2009 Vol 8 #12
For a moment think of how much God loves
you. Consider the blessings so
easily taken for granted: air, light,
water. God provides these without
regard to wealth, morality or
spirituality (Mat. 5:45). Without
these basic blessings life could not
exist. Yet they all exist because
of God's love.
provided other blessings we are free to
pursue. Although available to all,
they are sought by few:
forgiveness, grace, reconciliation,
hope. These blessings are found
only in Christ, each extended through
So what keeps
the human race from enjoying these
greatest blessings of God? For
some it is ignorance. To those we
must carry the Word. For others it
is indifference. We must convince
them of the reality of God's love.
To be loved is
one of our basic needs. People
spend billions in a vain effort to feel
loved while God supplied that need at
the cross. It is that pinnacle
moment in time that has become the
doorway to the deeper blessings of God.
questions the existence of God.
They cast doubt upon His loving
nature. In raising these issues
they overlook the real question.
You need not worry whether or not God
loves you. The real question is,
"do you love God?" (John 14:15).
Not long ago, my wife and I were
cleaning out one of our closets.
On the top shelf, in the back of the
closet was an unmarked box. So I
pulled it down and was surprised to see
that inside of it were all the “love
letters” that I wrote to her while we
Well, I had
forgotten what I had written, so I
pulled out a few to read. Oh
my! Talk about corny and
embarrassing! Some day my children
will get a kick out of reading Daddy’s
love letters to Mama.
But as I took a
break to read some of these letters to
my wife, I found that she remembered
them. They weren’t strange words
to her. While I had no memory of
these letters, and was busy analyzing
handwriting samples to make sure I
indeed wrote them, My wife needed no
such analysis. She knew the
letters were from me, and she remembered
the very words I had written.
The fact that
she remembered my letters so well
indicates that those letters were
cherished by her.
Now here’s my
point…How well do you cherish God’s love
for you? You do know that He has
written several “love letters” to you,
don’t you? Have you forgotten
their content? Have you even taken
the time to open and read what He had to
say to you? I might go so far as
to suggest that the way we cherish or
fail to cherish His words are an
indicator of the depth of our love for
Him. Give it some thought.
- Steve Higginbotham is the minister for
the South Green Street church of Christ,
Glasgow, Kentucky. He may be
contacted at email@example.com
© 2008, South Green Street Church of
Christ, Glasgow, Kentucky.
Permission is granted to copy these
Love in a Stable and Dependable
do not "feel loved" because they do not
know what love is, how to give or
receive true love. The agape love of God
is more important than the love of any
and all humans. One of the great needs
of any person is to experience the agape
love of God in and with others in a
dependable, stable relationship.
This love does
not require acceptance and approval. It
is not a "relationship" in the common
sense of that word. Love must be in the
relationship, but separate from the
relationship. Love is not possession or
Love is the
desire for a valid "connection" with
others. Love as affection is the
emotional connection. Love is mutual
covenant, the "reciprocal connection."
Love as unselfish good will can easily
function without a connection or
relationship. It seeks only what is
truly good for its object, even if the
object is an enemy.
Perfect love is
the "ultimate connection." It is from
God, the personification and fulfillment
of His love. Perfect means it is given
and received, shared and returned.
Perfect love casts out fear. It does not
abuse, neglect, or hurt another. It does
not fail to do good. If we know that is
God's attitude toward us, why be afraid?
If we know that is the attitude of
others toward us, why be afraid?
love is unconditional. It is ours no
matter what we do. But it does not bring
salvation for us unless it is perfected
in us, unless we share it with others
and return it to Him.
- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola
church of Christ in Dongola, IL.
He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one
of the most widely known of all the
parables that Jesus taught.
Additionally, it is also Jesus' longest
parable, comprising 22 verses (Luke
15:11-32). In The Parable of the
Prodigal Son, Jesus reaches the apex in
His response to the charge against Him
leveled by the scribes and Pharisees,
which was the accusation, "This man
receives sinners and eats with them."
And how did Jesus respond to this
murmuring? He responded by delivering
three parables in which He illustrated
quite emphatically His Father's great
and undying love for those who are lost:
The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The
Parable of the Lost Coin, and The
Parable of the Prodigal Son.
