Vol 8 #7
ago, while preparing for my very first
sermon, my father handed me this poem,
penned by the imitable Annie Flint:
"God hath not
promised skies always blue, flower
strewn pathways all our lives through;
hath not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without
hath promised strength for the day,
rest for the labor, light for the way,
for the trials, help from above,
unfailing sympathy, undying love."
Now, after 30 years
of sermons and Bible classes, I am
reminded each day of that one simple
verse. When I find myself daily
waging a familiar battle with
frustration, it is His love that gives
me the strength to strap on His armor
and pull myself upright upon the solid
foundation of His promises (Mat.
11:28-30; Gal. 6:2; 1 Pet. 5:7).
These latter days have more forcefully
reminded me of the need, and stirred a
longing to more fully embrace the
attitude of that great Apostle to the
Gentiles, who found in Jesus the
strength to "do all things"
(Philippians 4:13; cf. 2 Corinthians
We serve such a
wonderful God. He is marvelous
not because He shields us from all
pain or isolates us from hurt and
sadness and disease. He is
marvelous because, even there, He
permits us to find joy. God is
great because of the promises He keeps
and the victory He gives to everyone
who believes in Him and obeys no
matter what the cost. So today I
will again resolve to stand for
Him. Is your burden heavy?
Look around and take courage, you are
not standing alone.
The "I Must's'' of Jesus
I once heard a
preacher make light of his fellow
preachers for tossing around words like
"must" and "have to." I didn't agree with
him, for the Bible clearly uses such
words. But the longer his barb has hung in
my mind, the more I think I understand
what he meant. We do toss those words
around a little too lightly. They are
designed to be heavy words.
The word "must" first
appears in the New Testament in Matthew
16:21 as Jesus began warning the disciples
of His impending crucifixion.
In Luke 4:43 Jesus
issues the "must" of responsibility: "I
must preach the Kingdom of God to other
cities also, for I was sent for this
Luke also records for
us a transaction that lets us know that
sometimes the needs of others' "musts"
came into His scope: "When Jesus came to
the place, He looked up and said to him,
'Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today
I must stay at your house'" (Luke 19:5).
On two occasions Jesus
shows us the importance of obedience to
the scriptures with the "musts" that He
issues (Luke 22:37; 24:44).
And the words of
necessity are clear from the lips of the
Lord when it comes to worshiping His
Father (John 4:24).
In John 9:4 Jesus
teaches says: "I must work the works of
Him who sent Me while it is day; the night
is coming when no one can work."
Of course we know that
greatest question ever asked involves a
"must," "What must I do to be saved?"
(Acts 16:30). But even after that question
has been answered and followed correctly,
there are still some "musts" for the
For a culture that
prides its "postmodern" self in not
accepting being "told" what it has to do,
there are "musts" for any person who would
be a follower of Christ. Among
those things clearly pointed out by Christ
involve: denying self and taking up one's
cross responsibilities (Luke 4:43),
inconveniencing ourselves to meet the
needs of others (Luke 19:5), and being
involved in the work of God (John 9:4-5).
I didn't ask it
lightly: What must you do?
- Dale Jenkins; via The Encourager, the
weekly bulletin for the Calvert City
church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.
You may visit the congregation's website
Sometimes we forget who we are.
Sometimes we think that we are the
center of the universe, and that
everything rotates around us.
Sometimes we get so self-absorbed that
we forget who is God and who is
not. So, from time to time we need
a little reminder that it is actually
God who created and maintains our world,
not us. As Paul told those in
Athens, God “is not served by human
hands, as if he needed anything, because
he himself gives all men life and breath
and everything else … ‘for in him we
live and move and have our being’” (Acts
17:25, 27). Perhaps the high gas
and food prices will serve as a reminder
that we aren’t as in control of our
lives as we might have thought.
Forgetting who is God is a
serious mistake. There is a
tendency to somehow equate ourselves
with God either by elevating ourselves
to his level, or by thinking that we can
reduce him to ours. But one thing
that the Bible is clear about and where
there is no possibility of changing is
in how we are to approach God. We
must always approach him with reverence
and awe, never carelessly nor
Solomon said, “Guard your
steps when you go to the house of God”
Jacob said, “Surely the
Lord is in this place … How awesome is
this place. It is none other than the
house of God” Genesis 28:16-17.
To Moses God said, “Take
off your sandals, for the place where
you are standing is holy ground” Exodus
After Nadab and Abihu were
slain by God because of their
presumptuous sins, Moses told Aaron,
this is “what the Lord spoke of when he
said, ‘Among those who approach me I
will show myself holy; in the sight of
all the people I will be held in
honor.’” Leviticus 10:3.
