The Chicago Christian



Thought for the Week

Obstacles offer you the opportunity to do your best

 

Proverbial Danger

A proverb that is misused can be dangerous. “Like father like son,” is a proverb that can be true, but depending on who says it and why it can prove to be dangerous. It is true that sons carry some characteristics of their father, however when the saying is used to justify unsavory behavior, the proverb serves as an excuse to play the victim and exonerate actions without blame or responsibility.

The prophet Ezekiel wanted to get the Hebrew captives in Babylon to return not only to their homes, but to their God. It was not an easy task. The people responded by taking refuge in a proverb; “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Ezekiel 18:2).

This saying blamed their captivity on an earlier generation. “You can’t be serious about asking us to repent,” they protested, “It is our parents fault.

They ate the sour grapes and we have to bear the consequences.”

So God declared, “You will no longer have a reason to use this proverb in Israel.” (v.3). From then on, each person was responsible for his own actions.

“The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.

The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”

Ezekiel 18:20

Proverbs are wonderful tools for guidance and teaching. They were never intended to be used to excuse bad behavior.

In conclusion, if you don’t make it to heaven; you have only yourself to blame.

adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the Week

When your true mission is success

You don’t look for excuses

You find solutions

 

Judgment Day Is Coming

There is a day coming in which we will all stand in judgment before the Lord. “And as it is appointed for men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). When we draw our last breath our eternal destiny is sealed. We don’t know when, but all of us will be there for this appointment, there’s no way to escape it. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). No one will be excluded from the Judgment. Every person, who has ever lived, that is now living, and who will ever live, will stand before the Lord and be judged and give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12).

We do not know when Judgment Day will come. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, you should be holy in conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10- 11).

We must be very serious about the Judgment. When God decides to end time, “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance… on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What will the judgment be like? “Then I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat on it… And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire…The devil, who deceived them was also cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are. And they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:11-12, 15, 10). Is your name in the Book of Life? Are you sure? Your eternal destiny of Heaven or Hell will be determined by whether it is or not.

There are no secrets from God. He knows everything about each one of us. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13). “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). God will not accept any excuses. We must submit to the obedience of God’s will, or we will hear the Lord say, “I never knew you, depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23). The Lord’s judgment will be final. There will be no appeal.

God will not accept anyone who is a member of any of the many congregations established by man. Jesus says,“Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13). Jesus has only promised to save His church (Ephesians 5:23), the one He purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). All the foolish and false doctrines that men have devised by “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2) will cause billions of people to be lost forever in the burning fires of Hell. The only standard of our judgment will be God’s word, which is the Bible. Jesus says, “the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).

There will only be two verdicts: “I never knew you, depart from Me”... into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 7:23, 25:41), or “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21). Our number one priority in this life is to be prepared to meet the Lord in judgment. “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Matthew 7:13-14 tells us, at the Judgment there will be two groups of people, the vast majority who are lost and the few who are saved. In which group will you be?

adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap

but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Labor Day Quotes

 

Sin brought labor into existence. After the transgression of Adam and

Eve, God said to them:

“By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the

ground, for from the ground you were taken and unto the ground you will

return.” Genesis 3:19

 

Everyone is required to work in the vineyard of the Lord, and everyone’s help

 is needed. (see Ecclesiastes 4:9)

 

“Wealth that is achieved by vanity will be diminished; but he that prospers

by labor will flourish.” Proverbs 13:11.

 

What we ask of God should be used to help us serve and honor Him.

Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. Nido Qubein

Be not entangled in this world of days and nights; For there is another time

and space as well. Muhammad Iqbal

Plant your foot firmly in the prints that His foot has made before you.

Joseph Barber Lightfoot

We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to someone too. Helen Hayes

“The labor of the righteous leads to life, the fruit of the wicked leads to sin.” Proverbs 10:16

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy the goodness of his labor.” Ecclesiastes 2:24

“Every person to whom God has given wealth, riches, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept this allotment, and to rejoice in his work—this is a gift from God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19

                   “Come unto Me all who labor…and I will give you rest.”

                                                   Matthew 11:28

 

 

Thought for the week

Failure is the path of least persistence

 

Life’s Storms

   When the storms of life beset us and we feel we’re drifting down
     Beneath the stormy waters of the problems that abound,
     We should not be discouraged; we need only look above,
     God has promised to be with us and enfold us in His love.

     Our Lord does not intend for us to face these storms alone,
     He’s here to offer comfort even while we’re tossed and blown.
     As winds of despair are blowing and waves of strife rise higher,
     Remember He can still these storms with His glorious mighty power.

     Our Lord will not desert us; He’ll be with us through it all.
     We only need to feel His presence to be strong and help us stand tall.
     He is always there beside us and He’ll extend a helping hand,
     We just need to grasp it and He’ll place us back on land.

     God sometimes sends these storms of life to help us to discover
     That even though they beat us down, He’ll help us to recover.
     Our faith is sometimes tested with the storms of life we face,
     It may take a little time, but His plan will fall into place.

     We grow in faith and character when we overcome these storms,
     Learning discipline and humility with each prick of every thorn.
     We learn to trust more fully and to never lose sight of hope,
     For when we face the storms of life, God will toss the saving rope.

By Emily McAdams

 

 

Thought for the week

 Time is an object that we cannot influence

We cannot speed it up or slow it down

We cannot add to it nor diminish it

It is an imponderably valuable gift

Maya Angelou

The Time Of Your Life

What am I getting out of life? This is a question people often ask themselves. But the question should be: What am I putting into the lives of others?

Years ago, Dr. Wilfred Grenfell served as a medical missionary in Labrador. On a recruiting tour, he challenged nurses at Johns Hopkins Hospital to join him for a summer in his ministry. He told them they would suffer hardship and discomfort. He warned that instead of earning a salary, they would have to pay their own expenses. But he also told them they would experience joy, because having  joy in life means to be in service to others.

One nurse who accepted his challenge wrote this after her return from Labrador: “I never knew before that life was good for anything except what I could get out of it. Now I know that real fulfillment lies in doing what we can for someone else.” If we give and love, we have the key to Christian fulfillment.

Every breath we take brings us closer to our last. We do not know what our lives will be like tomorrow, or if we will even have a tomorrow (James 4:14). As we near our end, let us leave no unfinished business. If life ended today, what would you regret? Who would you wish you had tried to reach with the gospel? What sins would you wish were forgiven? What relationships would you wish you had tried to mend? What apologies would you wish you had made? What words of love would you wish you had expressed?

Let’s seize the moment. Fix what needs fixing. Use every breath you take for good and for God!

James 4:14 tells us, we are not long for this world. Any Chrstian worth his/her salt is looking forward to what’s next. When that time comes the worse will be over and our future will be far better than our past…forever.

Adapted

 

                        Life is like a coin.

      You can spend it on anything you want;

            But you can only spend it once.

                     

 

 

Thought for the Week

Light cancels out darkness

So, when you encounter the dark matters of life

Your light will prevail

 

Worshipping As One

Collectively, we gather to engage as one. To laugh or cry, to honor and worship the One we adore; to commune and remember the awesome sacrifice that brought us together, to give of our means, and to share our blessings, so that the work of the Lord can be sustained.

 

We are moved, edified and encouraged in a way no other event can generate.

 

We are in the Spirit with the power of Truth. One in Christ Jesus.

 

There is no competition here; only love.

 

Where there is a challenge, we pray.

 

When one is weak, we offer strength.

 

We believe that what we do here will please our Father in heaven.

 

All diversity merges when we are together.

 

We are Christ’s church.

 

 

Thought for the Week

You can learn a lot from your mistakes

When you’re not busy denying them

 

        IIt s Jesus!

       There is a Voice through the Earth that is calling,
       To all the heavy laden and oppressed,
       Sweet as the cooling dew at evening falling;
       "Come unto Me and rest."

       It is the voice of Jesus still entreating,
       To all the comfortless and all the sad;
       Day after day His tender call repeating,
       "Come unto Me and I will make you glad."

       There is a Hand outstretched in tender pity,
       Where all the weary and the wandering roam,
       Waiting to lead them to the Heavenly City,
       To bring the homeless Home.

       It is the hand of Jesus, still upholding,
       Strong to deliver, mighty to keep;
       And none shall pluck from that safe enfolding,
       The weakest His blood-bought sheep.

       There is a Form that walks life's stormy ocean,
       Bidding the noise of wind and tempest cease;
       Crying along through all wild commotion,
       "In Me ye shall have peace."

       Oh, it is Jesus coming over the waters,
       As once He walked the waves of Galilee,
       Speaking to all earth's shipwrecked sons and daughters,
       "Be not afraid; have faith, have faith in Me."

