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Friday, September 27, 2019

Why Not?

Why Not?

Steve Higginbotham recalls: One day, my daughter and I were sitting outside of a bank waiting on my
wife, who was inside the bank, when an armored truck pulled up next to us. At the time, my daughter
was probably four or five years old, so I thought I'd have a little fun with her.

I explained to my daughter what an armored truck was, and then said, "I think I'm going to go over
there and bop one of those men on the head and take some of that money." My daughter immediately
told me that I shouldn't do that, so I asked her, "Why not?" While this conversation occurred more
than 25 years ago, I am still challenged by the profundity of my daughter's response. She said,
"Daddy, you can't take that money because that would make God sad."

I was floored! I expected her to say something like, "Daddy, you can't do that because you'll get
shot...get arrested...or go to jail," but she cut through all those pragmatic, lesser reasons and
offered the only one that really mattered, "Daddy, you can't do that because that would make God

I hope that for as long as I live, I will never forget her response, and I will allow her answer to
serve as a guide for all of my decisions. I hope the same for you, too.*

The bad news is that we've all made God sad by our actions. "For all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). At times, we may have been unconcerned as to how our thoughts and
actions affected God. At other times, we may have only stumbled. But, we've all sinned, and as a
result, we've broken the law and the heart of God.

Here's the Good News: God loves us anyway. He loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to
die on the cross for our sins so that we can have the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift
of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).

God will forgive 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).

Going forward, we will stumble along the way, and we'll make God sad again. But if we'll respond
with Godly sorrow and repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-10) and confess that sin to God, then the blood of
Jesus will cleanse us again (1 John 1:7-9).

I don't want to make God sad. I hope you don't either. Because God loves me so much that He would
give His Son to die for me, I don't want to disappoint Him anymore. Like Paul, I want to "make it
my aim to be well-pleasing to Him" (2 Corinthians 5:9). I know I will "miss the mark" from time to
time, but my aim is to please the One who gave His life for me.

It pleases God when we humble ourselves and come to Him for forgiveness. It pleases God when our
aim is to follow in the steps of Jesus.

Don't YOU want to please God by responding to His love in these ways?

-- David A. Sargent

* "The Only Reason that Matters" by Steve Higginbotham in MercyMail, September 19, 2019.

Friday, September 20, 2019

And What is Saving Faith Anyway, and Why does it Matter?


And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:6-7


The person who takes God seriously must “believe that he exists” and also believe “that he rewards those who seek him.” What rewards?  Forgiveness of sins, righteousness and the gift of eternal life.


The rewards are only for those “who seek” God.


Noah “in reverent fear” constructed the ark that saved his household. His genuine faith was shown in his obedience when God told him to build the ark. His “reverent fear” was shown in his obedience.


Then the word says: “By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”


The rest of the world didn’t follow Noah’s example of faith, and were condemned.


Those who have the kind of faith Noah had inherit the righteousness that comes by faith. Those who don’t will be condemned because of their unrighteousness, and there is not one righteous person without faith. Romans 3:10,23.


Saving faith and reverent fear go together.


Let’s examine another example – this time from the ministry of Jesus:


Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:44-50


“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”        “And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.””       “Your faith has saved you …”


This was no casual faith on the part of the prostitute. This was reverent fear. Deep respect. She loved Jesus.


Jesus could see into her heart, and saw she had the kind of faith that can be rewarded with divine forgiveness … that would inherit the righteousness that comes by faith.


God does not hand out forgiveness simply because of some casual, momentary, mental spasm that is often mistaken for real faith.


When the Philippian jailer asked what he must do to be saved, and Paul told him to believe on the Lord Jesus, the jailer needed to hear some of the gospel story about Jesus so that he had something solid to believe in.

Then they took him and baptized him the same hour of the night.


Noah hadn’t been baptized. The prostitute hadn’t been baptized. Why then was the jailer baptized?


Because after Jesus’ death and resurrection, baptism became the means whereby a sinner could in faith identify with that death and resurrection as the way to salvation. Before Jesus left the earth for heaven at the end of his ministry, he gave His requirements for salvation:


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


To confirm that this was what Jesus meant, although Jesus himself hadn’t baptized the prostitute at that salvation episode, the gospel message was accompanied by signs and wonders throughout the first century. See Mark 16:17-20; Acts 2:1-43; 5:12; 8:4-13; 10:22-48; 11:15-18. Every conversion in the Book of Acts

included baptism, along with repentance and faith. It was a salvation package!