God spoke through Isaiah to
say to Israel, “When you come to appear
before me … stop burning meaningless
offerings. Your incense is
detestable to me ” Isaiah 1:12-13.
The writer of Hebrews
wrote, “… let us be thankful and so
worship God acceptably with reverence
and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming
fire’” Hebrews 12:28-29.
These are sobering
verses. Do you, like me, sometimes
forget how awesome it is to come into
the presence of God? Do you
sometimes forget how serious it is for
you to worship God in both spirit and
truth (John 4:23-24)? Do you
sometimes forget how sinful you are and
how holy he is? Do you sometimes
forget that when you pray you are
speaking directly to God through
Jesus? Do you sometimes forget
that you need to examine yourself in
relation to Christ before taking the
Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:28-29)?
Do you sometimes forget that you need to
reconciled with your brother before
offering worship to God (Matthew
Approaching God is a
serious matter, one that needs our full
attention. Never think that
approaching God should be done
thoughtlessly or insincerely or in any
way that robs him of his honor as the
Righteous and Almighty God.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland
church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.
He may be contacted at email@example.com
Raymond C. Kelcy
Jesus did not quit
meeting with His disciples because Judas
was a thief, nor because Peter was fickle
at times. He didn’t quit preaching and
living right because some of His brethren
were unforgiving and unkind. He did not
quit His post of leadership because He had
in His presence the adulterous woman, a
gang of Pharisees, or narrow-minded
demon-worshippers. Jesus did not quit.
Have you quit? What is
the reason for it? Any reason you might
name, Jesus could have given the same. He
had every reason to be discouraged. His
own disciples were so slow to learn. His
enemies were bent on His destruction. But
He did not quit. He said: “Know ye not
that I must be about my Father’s
business?” (Luke 2:49). And when the end
of His earthly life was in sight, Jesus
said to His Father, “I have finished the
work which Thou gavest me to do” (John
17:4). He did not quit. He finished His
When you come to the
end of life will you say, “I finished the
work God has given me to do?” Or, will you
be compelled to say: “I started, but
quit!” Will you stand before the judgment
bar of God and admit that you were a
quitter? Eternal life is promised to
those who endure to the end (Matt. 10:22).
There will be no consolation in the
judgment day to point back to your baptism
unless you can also point back to a life
of faithful endurance.
Quit wasn’t in Jesus’
vocabulary; neither should it be in ours.
We need to be like Paul who, in his
imitation of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), said:
“Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow
after, if that I may apprehend that for
which also I am apprehended of Christ
Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to
have apprehended: but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which
are before, I press toward the mark for
the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-14).
- Raymond C. Kelcy, via the weekly
bulletin of the Harrisburg church of
Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may
visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
“And when they
were come to the place, which is called
Calvary, there they crucified him, and the
malefactors, one on the right hand, and
the other on the left” (Luke 23:33).
stood erect on the brow of Mount Calvary
for all the world to gaze upon. Each
holds a message for us to ponder.
Upon two of them were men condemned justly
for their crimes. As such, they are
symbolic of all men, for “All have
sinned...” (Romans 3:23), and “The wages
of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). One of
these, unrepentant and without faith, died
in his sins, while the other, mindful of
the error of his ways, and having his eyes
opened to the innocence and royalty of our
Lord, sought mercy of Him, dying to his
On the middle
cross, however, was One that had done
“nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41).
Indeed, this was He who was “in all points
tempted like as we are, yet without sin”
(Hebrews 4:15b). He, unlike the
thieves, was neither dying in his sins,
nor to his sins (being sinless), but for
our sins. It was by His merit, not
that of the penitent believing thief, that
guaranteed the thief’s place in Paradise
(Luke 23:42-43). Isaiah, by the
Spirit, had foreseen the coming of One who
would be “wounded for our transgressions
and bruised for our iniquities” when he
would “make his soul an offering for sin”
(Isaiah 53:5-6, 10). One thief’s
cross was a cross of rebellion, the
other’s a cross of repentance, but the
middle cross was the cross of
redemption. As Peter wrote, Jesus
“bare our sins in his own body on the
tree, that we, being dead to sins, should
live unto righteousness: by whose stripes
ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Friend, which thief
represents you? Would you die in your
sins? or to your sins? Have you
turned in faith to Him who took your place
on that middle cross? Have you in baptism
been buried with Him and risen to walk “in
newness of life” (Romans
6:3-4)? Don’t go into eternity
without hope, as did the rebellious thief,
but fully trust Him who died on that
middle cross for your redemption, as did
the penitent thief.
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for
Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.
