BulletinGold #186
July 2017  
Vol 17 #7 

July 2017                                      BG# 186                                      Vol. 17                                       Issue 07
BULLETINGold
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
                                 
Why Follow Jesus?
By Bill Brandstatter
                               

Mottos
By Ron Adams

The Power of Delegation
By Robert E. Guinn

Vacation Time!
By Joe Slater

Escape From Sin to Heaven
By Gerald Cowan

The Value of Your Past
By David Bragg

Food Can Be Spiritually Healthy
By J. Randal Matheny

What’s Needed Today
By David A. Sargent

The Real Health Care Plan
By Bill Brandstatter

The Greatest Week Since Creation
By David R. Ferguson

What Is Sin?
By R. W. McAlister

A Lesson In Humility
By Rob Albright

Independence Day
By Jeff Arnette

What Saved Noah? What Saves Us?
By Edd Sterchi

Presidential Wisdom
By Ron Bartanen

Integrity
By Steve Higginbotham

Why Follow Jesus?
by Bill Brandstatter

    Jesus wants us to follow Him today. He said, "My sheep hear my voice and follow me." (John 10:27) He also stated, "If any man serves me, let him follow me." (John 12:26) Why should I follow Jesus? What would motivate a person to follow someone whom they have not seen? Three motives to follow Jesus include: (1) what He did for me, (2) what He is doing for me, and (3) what He is going to do for me.
    WHAT HE DID FOR ME … He left heaven and came to earth. (Phil. 2:6-9) He became a sin offering for me. He laid down His life for me. (1 John 3:16) He died to build His church where I could be part of a family. (Eph. 3:15) He gave His life that I might live. (Heb. 7:27) As a Christian I know of a number of things Christ has done for me; but the most important milepost in my life was when I was baptized into His blood. All that I have done since should reflect back to that day, that event, and what He did to make it possible.
    WHAT HE IS DOING FOR ME … Jesus is still doing for us today. Even though He is no longer visibly present in this world, He is still active. For Christians He is making intercession for us. The Hebrew writer described this intercession by stating, "seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25) He is also a mediator according to 1 Tim. 2:5. He is a go-between, a middle man, an arbitrator between man and God. No man who has ever lived, or will ever live can make the same claim or do the same as Christ. There is no stand-in for Christ on earth today. He gives me light to help me walk the straight and narrow. (1 John 1:9; Rom. 3:25)
    WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO FOR ME … He is coming back to get me. (1 Thess. 4:16-17) He will come to reward those who have followed Him till death. (Rev. 2:10) He is preparing a mansion for me to occupy. (John 14:1-4) He will judge me. (John 12:48) His judgment will be fair and merciful. (Matt. 25:36)
    Will you follow Jesus? It may be the case that you have obeyed the gospel, but you don't now follow Christ. You need to once again follow Him with the same zeal that you once did. For the Christian the great old song says it best, "Where He leads me I will follow."

 – Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
Mottos
By Ron Adams

    A brief statement used to express a principle, a goal, or an ideal.
  • For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
  • Christians are in an ongoing battle against evil, wherein goodness and righteousness are continually opposed. Recently it occurred to me that some of the official mottos of the United States armed forces have application for Christian “soldiers.”
AN ARMY OF ONE (U.S. Army)
Personal responsibility to self, group (church) and leader (Jesus).
Be a working part of the body (church).
~~~~~~~
BE ALL YOU CAN BE (U.S. Army)
Find and use your potential for the Lord.
~~~~~~~
SEMPER FI (U.S. Marines) “Semper Fidelis” Latin for always faithful.
“Faithful” is what Christianity is all about.
~~~~~~~
ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE
Once one joins the followers of Jesus Christ, there’s no looking back.
~~~~~~~
NOT SELF, BUT COUNTRY “Non sibi sed patriae” often cited as the Navy’s motto.
Christians are to be Christ-centered, not self-centered.
~~~~~~~
ONE OVER ALL “Uno Ab Alto” (U.S. Air Force)
Regard one another as more important than self.
Have concern for others.
Bear one another’s burdens.
Do good to all men.

- F.Y.C. is a monthly publication by Ron Adams. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at http://ra10ar.com Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2017
The Power of Delegation
By Robert E. Guinn

    Many times, the human part of us feels inadequate or overwhelmed by the responsibilities assigned to us by God. The commands such as reaching the entire world with the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16) and bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2) can easily seem beyond our ability when we buy into the belief thinking that we have to do it alone. God, however, never intended for us to complete His missions solo.
    In Exodus 18:13-27, Moses’ father-in-law gives him some advice that we should listen to today. After Moses sat to judge the people of Israel from morning till evening, Jethro encouraged Moses to rethink his methods saying, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone,” (v.17-18). Jethro instructs Moses about the importance of delegation. By doing this, Moses establishes an atmosphere of trust among God’s people, equips others for the ministry, lightens his personal burden, and brings peace to the people. In other words, Moses helped himself and others bring glory to God by turning a solo ministry into a group effort.
    We see a similar circumstance in the New Testament. In Acts 6, the Apostles are approached with the issue of certain widows being neglected and overlooked. Rather than over-burdening themselves by taking on a new task, they encouraged the congregation to choose six spiritually qualified men who could handle the task. As a result, the people were pleased, a congregational issue was resolved, the word of God increased, and the number of disciples increased. Once again, God is glorified when people work together to accomplish His will.
    There is godly wisdom and power in the model of enabling and equipping others to work together in the Lord. Elders, preachers, teachers, and every servant of God is to work toward this end (Ephesians 4:11-16). Many times, the lack of proper delegation often causes burn-out as Bible class teachers, preachers, elders, deacons, and other servants of the Lord receive little or no relief from that one ministry or that one class. Delegation is a two-way street requiring a willingness to delegate and people willing to help. Some people burn out because they never ask for help; while others burn out because no one is willing to help. The beautiful truth is that delegation promotes a “we/us” mentality over an “I/me” mindset that encourages leaders to inspire others to serve within their abilities toward a common goal that brings glory to God.
    When Jesus issued the Great Commission to His apostles and disciples, He did not commission one person, but all His followers (Matthew 28:18-20). Additionally, He explicitly stated, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (v.20). The next time you feel burdened and overloaded in servicing God, remind yourself that you are not alone and seek out someone who is spiritually qualified to help you carry on in the Lord. Great is the task, but the reward is even greater.

 - Robert Guinn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org

Vacation Time!
By Joe Slater

    Some schools are out and others will be out soon. Summer is just around the corner; it’s vacation time! (NOTE: A vacation is what you take if you can’t take what you’ve been taking.) One particularly hectic day, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31). He recognized the need to “get away from it all,” if only for a short break.
    Concerned Christians dread the “Summer Slump” that many churches experience. Decreases in attendance, contribution, and enthusiasm are typical during vacation season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. More to the point, it ought not to be that way! Here are a few suggestions for vacationers:
    Assemble with the saints wherever you are (Hebrews 10:25). Being away from home doesn’t mean you are away from God. “Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). King David knew that whether he climbed the highest peak or descended to the lowest depth, God would still be there. When you vacation out of town, out of the state, or even out of the nation, God is still there!
    Aren’t you encouraged when visitors attend our services? I am! You can encourage God’s people in other communities by worshiping with them when you are in their vicinity.
    Take your Bible with you. You won’t stop eating while on vacation. In fact, if you’re like most of us, you’ll eat entirely too much! Your soul needs nourishment while you’re vacationing, too. God’s word is the original soul food (1 Peter 2:2). Bon appetit!
    Leave your contribution with the home congregation, or make it up when you return. You will not neglect other obligations while you are away (house payment, car payment, utilities, etc.). Why should your obligation to God be any different? The expenses of the local church go on even while you are away.
