BulletinGold #205
February
2019  
Vol 19 #2 

February 2019                         BG# 205                         Vol. 18 No. 02
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In this issue ...

 What Price Does Christ Ask Me to Pay?
By Gerald Cowan

 An Unprecedented God
By Joe Chesser

 Infatuation or Love?
By Ron Bartanen

 Broken Hearts
By Joe Slater

 I Corinthians 13 (NASB)
By Larry Pasley

 Rose Sank
By David Bragg

 If I Perish, I Perish
By Alan Smith

 Living as Exiles
By Travis Robertson

 Yogi
By David A. Sargent

 Going the Second Mile
By R. W. McAlister

 Commit to Submit
By Edd Sterchi

 How Can Increase My Dependence Upon God?
By Lance Cordle

What Price Does Christ Ask Me to Pay? (Romans 12:1-3)
By Gerald Cowan

Bring me your sins, the Savior said.
My blood alone can sin forgive.
God, through my blood, will make you clean.
Forgiv’n, you then in me shall live.

Bring me your burden, Jesus said.
Without help we all might fall.
Do not trust in your strength alone,
I will help you when you call.  

Bring me your needs, the Savior said.
God can supply for ev’ry task.
His resources are endless, but
He may not give unless you ask.  

When you need comfort, Jesus said,
Bring me your troubles and your cares.
The comfort that I know in God
I will with you forever share.
    
Bring me your service, Jesus said.
Riches to you I will accord,
Not on the earth but in God’s heav’n
If you will serve me as your Lord.

Come learn from me, the Teacher said.
Truth is required to make you free.
I am the way, the truth, the life.
You will not know God but through me.

Be my disciples, Jesus said.
To be disciples you must know
The truth. But you must follow me
To be with me where I will go.

Come take my yoke, the Master said.
My work on earth cannot be done
Unless you share my load with me
And go where I have not yet gone.

Bring me your love, the Savior said.
I want your heart, not just your hands.
You must love others as I love,
As I made clear in my commands.

But Jesus, you have not yet said
What price from me you will require.  
Say plainly: how can I get to
The place with you that I desire?  
    
Bring me your life, the Savior said.
Then live for me.  I’ll live in you.
Abundant life to you I’ll give,
Eternal life, forever true.

Give me yourself, the Savior said.
Nothing less than all will do –
No strings attached. I only want
The living sacrifice of you.

- 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
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An Unprecedented God
By Joe Chesser

     In the entire known history of the world, never had the entire wall of a city suddenly collapsed just because some people marched around it for a few days and blew a trumpet and yelled. Never! But that’s what God promised, and what happened (Josh. 6:5, 20).
     In the entire history of the world, never had the sun delayed going down for about a full day just because a man asked God to do it. Never! But it did that day (Josh. 10:12-14).
     Never in the history of the world did the waters of a sea separate allowing people to walk across it on dry land. But it did that day (Ex. 14:21-22).
     Never in the history of the world did a man skip death to ride a chariot of fire up to heaven in a whirlwind. But Elijah did! And Elisha saw it happen (2 Kings 2:11-12).
     Never in the history of the world did a man get out of a boat and walk on water. Never! But Peter did, even if it was just for a brief moment (Matt. 14:29-30).
     The Bible is full of such stories. And because we believe the Bible is the word of God, we believe these stories actually happened. About the time we think we have God figured out, He surprises us by doing something totally unprecedented. He made a widow’s oil and flour last until the drought ended (1 Kings 17:14). He turned a boy’s lunch into enough food to feed 5000 people (John 6:5-13). A man who had been dead for four days was given life again (John 11:38-44). Peter’s prison chains unpredictably fell off and an angel led him to freedom (Acts 12:6-19). 
     This last incident illustrates a valuable lesson we need to learn. Sometimes in our minds we put God in a box and expect Him to work only within that box. We sometimes think that because we have never heard of God doing “something like that” before, then He won’t do it now. Oh, we believe that the Bible says that “all things are possible with God” (Matt. 19:26), but we struggle with believing that God will actually do something unheard of. For example, when Peter was in prison, the church had gathered at Mary’s house (the mother of John Mark) to pray for him (Acts 12:12-17). They no doubt expected God to answer their prayers, but what they didn’t expect is when and how God chose to answer them. So, when Peter knocked on Mary’s door, the servant recognized his voice and told those inside that Peter was at the door. “You are out of your mind,” they told her. They believed in God. They believed in prayer. They believed that “all things are possible with God.” But they didn’t believe that Peter was at the door! In their minds they could not imagine that God so quickly let Peter out of jail. They couldn’t imagine that Peter was actually standing at the door! Anyone who said he was had to be crazy, out of their minds!
     What do you believe about God? Do you actually believe that “all things are possible with God”? Do you believe that God will still do unprecedented things? Are you limiting how God can work by your limited view of Him (Matt. 14:31)? Sure, it’s a slippery slope. Sure, people will think you are crazy. But if you are wholly anchored in the word of God you will expect God to do whatever He wants however He wants to do it!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com
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Infatuation or Love?
By Ron Bartanen