He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or via the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
David R. Ferguson
those who are outside of Jesus Christ
and living in rebellion due to their
continued disobedience to follow His
Gospel plan of salvation, they have no
hope for any enduring epitaph for good,
for those outside of Christ have no hope
of eternal life. But for those of us who
are in Jesus Christ we alone are able to
have that " . . . peace of God, which
passes all understanding . . . "
(Philippians 4:7). Why? Because only
those who are clothed in the garments of
the Savior (Galatians 3:27) have hope of
eternity spent with the Creator of the
universe, for they alone are no longer
considered to be enemies of God (James
4:4)! In fact, we have such a loving and
forgiving God that not only are we no
longer considered His enemy, we are
considered His children! We have been
adopted as His sons and daughters
(Ephesians 1:5), and we can call out to
Him as our Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).
But He does not even stop there, which
was boundlessly much more than ever we
could have hoped. No, our Father is so
loving, He is so kind, He is so
merciful, and He is so gracious that He
makes us joint-heirs with His one and
only truly begotten Son, and as His
children we, too, can share in the
glorification of Jesus Christ (Romans
8:17)! So let us examine the hope we
have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our hope in Christ
refers to our expectations of
reconciliation with God through His
divine atonement as a blessed
expectation for eternity. The Apostle
Paul wrote in Romans 5:5, "And hope
makes not ashamed; because the love of
God is shed abroad in our hearts by the
Holy Spirit Who is given unto us." Paul
also stated in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22,
"For all the promises of God in Him are
yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of
God by us. Now He that establishes us
with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
is God; Who has also sealed us, and
given the earnest of the Spirit in our
expectation of the righteous in
Christ’s perfect obedience is the
source of our great joy and hope. As
the Wise Writer stated in Proverbs
10:28, "The hope of the righteous
shall be gladness: but the expectation
of the wicked shall perish."
Unfortunately, many people today,
particularly those who are caught up
in the New Age movements, speak of
"Mother Nature" as the cause and
effect of all that comes upon them in
this life. But if our eye is fixed
upon the Person of Jesus Christ we
will see Him as He is on the throne of
God as King of kings and Lord of
lords. We will understand truly that
God is sovereign, and He is in
control. And this understanding
sweetens all such mercies to see how
they came to us. They come from such a
loving, nail-pierced hand – a hand
that bore the scars that our sins
inflicted – and it should bring us to
shame to see the great price He paid
in our behalf when we gaze upon that
hand held out so lovingly, so
pleadingly, for us to surrender our
lives to Him! As we are told in Psalm
20:7, "Some trust in chariots, and
some in horses: but we will remember
the name of the LORD our God." That is
what comes of true discipleship! We
remember the name of our Redeemer, and
we call out to Him in faithful
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the
Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon,
IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com
may also want to visit the
congregation's website at http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx
misc. goodies this issue
Jesus, the Master Craftsman
John Thomas Randolph
distinguished British violinist named
Peter Cropper was such an outstanding
musician that the Royal Academy of Music
in London had honored him by lending him a
priceless 258-year old Stradivarius. It is
the dream of every violinist to be able to
play such an instrument, but a terrible
thing happened while Cropper was
performing in Finland. He tripped and fell
on top of the Stradivarius and broke it.
Cropper’s pleasant dream was turned into a
horrible nightmare. He was inconsolable.
Then a London violin
dealer told him of a master craftsman who
could repair the Stradivarius. To make a
long story short, the repairs were so
perfect they could not even be seen, and
the soaring notes of the instrument were
more beautiful than they had ever been
before—all because the broken parts were
placed in the hands of a master craftsman
who then applied his healing touch.
Yes, Jesus Christ is
the one for whom we have been looking.
Something terrible happens, sin enters,
and our lives are broken. Then we turn
them over to Jesus Christ, who is the
Master Craftsman of all time. He takes the
broken pieces and puts them back together
again, and we are better than new!
- John Thomas Randolph, The Best Gift
(adapted); via House to House Heart to
Heart, September/October 2008.
Christ - The Heart of the New Testament
In Matthew He is the King of the Jews
* In Mark He is the Servant of God
* In Luke He is the Perfect Son of Man
* In John He is the Exalted Son of God
* In Acts He is the Ascended Lord (1:9-11)
* In Romans He is our Righteousness
* In 1 Corinthians He is the Firstfruits
from the Dead (15:20)
* In 2 Corinthians He is our Sin Offering
* In Galatians He is the One Who Set us
* In Ephesians He is the One Who Blesses
* In Philippians He is the Joy Bringer
* In Colossians He is the Pre-Eminent One
* In 1 Thessalonians He is the Returning
* In 2 Thessalonians He is the World’s
* In 1 Timothy He is our Mediator (2:5)
* In 2 Timothy He is the Bestower of
* In Titus He is the Great God and Savior
* In Philemon He is the Equalizer (16)
* In Hebrews He is the Eternal Rest
* In James He is the Lord of Hosts (5:4)
* In 1 Peter He is the Theme of Old
Testament Prophecy (1:19-21)
* In 2 Peter He is the Longsuffering One
* In 1 John He is the Word of Life (1:1)
* In 2 John He is the Target of the
* In 3 John He is the Personification of
* In Jude He is the Believer’s Hope (24)
* In Revelation He is the Victorious Lamb
- Author unknown; via the weekly bulletin
of the Harrisburg church of Christ in
Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their
website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Stefano R. Mugnaini
The foundational fact
of Christian faith is the resurrection of
Jesus Christ. It is this event that
crowns him as Lord, caps His earthly
ministry, and confirms all that He claims
about Himself. If the Resurrection
really happened, then Christianity is
Truth; the force of our faith lies in the
reality of this event.
