BulletinGold #215
December
2019  
Vol 19 #12 

December 2019                         BG# 215                         Vol. 19 No. 12
Subscribe                         Website                         Submissions
bulletinGOLD
BulletinGold is published to help Church of Christ bulletin editors and writers share Bible-based, doctrinal material for church bulletins and Christian writing. You received BulletinGold because you subscribed. If you received this copy from a friend and would like to subscribe, please send a blank email to: BulletinGold-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Be sure and reply to the letter sent to your email by YahooGroups. If you need to unsubscribe, you may do so by sending an email to: BulletinGold-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
 
To submit items for future issues of BulletinGold email
bulletingold@gmail.com Your email address is never shared and will remain private.
 
The material in BulletinGold is to be used only in church bulletins and other non-profit publications except with the written consent of the contributing author. Please give due credit to our contributors.
 
As part of Yahoo! Groups at times advertisements are placed at the beginning or end of our mailings.  BulletinGold has no control over either the placement or content of these ads.
In this issue ...

 One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give to Someone (and Yourself) By Edd Sterchi

 Merry Christmas?
By Steve Higginbotham

 If Jesus Was Born of A Virgin
By Al Behel

 The Greatest Gift
By David Bragg


 Display Light By Not Joining Those in Darkness
By Larry Miles

 Riches To Share
By Donna Richmond Wittlif

 Wait For It By Rob Albright

 The New Year
By Ron Thomas

 A New You
By Ron Bartanen

 Resolutions
By Joe Slater

 A New Year, Again
By J. Randal Matheny

 Overcoming Fear in 2020...and Anytime
By Adam Faughn

One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give to Someone (and Yourself)
By Edd Sterchi

     There is a gift that you can give to others that is absolutely amazing and it does not cost a thing (monetarily, anyway). It is never the wrong color or size. Everyone who receives this gift always loves and cherishes it. And, amazingly enough, when we give this to someone, we also receive something in return. It’s a win-win. Ready to hear what it is? It is the gift of forgiveness.
     The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgive as: “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offense or mistake.” Our English word forgive comes from the Old English words “for” and “gifan” (give). So forgiveness in the original root means to give (as in give up). In forgiving someone, we give up on anger, resentment, and revenge – and in doing so, we give the person we are forgiving something, and we are giving ourselves something, also.
     I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “forgive and forget.” Notice within those words are the words “give” and “get.” When we forgive another, we give them a renewed relationship, but we also give ourselves peace of mind – those thoughts of anger and resentment have been let go.
     Jesus gave the reminder that if we want forgiveness from God, then we must forgive our fellow humans (Matt. 6:14-15). It is God’s design that forgiveness is a gift to others and to ourselves.
     Paul, through inspiration, wrote in Col. 3:12-15, “Therefore...put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts...” When we learn to give forgiveness to others, we make it much easier for the peace of God to rule in our hearts.
     So do you want to give a great gift and receive a great gift at the same time? Then learn to forgive. Two for the price of one – what a deal! Forgiveness is truly the gift that keeps on giving!
 
- 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/
Return to TOP
Merry Christmas?
By Steve Higginbotham

    For many people, Christmas is the "most wonderful time of the year," but for others, it can be the most painful time of the year. While many will be together laughing, and sharing expressions of love during this holiday season, others will be sitting alone, broken, and forlorn.
    It's difficult for those who have not suffered loss to appreciate the pain others feel during the holidays. However, if God allows us to live long enough, we all will experience a Christmas without a loved one for the very first time. Instead of being surrounded by family and gifts, our companions will be loneliness and grief. Even in a room filled with family, one may find himself alone in his thoughts, memories, and grief.
    So what can be done? Here are some suggestions
  1. To the Joyful ... Surprise someone who is grieving with gifts, cards, letters, and visits. Get the whole family involved in the project, children included. Make it thoughtful, sacrificial, and memorable. Allow it to be a teaching moment of God's love for the recipient, our children, and ourselves.
  2. To the Joyful ... Help someone create new memories. Be sensitive to the fact that for some people, Christmas never was a time of joy due to a dysfunctional upbringing. For some people, the mere thought of Christmas drudges up painful memories. While we can't change the past, we can change the present and create pleasant memories to be recalled in the future.
  3. To the Joyful ... Don't forget to thank God for what you have. Cherish every joyful moment as His gift to you. We live in a fallen world that sooner or later will affect our lives. God won't exempt us from heartache and pain in this life, but He did promise eternal peace and joy in the life to come. Don't take your present joy for granted.
  4. To the Hurting ... Don't give up. Don't wallow in your grief. Fight it. Choose what you want to think about. Work at finding joy. Count your blessings, name them one-by-one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
  5. To the Hurting ... Serve others. Get outside yourself. It's a paradox, but if you want to lighten your load, you need to pick up the load of another. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Busy yourself in doing good for others and you'll create your own joy and be distracted from your pain. Remember, we were made for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Functioning according to the "Owner's Manual" will always provide the best results.
  6. To the Hurting ... Don't forget to thank God for what you have. I don't mean to downplay your hurt and heartache, but if you are the Lord's, your blessings far exceed your problems. Look beyond your pain and you will see countless reasons to give God thanks
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

