BulletinGold #207
April
2019  
Vol 19 #4 

April 2019                         BG# 207                         Vol. 18 No. 04
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In this issue ...

 Becoming Like God … in Giving
By Joe Chesser

 Our Need for Grace
By David Bragg

 You Care
By J. Randal Matheny

 The Glorious Church
By Ron Bartanen

 Eat Right!
By Edd Sterchi

 I Will be Forever in His Debt
By Gerald Cowan

 Easter
By Ron Thomas

 A Strong Sense of Family
By Neal Pollard

 Reflecting His Light
By Johnny Hester

 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
By Steve Higginbotham

 Things Jesus and His Apostles Never Said
By Seth Myers

 Treasure!
By Joe Slater

Becoming Like God … in Giving
By Joe Chesser

    We all want God to be generous with us. We’ve come to expect it. We’ve been taught that God loves to give abundantly, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6.38). It’s God’s nature to give lavishly (Eph. 1.8). It’s a part of who He is. “For God so loved the world that he gave …” (John 3.16). God is generous in all kinds of blessings. He is able to “make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9.8-emphasis mine). God’s nature is to be generous in giving.
    And we love to soak it in. We love that Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10.10). We love that Jesus encouraged us to “Ask, and you will receive” because the Father knows how to give good gifts (Matt. 7.7, 13). We feel confident to pray for more … more money, more protection, more healing, more forgiveness, more time, more peace, more wisdom … more blessings of all kinds. That’s OK, because God wants to bless us abundantly, and He knows how and when to do so for our good (Rom. 8.28).
    But something else God wants us to learn to do, if we haven’t done so yet, is to become like Him in our giving. Just like every other trait of God, He wants us to become like Him in generosity (Luke 6.38). God is not stingy, and He does not want us to be reluctant, skimpy givers. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9.6). God loves it when we purposefully plan to become a willing and cheerful generous giver (2 Cor. 9.7). In fact, that is something God expects us to become. God has promised that the more we learn to be generous in our giving like He is, the more He will enable us: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9.11 NIV).
    When our giving comes from a heart that loves God and seeks to be like Him in every way possible, God is honored and enables us to do more than we can imagine. How could the Corinthians give “beyond their ability”? The answer is that when they “gave themselves first to the Lord,” the Lord blessed them to give more than they could on their own. Even extreme poverty didn’t prevent them from giving generously, nor did it prevent God from working through them (2 Cor. 8.1-5). Generosity is not a matter of abundance but a matter of a heart trying to be like God.
    There is no fear for ourselves in giving generously when we give with the motives of God. There is no reluctance or stinginess when we give with motives of God. There is no selfishness or greed when we give with the motives of God (James 4.2-4). Becoming like God in our giving will only result in multiple blessings, blessings we will cherish now and forever as we lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.19-21). It’s a win-win, no-brainer offer from God. So, examine your giving to see if you have become like God.

 - Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com
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Our Need for Grace
By David Bragg

    On Father’s Day in 2003 Brian (10) was innocently playing with a pair of old handcuffs that his father, a former security guard, had laying around. Brian decided to “attach” himself to his father, who was glad to play along until he realized that the key was missing. After an exhaustive search the police were contacted to help remove the cuffs, which they did, and replaced them with new ones. As a result of routine background checks they discovered two outstanding warrants on Brian’s dad (Des Moines Register, June 17, 2003). He thought he had escaped his past. Justice is not very forgiving!
    The sad reality of life is that we all struggle with sin. Not only do we struggle, we consistently lose that battle. Two familiar verses burn this reality into our minds: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, we need God's grace.
    Grace has been described in various ways. It is “God’s unmerited favor,” or "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." But no matter how you define it, grace is essential. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

- 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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You Care
By J. Randal Matheny

You care for me I know,
And daily watch the flow
  of history;
The whole of man you guide
And with the meek reside —
  With even me.

For glory comes the call,
From him who knows us all
  And loves us more;
Believe, obey, and trust —
Take all these steps we must
  To enter the door.

We pray for Christ to come,
To judge by word and plumb —
  For him we wait.
We're eager to hear our names,
Receive our heavenly claims,
  Forever celebrate.

