BELONGINGS OR BELONGING?

By Joe Slater – Via Bulletin Gold

“What do you want for Christmas?” I already have my two front
teeth, so mny stock reply is, “I don’t know” (shrug). That frustrates
the ones asking, but it’s true! I have no pressing needs. Even my
wish list is pretty much empty.

Each passing year makes it clearer that the things I really need
and want can’t be purchased with money! As our Savior so aptly
put it, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things
he possesses” (Luke 12:15). I want the presence of (not presents
from) my family. I want their health and safety, and above all
their close walk with God.

I don’t need more belongings, but I definitely need a sense of
belonging. God Himself said it isn’t good for us to be alone
(Genesis 2:18). Family fills that need for belonging in marvelous
ways! For that very reason, Satan relentlessly attacks the nuclear
family. As early as Eden he pitted Adam and Eve against each
other. Today his agents seek to redefine what a family is.
Destruction of the family opens the door to finding that sense of
belonging in unwholesome places.

As precious as earthly families are, I also need to belong to
God’s spiritual family. The love, fellowship, and support of
brothers and sisters in Christ surpass anything money can buy.
By myselfI won’t survive, but as we mutually strive to serve God
our Father and Jesus our Elder Brother, we will enjoy certain
victory! Satan throws roadblocks the church’s way just as he does
with earthly families, tempting us to find our sense of belonging
in worldly organizations or even false religious groups. Let us
remain steadfast!

I hope you get just what you want and need for Christmas: not
mere belongings, but belonging.

WHAT TIME IS IT?

By Joe Slater Via Bulletin Gold

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high
time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is
nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Saturdays and Sundays used to be my opportunities to “sleep
in.” School was out, and church wasn’t a priority. On school
days, however, my parents would say, “It’s time to get up! You
don’t want to be late for school.”

Some of the Christians to whom Paul wrote in Romans needed
to wake up! Physical sleep wasn°t the problem; Paul used sleep
as a metaphor for their spiritual lethargy.

Who knows why they had become sluggish? Being the capital
of the empire, the city of Rome contained every vice, every
philosophy, and every strange religion you can imagine.
Christians might well struggle to stay true to the gospel. How
should they interact with different religious groups? What should
their relationship to the government be? How should they treat
fellow Christians and people in general? Wrestling with such
issues can make you tired and sleepy!

Paul exhorts: “Wake up!” Why? Because “now our salvation
is nearer than when we first believed.” This salvation refers not
to our initial cleansing at baptism, but our ultimate salvation
when the Lord takes us to Heaven. Paul wasn’t saying that Jesus
return was imminent, but our departure to be with Christ
(Philippians 1:23) draws nearer every day.

Our challenges aren’t identical to those of the Romans, but
vice and false religions confront us too. And the same lethargy
infects us, especially after we’ve been in Christ several years.
Time draws shorter for each of us every day. That being so, may
God help us to wake up!

CHURCHES OF CHRIST

By Ronald Bartanen Via Bulletin Gold

Congregations usually identified by the term “churches
of Christ” consists of a people who want to be known
individually as Christians, in honor of Christ. We have no
earthly headquarters, and take as our one rule of faith and
practice the New Testament seriptures. We endeavor to be
neither more nor less than believers in Christ were from the
beginning. We believe that, as New Testament believers,
when we believed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God
who died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Cor.
15:1-4), repented of our sins, confessed our faith and were
baptized (immersed) in the name of the Lord Jesus for the
remission of sins, the Lord added us to His church (Acts
2:36-38, 41, 47). We have not desired to join a denomination,
all of which were unknown to the apostles Christians.

What we do “in word or in deed” is not dictated by
and early denominational councils, but is to be “in the name of (by
authority of) the Lord” (Col. 3:17). Our plea is for
restoration of simple New Testament Christianity as
established by Christ and taught by the apostles, with
Christ as our creed, and the inspired word as our infallible
guide. This alone can be a sufficient ground for the unity
of be lievers, for which Jesus prayed prior to His crucifixion.
(John 17:21).