     Much that passes for love is nothing more than infatuation, a temporary, and at times foolish, obsession. This is common in childhood, but not unknown in adults. It is quite evident in those who are constantly “falling in and out of love.” True love dies hard, while infatuation may be “here today, but gone tomorrow.” 
     There is one love that never fails. It is not the romantic type of love, but a self-giving love. This is the type of love that God has shown toward us. It is also the love that we are to show towards one another. The apostle John declared, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” then adding, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).
     God is not infatuated with the human race. Although, through sin, we have offended Him, yet His love endures. If we allow trivial offenses from others to alienate us, we are not showing God’s love in our lives.
     As for our relationship with God, mere infatuation with Him will put self ahead of Him. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This is the test to see whether we truly love Him, or are simply infatuated with Him.

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

“So rend your hearts, and not your garments” (Joel 2:13a).
     I’m not accustomed to ripping my clothes as a sign of distress. But such was common in ancient times and is still practiced by some Jews mourning their dead.
     In the first instance recorded in Scripture, Reuben tore his clothes, being horrified at what his brothers had done with Joseph (Genesis 37:29). A few verses later, a grief-stricken Jacob tore his clothes, mistakenly believing that Joseph was dead (37:34).
     Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in anguish and grief upon hearing their fellow-spies’ pessimistic report. Many years later, Joshua once again tore his clothes as he mourned Israel’s defeat at the first battle of Ai (Joshua 7:6).
     Young King Josiah tore his clothes after hearing the words of the Book of the Law (2 Chronicles 34:19). His people’s appalling disobedience to God’s law would result in horrifying punishment. Josiah himself, however, would be spared from seeing it “because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me” (v. 27).
     Joel’s people knew the custom of tearing clothes to signify repentance, but for them it was empty ritual. God wanted broken hearts and changed behavior, not just ripped clothes.
     What does God want from you and me? He is still “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13). But repentance must be from a broken heart, not merely a ritualistic show. As David wrote in Psalm 51:17, “A broken spirit . . . and a contrite heart, these, O God, You will not despise.”

- 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
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I Corinthians 13 (NASB)
By Larry Pasley

     Love Is Patient - We must not make impatient demands but allow people to grow at their own pace.
     Love Is Kind - We must be gentle and sensitive to the needs and hurts of others.
     Love Is Not Jealous - Our supreme concern must be for other people’s growth and well-being, not our feelings.
     Love Does Not Brag and Is Not Arrogant - We must not spend our energies building up ourselves, but remember that servanthood is making the other person successful.
     Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly - We are not to try to act like non-Christians. We need to be Christians who act like Christians.
     Love Does Not Seek Its Own - Our desire must be to put others first. If we cannot do this then we cannot expect others to do it either.
     Love Is Not Provoked - At times this becomes a great difficulty, but we must learn as the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 2. He stated that in every disappointment he learned to use that situation to reaffirm love for the person who disappoints him.
     Love Does Not Take Into Account a Wrong Suffered - Jesus suffered much wrong and rejection and we, too, must be willing to experience that same suffering.
     Love Rejoices With the Truth - Others will easily see our values by what we get most excited about.
     Love Bears and Believes All Things - We must expect the best and see people as God sees them - for the potential they can become with Christ’s help.
     Love Hopes All Things - We need to memorize Philippians 4:8 and recite it daily to ourselves.
     Love Endures All Things - Many heartaches will come our way, and the desire to give up and quit will often pass through our minds. But God’s love for us endures even our shortcomings. How can we do any less?
     Love never fails – We should never stop loving people because of their actions. Love will cover a multitude of sins.
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    The Apostle Paul said love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:8) If we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves then we will do all that God expects of us. If we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15) and if we love our neighbor, we will do nothing to harm them. (Rom 13:10) If we love our enemies, we will do good to them. (Luke 6:27) Twelve times in the New Testament we are told to “Love one another.
     May we always realize the importance of Love.