There is much
that could be said about this parable,
but I will keep my comments brief. The
Parable of the Prodigal Son continues
the theme of rejoicing and even adds to
it. The first half of the parable
illustrates rejoicing over a sinner who
returned, while the second half more
directly counters the situation Jesus
faced: the criticism of the religious
establishment about His willingness to
be with sinners. Jesus, by telling the
parable in the manner in which He did,
admonishes those who do not rejoice
about the interest in learning of
repentance and salvation that is
demonstrated by those very sinners in
whom the scribes and Pharisees detested.
The message is made abundantly clear: if
even God and heaven rejoice over the
repentance of one lost sinner, should we
on earth do anything less?
In the first
two parables, the lost were found by
searching. But in The Parable of the
Prodigal Son, the younger son was found
by waiting. During this time of Jesus'
earthly ministry, the spiritually lost
were already coming to Jesus. There was
no need for Him to seek them out. They
had been spiritually dead and were now
showing interest. They desired to be
taught by Jesus, because as Matthew
recorded, "…the multitudes were
astonished at His teaching: for He
taught them as one having authority, and
not as their scribes." (Matthew
7:28b-29) Yes, Jesus received them and
yes, He did eat with them. His
willingness to reach out to those
despised individuals would have
encouraged them to keep the laws they
already knew and to continue to listen
to Him for more instruction in God's way
But the parable
is not pertinent simply to those Jews
Jesus was teaching in the first century.
The lessons to be gleaned are timeless
messages for all as they depict so
vividly how much great love our Father
has for His lost children. He rejoices
over and honors every sinner who comes
to repentance. He does not require nor
wait for a full and formal apology. He
looks into the heart and perceives the
attitude of a contrite spirit, and He
comes toward us. This theme of joyful
acceptance, as similarly illustrated in
the first two parables of this chapter,
dominates the beginning of this parable.
This is the lesson illustrated by the
Father: He is always ready to welcome a
- David R.
Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland
Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.
He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
may also want to visit the
congregation's website at http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx
He Loves Me
past Sunday I was asked to address a
controversial subject. The examination
of this topic from the scriptures points
us in a positive direction. Many times
we must be willing to listen to
instruction that is pointed and
accurate. I have listened to hundreds of
sermons on certain topics that changed
my perspective. My gift reminds me that
the way a subject is communicated is
just about as important as the lesson
the truth in love, may grow up into him
in all things, which is the head, even
Christ: From whom the whole body fitly
joined together and compacted by that
which every joint supplieth, according
to the effectual working in the measure
of every part, maketh increase of the
body unto the edifying of itself in
love. - Eph 4:15-16
Every lesson I
prepare comes from the heart. Oral
communication for the cause of Christ
must be truthful. That truth should
always be honored with the call for the
authorization of the Word. The Love
factor motivates each of us to recall
that we are the family of God. When we
love each other with the teaching, it
does not come back to us empty-handed.
After all, the listener can tell the
with love equals growth. As we approach
anyone with the Good News that saves,
let us always remember how to connect to
the congregation or the individual. If
we want people to seek truth, the love
factor is absolutely a must.
"For God is not
unjust; he will not overlook your work
and the love that you showed for his
sake in serving the saints, as you still
do." - Heb 6:10
hearing words of hope and devotion for
the first time. Many are being loved.
Why you might ask?
because he first loved us." - 1 John
Do you remember
how much Christ loves you?
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the
Yorktown Road church of Christ in
Logansport Indiana. His weekly
devotional message, Life Thoughts, can
be found through this address: http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/
the Golden Rule
I read recently about one of the most
touching moments in sports I've ever
heard about. It took place at a
women's softball game on April 26.