Numerous arguments for and against have
been advanced, but they boil down to a
very few genuine questions. First,
what is undisputed? That Jesus died
on the cross is a historical fact, more
attested than any other act of ancient
history. That His followers began a
religion that quickly filled the Earth is
also well-established. That
the majority of the earliest disciples
suffered martyrdom is beyond
question. The ultimate issue? What
happened to the body of Jesus? Was
there any legitimate challenge to the
apostolic claim that He was raised?
In Acts 2, Peter
essentially challenged the crowd to
contradict the statement that Jesus was
raised. He had no takers. Either
Christ was raised, or, as the Pharisees
claimed, believers had stolen the
body. Later, maybe less
than thirty years later, Peter would
himself be crucified for his faith.
Likewise the rest of the apostles.
Who would die for a ruse that they
themselves had orchestrated? The
only logical conclusion is that the
resurrection is a historical event.
We have a risen Lord, and He bids us
- Stefano R. Mugnaini preaches for the
Essex Village church of Christ in Charleston, SC,
He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or through the congregation's website at:
He became poor that we might become rich
He was born that we might be born again
He became a servant that we might become
sons (Gal. 4:6,7).
He had no home that we might have a home
in heaven (Matt. 8:20)
He was bound that we might be free (John
He was made sin that we might be made
righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
He died that we might live (John 5:
- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of
the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.
You may visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
|Hearts of Gold
More Like You, and Less Like Me
Heavenly Father, help me be
More like You, and less like me!
Not my will, but Thine be done,
From dawn's first light to setting sun.
At eventide, then may I rest
Assured that I have done my best.
Within my heart, sow seeds of love,
And bring the harvest from above,
That all I meet may truly know
My Lord and Savior where I go.
Heavenly Father, help me be
More like You, and less like me.
- Clay Harrison; via the weekly bulletin
of the Harrisburg church of Christ in
Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their
website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
If He Should
If He should
And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Savior has no share,
What would He say?
IF He should come today
And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim,
I had not even looked for Him,
What would He say?
IF He should come today
Would I be glad—quite glad?
Remembering He had died for all,
And none through me had heard His call,
What would I say?
--Author unknown; via THE SOWER, a
weekly publication of the Arthur church
of Christ, Arthur, IL. You may visit
their website at
Take It All
always in a dither
With far too much to do,
If your life’s a constant hassle
And just too much for you,
If you’re plagued and vexed with worries
And life’s more than you can bear,
Why not take it all to Jesus
Silently in prayer?
He’ll comfort, rest and soothe you,
He’ll help you to unwind,
And as an added bonus
He’ll give you peace of mind.
- Author unknown; via THE SOWER, a weekly
publication of the Arthur church of
Christ, Arthur, IL. You may visit their
website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
Descended from the heaven,
Blended with humanity,
Attended to God’s leaven.
Defended the abiding Word,
Tended our every need,
Mended disease our souls incurred,
Bended in death, did concede.
Ended Satan’s wicked reign,
Ascended into glory,
Commended, in heaven again,
Extended God’s love story!
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg
church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.
He may be contacted at email@example.com
& sayings for bulletins and signs
do well to follow Martin Luther's
dictum: "Peace if possible, truth at all
Gregory Alan Tidwell, The Spirit and the
Truth, Gospel Advocate, September 2007,
"ALTHOUGH God demands a whole heart, He
will accept a broken one if He gets all
PRAYER is comprised of 66 words. The
Ten Commandments contain 179 words.
The Declaration of Independence, 1300
words. U.S. government regulations
on the sale of cabbage, 26,911 words.
take a cloud off your face.
The person who can laugh at himself will
never cease to be amused.
Always do the right thing first. You can
find out later if it was also the smart
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
almost saved, is to be totally lost!
Power is not revealed by striking hard or
often, but by striking true.
The good Lord didn’t create anything
without a purpose, but mosquitoes come
close - Honore de Balzac