    Come back from vacation with a renewed zeal and dedication for the Lord’s work. Sometimes vacationing wears us out so that we need another vacation! Let your vacation be a time of rest and relaxation so you can return refreshed and revitalized!
    Have a great vacation!

 - Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com
Escape From Sin to Heaven
By Gerald Cowan

I pray to God that I may find
A priest to make me whole,
A priest who has a sacrifice
That can redeem my soul.

My soul is lost through my own sin,
Not any other’s fault.
Only what I myself have done
Puts me in Satan’s vault.

God has the key. He can unlock
And free me from that cell
Where I am Satan’s prisoner
And rescue me from hell.

Christ Jesus in the Priest I need.
My God sent him for me.
His sacrifice, made on the cross,
Can set all sinners free.

Not only I, but you my friend
Can from the holding pen
Of sin and death and hell escape
To God’s eternal heav’n.

And so I ask you to believe
As I believe. Obey
The Son of God who offers life
And follow him today.

 - Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
The Value of Your Past
By David Bragg

    It is just a penny. You get change for your coffee or a quick trip to the convenience store and drop it into your pocket or stash it in your pocketbook and don't give it much thought. But what if that penny is not what you think? What if that penny has a value far greater than it seems?
    In 1995 the Philadelphia mint struck a number pennies with what www.collectorsalliance.com describes as a "Double Die Error." The master of the coin's desired image requires more than one stamping. On this particular coin the stamping process resulted in a slight imperfection in which the words "Liberty" and "In God" are blurred. A similar mistake was made on the 1955 penny. That coin has been highly sought by coin collectors who have valued it at $20,000. The 1995 coin has not achieved such a high value, as of now. It is valued closer to the $200 mark. But specialists expect the coin to rapidly increase in value as the decades pass.
    Our past may be somewhat like that 1995 penny. We may have tucked it away, treating it as if it is of little value. Yet each of our pasts have important lessons to teach us, especially if we wish to avoid repeating unpleasant experiences. Instead, we can learn from our past mistakes just as we learn from our past successes. For us to really appreciate the value of our past we need to carefully examine, evaluate, and learn from it.
    Everyone has a past. Some are haunted by it, sadly repeating the same failures continually. Others are so focused on the future that they ignore the past, failing to learn its valuable lessons. God wants His people to be wise, to learn and grow. Why not let the lessons of yesterday guide us to a better, brighter tomorrow?

 - David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/ or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/
Food Can Be Spiritually Healthy
By J. Randal Matheny

     First, food can be spiritually unhealthy. Adam and Eve ate and sinned. The prophet from Judah was enticed by the offer of a meal to disobey God and died for it, 1Kgs 13. Sitting down to eat with a ruler can be dangerous, Prov 23.1-2. Gluttony is a shame, Prov 28.7. It makes one lazy, Tt 1.2. Love feasts can hide deadly hidden reefs, Jude 12.
     But food can be spiritually healthy as well. It refreshed Elijah, 1Kgs 19.5-8. It helped disciples understand that Jesus had risen, Lk 24.30-31, 41-43. Multiplied food taught disciples to depend on the Lord for resources, Mt 14.16-18. Sharing food among Christians, from house to house, had a good effect within and outside the church, Acts 2.46-47.
     Brownies, coffee cake, and blueberry muffins may not be so healthy physically, but they can be spiritually healthy. (At least, the wife's coconut muffins are healthy in both.) We use them and other foods to share with non-Christians, break the ice, show we are normal people. We often have people over for brunch, where spiritually healthy conversations and relationships can develop.
     Perhaps the most spiritually healthy food is the Lord's supper. God's people gather round the Lord's table every Sunday and remember, with profound spiritual benefit, that Jesus died for all and will come again to claim his own.
     Food is a gift of God to be received with thanksgiving, 1Tm 4.4-5. For it can nourish not only the body, but the spirit, for lasting good.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. When reprinting this
material, please include the following: 
Copyright (c) 2017 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or
attributions.

What’s Needed Today
By David A. Sargent

     On February 2, 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
     After greeting the assembly which included many U.S. Senators and Representatives, President Reagan said: “In a world today that is so torn with strife where the divisions seem to be increasing, not people coming together, within countries, divisions within the people, themselves and all, I wonder if we have ever thought about the greatest tool that we have -- that power of prayer and God's help.”
     “This power of prayer,” continued President Reagan, “can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century…”  Then he told about a monk that lived during the 4th century by the name of Telemachus.  Telemachus had been living “in a little remote village, spending most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance,” when he, because he believed it to be God’s will, went to Rome.
     When Telemachus arrived in Rome, President Reagan explained:
     It was at a time of a festival in Rome.  They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths.  And he followed a crowd into the Coliseum, and then there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, “We who are about to die salute you.''  And he realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds.  And he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!”  And his voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Coliseum.