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27.

There can be no salvation without the baptism of a penitent believer.


But let’s back up a bit and ask why faith is so important? What’s the point of faith? Why want it? A few minutes of reflection will convince most of us that there’s more to reality than what we can see. Where did it all come


          A New Testament Scripture assures us that what is seen was not made out of what is seen. Hebrews 11:3. The universe did not create itself. Something or someone unseen created what can be seen.

          But because we can’t see the unseen creator, what gives us the conviction about the unseen? Faith does. Faith allows us to see the unseen because Jesus brought it all from His Father to produce faith in us.


At the other end of this we have the unseen future. We all hope for something better. But what we can see is all we’ve got, isn’t it? Without faith, yes! But the unseen creator has prepared a future for which we hope – a future that will never end. But is believing this credible? An excellent question!


Faith becomes convincing when we realize that Jesus came into our world from that unseen world to tell us all about it. Faith is not built on wishful thinking and maybes. Everything that depends on faith can be believed because Jesus was in a position to know the facts and produce faith in us.


·    I believe in God because of Jesus.

·    I believe in the hope of heaven because of Jesus.

·    I believe in salvation, forgiveness and eternal life with God because of Jesus.

·    Jesus brought the unseen to earth, proved it was real,

  and made it believable. John 5:19; 6:62-69; 8:24-28; 10:10,24-30; 12:44-50; 14:1-12; 16:27-28


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

      9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” John 14:1-11


So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” John 10:24-38


But what if I don’t want any of this or am just not interested or I’m not smart enough to work it all out? The problem is that there is an unseen eternal reality that we will all face one day, whether or not we are interested.


Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18


Jesus said, “ … unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” John 8:24


For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. John 5:21-29


No one’s forcing anyone to have faith in Jesus, but the consequences of rejecting Him, if true, are eternally horrendous, and why risk such a calamitous end to your life when evidence undergirding faith and the unseen is so convincing. Study John 19:30-20:-31 closely to see what we mean. What Jesus did is historically verifiable.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Where were you on 9/11?

It is one of those moments. One of those snapshots of time forever etched in our mind. We remember
where we were and how we heard. We remember the emotions, the mood, and the scenes played on our
televisions sets. Even today, eighteen years later, we not only remember, but we are encouraged to
remember 9/11. May I suggest some lessons that are the most important memories to remember?

• Remember that people can be cruel.
• Remember that life is short.
• Remember that man divides over many things.
• Remember that individuals will sometimes deceive others.
• Remember that some rejoice in evil.
• Remember that even the strongest have weaknesses. 
• Remember that even the best cannot be everywhere.
• Remember that even the most intelligent do not know everything.
However, the one thing we remembered most in the days and weeks after 9/11 is how much we need the
Lord. After all, for all of the bad mentioned above, only He is the answer for each. Note the
• Remember that God is love (I John 4:8).
• Remember that God is eternal (Psalm 90:2).
• Remember that in God, there is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4).
• Remember that God is truth (John 3:33).
• Remember that God is holy (Revelation 4:8; 15:3-4).
• Remember that God is all-powerful (Hebrews 1:3; 11:3).
• Remember that God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10).
• Remember that God knows all (Hebrews 4:13).

Melody and I were at Epcot in Walt Disney World celebrating our fifth anniversary. We were stopped
by a Disney employee to tell us the park was closing. All guests were to be evacuated to their
hotels for the rest of the day (the All-Star Music in our case). We watched in fear and disbelief
just as the rest of the country did that day. We did not know how we would get home. We did not know
what was going on at home. We did know we should hug each other a little closer, tell each other we
loved each other, and pray. Oh that we could remember those lessons from 9/11 - lessons we
remembered then and need to remember most now - to love the Lord, and to love each other.

Corey Sawyers

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What do Christians believe?




The apostle Peter wrote: "[B]ut sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15, American Standard Version).


These words are directed to every Christian, and every Christian has an obligation to know what he believes and why he believes it and to effectively communicate that belief to others "with meekness and fear (humility, reverence, respect, hf)."  In fulfillment of that divine requirement I set forth below some of the fundamental things I believe and why I believe them.  They are stated succinctly with relevant scripture citations given to back up my reasons for believing them. I respectfully ask my readers to check the scripture references for what they say about the matters mentioned.