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com
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Rose Sank
By David Bragg

    She was well-known in Washington D.C. social circles even before the Civil War. In the early days of that conflict she played a pivotal role as a spy. It is suspected that information Rose Greenhow funneled to Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard contributed to his victory at the First Battle of Bull Run. Although evidence of her involvement led to her arrest, she still was able to use her contacts to aid the Southern war effort.
    When she was finally released, Rose received a hero's welcome in Richmond, Virginia. Then Jefferson Davis, CSA President, sent her to Britain and France to build support for the Southern cause. While returning from this mission carrying $2,000 in gold, the ship she was on ran aground in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina. She tried to escape capture in a rowboat that capsized and, being weighed down by the gold she was carrying, she drowned (Smithsonian.com).
    Judas Iscariot was also feeling the weight, not of gold but silver, 30 pieces of it. In his hand was the blood money for betraying Jesus. But after Christ’s arrest and condemnation, regret and guilt weighed down upon him. Judas returned to the Jewish leaders and threw the coins on the Temple floor (Matt. 27). But rather than returning to God, who could have forgiven him, he was pulled down to eternal destruction by sin.
 
- 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/
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If I Perish, I Perish
By Alan Smith

    The young people in one church had been studying the Book of Esther. It was obviously that one boy had been paying attention when his family had Brussels sprouts for supper. Spearing one and looking at it distastefully, he placed it in his mouth, saying, "If I perish, I perish."
    The story of Esther is one of the greatest stories of courage in the Bible.
    When Mordecai realized that there was a plot to kill the Jews in Persia, he saw only one possibility to save them, and that was through Esther. He asked Esther to go before the king and request that he rescind the decree and save the Jewish people. But Esther was hesitant to do that because there was a law that said that anyone who went into the king's court without an invitation could be put to death, and she hadn't been invited for a month!
    Mordecai sent another message to Esther that said, in effect, "Think, Esther. The decree says all Jews. It doesn't exclude anybody in the king's household. You are a Jew and that means you've already been condemned to death. If the king receives you, you've got a chance. But even if he doesn't, you're no worse off."
    One of the most powerful verses in all the Bible is found in verse 14. It's a question that I believe every Christian should ask himself when he's facing a difficult situation: "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
    "Esther, have you ever thought that maybe this is the reason why God put you in the position of being queen? Did you think He did it just so you could have an easy life? This is the reason God has brought you where you are. Your presence in the palace is not by accident but by divine appointment."
    The time had come for Esther to make a choice. She could approach the king and possibly lose her life, or she could remain silent and allow the annihilation of herself and her people. She decided to stand for what was right. And with the heroic words, "If I perish, I perish!" (4:16), she went to the king.
    Has God put you in a position to make a difference to the people around you? Like Esther, will you have the courage to respond, regardless of what the consequences may be?

- Alan Smith, minister for the Cruciform Church of Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com or through the congregation's website: http://www.cruciformcoc.com/
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Living as Exiles
By Travis Robertson

    I don’t think we believe we are living in exile in America. We look at ourselves as extremely blessed to live in such a rich country. We have all kinds of freedoms and rights because we are citizens of the United States of America. While there are many blessings to be had living in this country, have we missed the fact that we are first and foremost citizens of heaven? “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
    I encourage you to read the book of Daniel in the Old Testament to see God’s people living as exiles in a country not their own. There are several lessons we can glean from this book on how we should live today in a country that is spiritually not our own.
    The Jews worked hard and served the Babylonians without undermining the government or rebellion in any way. They were respectful and submissive to the rulers over them. They lived above reproach, even their enemies struggled to find fault with them. However, their true loyalty was to God. The Jews would disobey the laws of Babylon or Persia, so they could remain faithful to God. They accepted the consequences of their disobedience, even if it was death, because they trusted in God’s power to save.

- Travis Robertson preachers for the Lake Norman Church of Christ in Huntersville, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://lakenormancoc.org/
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Yogi
By David A. Sargent

     Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, “one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters” (as Bruce Weber styled him), died on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. He was 90-years-old. He was a very successful professional baseball player, an integral part of 10 New York Yankees championship teams. Bruce Weber of the New York Times noted that Yogi “may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms.”
     Weber cites some of Yogi’s well-known and “somehow both nonsensical and sagacious” pronouncements with some context:
  • “You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.
  • “If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, “don’t copy him.”
  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he said, giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.
  • “Nobody goes there anymore,” he said of a popular restaurant. “It’s too crowded.”
Let’s alter one of these Yogi-isms to lead us to the truth: “When you come to a fork in the road, take the right road.”
     Jesus informs us that there are only two roads on which we may travel, and we must choose between them: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
     The path to life is through Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Our sins place us on the path to destruction, but Jesus died for our sins so that we may have our sins forgiven and access the path to eternal life (Romans 6:23).
     In order to access the way which leads to life, 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 others (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, we must continue to follow Him faithfully, and as we do so, His blood will continue to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
     Two roads. One leads to life; the other to destruction. One is narrow; the other is wide. One is easy; the other is difficult. One is popular; the other less traveled.
     Which road will you choose?
     “When you come to a fork in the road, take the right road.”
     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