     And as the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena.  Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, “In the name of Christ, stop.”  And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first they were amused.  But then, when they realized it wasn't, they grew belligerent and angry.  And as he was pleading with the gladiators, “In the name of Christ, stop,” one of them plunged his sword into his body.  And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop.”
     And suddenly, a strange thing happened.  The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand.  A silence fell over the Coliseum.  And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow.  And in the dead silence, everyone left the Coliseum.  That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.  Never again did anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.
     One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult: “In the name of Christ, stop.”  It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today. *
     Peace.  That’s what we need in the world today.  Peace between countries, peace within countries, peace in our homes, peace within each of us, and even peace with God.
     That’s why God sent His Son into the world: that we may have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2), peace with others (cf. Ephesians 2:13-22) , and peace within ourselves (Philippians 4:6-7).
     It all begins with having peace with God.  It is our sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), but Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
     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 their 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).
     “In the name of Christ, stop!”  Stop fighting against God and one another.  Surrender and submit to the will of God, and then share His grace with everyone around you.
     Won’t YOU?

 - David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast” made by President Ronald Reagan on February 2, 1984.
The Real Health Care Plan
By Bill Brandstatter
 
    While I am writing this article, President Trump along with some in Congress are getting ready to overhaul the current health care plan.  
    However a long time ago health care was on agenda. God’s agenda was and still is, to help people who are sick physically and spiritually. God heals today. Jesus mentioned the need for a physician. After healing a paralytic men lying on a bed Jesus said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt. 9:12). He was obviously referring to Himself as a “physician.” But, He was also stating a need for all people. Sick people need to see a physician. In Mark 5:26 we read of a lady who suffered many things because of the treatment given by physicians. After reading scriptures in the synagogue, Jesus said, “You will surely say this proverb o me, ‘Physician heal yourself!” (Luke 4:23 NKJV).
    Jesus used prayer when He was suffering physically. While in Gethsamane, He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” (Matt. 26:39 NKJV). In that same chapter we learn that Jesus prayed the same prayer three time saying the same words (Matt. 26:44). Later, James wrote, “The prayer of faith will save the sick” (James 5:15). James was not referring to faith only since Jesus had earlier recommended a physician for those who were sick. God works today through the physicians and through the avenue of prayer.
    God is also concerned about spiritual sickness as well. Isaiah prophesied about the healing of Jesus.” He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5) In that context, Isaiah is writing about transgresses and iniquities. Spiritual healing only comes through Jesus.  All healing originates with God. Do we have a desire to be healed from our sins? We need His blood (Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28) Are you in Christ where His blood is (Rom. 6:3-5; Acts 22:16)?

 – Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
The Greatest Week Since Creation
By David R. Ferguson

    In July of 1969, after Apollo 11 put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon, then President Nixon proclaimed to the astronauts, “This is the greatest week in the history of the world since Creation….” Although it was indeed a truly inspiring, remarkable achievement, the events of that July week some 37 plus years ago pale in comparison to the truly greatest week in the history of the world since Creation. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the week we have come to know as the “Holy Week.” The Holy Week was the week in which the Jews observed Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits.
    But what made this particular Holy Week so special was that it was the very same week in which Jesus arrived triumphantly in Jerusalem riding on the back of a colt of a donkey as the adoring crowds in Jerusalem lauded Him as their rightful King. That same week, however, Jesus was later betrayed with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver by one of His own chosen Apostles, Judas Iscariot, and He then underwent several mock trials. The King of the Jews (and the world!) was handed over to the Roman authorities where Pilate sentenced Jesus to die upon a Cross, in spite of KNOWING that Jesus was not guilty of committing any crime worthy of death!
    But even before this sentence was carried out Jesus was ridiculed, spat upon, scourged, beaten, paraded in mockery in purple garments as a royal personage while the soldiers laughed at Him. To make things worse they fashioned a crown of thorns together and thrust it upon His head, beat Him some more, and yanked tufts of His beard out by the roots.
    After suffering through all of this pain and humiliation, Jesus was further forced to endure carrying His own Cross throughout the city of Jerusalem in front of the jeering crowds who had chosen to have a murdering insurrectionist by the name of Barabbas released and set free, instead of innocent Jesus. He carried that Cross as far as His strength would endure before He stumbled and fell to the street beneath the weight of its load, whereby the soldiers compelled a man from Cyrene by the name of Simon to carry that Cross the rest of the way for Him. Jesus suffered Himself to be executed by crucifixion at the cruel hands of sinful man, and He allowed them to drive those thick, iron nails through the flesh of His hands and His feet, whereby He could be suspended between Heaven and Earth.