       There is a Love that longs with deep affection
       To gather all the sin-sick sons of men,
       Beneath its wings of shelter and protection,
       And give them health again.

       It is the love of Jesus, sweet with longing,
       His full salvation the world to give;
       Calling to all, earth's highways thronging,
       "Come unto Me, come unto Me and live."

                                                         By Annie Johnson Flint-

 

 

Thought for the Week
Concern should drive us into action
Not despair

 

Call It What It Is

People seldom use the word sin anymore. When we do something
wrong, we say, we showed “inappropriate behavior,” “made an error in
judgment,” or “made a mistake.” It seems as if people have come to
believe in their own rule of goodness.

We do so in spite of overwhelming physical and spiritual
evidence to the contrary. It’s not clean just because you say it’s clean.
Genocide is rampant in Sudan. The people in Bosnia, Rwanda, and
Syria have endured unbelievable atrocities. In the US, millions of
unborn babies have been killed in the name of convenience. Evil is
rampant on planet earth.

As followers of Jesus, we must steadfastly resist the efforts of
society to minimize the reality of sin. We have to agree with God…always.
Recognizing the sins of nations is easier than admitting our own
personal sin. But we need to acknowledge the specific sins we commit also.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
“Who justify the wicked for reward, and take away the
righteousness from the righteous!”

Isaiah 5:20-21, 23

 

 

 

Thought for the week

People are probably not happy with their lives if they are busy discussing yours.

 

Careless Words

     Careless words…the words that roll off slippery tongues without much thought, concern or wisdom can do more damage than we think. Careless words have a unique way of being irreversible. Just saying, “I take them back,” will not reverse their meaning. Once words are spoken, no matter how badly we wish we hadn’t said them, we cannot unsay them.

     Jesus considered careless words a serious matter. He said in Matthew 12:36-37, “I say to you, that every idle word that you speak, you will give account of on the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” The fact that our words can determine our eternal destiny makes them of great importance.

     Although some people may classify it as relatively harmless, gossip is listed along with murder, sexual impurity, greed and jealousy (Romans 1:27-32). This list pertains not only to those who are doing the gossiping, but also to those who are involved by listening, for they are partaking in the evil deed.

     How can we overcome gossip? When you hear a story, examine your heart. Would you want someone to say those things about you? Would the Lord be pleased with the story? Examine the truth and don’t accept hearsay. Ask the person, “may I quote you?” Many sources will shrink back when they have to stand behind their words. Commit yourself to recognizing gossip in it’s many forms. Then avoid it like the plague!

 

Here is a math illustration to consider:

 

                               Some folks have to ADD a word

                               To put their two cents in.

                               Others like to TAKE AWAY,

                               From words they like to mince.

                               Some folks count on DIVISION

                               To leave people in a huff.

                               But true gossipers MULTIPLY their words;

                               For they can never say enough!

                               From Seasoning Your Words by Sister Nancy Eichman

 

                                                             

      Great minds discuss ideas, Average minds discuss events, Small minds discuss other people.                   

      Eleanor Roosevelt

 

      Before you tell me what THEY said about me, tell me what YOU said to defend me.

 

 

 

Thought for the week

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them

Titus Livius

 

Choosing to Believe


Faith is a wonderful thing. It gives us hope during difficult times. Living life on a
foundation of faith can be a very empowering way to live. But faith isn’t just meaningful
for our dark days, it also enriches those moments in life when we step back in awe,
amazed at our blessings. It adds depth to our relationships, our work and school hours,
the way we learn from the past, and the way we plan for the future. As we grow we
change, and the way we express and nurture our faith changes as well. From the first
step of choosing to believe we are to begin building a faith strong and resilient enough to
last for the rest of our lives, drawing on lessons from the Bible. We are all fellow travelers
on the faith journey. As long as we have breath, our journey of faith is not over. It’s not
over until we exit this life; then we will know as we are known.


Faith in God can have a life changing impact on all who embrace it. Even though
faith can’t be seen, measured, or proven in the scientific sense, as Christians we know
what it means to have faith and be a faithful people. Chances are if you have ever
stepped onto an elevator, an airplane or a cruise ship, you could say you’ve had faith.
Faith that those in charge know what they are doing and can handle any problems that
might occur. But faith in God is both deeper and bigger than that “every day” kind of
faith. In fact, it’s probably better to think of riding and elevator, an airplane or a cruise
ship in terms of hope instead of faith. Faith in God is more than mere belief. Feelings
change, emotions fluctuate. If we choose to follow our emotions and our feelings rather
than trusting in God, we will become perplexed, disillusioned and lost. Faith isn’t based
on what we might feel at any given moment. Instead, faith is based on the unchanging
assurance of God who has made a covenant, an unbreakable promise, to be faithful
toward those who put their trust in Him.


Timothy was a young convert who had become a Christian during the Apostle Paul’s
missionary journey. When Paul was imprisoned for his beliefs he stayed in touch with
the new churches and the growing ranks of Jesus’ disciples by writing letters from his
prison cell. The first century Christians were being martyred and imprisoned for their
beliefs and Paul knew it would be easy…even life saving for a young believer such as
Timothy to turn away from the faith. So, Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to remain
faithful, stay the course and continue to grow in his relationship with God. Now, let’s
shift our perspective to the 21st century. In most parts of the world, Christians aren’t
imprisoned or martyred for their faith (although in some places is does happen). But
that doesn’t mean living a faithful life is easy. It is easy to be distracted from developing
a relationship with God by an ever-increasing number of entertainment options, time
commitments, family responsibilities and so on. Also, we live in a culture that wants
proof, the hard facts, and indisputable evidence.


Being faithful is a choice each of us has to make for ourselves. Everyday, life
happens. Maybe a loved one becomes seriously ill or dies. Maybe a child adopts habits
you believe are immoral or unhealthy. Maybe you meet the person of your dreams or
maybe you lose the person of your dreams. Relationships come and go. Jobs disappear.
Disasters and disappointments happen. Remaining faithful is an ongoing series of
choices we must make everyday as we face circumstances big and small. However,
remaining faithful is the only way to serve God. (see Hebrews 11:6)

-adapted-

 

 

Thought for the week

Today’s tests can be tomorrow’s testimonies

 

God Hath Not Promised


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 labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river murky and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.
by: Annie Johnson Flint

 

        “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest”

        Matthew 11:28

 

 

Thought for the week

Happy 4th of July

 

Freedom Rings

Starry skies, and moonlit nights,
such beauty in our land
We're so thankful for these blessings,
that come from God's own hand.

The right to vote, to have a choice,
In a nation proud and strong,
and on this Independence Day,
we sing our Freedom Song.

We salute our flag so proudly
and thank God for the chance to say...
"there is no country we love better,
than the good ol' USA!"

So, when we gather together,
with our family and our friends
Give thanks to our Heavenly Father
for the blessings that He sends.

Thank Him for America,
a place where we can pray
and give Him all the glory,
for Independence on this day.

By Jill Lemming

 

 

Thought for the week
Knowledge is the first step to enlightenment

 

Doing God’s Will
The Bible must be our only authority in religion if we want to please God and go to
Heaven. All false doctrine and beliefs must be discarded and we must use only the Bible.
How do we make sure that we will be among the few who are saved and not among the many
who will be lost? Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say
to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and cast out demons in Your
name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you,
depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." If you believe and call Jesus, "Lord, Lord", you
are still lost if you have not done what God says. If we ever hope to go to heaven, we must do the
will of the Father. This is the only way. Not the will of men, not our own will, but God’s
will. Just because we call Jesus our Lord, doesn’t save us. “These people draw near to Me with
their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain they worship Me
teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9
We cannot go to Heaven with lip service alone. Jesus says in the above scripture, on the Day
of Judgment, many will be pleading with Him, reminding Him of the many wonderful works
they’ve done in His name, but He will say unto them, "I never knew you, depart from
Me…” Why? Because they had not done the will of the Father in heaven. Because they had
done their own will or what was convenient or the will of men. This will be the worst thing that
will ever be said to an individual, when the Lord on Judgment Day says to the majority of
people, "I never knew you; depart from Me". There will be no appeal to this decision. There will
be no second chance. We have to get it right, now.
For the people in the above scripture, many of them will be surprised; those who thought that
it doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. If it doesn't matter what you
believe, then it doesn't matter if you believe at all. Apparently, many will be “good” people, who
have “done many wonderful works." But, they had not done the will of the Father who is in
heaven. Man generally wants to do things his way, disregarding and ignoring what God
commands. That behavior will NOT secure you a place in heaven.
Do we really know what the will of the Father is? This matter is too important to assume or to
take someone else’s word for it. We must search the Scriptures for ourselves and find out what
the will of God is before we can obey it. We can’t be lazy. Just saying you are a Christian doesn’t
mean you are one. We have already seen in Matthew 7:13-14, 21, only few will be saved, and
many will be lost, and only those who do the will of the Father can go to Heaven. We read in 1
John 2:4, "He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the
truth is not in him." "A liar" is pretty strong language. A person is lying to himself and everyone
else who says he knows and loves God, but does not keep God's commandments and we know
that liars will not go to Heaven (Revelation 21:8).
We cannot please God by dreaming up our own plan of salvation. We must follow His plan
and only His plan if we expect Him to save us.
No single condition, that God imposes, can be ignored. God has no non-essential
commands. Many people think that God will save them, even if they don’t follow His instructions
specifically. Not true.

