Low published a book about the love of Frederick’s mother for her son entitled Love Twelve Miles Long by Glenda Armand. *


As wonderful as that love is, it pictures a love that is “longer.”


When we were separated from our Heavenly Father because of our sins, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, left heaven to come to rescue us.


What is the distance from heaven to earth?


For Jesus it was the distance from perfect bliss and life to incredible suffering and death, for He left heaven to die a cruel death on the cross for our sins.


For Jesus it was the distance from being in the presence of His Father to being separated from Him as He bore the sins of the world.  See Matthew 27:46.


For Jesus it was the distance from being a King in His heavenly palace to becoming a slave in the harshest of conditions.


What is the distance from heaven to earth?


Observe how the inspired Apostle Paul describes it:


“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5-8 NIV


The distance from heaven to earth is really incomprehensible, but Jesus “traveled” that distance because of His love for us and the desire of heaven to save us (1 Timothy 2:4).


“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” – Galatians 1:3-4 NIV


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).


Jesus came an incredibly long way to save you.  Won’t you accept His loving offer?


-- David A. Sargent


* Information gleaned from “An Incredible Example of A Mother’s Love: Review of ‘Love Twelve Miles Long’ by Glenda Armand” at


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Infant twin boys get life-saving bone marrow donation from 4-year-old big brother" by Alexandria Hein of

To Save Their Lives

Santino and Giovanni Demasi are twins. They were born prematurely and were soon diagnosed with
chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). CGD is a rare immunodeficiency disease that increases the
body's susceptibility to infections. One of the treatments for CGD is a bone marrow transplant.
Could a donor be found?

Yes. The donor match was discovered to be the twins' four-year-old brother, Michael. When his
parents asked him if he would be willing to help - which would entail a long needle being stuck into
his back to extract the marrow - Michael bravely agreed. "I want to help them," he said. "I'm not

"He's just like, 'I'm a real-life superhero,'" mother, Robin Pownall, told the news outlet. "He
says, 'I'm going to save my baby brothers.'. He could have said 'No Mommy, I'm too scared, and I
don't want to,' but he's ready to go and he's our real life superhero," Pownall said.

The procedure was scheduled for March. First the twins had to undergo 10 days of chemotherapy.
Then the day came for Michael to have his procedure. When it was complete, he watched as his bone
marrow was transplanted into his brothers. The twins, who are now almost 7-months old, spent
several weeks recovering at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

On May 1, 2018, the twins were discharged from the hospital. The transplant had worked. Now they
could go home. Pownall shared a touching video of Michael and his brothers gearing up to go home.
In the video, Michael, standing between the twins who are in their car seats, says, "OK, I saved you
guys. It's time to go home." *

You and I have a fatal condition. It's because of our sins. "For all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God," and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We need a "donor" to save us.

The Perfect Match was found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was the only One - the sinless Son
of God - Who could "give His blood" to save us from our sins. In order for His blood to cleanse us
from our sins, Jesus had to die on the cross: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of
His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

In order for his cleansing blood to be applied to our lives, we must 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 be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts
2:38). Then, as we continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus continues to
cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7-9).

One day, Jesus will say to those who have accepted His offer of salvation on His terms, "OK, I saved
you guys. It's time to go home." And He will take us to our heavenly home where "there will be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed
away" (Revelation 21:4).

Won't YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life by trusting and obeying Him today?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Infant twin boys get life-saving bone marrow donation from 4-year-old
big brother" by Alexandria Hein of and "South Philly boy, 4, will donate his bone
marrow to save his twin baby brothers" by Stephanie Farr of The Inquirer,

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