- 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 © 2019 MercEmail
Return to TOP
If Jesus Was Born of A Virgin
By Al Behel

    Larry King,  CNN talk show host, was asked who he would most like to interview from history.  He replied, “Jesus Christ.” He was then asked what he would like to ask Jesus. King said, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”
    Well ... He was and history is defined by Jesus. He is the center of history ... all time dates from His birth. He defines the meaning of our past, present, and future. Remove Jesus from history and much of our art, literature, and music would disappear. Our language would lose much of its beauty, our world would become a colder and more dangerous place, and all of our churches would cease to exist. 
    The evidence of Jesus’ birth is all around us. Studies show that 80% of Americans believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, even those who do not attend church or claim to be religious. The fact of His birth doesn’t hinge on how many people believe or disbelieve. If Jesus was born of a virgin then all His claims about Himself are true ... and He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and holds claim to the hearts of men. If He was born of a virgin, then He is the Messiah and the Savior of the world. And all Old Testament prophecy regarding Him has been fulfilled.
    What difference does it really make whether He was born of a virgin? All the difference in the world. If He was not born of a virgin He is not who He claims to be, the Bible is false, and we are to be pitied. But, He was virgin born ... He is the Son of God...and we have a Savior!

- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/
Return to TOP
The Greatest Gift
By David Bragg

    Martin of Tours, one of the Patron Saints recognized and venerated by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches (among others), lived in the fourth Christian century in what is modern day France. Martin was not only a Roman soldier but, also a Christian. The legend for which he would become famous relates to an act of compassion resulting in a most unusual gift. According to this legend Martin found himself on duty in Gaul one cold, blustery day when his path happened to cross a scantily clad beggar asking for alms. With no money on his person, Martin removed his worn, threadbare military cloak, cut in in half and shared it with the needy man.
    Later that night Martin had a dream in which he saw Jesus in heaven wearing what looked like a cut or torn Roman cloak. As he marveled at the scene before him, Martin overheard an angel ask Jesus why He was wearing the tattered old cloak. "Where did you get it?" the angel asked, to which Christ was heard to reply, "My servant Martin gave it to Me."
    In this season of the year as much of the world pauses, if but for a moment, to reflect upon Jesus, it is good to think of and appreciate just how great of a gift God has given to us by sending His only begotten Son. Although no one knows the day of Jesus’ birth, THAT He was born is an undeniable fact. This being the case, we owe it to ourselves to ask two important questions.
•    Why would God make such a sacrifice? The inspired answer is, because of His love (John 3:16).
•    How can I live my life as if Jesus never came? Hopefully our answer is, we can’t, because of our love!
- 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/
Return to TOP
Display Light By Not Joining Those in Darkness
By Larry Miles

    In Eph. 5:7-10 Paul reminds us that we are "in Christ" and that our lives must reflect that identity. In the first of four short articles based on that theme he says that we must display our lives by not joining those in darkness." Paul has warned the Ephesian Christians and us that if we live like the ones who revel in the "works of the flesh" instead of  living a life permeated by "the works of the Spirit," we will share in the punishment of the ones who rebel against God.
    Eph. 5:7 reads as follows,"Therefore do not be partakers with them." We are to be the salt of the earth. Remember, we are to live in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17). The folks in the world must be able to see the love of Christ in us. They must know by our lives that we love them, while not loving their sin. It is not easy to separate the sin and the sinner, but we must always ask the Lord to help us attain that and live in the Spirit as we seek the lost and strengthen the saved.

- Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and publishes "Larry's Lines" several times a week. Copyright 2009. Visit his website: http://larryslines.com/
Return to TOP
Riches To Share
Donna Richmond Wittlif

"Charge...that they have their hope not set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who gives us richly of all thing to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to share" (1 Timothy 6:17, 18).
    This morning Cops Protecting Kids called me. "Can you give a non-tax deductible donation to help us?" the man asked. We get calls like that every week. They all say "non-tax deductible donation". Under the new tax laws, you cannot deduct donations to many causes. These organizations are suffering because many have stopped giving.
    Our contributions to the church are still deductible, but what if they weren't? Would our giving to our church family cease? Would churches be unable to pay their utility bills, buy Bible class materials and the bread and wine for communion, and keep their buildings up? Would they be able to help those in need?
    How deep is our love for Christ's church? For those in the church who are suffering because they lost their job? For people in our neighborhood and our community who are in need? Is our love for Christ and others big enough that we will dig into our pocketbook and pull out some cash or write a check to help someone who is in desperate need?
    This is not to suggest that we need to help every cause that calls us soliciting money. It is not saying that we should give more than we can afford. But our hearts need to be in the right place when it comes to sharing the riches that God gives us. When we help others, God has promised to repay us richly, not only in this life, but in the life to come.
    Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).

- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils, and her newest book, Finding Her Heart,  are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit her website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/
Return to TOP
Wait For It
By Rob Albright
 
     Waiting is one of the most challenging things to do. We wait for the lab report from the last doctor’s visit. We wait in line at a toll booth while traveling on the interstate. We wait till the pharmacist fills our prescription for medication. We wait to check out at the grocery store. Things move fast in our world and we do not want to wait for anything. We want it all instantly!
     Yet we know that some things just take more time and cannot be rushed. If you plant seed in the garden, it takes time to grow into a plant. It takes time to get that refund check from the IRS. Now, here is something else we must wait for – we wait on God.
     The Greek word for “wait” in the New Testament is often translated “patience” or “confidence.” For instance, 2 Thessalonians 3:5 –“Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (NKJV). Here this verse is describing the steadfastness or endurance of Jesus as he faced great trials.
     So, we must have patience like Jesus. We grow in our trust of Him and His will for our life. As we grow, we become more assured of our faith. Our confidence in God and His Son and their ability to care for us is demonstrated by our willingness to be patient and trust in the promises of God. Our waiting is an opportunity to build our faith.

- 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/
Return to TOP
The New Year
By Ron Thomas

     The last day of the year is fast approaching! The New Year is but around the corner. Do you look forward to the New Year or are you dreading the change in dates because of check-signing or some other reason?
     To me, the New Year is just another date on the calendar that means little. It’s one day closer to Spring, one day further along than the first day of Winter. It has been popular for generations to speak of resolutions for the New Year, so what will be your resolution or resolutions? Mine will be the same as it has been the last number of decades, that is, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (cf. Titus 2:11-12). I know I can and should do much better.
     The upcoming New Year is a time for me to have a bit of reflection. What have I done? If it were not for my desk calendar and office-time sheet that I make each week, I am not sure if I could say what it is that I have done. I live with the habit of letting yesterday stay where it belongs (putting it out of my mind) and moving forward to the next day and the many following. I use my calendar to schedule appointments, set up Bible studies, visit with preachers, encourage the widows and widowers and many other appointments like doctor appointments, civic clubs obligations and the always favorite, dental appointments!
     If there is a New Year’s resolution I think I will make, it will be to do more of the same. I guess that is not a resolution, is it? Whether it is or not, I can say I could have done better than I did, so I think I will set my mind to do better in the new year.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/  
Return to TOP
A New You
By Ron Bartanen

    How would you like a brand new you in this New Year of 2020? Such is not an unreasonable desire or possibility.  In fact, it is God’s intent  to eventually “make all things new” in the “new heavens and new earth” (Rev. 21:5, 1). Until that time, the Lord is preparing a people who are said to be “born again … of  water  and the  Spirit” (John 3:3, 5).
    In the process of the new birth, we become children of God and receive the Spirit of Christ, entitling us to address God as our Father  (Gal. 4:6). A truly new you is not through New Years resolutions, but only in Christ: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away…all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
    Newness of life is not found in just being a good neighbor, a good husband or wife, or a respectable person, or even in just being religious. Jesus expressed His purpose in coming into this world when He told His disciples, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The gospel (good news) by which we receive this life centers upon Jesus’ dying upon the cross for our sins, being buried, and raised to life, as witnessed to us through His apostles (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The apostle Paul also made it plain that this justification is available to us through faith in Christ, saying, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Justification by faith involves repentance and baptism, coming forth from the watery grave of baptism into “newness of life” (Rom. 6:1-6).
    Mere New Year’s resolutions will not accomplish this, but a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, the Son of God in faith and obedience to His word,  as Peter explained it: “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…being born again…by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. ” (1 Pet. 1:22-23). Have you yet received this new life?