–selected-

 

 

Thought for the week

Happy Fathers's Day

 

Thought for the week
Leave the past to the Mercy of God
The present to the Love of God
The future to the Providence of God

 

Follow Me

     Take up your cross and follow Me,
     Wherever I may lead,
     Your back will ache, your feet grow tired,
     And yes, your heart will bleed.
     But we shall walk together,
     And I will share your lot,
     For I am always with you,
     And will forget you not.

     Take up your cross and follow Me,
     And I will fill your days
     With joy that only I can give,
     In many precious ways.
     So learn to know Me better,
     For there are miles to go,
     And rest your head upon My heart,
     ...For I have loved you so.

     The light grows dim, the dusk descends,
     The sunlight turns to shade,
     I give My angels charge of you,
     So do not be afraid.
     But trust in Me and do not grieve,
     For what has come and gone,
     I will provide for all your needs,
     ...Because you are My own.

     My yoke is sweet, My burden light,
     No matter where you roam,
     Remember earth will pass away,
     But heaven is your home.
     How very brief a time man walks
     Upon this earthly sod,
     Just love Me as I first loved you,
     ...And know that I am God.
     Grace E. Easley

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Losing doesn’t mean you tried and failed

But that you failed to try

 

 

Inattentive Worship

 

                           “I have no pleasure in you.” This was the Lord’s stinging rebuke to

His people through the prophet Malachi (1:10). God was angry and displeased with their careless, shoddy methods of worship. The

animals they brought for sacrifice were not acceptable to Him because

they were not the best of their herds and flocks. Instead, they offered stolen, injured, lame, sick and diseased animals (v.13).  God’s response to such insolence was, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? You have defiled your offering to Me and then you say, how have we disrespected You? It is the alter that is defiled” (vv.6-7).

 

While we may not offer animal sacrifices today, what level of dishonor

do you show God when you deliberately decide to skip Sunday school, Wednesday night Bible Class and even Sunday morning worship services? Or when you offer the meager remnants of your finances in

the collection plate when it is passed?

 

Sometimes we are too casual and inattentive in our worship. During service we may fail to give God our full attention. We rush in late. Our thoughts wander. Can you truly say that you are giving God your best? When we are in worship service we need to discipline ourselves and adjust our mindset to make sure we are not focusing on yesterday’s cares or tomorrow’s responsibilities. God deserves our undivided attention; anything less is unacceptable.

                      adapted

“You have said how weary I am, and you have sneered;

you have brought injured, lame and diseased animals to

offer Me as a sacrifice. Should  I accept this from you?”

                                    Malachi 1:13

 

“Once the Master of the house gets up and closes the door, you will

stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’

“But He will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with You, and You taught in our

streets.’ But He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’

Luke 13:25-27

 

Don’t let this happen to you

 

   

Thought for the week

 

You may have to fight a battle more than once

in order to win

Margaret Thatcher

 

     Memorial Day

 

     We gather now to say our prayers

     On the thirtieth day of May,
     For our fallen heroes' graves
     On this Memorial Day;


     We cherish now no bitter thoughts
     In this fair land of ours,
     But on all fallen heroes' graves
     We come to scatter flowers.

     The rank and file whether Black or White
     Believed their cause was just;
     We find upon each battle flag
     Inscribed, "In God We Trust;"


     And in this blessed land of ours,
     Now sleeping side by side,
     The soldiers who so bravely fought

     Lie buried where they died.

     When we come and say a prayer
     On Memorial Day,
     We cannot cherish bitter thoughts

     Or let prejudice stand in our way.

 

     We welcome now the chance to honor

     Those who fought so brave and true

     Let’s show the love and respect
     That binds our hearts anew.

     adapted

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Sour grapes never make sweet wine

 

 

Have A Great Day!

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

 

I was in a convenience store one day, standing in line behind a man paying for his groceries. When he was finished, the clerk said, “Have a great day!”

To the clerks surprise (and mine) the man exploded in anger. “This is one of the worst days of my life,” he shouted. “How can I have a great day?” and with that he stormed out of the store.

I understand the man’s frustration; I too have “bad” days over which I have no control. How can I have a great day, I sometimes ask myself, when it is beyond my control? Then I remember these words: “This is the day the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24).

The Lord has made every day, and He has given it to us with His assurance that He is always with us. He has control over everything, even the difficult things that will come our way. All events have been screened through His wisdom and love, and they are opportunities for us to grow in faith.

                      Now, when people tell me to have a great day, I reply, “That’s beyond my

control, but I can be grateful for whatever comes my way, and rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made.”

When dawn announces each new day

Before you rise up out of bed

Rejoice, be glad and give God praise

And thank Him for what lies ahead

Selected

 

 

Thought for the week

Happy Mother's Day

 

To Mother
You painted no Madonnas
On chapel walls in Rome,
But with a touch diviner
You lived one in your home.
You wrote no lofty poems
That critics counted art,
But with a nobler vision
You lived them in your heart.
You carved no shapeless marble
To some high-souled design,
But with a finer sculpture
You shaped this soul of mine.
You built no great cathedrals
That centuries applaud,
But with a grace exquisite
Your life cathedraled God.
Had I the gift of Raphael,
Or Michelangelo,
Oh, what a rare Madonna
My mother's life would show!
Thomas W. Fessenden

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Giving up is conceding that things will never get better

and that simply is not true

Ups and downs are a constant in life

No matter what we do

 

Free Prayer

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers…” 1 Peter 3:12

A pastor was asked to visit a woman who was in the hospital to pray for her. After his visit, he thought how good it would be for somebody to go there regularly and pray for the residents. The “somebody” turned out to be him. On a table in one of the wards, he put up a sign saying, “Free Prayer.” Later he recalled, “Suddenly I had 15 people standing in line to get prayed for.”

People often ask for our prayers, but do we faithfully pray for them?  Many times we see others in great need but find it easier to discuss their plight with friends rather than to pray for them. People need and want our prayers.

Paul concluded his call to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17) by writing, ‘ … always keep praying for all the Lord’s people.”  (v. 18).

Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying, “There is no snare, or any danger of infatuation or pride in intersession; it is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit whereby the Father is glorified.”

Faithful prayer, whether in public or private is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others.

To give to others what they need

We show no greater care

Than when we give them to the Lord

Upholding them in prayer

Selected

 

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”.

James 5:16

 

 

Thought for the week

Your school days may be over

But your education goes on forever

 

Perfect Love

Slow to suspect…quick to trust

Slow to condemn…quick to justify

Slow to offend…quick to defend

Slow to expose…quick to shield

Slow to reprimand…quick to forebear

Slow to belittle…quick to appreciate

Slow to demand…quick to give

Slow to provoke…quick to conciliate

Slow to hinder…quick to help

Slow to resent…quick to forgive

No doubt the above description reminds us of the one given by Paul in 1 Corinthians:

 

“Love suffers long and is kind, it does not envy; love does not parade itself,is not puffed up; and does not behave unseemly. Love does

not seek its own, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil; it does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

                             House to House, the Jacksonville Church of Christ bulletin

 

 

 

Thought for the week
What a man does, defiles himself
Not what is done by others

 

 

Is This The Place?
If this is not a place where tears are understood…
Where do I go to cry?
If this is not a place where my spirit can soar…
Where do I go to fly?
If this is not a place where my questions can be asked…
Where do I go to seek?
If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard…
Where do I go to speak?
If this is not a place where you accept me…
Where do I go to be?
If this is not a place where I try and learn and grow…
Where would I go to be me?
Ken Medema
We must embrace each other, respect each other and love each other.
It is important for all of us to extend beyond ourselves, to be there for
and support one another without reserve.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who
loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
“And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even
as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

 

 

Thought for the week

The same power that raised Christ from the grave

Is available to us today

 

 

The Death of Jesus

At the age of 33 years, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty. At the time crucifixion was the “worst” death and only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet, it was even more dreadful for Jesus. Unlike other criminals who were crucified by tying them with ropes, Jesus was nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.