·       I believe in the one and only God.  Hebrews 11:6; Genesis 1:1; Psalm 90:2; Psalm 8:3-5; Psalm 19:1; Acts 17:24-25; Romans 1:18-20; Hebrews 3:4; Ephesians 4:6; I Timothy 2:5.


·       I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  John 3:16; Luke 1:34-35; Matthew 16:13-17; John 8:24; John 20:30-31.


·       I believe that Jesus Christ died to redeem mankind from sin.  Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 15:1-4; Hebrew 9:27-28; I John 2:2.


·       I believe the Holy Spirit is a divine person, co-eternal with God the Father and Christ the Son.  Matthew 28:19-20; II Corinthians 13:14; John 16:13; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 4:30.


·       I believe the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God.  II Timothy 3:16-17; I Corinthians 2:12-13; I Corinthians 14:37; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 1:20-21.


·       I believe the Bible is the only authority in religion, and that it is not to be added to, taken from, something else substituted for it, or modified in any way.  II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:3; Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; I Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; I Peter 4:11a.


·       I believe that Christ established His church, that it exists today, and that people today can be members of that very church.  Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:4; I Corinthians 12:20, 27; Acts 2:47; Luke 8:11.


·       I believe that the Lord provided the church with a simple yet effective form of government.  Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5-9; I Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17,28; I Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1-4.


·       I believe the gospel is God's only power to save a sinner.  Romans 1:16; James 1:18, 21; Luke 8:11; I Peter 1:22-25.


·       I believe that in order to be saved the gospel must be believed and obeyed by every accountable person on earth.  II Thessalonians 1:6-10; I Peter 4:17; Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 6:16-18.


·       I believe that obeying the gospel includes being baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of sins.  Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; Acts 8:36-39; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12.


·       I believe that once one has been saved from his sins and added to the church by obeying the gospel, he must continue to be faithful to the Lord in all things.  Acts 2:42, 47; I Corinthians 15:58; II Peter 1:5-11; Revelation 2:10.


·       I believe that one must worship God in spirit and truth, engaging only in those acts of worship that have been divinely authorized in the New Testament.  John 4:24; John 17:17; Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16.


·       I believe that the Lord's Supper is to be observed every first day of the week.  Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 11:23-26; Acts 20:7.


·       I believe that singing is the divinely authorized and specified kind of music to be offered to God in worship and that the use of instrumental music in the worship of God is an addition to what God has authorized for Christians.  Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:14; Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19.


·       I believe that Christians must live lives of moral purity, righteousness, and zeal, showing themselves to be distinct from the people of the world, becoming more and more transformed into the image of Christ. Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 3:18; II Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Titus 2:11-14; James 1:27; James 4:4; I John 2:15-17.


·       I believe in eternal life in heaven for all the faithful children of God.  John 14:1-3; Philippians 3:21; I Peter 1:3-5; Revelation 21:1-8; Revelation 22:1-5.


·       I believe that eternal punishment in hell awaits those who refuse to obey God and who refuse to live as He instructs in His word.  II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14-15; Revelation 21:8.


·       I believe that every Christian must know what he believes and why he believes it and that he must share the truth of the gospel with all according to his ability and opportunity.  I Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 8:1-4; John 15:8; Romans 7:4.


Hugh Fulford


Friday, September 6, 2019

Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas


Kris Sweet was hired by Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, as offensive coordinator this past
offseason. Sweet had previously served one year as the offensive line coach at FCS Norfolk State
University in Virginia. Before that, he spent ten seasons as an offensive line coach in the
Canadian Football League. I doubt any of his previous football players have demonstrated more love
and compassion than his current team.

Recently, Sweet was diagnosed with cancer. To show their love and support for their coach, the
entire football team shaved their heads in tribute. The football program tweeted out video of the
team members surprising their coach with their newly-shaved heads. An emotional Sweet gave each of
his players a bear hug. *

When we were struggling and lost in our sins, Jesus became one of us to save us. "The Word became
flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who
came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 NIV).

He became one of us so that He could die on the cross to save us from our sins. "Since the children
have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who
holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in
slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham's descendants.
For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a
merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins
of the people. Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are
being tempted" (Hebrews 2:14-18).

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 1:7-9).

The incarnation (putting on flesh) and crucifixion of Christ were not demonstrations of solidarity;
they are the means of our salvation. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him
we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Won't YOU accept His offer on His terms?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Arkansas college football team shaves heads in solidarity with coach
battling cancer" by Frank Miles,

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