A plea that we have commonly heard and voiced has
ben “Let us call Bible things by Bible names, and let
us do Bible things in Bible ways. Let us speak where
the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

THE NECESSITY OF BELIEVING IN JESUS

By Jell Aretle – Via Bulletin Gold

One of the key teachings of the Bible is that faith is essential
to pleasing God. In Hebrews 11:6, we read: “And without faith it
is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him.” This verse shows us two important aspects
of faith: belief and action.

Belief means trusting that God is who he stays he is and that he
will do what he promises. It is not enough to have a vague or
general idea of God; we need to know him personally and
intimately through his word and his Spirit. We need to believe
that he is the creator, the sustainer, the redeemer, and the judge
of all things. We need to believe that he loves us, cares for us,
and has a plan for us. As Romans 10:9 says: If you declare with
your mouth, Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in y our heart that God
raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Action means living in obedience and submission to God’s
will and commands. It is not enough to have a mental assent to
God’s existence; we need to demonstrate our faith by our deeds.
We need to seek him earnestly, meaning with sincerity, diligence,
and perseverance. We need to follow his guidance, obey his
instructions, and fulfill his purposes. We need to worship him,
serve him, and honor him. As James 2:17 says: “In the same way,
faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Faith is essential to pleasing God because it shows that we love
him, trust him, and depend on him. Faith is the foundation of our
relationship with God and the source of our spiritual growth and
fruitfulness. Faith is not something we have once and for al; it is
something we need to cultivate and nurture every day. Faith is
the key to unlocking God’s blessings and promises in our lives.

As Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope
for and assurance about what we do not see.”

THERE WAS NO PLAN-B

By Joe Sluler – Via Bulletin Gold

 

We cannot fully comprehend the horror Jesus faced that night
in Gethsemane. A merciless scourging awaited Him, followed by
nails being driven through His hands and feet. For six endless
hours searing pain would wrack His battered body as He
struggled for every breath.

But that scarcely begins to describe our Savior’s woe. Who
can fathom the agony of taking the whole world’s sins and
bearing them in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24)? No wonder
He cried out, “0 My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass
from Me” (Matthew 26:39a). Yet even as He pleaded, He knew
there was no Plan B. Unless He stayed the course all the way to
the cross, no sinner could be saved. Therefore, He continued,
“nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (26:39b).

Jesus had no Plan B when He sent His apostles to preach His
gospel to the world. Not that long ago they had scattered like a
covey of quail when Judas brought the Roman soldiers and
temple police to arrest Him. Peter had denied three times that he
even knew Jesus, much less that he was His disciple. Would you
entrust those men with the most powerful and desperately needed
message the world will ever know? Jesus did! And ten days after
He commissioned them, they demonstrated that His confidence
in them was fully justified. About 3000 souls believed and
obeyed the glad tidings that the apostles proclaimed boldly. From
that point on, the church grew by leaps and bounds.

You and I are still part of Jesus’ Plan A. He is still the one and
only way anyone can come to the Father (John 14:6), and His
gospel is still God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). He has no
Plan B, so don’t bother looking! Just follow Plan A, the plan
“ordained from the foundation of the world!” (1 Peter 1:20).

A STUDY OF POLAR OPPOSITES FROM ROMANS 3:23

By Edd Sterchi

For the ………………………But. . .
the wages (earned)…….gift (not earned)

of sin (unholiness)………of God (holiness)

is death (separation)……is eternal life (everlastíng fellowship)

That’s quite a stark contrast, isn’t it? You just can’t get
more diametric than those two statements. What makes
the difference between them? What is it that divides
them into polar opposites? The rest of the verse reveals
what puts one on one side or the other: “in Chríst Jesus
the Lord.” You see, if we are “in” Jesus Christ, then we
are given the gift of eternal life from a holy God.

Galatians 3:27 clearly reveals that we “put on Jesus”
(1e. become “in” Him) being baptized into Him. It is
then that we reach His soul-cleansing, sin-washing
sacrifice (Romans 6:3-5).

Are you “in” Jesus?

Via Bulletin Gold

THE LORD’S SUPPER

By David R. Ferguson

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a very important action
when we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. While
it is true the Lord is with us always, the Supper is a very special,
intimate time that we share with our Lord. As we partake of the
Lord’s Supper we bear witness to the body of believers in
Christ. No one is inferior, and no one is superior. We are all one
in Christ. The ground is always level at the foot of the cross of
Jesus. When we gather at His Table we recall the gift that
brought us here.