Each nail was 6-8 inches long. Both of His feet were nailed together forcing Him to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support Himself with His legs because of the pain so He was forced to alternate between arching His back and using His legs just so He could breathe. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage. Jesus endured this reality for over 3  hours. A few hours before he died, Jesus stopped bleeding and water was pouring from His wounds.

A hammer drove the large nails through his hands (imagine how you feel when you prick your finger with a pin or when you suffer a paper cut), then His feet were overlapped and an even longer nail was driven through the arches of His feet, then a Roman guard stuck a spear in His side. But before all this, He was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The crowns of thorns cut deeply into His scalp; and don’t forget the humiliation He suffered carrying His own cross while the crowd spat in His face, shouted insults at Him and threw stones at Him.

Other men could not have survived this torture. Jesus endured it all without a word of complaint or an inkling of guilt. He tolerated this experience so that we would be reconciled and have access to God.

Christ endured the worst suffering for us. What do we do for Him? Is any inconvenience, any discomfort too much? Is it ever too early to wake up and attend Sunday morning bible study? Is it ever too cold, too hot, or too rainy? Are you ever too tired? Really? How can you face Him with frivolous excuses after all He has done for you?

 

Thought for the week

Passover has a message for the conscience
and the heart of all mankind.
For what does it commemorate?
It commemorates the deliverance of a people
from degrading slavery, and foul and cruel tyranny.
Morris Joseph

 

The Messianic Passover


“Tell the whole community of Israel that … each man is to take a lamb for his
family … The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect … All
the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then
they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the
doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs … On that same night I will
pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals,
and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will
be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will
pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exodus
12:3-13).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold,
the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
In both the Old and New Testaments, God has been consistently clear:
Deliverance requires sacrifice; salvation comes through the shed blood of
another. It was like that for Adam and for Abraham, and it is like that for us. It
certainly was an act of faith for God’s people in Egypt to believe the message
and do as God asked. It must have been a long, dark night on that first
Passover, families huddling together and wondering if God really would pass
over them and keep them safe. Imagine the celebration as their fear turned to
relief and doubt became trust.
Now roll the calendar ahead 1,500 years to Jesus celebrating the
Passover with His closest friends. They ate the lamb and poured the wine,
continuing their traditions throughout the meal; “Through faith He kept the
Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the firstborn should
touch them.” Then Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in
My blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
Just as the sacrificial lamb delivered the Israelites in Egypt, so also
Jesus’ blood delivers those who believe in Him. Jesus’ death, which occurred at
the same time as Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the temple, was no
accident “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will
be handed over to be crucified.” His blood, in a sense, was applied over the
“doorways” of our lives and by our faith, now rescues us from death. Jesus’
blood was shed for us all; what remains is for us to accept His sacrifice in faith
and obedience.
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly
are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore
let us keep the feast, not with old bread leavened with malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

selected

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Age is the length of time something has existed

The worth of the age

is dependent upon the possessor

 

 

 

Ageless Beauty 

“Let the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they behave holy, not false accusers, not given to drunkenness, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers of their homes, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:1-5

“One of the only things that comes to us without effort is old age”

Gloria Pitzer

“Do not resent growing old; many are denied the privilege”- Unknown

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter”-Leroy "Satchel" Paige

“Comfortable senior years are the reward of a well-spent youth. Instead of its bringing sad and melancholy prospects of decay, it should give us hope of eternal youth in a better world”- R. Palmer

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair”-Douglas MacArthur

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been”-Mark Twain

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams”

John Barrymore

“You know you've reached middle age when a doctor, not a policeman, tells you to slow down, all you exercise are your prerogatives and it takes you longer to rest than it took to get tired”-Unknown

“They are not gray hairs; they're wisdom highlights”-Unknown

“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened?”-Jennifer Yane

“There is a slow-growing beauty which only comes to perfection in old age... I have seen sweeter smiles on a lip of seventy than I ever saw on a lip of seventeen. There is the beauty of youth, and there is also the beauty of holiness—a beauty much more seldom met; and more frequently found in the presence of an experienced Christian soldier whose faith has been tested, tried and grounded in truth.” -Unknown

 

 

Thought for the week

Little by little

A little becomes a lot

 

 

No one needs a smile so much as someone who doesn’t have one to give.

If we could count yesterday's smiles
And double that number today.
We might feel the kind of happiness
that would take our frowns away.

A smile can say so many things
and still not speak a word.
So many times a smile has said,
the kindest words I've heard.

Your smile can ask, "how are you?"
Or say,I hope you're feeling well.
And when a smile is returned to you
You'll know the message it tells.

An honest smile says nothing wrong
Like the words in the prayers we pray.

Let's try to smile more often
to brighten someone's day.

A sincere smile shows no envy
it only shows we care.
To give one doesn’t cost a cent,

God gave them to us to share.

Ruth Stuart

 

 

 

Thought for the week
Death is the destination we all share
Steve Jobs

 

 

ETERNITY IN HEAVEN


There are only two places to spend eternity: Heaven or Hell. Each of us will
go to one of these two places on Judgment Day and we will remain there forever. When
our Lord spoke of eternity in Matthew 25:46 He said, "And these will go away into
everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life". Notice that the duration of the
lost in Hell is exactly the same as the duration of the saved in Heaven, "forever and
ever".
Our Lord says in John 14:2-3, "In My Father’s house are many
mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you
unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
For the few who go there it will exceed their wildest dreams or anything
they can ever imagine. As we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor
ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has
prepared for those who love Him."
Heaven will be the very opposite of eternal punishment. Revelation 21:4
says, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more
death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things
have passed away." There will be no weeping, and no wailing, and no gnashing
of teeth, there will forever and ever be nothing but joy, and peace, and
happiness!
The choice is ours; we cannot escape the consequences if we make the
wrong choice. We will not accidentally end up in Heaven. Heaven is a prepared
place for prepared people. Going to Heaven has got to be our number one
priority in this life. We have to want to go to Heaven more than anything else.
Anything we give up in this temporary life will be worth it.


-selected-

 

 

 

Thought for the week

 All roads lead to an end

 

 

SPENDING ETERNITY IN HELL

 

There are only two places to spend eternity: Heaven or Hell.  Each of us will go to one of these two places on Judgment Day and we will remain there forever. When our Lord spoke of eternity in Matthew 25:46  He said, "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  Notice that the duration of the lost in Hell is exactly the same as the duration of the saved in Heaven, "forever and ever."

 According to the U. S. News & World Report, January 31, 2000, 36% of people do not believe in Hell. To say there is no Hell is to make God a liar.  “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).  A person who does not believe Hell is real will most likely go there.  Ignoring or scoffing at Hell will not make it go away.

Hell must be very important, so much so that Jesus took our punishment and gave His life to keep us from going there. Let's consider what the Lord says about the eternal punishment of Hell.  When our Lord described the horror of Hell in Matthew 13:42, He said, “They will be cast into a furnace of fire and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” In Mark 9:43, He said, “they will be cast into hell, into a fire that will never be quenched, where the worm does not die...” Jesus tells us, if there is anything in our life that is going to cause us to be lost, we need to correct it or get rid of it NOW. The worm is a flesh-eating maggot that will continuously feed forever and ever on the lost in Hell.  In Hell, one is burning over every inch of his body, but is never consumed.  The continuous fire and the worms will never die.  The lost in Hell will want to cease their existence, but they cannot.  Their torment will continue eternally. The lost “shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:10-11).  The occupants of Hell will never know relief or rest from their anguish.  

 There are many people who scoff at the idea of eternal punishment, those who do are scoffing at what God says. In eternity, their scoffing will quickly change to weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Those in Hell will attempt to find God, “Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; they will seek Me diligently, but they will not find Me” (Proverbs 1:28). There will be no atheists in Hell, because all those in Hell will know that there is a God, but it will be too late.   

 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).  We must make sure we don’t end up in Hell, and we must warn others.“Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11).  

In Hell there will be countless people crying out in indescribable pain and agony for which there will be no relief or hope that things will ever get better. 

"And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15).