- 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.
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The Glorious Church
By Ron Bartanen
 
    Among the descriptive terms used in the New Testament with reference to that body of people that we generally refer to as the church, none is more descriptive of our close relationship to Christ than that of a bride. In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul, while admonishing wives to be submissive to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives, illustrates their relationship to one another as a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church. The husband is to be “the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (v. 23), but this headship is to be exercised in the spirit of Christ, as he further writes, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (v. 25). He anticipates the time when, at the return of Christ, He presents His bride to Himself as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (v. 26). 
    The beauty and glory of the wedding-attire of the bride of Christ is not of her own doing, but of her husband’s. He has so designed the church that in spite of the deficiencies of those composing the church, it will, in that day, be seen as “a glorious church.” We would do well to consider why and how this could be so. 
    First, the church owes its existence to Christ. The passage in Eph. 5 declares that Christ “gave himself for it” (v. 25b). He purchased the materials that compose the church (the redeemed) with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Had Christ not shed His blood at Calvary, the church would be non-existent. Under another figure, He is the church’s builder (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 8:2). The church’s glory is a reflection of the glory of its builder.
    Second, the glory of the church is seen in its head, Jesus Christ. The Lord’s church has no mere human, or council of men, as its head. As Paul wrote in Col. 1:18: “He is the head of the body, the church…that in all things he might have the preeminence.” 
    Third, the glory of the church is evident in the church’s foundation. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). 
    Fourth, the church is glorious because of its glorious purpose. Paul wrote of its purpose when he said, “Unto him (Christ) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Eph. 3:21). Through Christ, the redeemed glorify God as the people reconciled to God “in one body by the cross” (Eph. 2:16). Returning to Eph. 5, Christ is both the “head of the church, and he is the Savior of the body” (v. 23). The purpose of the church is to exist in this world as that body of people called out of the world to show forth the good news of salvation in Christ. 
    While the church is commonly vilified in the world, its glory will one day be evident. Among the closing visions of John on the Isle of Patmos is that of “the bride, the Lamb’s (Christ’s) wife” (Rev. 21:9). She is portrayed as a city, “the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God…” (21:10b-11a). A city is identified most of all by its inhabitants. The mansions in which we shall dwell (John 14:1-4) will be glorious, but also what we suffer for Christ’s sake personally is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). 
    Those who shall partake of this glory are identified as those who are first sanctified and cleansed of sin “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). Have you surrendered yourself to Christ, and been added by the Lord to His glorious church?  (Read Acts 2:36-47)

 - 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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Eat Right!
By Edd Sterchi

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa. 55:2).
    Let’s admit something up front: There is food that is good for us and there is junk food. There is food that builds the bones and muscles, and there is food that clogs the arteries. There is food that provides energy, and there is food that adds fat. In short, there is good food and bad food.
    Now, understanding that, let us ask this: Why would people spend good money on bad food? I know the answer, because I have done this (and so have you). We do it because we like the way it tastes.
    God asked a similar question twenty-seven hundred years ago about how His people were feeding their souls. They seem to have been more interested consuming spiritual junk food than in eating a healthy spiritual diet. They were doing this by disobeying God and living in ways that dishonored Him. As a result of consuming the wrong spiritual diet, they were bringing spiritual sickness and harm to themselves.
    But God did not just give the warning of what would happen if they continued eating spiritual junk food, He gave them a dietary plan that would bring them back to spiritual health. They were to “forsake” their wicked ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:7) and “return to the LORD” (Isa. 55:7). And they were to consume the food that was good for their souls – the word of God (Isa. 55:11). Doing this would cause spiritual health which brings joy and peace (Isa. 55:12).
    There’s a great analogy in this for us. When the arteries of the soul are clogged through a bad spiritual diet, cardiac arrest of the spirit can happen. Instead of beating regularly and powerfully with love for God, the heart becomes cold and heavy and spiritual activity stops.
    Christian, do you desire a spiritually healthy life? Then hunger for His word. Feed on it, digest it, and allow it to generate spiritual strength and energy for your life. Eat some “soul food” every day.

- 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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I Will be Forever in His Debt
By Gerald Cowan
                                   
In Christ I’ve learned to give as well as take.
In serving others, I serve for his sake.
But it is also for my own soul’s sake.

His love has given me new life to live.
I’m giving back what Christ gave me to give.
By sharing him I earn the right to live.

The truest gift I can give is my life.
But I am his. He bought me with his life.
I give what is already his – my life.

What I am giving, Christ my Lord will keep
Until I wake from death’s long dreaded sleep.
He, through eternity, my soul will keep.

Although my debt to him is never paid,
In life or death I will not be afraid,
Secured by what the Lord and I have paid.