* Information gleaned from “Yogi Berra, Yankee Who Built His Stardom 90 Percent on Skill and Half on Wit, Dies at 90” by Bruce Weber of the New York Times, 9/23/2015.
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Going the Second Mile
By R. W. McAlister

     In the first century, Romans could force the Jews to carry their goods for one mile because that was the law. After the Jews had carried the Roman soldier’s goods for a mile, they could tell them this is as far as they were going and no further. We see something of this idea when Jesus was making His way to His crucifixion. In Luke 23:26, the Bible says, “And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.”
     Look also at the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:39-41: “I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”  It’s from this concept that Jesus taught how Christians should be willing to go a second mile. 
     Notice, Jesus gives us 3 different examples which instruct Christians to go beyond the first mile and to continue on to the second mile.
     First, Jesus tells us not to resist or oppose an evil person and gives an example. He says if they strike you on the right cheek turn, the left one to him as well. You have to understand that it was a great insult in the first century to strike someone on the right cheek. Most people wouldn’t tolerate such an insult and would strike back. But Jesus is telling us, “don’t retaliate; don’t get revenge” – instead, turn your other cheek to them as well. 
     The second thing he tells us is if someone sues you and takes your tunic or take your money, then give them your cloak as well. The giving of your cloak would be the second mile. Again this has in mind not resisting an evil person.
     Third, Jesus says if someone persuades you to go one mile, then go with him two. In all 3 of these examples, Jesus is teaching you and me that we are to go beyond the first mile.
     Apply this principle to our service to God. Let’s look as the first mile. Paul tells us in Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”
     Every Christian should meet on the first day of the week to worship God. We shouldn’t look at this as something we have to do, but as something we get to do. Again, there are a lot of Christians who don’t embrace even this first mile of Christianity, because many will miss the assembling together and only show up once a month or maybe 2 or 3 times a year – if at all. 
     Not only we are to assemble with the saints on the first day of the week, we are to put God’s Kingdom first in every aspect of our lives. This means that we’ll do our best to be involved with the church and its many activities and try to spread the good news to those around us. 
     We find Christians who went that second mile mentioned in II Cor. 8:3-4: “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”
     Notice, they gave beyond their ability – did more than the minimum. You see, God doesn’t want Christians to be satisfied with just going part of the way – trying to get by with the least amount of effort – but He wants them to go all the way and give their best, just as God gave us His best (Jn. 3:16). Let us be so motivated.

- 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/ 
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Commit to Submit
By Edd Sterchi

    The word for “submit” (in some cases, “be subject”) in the New Testament comes from a military term meaning to arrange troops under the command of a leader. The word is defined by Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon as, “to subject one’s self, to yield to one’s admonition or advice, to obey.”
    Of course, this word is used in specific cases (as in the case of wives, servants, and young folks, cf. Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 2:18; 1 Pet. 5:5), but it is mostly used in the general sense for all Christians. Take note of what we are to submit and be subject to:
        * We are to fully submit to God and His will (Jas. 4:7).
        * We should submit to the government and its ordinances (1 Pet. 2:13-14).
        * We must submit to and encourage fellow Christians (Eph. 5:21).
        * We are even to submit in ministering to others (1 Cor. 16:15-16)
    Christians, let’s submit and commit ourselves to these things, knowing that a better world results from them.

- 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/
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How Can Increase My Dependence Upon God?
By Lance Cordle

“For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

I can begin each day with prayer that includes thanks.
I can replace the question, “Why has God done this to me?” with, ”How has God helped me in the past?”
I can count my blessings.
I can set aside a favorite Bible verse or a favorite group of verses that can serve as points of reflection in my life—in good times as well as bad.
I can look for ways to be God’s instrument for good in the lives of others.
I can read the Bible daily.
I can insure treasure in heaven by directing some of my money to those who are in need.
I can reflect on what my life would be without Christ.
I can thank God for good health.
I can read and practice the “one another” messages of Scripture (e.g., John13: 34; Ephesians 4:32).
I can streamline my life by limiting or eliminating luxuries that encourage me to forget God.
I can consider periodic fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
I can ponder the phrase “daily bread” in the model prayer of Jesus (Matthew 6:9ff) and how I should not take for-granted God’s daily provisions.
I can remember, reflect on the fact, and remind others (especially my family) that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17).
I can be constantly aware of how fragile human life really is (James 4:14).
I can remember the fact of Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
I can stay connected to God’s people.
I can end each day with prayer that includes thanks.

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
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Editor: David Bragg