 It is imperative that our name be found in the Book of Life.  Is your name in that book?  Do you know for sure, or are you making a wishful assumption?

adapted

 

 

Thought for the week 

When knowledge speaks

Wisdom listens

 

 

Why We Trust The Bible


Do you experience ambiguity regarding the mysteries of the Bible? Are you ambivalent about the past and the present, science vs. religion, logic vs. mystery? Does doubt abide where faith should prevail?
For unbelievers, their questions are confusing and frustrating.
They have dual interests and belief in both scientifically supportable evidence and the mysteries that abound in certain “paranormal phenomenon.”
For Christians, “we walk by Faith, not by sight” ( 2 Corinthians 5:7). We know that just because man can’t prove it or you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. To those who need to see things in order to believe, I say, you can’t see gravity, but if you jump off a building you will know it indeed exists. Or, abide in a home where carbon monoxide is present; you can’t see it or smell it but it’s effect will establish its presence. Rationalization has many limitations!
Here are four confirmations to consider when substantiating your conviction of the authenticity of the Scriptures. Our assurance is based on: His pledge. The eternal God promised His Word would endure forever, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35), “But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25). He never breaks a promise (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18), and He wouldn’t tells us something existed if it weren’t true. His goodness. God’s character is connected to His enduring truth. We trust God’s wisdom to provide Scripture, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). His justice. God gave His Word to us; He said He will judge us by it. He would not condemn man for not keeping His commandments if He hadn’t given them to us, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has One who judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

John 12:48

 

 

 

Thought for the week
An insincere apology is a second insult

 

A Sincere Apology

 

The church is to be an example to the world of how to love; it is

tragic if the love that was so essential to Christ’s character is not

demonstrated by His people.

 

Of course, it is better never to offend someone than to offend and

have to try to win back the favor of the one you violated. “A brother offended

is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of

a castle” (Proverbs 19:19).

 

Shame can be destructive. It takes a humble person to go to another and say, “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” But that is often what it takes to restore a broken relationship. When a person commits a transgression they must recognize it or they will never take steps to rectify their actions.

 

Pride is to the soul what poison is to the body.

 

Studies reveal that it is easier for people to say, “I’m sorry” when they bump into you or accidently step on your foot than it is to apologize for more serious offences. In fact, the more serious the transgression, the harder it is to offer a genuine apology; one without excuse making or blame projecting.

 

Why do people find it a far greater challenge to apologize when one is due? Psychologists say it is because offering an apology conflicts with the favorable view we have of ourselves. Making a sincere apology admits that we’ve made a mistake. However, the failure to apologize causes relationships to suffer because it indicates that the offender dismisses or has no regard for the feelings of the other person or that they refuse to take responsibility for what was said or done. Just because you can forget it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

 

Saying, “please forgive me” is not an apology, it is a request; it conveys nothing of your emotion or the sentiment associated with the situation. It says nothing about your conviction to right the wrong or your readiness to make restitution.  A genuine apology should convey, “I am sorry for my actions. I love you and I want our relationship to heal.”  Restitution and action should accompany an earnest apology. It’s absurd to think that words are enough, however, the words are necessary.

 

People who wrong others without regard and refuse to apologize are usually very defensive and have low esteem not only for others but for themselves as well. Admitting wrongdoing, provides fertile ground for forgiveness, cleansing, and healing. 

 

When Jesus encountered transgressors, He would tell them “go and sin no more” (John 5:14 & 8:11). The act of not repeating the offense shows regret for the act and the resolve to not repeat it.

 

 

Thought for the week

You will find as you look at your life

that the moments when you have truly lived

are the moments when you have done things

in the spirit of love.

 

The Perfect Man

 

He is a Gentleman

 

He is confident

 

He is strong

 

He is a Protector

 

He is rich and powerful

 

He owns everything, there is nothing He wouldn’t do for me

 

He perfects all things concerning me

 

He anticipates my wants and needs

 

Every day He tells me and shows me He loves me

 

I don’t have to perform in order to earn His love

 

He keeps all His promises

 

No one can influence His opinion of me

 

He is the ultimate Provider

 

He wrote His loving words down so that I’ll never forget how He feels about me

 

He is my God, my everything and I love Him above all else.

Selected

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

A good head and a good heart

Are always a formidable combination

Nelson Mandela

 

Small Spark, Big Fire

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,

goodness, faith, meekness, and self control…”

Galatians 5:22-23

 

In June 2002, the Hayman fire destroyed more than 137,000 acres of beautiful    mountain forest in Colorado. Smoke darkened the skies, choking residents of cities 40 miles away. Thousands of people evacuated their homes and millions of dollars were spent fighting the blaze that began with a single match.

 

Small spark, big fire. That’s the way James described the damage done by reckless and careless words. “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire can stir up! And the tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among our body parts, it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and is itself set on fire by hell” (v. 3:5-6).

 

The Bible urges us not to underestimate the destructive potential of what we say. One incendiary remark can kindle an inferno of emotional harm. The best way to avert the flames of destruction is to keep from striking that first march. We must let the wisdom of God direct our thoughts before they leave our tongues. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruits,  impartial, and without hypocrisy” (v.17).

 

As we look to God’s wisdom through His Word, let us smother the sparks of dissension and instead speak words of peace and encouragement.

 

 

One careless word can be a spark

Igniting anger into flame;

It can destroy relationships

And bring reproach to Jesus’ name.

selected

 

 

 

Thought for the week

It’s not the load that weighs us down

It’s the way we carry it

 

We’ll Get Through This

Lord, our troubles are so great,

We don't know what to do;

The price for our iniquity

Is finally coming due.

The world is crumbling all about;

No safe place can be found.

Right seems wrong, wrong seems right;

The change is quite profound.

Lord, we need Your Guiding Light

To lead us out of here;

We'll focus on Your Word, and prayer,

To take away our fear.

Temptations of this dying world

We'll rule out and let go;

Give our burdens all to you,

And shed all worldly woe.

That's how we'll get through this, Lord,

Fixed on heaven above,

Assured of Your protection, help,

And everlasting love.

By Joanna Fuchs

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

The greater part of misery, despair and unhappiness

is determined not by our circumstance

But by our disposition

 

HOPE

“Be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

 

When a person has hope, they can persevere through situations that may be difficult, uncomfortable, extremely complex, or burdensome. Hope of a paycheck will motivate you to get up and go to work even though you are tired, sleepy, or even feeling ill. When the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be an oncoming train, Hope will give you the courage and strength to withstand the impact.

 

“Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in Him.”

Jeremiah 17:7

 

Never Be Discouraged

There is really nothing we need to know

Or even try to understand

If we refuse to be discouraged

And trust God’s guiding hand

So, take heart and meet each moment

With faith in God’s great love

Aware that every day of life

Is controlled by God above

So, never dread tomorrow

Or what the future brings

Just pray for strength and courage

And trust God in all things

Never grow discouraged

Be patient and just wait

God never comes too early

And He never comes too late.

By Helen Steiner Rice

 

The Bible tells us not to be sorrowful and anxious, behaving as others who have no hope.

This too shall pass.

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Blessed are those who can give without remembering

And take without forgetting

 

 

Returning God’s Love

“If you love Me, keep My commandments”

John 14:15

 

Loving God means we obey Him. Jesus said, “These people honor Me with

their mouth, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).

 

The book of Malachi begins with this wholehearted word from the Lord to His halfhearted worshippers: “I have loved you” (1:2). Though Israel had long been the object of God’s love, they no longer returned His love.

 

God listed the ways His people had offended Him through their disobedience. Israel’s response was to question God. When He implored them, “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” in their blindness they questioned Him saying, “In what way shall we return?” (3:7,14). The Lord replied to Israel with divine tough love. He did this so that they might repent and accept His love, and return it

with wholehearted obedience.

 

We too are often halfhearted in our obedience, appearing to love and serve God but really loving and serving ourselves. Today, as in Malachi’s time, God looks for people who reverence Him. How many times do you have conversations with people and never mention Christ? Two spiritual practices are mentioned in verse 16, speaking to each other about Him, and meditating on His wonderful attributes. The first is fellowship with God’s people and the other is fellowship with God Himself. Not only are we to receive and share God’s love, we are also to return it through glad obedience. Such worshippers are God’s “jewels” (v.17).

Are you one of them?

Adapted from an article by Joanie Yoder

 

“We love You, Lord Jesus” often we say

But are we ready His will to obey?

Let’s heed what God’s Spirit would have us to do

That’s how we show Him a love that is true

Adapted

 

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said

unto him, To love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with

all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. 

And the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:36-39

 

 

 

Thought for the week

A ship is safe in port

But that’s not what a ship is for

 

 

Road Builders

“…make straight paths for your feet, so that which is lame won’t be disabled, but rather healed.”  Hebrews 12:13

The cover of a recent magazine depicts a leaf-strewn road through the mountains of Vermont. Those who use that road can easily enjoy a smooth and even surface to ride over what was difficult terrain. To make this possible others had to work hard to chart the route, clear the trees, and level the rough spots.