This backward glance is not a moment of despondency. It is
not a moment of self-deprecation. The Cross was not a moment
of defeat for Jesus. Rather, it was a moment of glorification. We
recall this as His crowning moment in life. When we remember
not only the Cross but all of Jesus’ ministry, then we remember
the depth of God’s love for us. The Cross is the revelation of
love (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16). At the Table I remember that, like
the woman caught in adultery and the thief who hung beside the
Lord, I am not condemned! When we look backward we see
reason to celebrate the victory of God.

By sitting at God’s Table we also look forward to the
future. We truly experience the Presence of the risen Christ at
the Table, but we also proclaim that His resurrection leads to a
time when He will return. In the Supper we have a foretaste of
the gloriousness of what Heaven will be like. At the Table of the
Lord all the saints of old are gathered in communion with us in
anticipation of when we will literally sit at the great banquet in
the age to come, once Jesus has gathered all of us home to be
with Him. John gives us a glimpse of this “wedding supper of
the Lamb” in Revelation 19:9.

Via Bulletin Gold

Stuck In My Head

Bob Prichard Via Bulletin Gold

A tune was stuck in my head. It was a jazzy clarinet
tune. I was racking my brain trying to figure out
what it was, and where it came from, when I
happened to see a Land Rover TV commercial
playing the tune. I had picked up the tune without
paying attention.

Without even trying, our minds scoop up what we
see, hear, smell, and feel. God has created us in such
a way that we can remember an event from twenty-
five years ago like it happened yesterday.

Knowing it is possible for us to absorb so many
things without even thinking about it, shouldn’t we
be extra cautious about where we go, what we do,
and what we expose our minds to? The more we fill
our minds with good things, the more good things
there will be to well up into our conscious or
unconscious minds. We need David’s attitude:
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, 0
God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm
139:17).

The song was “Baby Elephant Walk,” written by
Henry Mancini for the 1962 movie Hatari. Listen to
it, and it will probably get stuck in your head, too!
Why not spend some time this week putting good
things from God in your head!

FROM HEAVEN OR FROM MEN

Joe Slater – Via Bulletin Gold

Jesus respected the question of authority. On the morning after
He drove the merchants and money changers out of the temple,
the Sanhedrin demanded to know, “By what authority are you
doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
(Luke 20:2). They viewed the temple as their own domain, and
they certainly hadn’t given Jesus permission to teach there, much
less to regulate what occurred on temple grounds. After all, He
had not graduated from rabbinical school, so they viewed Him as
intruder.

Jesus didn’t deny the need for authority, but neither did He
accept their demand for human approval. In an absolutely
brilliant maneuver, Jesus changed the focus to divine authority
and the Sanhedrin’s total lack of fitness to judge His credentials.
He asked a simple multiple-choice question: “The baptism of
John – was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:4).

The Sanhedrin certainly hadn’t approved John’s work. He had
rebuked some of them, calling them a generation of vipers!
(Matthew 3:7). The people, however, correctly counted John to
be a prophet (thus having authority from God in heaven), Since
the Sanhedrin feared the people, they refused to state their true
convictions that John’s authority was from men, that is, he was
acting on his own. Instead, they claimed not to know, thereby
confessing themselves unfit to judge Jesus’ source of authority.

We should follow Jesus’ example of asking not for human
authority, but for divine authority. Every teaching and practice
should be put to the test: “Is this from heaven or from men?” Let
us teach and do what God authorizes in His word while rejecting
all that lacks divine sanction!

Gods pan for saving man

  • God’s Grace – Ephesians 2:8
  • Christ’s Blood – Romans 5:9
  • The Gospel – Romans 1:16
  • Sinners Faith – Acts 16:31
  • Sinner’s Repentance – Luke 13:3
  • Sinner’s Confession – Romans 10:10
  • Believers Baptism – I Peter 3:21
  • Christian’s Work – James 2:24
  • Christian’s Hope – Romans 8:24
  • Christian’s Endurance – Revelations 2:10