    After undergoing this unbearable pain and humiliation in front of His own mother and dearest friend for six hours, Jesus finally gave up His Spirit, and His body died, just at the precise moment the Passover Lamb was being sacrificed in the nearby Temple. The curtain of the veil in the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom. All was finished, just as He had declared from that Cross in the darkness that crept upon the face of the Earth. His body was dead – a Roman soldier made sure of it by piercing the side of Jesus with his sword, causing blood and water to flow from the wound. Yes, the body of Jesus was dead, but His Spirit lived on, and He took with Him one of the repentant thieves who saw the error of his ways, and he asked the Lord to forgive him and remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus heard the man’s prayers, and Jesus promised that He would do just that, saying to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43b).
    Jesus was hastily taken down and removed from His Cross, and His body was placed inside a new tomb which belonged to a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin who, along with Nicodemus, became a disciple of Jesus Christ. At the urgent entreaty of the enemies of Jesus who had Him crucified, Pilate had the tomb sealed and a huge stone rolled in front of it. He also ordered armed Roman soldiers to stand guard outside the tomb to prevent anyone from tampering with the remains of Jesus.
     But no seal was strong enough, no stone too huge, and no amount of Roman soldiers would keep the Son of God from emerging ALIVE from that tomb, the firstfruits of the resurrection! Jesus ultimately and completely defeated both Death and Satan, and He shall always emerge victorious! The bonds of Death have been broken! By rising from the dead after spending three days and three nights in the grave, Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits, just as He Himself had prophesied: “…for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth” (Matthew 12:40 [NASB]).
    Truly no week can compare to this week, for without these great things happening then which culminated in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then no one would have the opportunity for salvation. As the Hebrews writer declares, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 [NASB]. Thank you, Lord, for Your great sacrifice, and for rising triumphantly over Death!

 - David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com
What Is Sin?
By R. W. McAlister

     Sin – that’s not something we hear much about anymore, is it? It’s something that people want to downplay, or to treat as though it’s unimportant – maybe even nonexistent.
    So, then, is sin real? What is sin? What says the Bible?
      Sin is real. Rom. 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Sin brought about man’s eviction from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3).
      Sin is a violation of divine law. I John 3:4 says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” The Greek word rendered “sin” is hamartia, which literally means, “to miss the target.” To swerve aside from the revealed will of God is to sin. Sin is the very opposite of obedience and righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). So, one definition of sin is to transgress the law.
      Refusing to heed what God has to say is sinful. Stephen (Acts 7) preached that Israel always resisted the truth and rejected the deliverers that God sent them. At the end of his message, the crowd threw him out of the city and stoned him. Notice Acts 7:57: “...they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord...” Their sin was not only the murder they committed in stoning Stephen, but also ignoring what God has to say.
      Presumption is sin. The psalmist writes: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins. . . ” (Psalm 19:13). “Presumptuous” indicates pride & arrogance. Jeroboam was guilty of this sin when he retooled the Mosaic worship system to suit his own desires (I Kings 12).
      Neglecting your religious and moral obligations is sinful. James tells us that he who knows to do good, and yet who does it not, is guilty of sin (James 4:17).
     The Lord spoke of a servant who “knew his Lord’s will,” and yet, “prepared not himself” (Luke 12:42-48), that is, he failed to do what he knew he should.
     In every one of these explanations of sin, there is one common denominator: the “I” in the middle (s-I-n).
     When I violate God’s law, when I refuse to heed what God has to say, when I presume to know better than God, and when I neglect my religious and moral obligations, it’s because I’m doing what I want to do instead of what God wants me to do. It’s easy to blame others for my shortcomings or unfaithfulness, but ultimately, the sin is mine.
     Think about it.  
 
 - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/
A Lesson In Humility
By Rob Albright
 
     In John 13:1-17 we notice Jesus washing the disciples feet and He did this to teach a lesson on humility. We know that at least two of the disciples were thinking about how they could obtain first place in the kingdom. The other disciples found out what was on their mind and became indignant (Matthew 20:20-28) with the two brothers.
     The selfish thinking needed to be dealt with. Jesus, in this act of humility, displayed a lesson they needed to learn and we need to learn, as fellow disciples of Jesus.
     Jesus taught them (and us) that true greatness is not abut being served, but of serving. Jesus cared about others and served others by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, lame, and blind. When Jesus gave His life for the sins of the world, He displayed humility.
     After He washed the disciples feet, he said, "I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you" (John 13:15). The washing of feet was not an act of worship but it was a demonstration of the attitude we need to have with one another.
     We have to be careful to not be so filled with pride that we cannot do a menial task. If the King of the kingdom could wash feet, then no service to others should be beneath our dignity.

 - Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/

Independence Day