In a way, all Christians are road builders. We are paving the way of faith for the next generation. The faithfulness of our lives may determine how difficult their journey will be. Will they have to repair the damage we have done? Will they have to rebuild so others will find their way to God?  To be good road builders, we must heed the advice found in God’s Word.

The author of Hebrews instructs us to live in peace and be holy (12:14) to make sure no one misses the grace of God, and not to permit a root of bitterness to grow and cause trouble (v. 15).

Those of us who have submitted to Jesus owe gratitude to those who have made “straight paths” for our walk of faith (v.13); in turn, we must remember those who will follow us and make paths for them. We must practice our faith in a way that makes it easy for others to surrender to Jesus and follow Him.

What kind of road builder are you?

adapted from an article by Julie Link

Oh, may those who come behind us find us faithful

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave help them to believe

And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Mohr

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Happy New Year

 

 

Renewing Commitments for the New Year

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalms 51:10

 

As we are thinking about resolutions this New Year, lets renew our commitments as Christians and particularly as members of the local body of Christ, The Stony Island Church of Christ. If each and every one of us takes heed to our commitment to God we will do greater work for the Lord as we move forward on our Christian journey.

Renew Your Commitment To Live For Christ

A new year will bring new opportunities and responsibilities that will demand our time, talent and treasure. It is easy to get caught up and forget what our main focus in life ought to be and what our real purpose in life is. As Christians, we should be all about glorifying God by living for Jesus.

A renewed commitment to live for Christ includes a renewed commitment to die to the world, self and things. “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34-35)  Keeping in mind that “God is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14) Who demands to be first in our lives.

To live for Christ requires obedience, service and worship. To live for Christ means that He, His kingdom and His righteousness are our number one priority (see Matthew 6:33). Don’t allow the devil to draw you into living a selfish existence. You cannot live for Christ and the cares of the world at the same time (Matthew 6:24).

Renew Your Commitment To Love The Church

The church is the body of Christ and Christ loves it. It consists of those who God has added to the Lord when they properly responded to the gospel (see Acts 2:36-42, 47). There is no doubt that Christ loves the church. Paul makes that crystal clear in Ephesians 5:23-33. Christ sacrificed for His church, sanctifies it, and nurtures it; after all, He gave His life to establish it.

As members of this church, we must love what Christ loves. We must sacrifice for the church; we must give ourselves in service so that the church grows spiritually and numerically. We must do all we can to enhance the church through our thoughts, attitude, conduct, lifestyle and manner.

“Strip away the former conversation of your old ways which is corrupt in it’s deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.”  (Ephesians 4:22-23)

How will a renewed commitment to live for Christ take place in your life? By renewing your thoughts and actions.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”( Romans 12:2)

selected

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

How do you get JOY?

By putting Jesus Over Yourself

 

‘Tis the Season

Little lights that twinkle

In the cold December night

Trees all dressed with tinsel

Are such a pretty sight

Presents wrapped and labeled

And placed beneath the tree

Children watch and wonder

What they may receive

 People running here and there

With little time to spare

Many have forgotten

And some don’t seem to care

So many things to purchase

So many things to do

Have you stopped to think

What Christ has done for you?

For some this season means money

And how much they can make

To others, just a ritual

A game of give and take

But the season means much more than this

A story we should all share

How God sent His Son to earth for us

Our sins for Him to bear

The love that He has shown

The Gift that He has given

Should shine above all else

Not just this, but every season

Author Unknown

 

 

Thought for the week

Wise men today worship not only

the Child of Bethlehem

But the Man of Calvary

 

Celebrate the Baby, Honor the Man

            In the days before Jesus’ birth, a lot of attention was focused on the small town of Bethlehem. Jews from surrounding cities went there to be taxed. Among them were Joseph and Mary who travelled there from Nazareth. Mary was in the last trimester term of her pregnancy and was due to deliver at any time. During the time they were in Bethlehem she indeed gave birth (Luke 2:1-7). Alerted by an angel, shepherds came in from the field to see the baby (vv. 15-16), a multitude of heavenly hosts praised God saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men” (vv. 13-14).

            Each year around this time many people in their imaginations go to Bethlehem to commemorate Jesus’ birth. But why do they choose to celebrate His birth so differently from other birthdays? When it’s time to honor the birthdays of historical figures, we don’t think of them as babies. For instance, on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, you never see pictures of him as a babe in his log cabin in Kentucky, or Martin Luther King Jr. as a baby in Atlanta, Georgia. Instead, they are remembered for their contributions and accomplishments as adults.

            While it is certainly proper to remember Jesus’ remarkable birth, we cannot stop there; for the story gets so much better. This baby grew into adulthood, lived a perfect life, and willingly sacrificed His life to allow mankind the opportunity to escape hell and have the benefit of living with Him and His Father in heaven.

            Yes, we should celebrate the baby Jesus, but just as the angels

and Joseph and Mary left Bethlehem, we too must leave there and follow the example of the shepherds who after seeing Jesus went and told everyone about Him (v.17). That’s how we make the story complete!

adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Problems are not stop signs

They are guidelines

 

 

The Gift of Family

 

Through her books and lectures, Edith Schaeffer became much appreciated for her thoughts and insights into the value of life’s

ordinary days. When she and her husband Francis were first married, both sets of family lived nearby. The newlyweds divided each Sunday afternoon and evening between the Schaeffer’s and the Seville’s.

 

After a few years, Edith and Francis moved to Switzerland, where they could talk with their parents only once a year in a brief phone conversation. Needless to say this was pre-cell phone, Internet, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

 

Looking back half a century later, Edith wrote of being glad for the way they had used those Sunday afternoons and evenings. She noted that, “proximity of loved ones is not an endless situation.” She concluded

That a package labeled “time to care for parents and exhibit love” doesn’t just arrive someday. We must show love while we can.

 

The fifth of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor your father and mother, that your days will be long upon the earth which the Lord your God has given you” (Exodus 20:12). The command to love and respect our parents applies to children living at home, newly independent young couples, and empty nesters. The command to love each other pertains for a lifetime.

 

Let’s seize each moment we have to love and honor our families; physical, extended and spiritual. The opportunity won’t last forever.

adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

    It’s not your position that counts

It’s your disposition

 

 

Pride and Arrogance

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18

 

It’s tragic to witness someone who starts out well in life and then finishes poorly. That’s the life story of Uzziah. He had been appointed king at the tender age of 16. Despite being so young, we read that “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord…He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5)

 

Uzziah’s fame spread and his army grew stronger (v.8). He had 2,600 chief officers and 307,500 soldiers who helped him defeat his enemies. (vv. 12-13)

Sadly, we then read, “When he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction” (v. 16). Uzziah had failed to remember the One who

had given him success and those who had given him Godly counsel. He sinned against the Lord when he burned incense in the temple (a practice only to be performed by the priests), and God immediately struck him with leprosy (vv. 16-19), and he remained a leper until the day he died (v. 21). God can punish us at any time for our disobedience to Him. Just because you do not suffer retribution instantaneously doesn’t mean you have escaped. You never “get away” with sin. When you have sinned against the Lord, be sure, your sins will catch up to you. (see Numbers 32:23)

To finish well, we must live well and no matter how prosperous we become we need to have a heart that is humble. Let’s remind ourselves often of the warning in Proverbs 16:18, and keep in mind that, “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5), when he forgot the Lord he suffered. His arrogance caused him to be brought down to one of the lowest levels of his day. When a person had leprosy, no one wanted to touch or come near them. So, let’s keep seeking the Lord, obeying Him, and thanking Him for all He has done for us. Remembering that it is from Him that all blessings flow.

adapted      

 

 

 

Thought for the week

   Half the things people worry about

Never happen

 

Life Happens While We’re Making Plans

 

There is a television commercial that shows a delivery woman entering a building; she greets an executive who is also entering. By the time he reaches the elevator, she is leaving the building. The message is that the company she works for is the fastest in the world for delivering packages. 

 

That commercial reminds me of the Bible passage in James 4:14, in the sense that we are always in a rush. The boss needs this today, our child must be somewhere right after school, the doctor’s appointment has to coincide with the lunch hour, and on and on… But in the midst of all the rush, something happens; someone we know leaves this earthly life when it seems like only yesterday since we first met, a child leaves home to go away to college when visions of the hospital delivery room seems like it was just weeks ago…

 

“For you do not know what tomorrow will bring. For what is your life?

It is like a vapor that appears for a little time, then vanishes away.”

                                  James 4:14

In Psalms 39:4, David begs God to let him know the number of his days on this earth. If you knew how long you would live, how would you spend your time?

A worthy admonishment is to slow down, soak in the joy of the moment and glorify God.