Central Washington and Western Oregon
faced off against each other, with the
winner to receive a bid to the NCAA's
Division II playoffs.
a Western Oregon player, came to the
plate in the second inning with the
score tied 0-0 and two runners on
base. Sara had never hit a home
run in her lifetime. However,
things were about to change. She
connected on a pitch and hit the ball
over the center field fence. Due
to her excitement, she missed first
base. So she stopped and turned to
go back to the base. But when she
made the sudden stop and turn, she
collapsed to the ground, having torn her
Her first base
coach wanted to run out and help her,
but if she touched Sara, she would have
been counted out. As Sara lay on
the ground, umpires conferred and
determined that the best thing to do was
to allow Western Oregon to substitute a
pinch runner at first base (which would
have canceled the home run).
prepared to make the substitution when
she heard a voice: "Excuse me,
would it be OK if we carried her around
and she touched each bag?'" You
see, in softball, a teammate can't touch
a player while running the bases, but
there's no rule that says the opponents
can't touch her. So Mallory
Holtman and Liz Wallace, two players on
the opposing team offered to carry Sara
around the bases so that her home run
would not be counted as a single.
These two players gently picked up Sara,
and carried her around the bases,
allowing her to tap each base along the
way. After reaching home plate,
these two girls handed Sara off to her
later why she did it, Mallory Holtman
said, "Honestly, it's one of those
things that I hope anyone would do it
for me..." In other words, she was
practicing the "Golden Rule" "Do unto
others as you would have them do unto
much I can add to a touching story like
that. May it serve as an
inspiration to find ways in your own
life to look for people who could use a
hand. When we are less concerned
about winning" than we are about helping
others, we can truly begin to reflect
Jesus Christ in our lives.
whatever you want men to do for you, do
also to them, for this is the Law and
the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
- Alan Smith, author of the popular
"Thought For Today," and minister for
the White House church of Christ in
White House, TN, may be contacted at email@example.com
misc. goodies this issue
How to Be Happy
heart free from hate, your mind free
from worry, live simply, expect little,
give much, sing often, pray always, fill
your life with love, scatter sunshine,
forget self, think of others and their
feelings. Do as you would have done to
you. These are tried links in the
golden chain of contentment.
- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of
the Harrisburg church of Christ in
Harrisburg, IL. You may visit
their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Do you want Jesus to love you? Then keep
His commandments. “If you keep My
commandments, you will abide in My love,
just as I have kept My Father’s
commandments and abide in His love.”
Do you want to
show your love for Jesus? Then keep His
commandments. “If you love Me, keep My
commandments.” (John 14:15)
Do you want
God’s Spirit to lovingly abide in you?
Then keep His commandments. “Now he who
keeps His commandments abides in Him,
and He in him. And by this we know that
He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He
has given us.” (1 John 3:24).
Do you love
your brethren? Then keep God’s
commandments. “By this we know that we
love the children of God, when we love
God and keep His commandments.” (1 John
Do you want to
make it to heaven where love will reign
forevermore? Then keep God’s
commandments. “Blessed are those who do
His commandments, that they may have the
right to the tree of life, and may enter
through the gates into the city.”
“For this is
the love of God, that we keep His
commandments. And His commandments are
not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Jackson
church of Christ in Jackson, MO.
He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com
James C. Guy
For God so loVed
That He gAve
But have Everlasting
- James C. Guy, Canal Heights church of
Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama. He
may be contacted at THE BIBLE SAYS website
people more than they expect—cheerfully
TWO. Don’t believe all you hear, spend
all you have, or sleep all you want.
THREE. Smile when answering the phone.
Callers can hear it in your voice.
FOUR. Remember that great love and great
achievements involve great risk.
FIVE. When you say, “I’m sorry,” look
the person in the eye.
SIX. Be engaged at least six months
before you get married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Spend some time alone (Matthew
NINE. When you say, “I love you,” mean
it (1 Peter 1:22).
TEN. Never laugh at a dream. People
without dreams don’t have much.
ELEVEN. Don’t let a little dispute
injure a great friendship (Proverbs
TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly
THIRTEEN. Don’t judge people by their
relatives (Matthew 7:1).
FOURTEEN. Marry a man/woman you love to
talk to (1 Peter 3:7).
FIFTEEN. Do an anonymous kindness each
day (Ephesians 4:32).
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don’t lose the
lesson (James 1:1-3).
SEVENTEEN. When you make a mistake, take
immediate steps to correct it.
EIGHTEEN. In disagreements, fight
fairly. No name calling, threats, or
bringing up ancient history.