- 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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Easter
By Ron Thomas

    The significance of Easter to a great many people is in relation to the Lord’s resurrection from the grave. The importance of the Lord’s resurrection is in the message of hope to a people lost in sin (all are lost in sin; Romans 3:23). With this message of hope, is a message of warning. Paul spoke to those in Athens, saying, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31, ESV).  A coming day of judgment is something people understand as a matter of justice, but some confusion surrounds the idea of justice and precisely how it will be applied. For what will one be judged, what standard will be used to judge and what happens after the judgment is rendered?
    Briefly, let us address each question. For what will one be judged? The things done in this life. Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:10). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” The words “good” and “evil” are understood exclusively in relation to the Lord’s express will. 
    The standard used to judge us is the standard of God’s holy will as spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself (John 12:48). “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” This means the life we have chosen to live will be measured against the life the Lord wants us to live. If one chooses poorly, then on that day of judgment, the one who chose poorly will not hear pleasant words (cf. Matthew 25:37-43). 
    At Judgment, what happens? “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32, KJV). There is no chance we can escape this day, but there is an opportunity to escape the Lord’s disapproval. 
    Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? If so, change your way of thinking, confess Him as your Lord, be buried (immersion) with Him in baptism (Romans 6:3-7). Do this and live faithfully for Him (Rev. 2:10), and you will hear words that are most pleasant (Matthew 25:44-46). Before you know it, judgment day will arrive! For the faithful Christian, judgment day will be a grand day, but for the one who refuses to obey, judgment day will be a day of horror! Brighten your day and to Jesus obey.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
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A Strong Sense of Family
By Neal Pollard

    Trevor Matich was being interviewed on ESPN radio, asked about why he thought that Clemson had built such a strong football program in the last few years. His quick response was, "They have built a strong sense of family." He talked about how Head Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff wanted players to see their coaches not just as coaches but also as husbands and fathers. Consequently, the coaches' families spend a lot of time around the athletic facilities or hanging out with the players. They have intentionally built a strong family environment that doesn't compartmentalize but rather coalesces. Recruits talk about sensing it when they make a visit, but, more importantly, players on the roster speak just as strongly about it. 
    How many teams make such an emphasis isn't clear, but you don't seem to hear that said often enough. While I find such human interest stories heartwarming, it makes me wonder, "Do people describe our congregation with similar terminology?" Are we creating, developing, and nurturing a strong sense of family?
    The early church definitely majored in   that priority. From the time the first church of our Savior was established, we find this emphasis (Acts 2:42-47). Often, New Testament writers spoke of the church with family terminology (Eph. 2:19; 3:15; 1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2; Ti. 2:1-8; etc.). The church exists as a subcommunity within the broader community around them. People from that broader community are looking for greater intimacy and meaningful relationships. One place they often turn is to various churches. Whether through our efforts to evangelize or through their seeking that brings them within our walls, we have an opportunity to expose them to a "strong sense of family." 
    But, by being faithful to New Testament teaching, we offer this in the context of truth rather than error. We cannot settle for simply offering truth, as eternally vital as that is. Along with it, we must love, embrace, and work to incorporate them into our family. God has His church designed to follow His written will in the context of a tight-knit, spiritual family. A true sense of family will draw them into a relationship with us. It will better open their hearts and minds to being drawn into a relationship with Christ. The net effect will be greater than a national championship. It will be many, many souls won to eternal life. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to be spiritual family!

- Neal Pollard preaches for the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, CO. He also publishes an e-mail newsletter, Daily Bread. You can visit their website at http://www.bearvalleycofc.com/
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Reflecting His Light
By Johnny Hester

    Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (11 March 1811 – 23 September 1877) was a French astronomer and mathematician who specialized in celestial mechanics and is best known for predicting the existence and position of Neptune using only mathematics. Le Verrier observed slight irregularities in the orbit of the planet Uranus. He surmised that this must be due to some unknown influence or attraction. Searching for the attractive force led him to discover a formerly “invisible” planet, Neptune.
    What does this have to do with us? Brothers and sisters, here’s the point: If we, as individuals and as a church, are truly being influenced by our association with Christ, people will notice a difference in our lives and curiously investigate what the cause might be.
    You have perhaps read many times the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5:14-16. Please read them once again in the context of what we are here studying. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
    Light doesn’t have to draw attention to itself—it is self-evident. Just so, as your life orbits around Christ you reflect His light into a world darkened by sin. People who observe the difference in your life will wonder what it is that makes you different. This curiosity may well lead someone to discover the One whose Light you are reflecting.

 - Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at johnnyhester@yahoo.com
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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
By Steve Higginbotham

    The story is told of a missionary who once visited a very primitive tribe of people. These people had very little contact with the outside world, and they were totally unfamiliar with many things we take for granted. One of the things they had never before seen was a mirror. The only way they knew what they looked like was the very poor reflection one can sometimes see in the water. One day, the missionary hung a mirror on a tree. The tribe's chief happened to walk past the mirror, so he stopped, stood there, and looked at it for quite some time. Then he walked directly to the missionary and asked him to explain.  The missionary explained what a mirror was and that it was a reflection of what he looked like. The chief promptly walked back to the mirror, took it off the tree, and smashed it on the ground. The missionary asked him why he broke the mirror to which the chief replied, "Because the face that was being reflected was ugly."
    When I heard that story, I couldn't help but think that in spite of all our sophistication, we still behave quite primitively at times.  God's word functions a mirror to our soul. We can look at it and learn exactly what we look like to God and others. Sometimes, the reflection is not very flattering.  So we're left with a choice.  Do we try to destroy the mirror?  Do we refuse to look in the mirror again?  Or do we do what we can to improve the way we look?
    I know what the tribal chief did, but what do you do?  Give it some thought.

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:23-25).

- 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
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Things Jesus and His Apostles Never Said
By Seth Myers

    When we open the New Testament, we have the blessing of reading two invaluable things:
1. The inspired record of the things Jesus did and taught.
2. The inspired record of the things Jesus’ chosen apostles did and taught.
In no other place can one find these treasures.
    In no other place on planet Earth can either of these treasures be found. Therefore, we ought to take great pains to note the things we find in the New Testament Scriptures, as well as those things we do NOT find. The latter—common practices or traditions that are not found in the NT—is what we will consider for a moment here.
    Take, for instance, the question of how to be saved. There is a sad state of affairs in our day: many things today are said and taught in response to this all-important, eternity-altering question which are simply not in the New Testament. The question we should ask ourselves is this: “What did the Lord and/or His apostles tell people when they were asked this question?” The answer to that question will be the most valuable information one could ever hope to obtain on the subject. Everything else is completely irrelevant, and utterly worthless.
    Here are some examples of things neither the Lord, nor His apostles, nor any other inspired man, ever told anyone to do to be saved:
  1. Drink two 12 oz. cans of your favorite soft drink.
  2. Bathe three hours in 95º lemon juice.
  3. Read any four of Shakespeare’s classics.
  4. Acknowledge your sinfulness, “Believe in” Jesus, and “Call upon His name.”
  5. “Believe in” Jesus and pray the Sinner’s Prayer.
None of these things were ever spoken by the Lord or His inspired apostles. Therefore, as absurd as #2 most certainly is, it is no more absurd than number #5—for their absurdities are both due to the simple fact that they are not from God and will thus not result in salvation!
    In truth, the only way one can know how to be saved is to look to the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) on the subject, in the New Testament. When one does that, this is the pattern one finds:
  1. HEAR the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:17)
  2. BELIEVE the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:10)
  3. REPENT of Your Sins (Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 26:20)
  4. CONFESS JESUS [i.e., as the Son of God in truth] (Rom. 10:17; cf. Acts 8:34)
  5. BE IMMERSED, IN WATER, UNTO [“in order to“—i.e., “for the purpose of”] THE REMISSION OF SINS (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27; Jn. 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:20,21)
In no other way can man be saved, but in the way which God has prescribed; and this is what God has said. Will you believe God (cf. Rom. 4:3; Isa. 43:10; Jn. 8:46; Deut. 1:32)?

- Seth Myers preaches for the Highway Church of Christ in Sullivan, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://hwycoc.com/
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Treasure!
By Joe Slater

    Maybe you should vacation in the Rockies this summer. Back in 2010 Mr. Forest Fenn, a New Mexico art dealer, hid a chest of gold nuggets and precious jewels worth about $2-million somewhere in the Rockies. He even published a map and poem he said contained all the hints you need to find the treasure. Some 350,000 people have tried to locate it, all to no avail. A few people have died in accidents while searching.
    Mr. Fenn said he hid the cache to promote fishing and other outdoor activities involving families pursuing the riches. “I wanted to give kids something to do. They spend too much time in the game room or playing with their little handheld texting machines.”**
    No doubt our children would be better served by hiking and fishing than by endlessly playing video games! And I understand the attraction of a $2-million stash of gold and jewels! I’m disturbed, however, by the preoccupation with “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17), contrasted with the evident lack of interest in eternal, spiritual matters.
    Jesus spoke of a treasure hidden in a field; the man who found it sold everything he had to buy the field. It wasn’t money, but God’s kingdom (Matthew 13:44). I’d love to see 350,000 people seeking the kingdom with the intensity they show toward gold and jewels.
    What about us? What are we telling our children when we will move heaven and earth to attend every practice and every game for sports, but casually miss Bible classes and church? We say God is most important, but is He? Really? Think about it.

- 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

**https://www.yahoo.com/news/millionaire-hid-treasure-rocky-mountains-134324925.html.
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