                      “Do not worry about your life, about what you will eat or what you will drink, or for your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food

and clothes. Look at the birds, they do not sow neither do they reap or store away food, yet God supplies their needs. Are you not of more value than they? And why do you worry about clothes? Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin… If God clothes the grass of the field that is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not clothe you? Therefore, do not worry about what you will eat, drink or wear, these are things that concern unbelievers. Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: and all these things will be given to you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 30-34

-adapted-

 

 

Thought for the week

 

 It’s not what we say about our blessings

But how we used them

That is the true measure of thanksgiving

   

 

         A Prayer of Thanks

              For forests tall and oceans deep
            For canyons wide and mountains steep
            For sunset skies of pink and gold
            For every sunrise we behold

            For Winter's snow and springtime's thaw
            For Summer's warmth and Autumn's awe
            For roofs that keep the rain away
            For walls that hold it all at bay

            For work that puts food on the table
            For health and rest to keep us able
            For friends and family around us
            For years to come, may they surround us

            For soldiers fighting for our peace
            For days to come when wars may cease
            For hope, so burdens won't enslave us
            For Thy Mercy which will save us

            For feasts, and those with whom we share it
            For loving hands that did prepare it
            For all that makes this life worth living
            We thank You now for all Your giving

            We bow our heads and bend a knee
            And pause to look around and see
            For all that was and shall ever be
            We have none to thank, Oh Lord, but Thee.

            -Selected-

 

 

Thought for the week

Make time your friend

Not your enemy  

 

 

Do You Live In A Box?

 

Incredible as it may sound, Alexander Whortley lived in a mini-trailer 3 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 5 feet high until he died at the age of 80.  It was made of wood, had a metal roof and it housed him and all his meager belongings. No matter where he worked, Whortley chose to spend his life in that cramped space, even though larger quarters were always available.

I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to live in a box, certainly not

if housing with more room was available. Think about it; are we allowing ourselves to be squeezed into narrow boxes of a different kind? Are we hemmed in by selfishness, an unforgiving spirit, bitterness, or sinful habits? Are we boxed in by unbelief’s with coffin-like narrowness of vision, seeing only our own little world, preferring only our survival, seeing this brief lifetime as the hope-suffocating sum of our existence?

 

God wants us to live in the expansive joy of His strength, realizing the security of His protection and the blessing of His favor ( see Psalm 84:11). He lovingly urges us to dwell in the spacious mansion of faith and freedom in Christ Jesus. But to do this, we must, in obedience to the Lord, move out of our spiritual boxes and abandon the doubt, the guilt, and the fear that constrict our souls.

Selected

                       

 

There are no safety boxes or vaults that can’t contain

The possessions we’ve collected and desire to retain

For all that man acquires be it power, fame or jewels

Is but limited and earthly just treasure made for fools

For only in God’s kingdom can man find enduring treasure

Priceless gifts of love more than mortal man can measure

And the riches he accumulates he can keep and part with never

For only in God’s kingdom do our treasures last forever

So use the word forever with sanctity and love

For nothing is forever but the love from God above.

Helen Steiner Rice

 

 

Thought for the week

Time wasted getting even

would be better spent getting ahead  

 

 

Button That Pocket, Soldier

 

I recently ran across this story about a retired military person who was reminiscing about an inspection he conducted while serving in the armed forces. When he approached an E-2 (private), freshly arriving from basic training in the United States, he stopped face-to-face in front of this young man who was so nervous his pulse could be seen throbbing in his throat.

 

The first thing that caught the officer’s eye was an unbuttoned pocket on the shirt of the young soldier. The officer barked out an order in his best command voice, “Button that pocket, soldier!” The young soldier was shivering with anxiety, he looked to his right and then to his left, then asked, “Right now sir?” the officer asked: “Of course, right now. When do you think I meant for you to do it?”

 

The young soldier then did something that is virtually considered almost treason in the armed forces. He handed the officer his weapon, and with both hands trembling, he reached out and buttoned the flap on the officers front pocket.

 

Why is it easier to see someone else’s faults than it is to see your own?

 Jesus said,

“And why do you notice the speck that is in your brother’s eye,

but do not perceive the plank that is in your own eye? Or how

can you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your

eye and behold, a plank  is in your own eye? You hypocrite!

First remove the plank from your own eye, then you can see

clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.”

  Matthew 7:3-5

adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

The Forces that are for you

are more powerful

than the forces that are against you

 

 

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day who you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

                        In his old age, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to remember the Lord who had given them victory, deliverance and the Promised Land. The Lord was the one who had preserved them. Joshua had seen the Lord keep the promise He made to him when he was first commissioned to lead the people over the Jordan to conquer the Promised Land. (see Joshua 1:1-9) Joshua admonished the people to serve the Lord and he himself was determined that whether they did or not, his choice and that of his household would be to serve God. What about you and your house? Not just you, but how do you govern your home? Let it be said that, As for me and my house…

We will pray to the Lord. Spend time this day and every day praying together as a family. Prayer is so important to the Christian life and to the life of a family that it cannot be practiced enough.

We will praise the Lord. Family worship is essential. Family devotionals ought to be the cornerstone of family life. Worship collectively with the saints and privately as a family.

We will please the Lord. Families must study and walk according to the precepts of God. When it does, Psalms 128:1-4 promises that the family will be blessed by God.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

When all around us is in complete turmoil and those closest to us have abandoned the cause, only our commitment to the Almighty God will endure. Like Joshua, make the bold proclamation, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

  • If we claim God as our Father, we should act as His children.
  • One way to defend the church is to attend it’s services.
  • You cannot be loyal to Christ without being loyal to His church.
  • Stand up with the best people for the best things. Stand with the church.

                                        

 

 

 

Thought for the week

 We are appointed to lead

Don’t choose to follow

 

 

Would You Vote For Jesus?

                   

If Jesus was running for President would you vote for Him? You know what He stands for and what He is against. How would you cast your vote? What is Jesus’ position on today’s issues? Society in His day faced many of the same issues we have today, so we can construct an informed platform for His campaign using His speeches, conversations, actions and Bible verses. Would He be elected today with His beliefs? Let’s examine some of His convictions:

  • Jesus did not try to please anyone but His Father. (John 8:29)
  • Jesus never adjusted His messages to please people.

 

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

                                        Proverbs 14:34

“The wicked shall be doomed to hell, and all nations that forget God.”

                                           Psalm 9:17    

“Do Not follow a multitude to do evil, neither speak for a cause to pervert justice.” Exodus 23:2

Marriage/Adultery:

Jesus would run on a pro-family ticket. His first miracle was performed at a wedding feast. (John 2:1-11) The Bible tells us that, “Marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4

He opposes divorce (Matthew 5:32, 19:4-9, Mark 10:11-12), but He allows it in cases of fornication (Matthew 19:9). When a woman who was caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, He did not condemn her to die, He told her to “go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11

Homosexuality: Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them in the beginning, made them male and female and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife; and they shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4-5).” Even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; and likewise, the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another” (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Genesis 19:1-29).

The Resurrected Lord: The Winning Ticket: Would you vote against societal beliefs  and support the Savior or would you vote with those  on the broad road and search for ways to “justify” your decision? The popular vote caused Christ to be crucified. Those who claimed they loved Him did not vote for Him on the final day of His life.  The thing most critical for each voter is not who is President, but who is Lord. It is not how the election affects the wallet, personal lifestyle, or progressive thinking, but how one’s decision affects his soul. When Jesus comes He will not be President, He is a Monarch, He will be King and every knee will bow before Him and give an account for their decisions and actions. (Romans 14:11)  Remember, all our thoughts and actions should be done to honor God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)  

How will you mark your ballot? The polls are open!

   adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Success comes not only from knowing

But for doing

 

 

 

Evangelizing the Evangelized


Evangelizing is generally viewed as reaching out to those outside of Christ with the Gospel to bring them into a relationship with Christ in His body, the church. Certainly this is an important component, for the Lord said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…”

But the command of evangelism did not stop there. The Lord continued in Matthew’s account, saying, “teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The apostles obeyed this command in Acts 2 by declaring the gospel and baptizing those who received the word (Acts 2:38-40). They also continued to teach those who had been taught, according to Acts 2:42. They evangelized those who had been evangelized.

While on a missionary trip in which the gospel was preached to the lost, Paul and Barnabas evangelized those who had been evangelized by returning to areas they had been to previously to “strengthen the souls of the disciples exhorting them to continue in the faith” (see Acts 14:21-23).