NINETEEN. Remember the three Rs: Respect
for self; Respect for others; and
Responsibility for all your actions.
TWENTY. When someone asks you a question
you don’t want to answer, smile and ask,
“Why do you want to know?”
TWENTY-ONE. Love deeply and
passionately. You might get hurt but
it’s the only way to live life
- Author Unknown; via the Belvedere
Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the
Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere,
SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this
congregation, and he may be contacted at
their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Hearts of Gold
this issue A Deed of
“Do a deed of
Though its end you might not see,
It may reach, like widening ripples
Down a long eternity.”
- Via The Encourager, the weekly
bulletin for the Calvert City church of
Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance
Cordle preaches for the
congregation. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Love and Care
thrills of life and love
That fill us with content
Are gifts of grace we give away
And ask no compliment.
It might be just a helping hand
We give to one, in need,
Or just a gift of caring grace --
When nothing else succeeds.
A little bit of love and care
That comes from you and me
Can lift a heart of grief and tears
From days of misery;
And it is heavenly ordained
That we -- of faith -- impart
The love and care God gives to us
To share with crying hearts.
- Submitted by Mark McWhorter.
Mark may be contacted at email@example.com
lonely souls there is no tomorrow,
Just yesterdays filled with trouble and
No today, no hope, no comfort and no
From the cruel past they can find no
For some there's darkness, the black
dark of the night,
So lost and confused, they wander
And when they draw near to the light,
And seek to escape, as though they are
Maybe they're happy when they're
Maybe they love it, maybe, but I don't
Maybe nobody ever treated them right,
Or maybe it's not so very black and
To the extent that we believe in our
And do exactly what we're told in His
We find happiness, and hope for
And learn to forget past trouble and
For in Him we find hope and comfort and
From the cruel past Jesus grants full
We leave the darkness of sins' long,
And bask in the warmth of His wonderful
In Jesus we find there's no need to
Or seek to escape, for we are not
We long for heaven when our time here is
We know He'll be There when our race
here is run!
If you don't know Him, O! Friend why do
He wants to help you, come now it's
He will embrace you and help you come
There is no other Friend like Jesus
Come to Him today, poor lost one come
Let Jesus cleanse you, He'll wash your
For Jesus loves you with a heavenly
And longs to take you to a Mansion
- H. L. Gradowith For more
information on H. L. Gradowith and
GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/
- the website of Tim Smith, minister of
the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.
|A Lovely Deed
A lovely deed
was in my heart;
I never set it free.
It died from lack of exercise;
And made its tomb in me."
- Tony's Scrapbook, Decatur Tribune,
August 10, 2005; from THE SOWER, a
weekly publication of the Arthur church
of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who
serves as minister and editor, may be
contacted at - firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
& sayings for bulletins and signs
"The test of
character is not whether you conform to
moral standards when they are the
community norm, but whether you continue
to adhere to them when the community
"A man shows
his character by what he laughs at."
"Wear a smile, and have friends. Wear a
scowl, and have wrinkles." (George
"There is only one thing more painful
than learning from experience, and that
is not learning from experience."
“People seldom improve when they have no
other model but themselves to copy
“How a man plays the game shows something
of his character; how he loses shows all
Christian life is a reproduction, not an
imitation, of the life of Christ.”
“Experience gained the hard way brings
knowledge that stays with you.”
”Experience is a very good teacher, but
a hard one. She gives the test first,
and then the lesson.”
“Deal with the faults of others at least
as gently as you deal with your own.”
“To be in the minority can be a test of
courage. To be in the majority is a test
“You can't push yourself forward by
patting yourself on the back.”
- via The
Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the
Dongola church of Christ, Dongola,
IL. Gerald Cowan serves the
congregation as minister. He may
be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
“Ten percent of
happenings are ninety percent of the
reaction to it. We are in
charge of our attitudes.”
“Dealing with network executives is like
being nibbled to death by ducks.” (Eric
“True humility is not an abject,
groveling, self-despising spirit; it is
but a right estimate of ourselves as God
sees us" (Tyron Edwards).
“Humility is strong - not bold; quiet -
not speechless; sure - not arrogant.”
“Peace starts with a smile.”