By Jeff Arnette

    This week we will be celebrating our nations independence day. It is a day in which we celebrate our independence from the British 241 years ago. Independence day really appeals to us as Americans, many of our people fought and died to ensure our freedoms.  It causes us to have an independent spirit and sometimes that is good. Sometimes, though, being independent can be dangerous to us. Sometimes, being dependent is better.  
    The Bible has much to say about our dependence on Jesus Christ for our salvation. Without Him, we have nothing. Without Him, we are lost and doomed to an eternity of torment. Jesus Christ is our hope (1 Tim. 1:1), apart from Him life is truly hopeless.  
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
It should be obvious to us all that without Jesus and the sacrifice he made on our behalf, we would be hopelessly lost.  
    Another important aspect of this is our dependence on the church. Jesus created the church because He knew that we would need each other to succeed in this life.  
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
    This year, as we celebrate our independence let’s remember that as Christians our success is dependent on Jesus and His church. We are dependent on each other. God wanted it that way and honestly, it is beautiful. Independence is great but dependence on Jesus is better.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
What Saved Noah? What Saves Us?
By Edd Sterchi

The Grace of God
We are told in Genesis 6:8 that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” The grace of God activated and validated Noah’s salvation. He couldn’t have been saved without it. We need to realize that it is by this same grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). It is only due to the fact that God desires us to be saved that we can ever be saved. None of us can go to heaven without it.

Faith
Hebrews 11:7 reveals that “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household...” Noah’s belief and faith in God motivated him to do what God asked, which led to his salvation. Today also we are saved by faith. We must believe in God and that He can save. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith...” (see also 1 Peter 1:3-9).

Obedience
Genesis 6:22 and 7:5 each mention that Noah did exactly as God commanded him concerning the building of the ark, etc. This also led to his salvation. Please note that Noah was not earning his salvation in any way – he was simply meeting the conditions that God set forth. We are also saved by obeying the commandments of the Lord. Hebrews 5:9 mentions that Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” We must obey God’s gospel plan of salvation to be saved – it defines the conditions He has set forth.

Water
1 Peter 3:20 mentions another aspect of Noah’s salvation: “in which...eight souls were saved through water.” Note that Noah was not saved by water, but through water. The water was the means through which God exercised His saving power. Just as water saved Noah, so baptism now saves us (1 Peter 3:21). Again we must note that we are not earning our salvation by being baptized; water is simply the means God uses to have us imitate Christ’s death so that we can contact His cleansing blood (Romans 6:3-5).

“God...did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah...” (2 Peter 2:4-5). God saved Noah, and He wants to save you. God is willing to do His part – have you done yours?

 - Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/
Presidential Wisdom
By Ron Bartanen
 
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven: we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity: we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were provided by some superior wisdom ad virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”     --Abraham Lincoln
    While President Lincoln decried the spiritual deadness of his time, attributing the horrors of the Civil War to the nation as it was forgetting the God who had blessed its birth and growth, he would, no doubt, be even more anguished today if he could view the nation as having denied its roots.  Our culture has gone from Judeo-Christian values, based on the Bible, to being “no longer a Christian nation,” where amorality prevails, and even to welcome with open arms those who are eager to replace our Constitution with Islamic shariah-law, while, at the same time, attacking Biblical guidelines, becoming totally secular.  It surely does not require a great depth of foresight to realize that as a nation our liberties and blessings are in peril.   Let us heed the Biblical warning: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:7), but “Blessed be the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psa. 33:12a).

 - Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Integrity
By Steve Higginbotham

     In his recent autobiography, "Mean Joe Greene," told a story about the late Chuck Noll, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Noll was a great coach, winning four Super Bowls, and earning the respect of his players. Greene said that as they were preparing for a game against the Houston Oilers, someone presented Coach Noll with an Oilers' playbook.  Coach Noll quickly called a team meeting and said,
"Gentlemen, this is the Houston Oilers’ playbook. We play them twice this year. We have all of their plays and their game plans. But we're not going to open it. That's not how we do things. We're going to prepare; we're going to line up against them on the field; and we're going to do what we do, and that will give us the best chance to win."  
With that, Coach Noll threw the playbook in the trash can and walked away.
     Integrity!
     We just don't see enough of it, but when we see it, we admire it. It's no wonder Paul instructed us to hold the doctrine of Christ with integrity (Titus 2:7). Friends, you may know the truth, and you may proclaim it to others, but if those who hear your words don't see them coupled with integrity, those words, though true, will ring hollow.

"...in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility" (Titus 2:7).

 - Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.karnschurch.org Copyright © 2016 MercEmail
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