BulletinGold #93
September 2008 Vol 8 #7

----by David Bragg

    Many years 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;
      God hath not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
      But God hath promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way,
      Grace 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 12:9).
    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.

David Bragg, co-editor

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  

The "I Must's''  of Jesus

by: Dale Jenkins

     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 purpose."
    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 Christian.
    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 at: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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Approaching God
by: Joe Chesser

    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 flippantly:
   Solomon said, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” Ecclesiastes 5:1.
   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 3:5.
   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 5:23-24)?
    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 joeandareva@yahoo.com

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Jesus Never Quit!
by: 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 task.
    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

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The Middle Cross
by: Ronald Bartanen

     “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).
     Three crosses 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 sins.
     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 ron33dor@yahoo.com or via the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Jesus Christ, Our Hope
by: David R. Ferguson

    For 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 hearts."

Such 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 obedience!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted at davidferguson61@yahoo.com   You may also want to visit the congregation's website at http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

Jesus, the Master Craftsman

by: John Thomas Randolph

    A 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.

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Jesus The Christ - The Heart of the New Testament

* In Matthew He is the King of the Jews (2:2)
* In Mark He is the Servant of God (10:44-45)
* In Luke He is the Perfect Son of Man (9:56)
* In John He is the Exalted Son of God (20:30-31)
* In Acts He is the Ascended Lord (1:9-11)
* In Romans He is our Righteousness (3:21-25)
* In 1 Corinthians He is the Firstfruits from the Dead (15:20)
* In 2 Corinthians He is our Sin Offering (5:21)
* In Galatians He is the One Who Set us Free (2:20-21)
* In Ephesians He is the One Who Blesses (1:3)
* In Philippians He is the Joy Bringer (3:1,3; 4:4)
* In Colossians He is the Pre-Eminent One (1:18)
* In 1 Thessalonians He is the Returning Lord (4:13-18)
* In 2 Thessalonians He is the World’s Judge (1:7-9)
* In 1 Timothy He is our Mediator (2:5)
* In 2 Timothy He is the Bestower of Crowns (4:8)
* In Titus He is the Great God and Savior (1:3-4)
* In Philemon He is the Equalizer (16)
* In Hebrews He is the Eternal Rest (4:8-11)
* 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 (3:9)
* In 1 John He is the Word of Life (1:1)
* In 2 John He is the Target of the anti-Christ (7)
* In 3 John He is the Personification of Truth (1-4)
* In Jude He is the Believer’s Hope (24)
* In Revelation He is the Victorious Lamb (5:6)

- 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

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
by: 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 follow Him!

- Stefano R. Mugnaini preaches for the Essex Village church of Christ in Charleston, SC, He may be contacted at smugnaini@comcast.net or through the congregation's website at: http://www.essexvillage.org/

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Truths About Christ

He became poor that we might become rich (Jas. 2:5).
He was born that we might be born again (John 1:14).
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 8: 32-36).
He was made sin that we might be made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
He died that we might live (John 5: 24,25).

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

More Like You, and Less Like Me

by: Clay Harrison

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

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If He Should Come Today

If He should come today
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 http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Take It All To Jesus 

If you’re 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

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Jesus the Intended

Transcended from eternity,
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

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Gold Mines
----quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs this issue

We would do well to follow Martin Luther's dictum: "Peace if possible, truth at all costs."

- Gregory Alan Tidwell, The Spirit and the Truth, Gospel Advocate, September 2007, p. 24.

"ALTHOUGH God demands a whole heart, He will accept a broken one if He gets all the pieces."
- Via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

THE LORD’S 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.

Smile and 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 thing.

- 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

To be almost saved, is to be totally lost!

- via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Visit their website at http://www.highwaycofc.com

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

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