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/
Return to TOP
Resolutions
By Joe Slater

     According to statistica.com, the three most common New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 were these:
           1) Eat healthier
           2) Get more exercise
           3) Save more money
Many (most?) of us would probably do well to heed all three in 2020!
     Christians’ New Year’s resolutions usually focus on more regular Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance. Is there some correlation between those and the three from the web site?
     Yes, we can feed our souls a healthier diet with more Bible reading and much less “junk food” that has no spiritual value. We should strive to be “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). God’s word contains both “milk” and “solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-14). Bon appétit!
     What happens when you eat but don’t exercise? (Flabby is not healthy!) Even more crucial is spiritual exercise. “. . . Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things” (1 Tim. 4:7, 8). That includes prayer and church attendance, but involves far more. Do we mean it when we sing, “We’ll work till Jesus comes”?
     Now, what about saving more money? God has much to say about money – how we obtain it, how we spend it, and whether we trust in it. Saving is wise: “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Prov. 21:20). But hoarding is sinful (see the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:13-21). Our challenge: Find the right balance! Let’s be more concerned about saving our souls than saving money!

- 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
Return to TOP
A New Year, Again
By J. Randal Matheny

    Happy New Year! The sentiment is genuine, the prayer is solid, that you and yours might be blessed by the Lord, in Christ, for great things, greater works.
    Those who have hope in Christ come at a New Year with a different perspective. It's one step closer to home. It's a degree of awareness greater of the winding down of this world and the perfection of heaven.
    The turning of the year is a good time to tweak tasks and reevaluate one's service. It's a God-given time frame for forward movement. It's a human tendency to think in terms of a year, Jas. 4.13-14, and to make sure that one's plans include God.
    So in these first days of 2020, feel the forward movement as you look back over the year that's gone, be thankful for the Lord's promised presence, and launch out anew to deeper waters and more fertile fields of harvest.

- 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) 2019 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.

Return to TOP
Overcoming Fear in 2020...and Anytime
By Adam Faughn
 
    It might seem strange that the first bulletin article of 2020 deals with fear, but many people struggle this time of year with this emotion. As they face a New Year, they might fear health issues or job uncertainty. Some simply fear failing in the resolutions they have made.
    There is a sense in which some fear is a good thing. Fear is a natural instinct that, at times in life, keeps us from dangers that could truly harm us.
    We also know, however, that the Bible speaks of certain types of fear in a negative light. These fears and anxieties are the types of things that draw our trust away from God, and that let the things of this world have a hold on us that is simply not right.
    Psalm 56 was penned at a time when David was fighting to overcome fear. Near the outset of that poem, he stated that he had “an attacker” (verse 1) and that his enemies were trampling him “all day long” (verse 2). It would have only been natural and understandable to have a certain level of fear in those circumstances! (For the historical background to this poem, read 1 Samuel 21:8-15).
    How can we overcome such fear? In the midst of the poem, David wrote, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (verses 3-4)
    Those beautiful and faith-filled lines give us three steps to help in overcoming fear.
Step 1: Trust God. Often, when we fear, it is because we begin to take our eyes off of God and His unending power. We need to trust Him, no matter what enemies and struggles we face. After all, He is the only One who is truly Almighty!
Step 2: Lift Up the Word of God. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts before difficulties come, so we can rely on its precious promises when we face times of discomfort. It offers us “comfort,” among so many other things (see Romans 15:4).
Step 3: Remember Human Limitations. “What can flesh do to me?” Enemies may have certain advantages, but they are still just flesh, as we are. Even if they completely take away our life, what victory have they really won? They cannot cost us our soul unless we let them.
    Fears will come, even in this New Year. How we face them and overcome them is what matters. Will you face and overcome them with God, or will you let fears get the best of you?

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
Return to TOP
Your input regarding BulletinGold is always welcome.  Please let us know how we can better meet your needs through this valuable resource.  We also encourage you to support us by contributing your brief bulletin articles, poems, etc. to share with others.
 
If you received this issue of BulletinGold as a forward from a friend and wish to be added to our group membership, simply send a blank email to: BulletinGold-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Be sure and reply to the letter sent to your email by YahooGroups. If you need to unsubscribe, you may do so by sending an email to: BulletinGold-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Editor: David Bragg