Evangelizing does not confine itself to teaching and baptizing converts. In addition to seeking and saving the lost, evangelism also involves continued teaching and fellowship to build up those who have been added. Let’s all cooperate in the process of strengthening, building and developing ourselves, each other and those who have been baptized into Christ, especially those who we know are delinquent in their service to Him.

-adapted-


With Friends and Family Day approaching, why not reach out to someone who has been missing from service as well as someone who needs to hear the gospel; invite them to enjoy soul food for the body and the spirit.

 

 

 

Thought for the week

 “Bless us Lord with quietness of mind

Teach us to be patient and to always be kind”

 

Enhancing and Strengthening Relationships

 

The Stony Island congregation is blessed with some of God’s best people in the brotherhood. It consists of people who love and appreciate one another. Satan is always looking for opportunities to cause or create divisive and complaining attitudes among church members, therefore let us pray and put forth every effort to deter Satan from  hindering the progress of God’s work.

What can each of us do to strengthen our relationships among church members, as well as with other family members, friends, neighbors, etc.? Let each of us consider the following tips to maintain the positive and encouraging spirit and relationships among ourselves and others:

 

  • Remember, there are no perfect people, therefore there are no perfect relationships. Be ready to forgive others when they intentionally or unintentionally say or do things that offend you. Consider Paul’s admonishment in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all make mistakes!
  • Strive to concentrate on the present; don’t live in the past. It is difficult to move forward when you are controlled by thoughts of what happened yesterday or months or years ago. People who have strong relationships with others have the ability to put things behind themselves and move forward to make the present and future better (see Philippians 3:13).
  • Learn to say “Thank you.” Being courteous, polite and respectful, goes a long way with people.
  • Don’t look for faults or shortcomings in the lives of others; look for the good. Think of Jesus’ admonition, “Why do you look for the speck in your brothers eye, but don’t consider the plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:3). In 1 Peter 4:8 Peter implies love in relationships will “cover a multitude of sins.”
  • Reflect again on tip #1 and don’t complain. In Philippians 2:14, Paul exhorts us to, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” This scripture is encouraging us to learn to view life from the perspective that the glass is always half full, not half empty. Our perspective makes a difference in and influences our behavior.
  • In all situations, LOVE. Love is what distinguishes us from the rest of the world. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35). “If a man says, I love God but hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4:20), and remember nothing you do means more than love, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will fail; where there are tongues, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it will vanish away. Now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” ( I Corinthians 13:2-8, 13).

 

 

 

Thought for the week

 

Set your sights beyond what you can easily reach

And you will reach beyond what you can imagine

 

 

 

Are You Juvenile Or Spiritually Mature?

 

There are no shortcuts to maturity. It takes years for humans to grow to adulthood, and fruit needs a full season to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of a Christ like character cannot be rushed, but it must be nourished and nurtured.

 

The Bible gives us the example of newborn babies desiring milk to be nourished in order to grow. Similarly Christians must desire God’s word in order to develop into mature Christians. God does not expect nor is He pleased with Christians who do not grow and produce. All Christians should be able to tell others how to become a child of God, which is our primary duty.

 

When you have conversations with friends, neighbors, or acquaintances and discuss social issues, life’s events, etc. and never inject “Jesus” into the conversation, you are spiritually immature.

 

Perhaps your growth is stunted. If so, don’t allow yourself to remain frail and weak. Revive your spirit with God’s word and grow into a healthy Christian. After all, your spiritual self is the part of you that will go into eternity, so you need to be strong and fit to make it to heaven.

 

“Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you
when fear overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish overwhelm you.

Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
    they will look for me but will not find me,
for they hated knowledge

and did not choose to fear the Lord.”

Proverbs 1:23-29

 

 

Thought for the week

 If you don’t accept the challenge

You will never feel the exhilaration of victory

 

Almost Doesn’t Count

 

Many of us watched the summer Olympics last month when athletes

the world over gathered in Rio de Janeiro to compete for winning medals. They trained many years, some all of their lives to meet the requirements necessary to be eligible. The rules were carefully studied because the contestants knew that any deviation would have caused them to be disqualified and their chance to participate would be forfeited. The regulations are understood and accepted, and those who want to receive the coveted awards comply.

Similarily, contestants in Miss America, Miss USA and other beauty pageants have rules that they must strictly adhere to or they will be barred from the competition. This also applies to sweepstakes applicants, if qualifications are not met, entrants will not be considered to win the prize.

The same is true of Christianity. God has set forth His rules and those who want to gain the reward He has promised must adhere to them stringently. It is incomprehensible that people understand that they must comply with Olympian, beauty pageant, and other regulations without wavering, but when it comes to God’s rules they think there should be compromise. For people to think or even expect God to modify His laws to satisfy the disregard of those who don’t want to obey Him is abominable! The rules are set, if you want to qualify for the reward, you must concur. No compromise will be given for anyone. (see Acts 10:33-35)

If those who prepared for the Olympics went to Rio and ran, jumped or swam outside of the Olympic stadium, they would not have been eligible to receive the gold, silver or bronze medals, even if they broke the record in their field. All competitions must have taken place inside the Olympic stadium! Likewise, those who live outside of God’s designated arena (the church) will be ineligible when the final Judge makes His decision.

To be considered eligible, the athletes had to be competent, they had the skills but if they didn’t stay within the guidelines they wouldn’t be allowed into the stadium with those who worked tirelessly, tenaciously, and abided by the rules; even if they did everything else right, one mishap could cause them the championship. When you step outside of the boundaries, there is a penalty to be paid.

You could say that they almost made it, but the fact remains, you’re either in or out… almost doesn’t count.       

 

“…we labor that… we may be accepted of Him. For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one of us may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men: but we are well known to God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-11 

 

 

Thought for the week

The happiest people are not those getting more

But those giving more

 

Pursuing Success

 

When people are faced with career or other choices on the way up or to stay on the ladder of wealth, fame or position they often make choices that are compromising. What do you do to meet the demands of success? Some people have reported that they resort to taking pills or other drugs to help them stay awake for more hours than is physically possible naturally. One author who wrote a best selling novel admitted, “I started taking amphetamine pills when I was on tour promoting my book. I felt that I owed it to my fans to be alert. When I took the pills I had the energy I needed to meet the overbearing pressure of my schedule.”

The author was finally able to come to the realization that taking pills was not in her best interest, but it wasn’t until she determined within her own mind that her well being was worth far more than money. This realization allowed her to break away from the deceptive thought that pills and success would provide her with the desires of her heart. Question, do you think that the physician knew that prescribing pills to her over the extended period of time that she took them was detrimental to her health?  What was the doctor’s agenda?

People often allow themselves to be lead and even driven by greed, covetousness and ambition, and many of them never come to the awareness that only God, not things, can provide Joy, Peace and Happiness.

What object will you pursue today; A paycheck, a winning lottery ticket, an accolade, pat on the back or recognition for something? Perhaps all of these or others. But there is something more important, more significant and more rewarding you can pursue. You can pursue a soul today! In Jesus’ view one of the most important pursuits in the world is a soul. A saved soul sets forth Joy in heaven! “…I say unto you, there is Joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” Luke 15:10.

The next time you see someone spinning out of control, chasing a dream that cannot fulfill their utmost desires and needs, tell them there is enormous profit in pursuing righteousness and that God will supply all their needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

 

What stands between a sinner and salvation? It could be YOU!

 

Finally, happiness cannot be travelled to, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, gratitude and servitude to God first, then to your fellow man.

 

 

Thought for the week

It’s never right

To do wrong

 

Not By Race, But By God’s Grace

 

    We’ve been joined as family together

    Through God’s unmerited grace

    A union beyond nationality

    Beyond culture, creed or race

 

    United together through Jesus Christ

    No matter where we come from

    For the grace of God has no limit

    Nor boundaries we can’t go beyond

 

    It extends right across the world

    To every corner of the globe

    The light of God must reach out toward

    To ones that we do not know

 

    That they will believe in Jesus Christ

    And be filled with God’s own light

    For Jesus accepts all that would come

    No one will He ever deny

 

    For we were once in darkness too

    Dying and lost in our sin

    But in God’s love, He saved our souls

    And placed His love within

 

    We’ve come from different walks of life

    And so many different lands

    But it shouldn’t matter in the family of God

    And we must come to understand

 

    That when our Lord looks upon us

    He does not see our race

    He looks straight into our open hearts

    Where He’s filled us with His grace

 

    For this is what truly binds us

    Together in His love

    Brothers and sisters in the Lord

    Washed clean by Jesus’ blood

 

    For when we come together in love

    We are truly unified

    It shouldn’t matter where we come from

    Let Jesus be glorified!

    By M.S. Lowndes

 

 

 

Thought for the week

God give me work till my life shall end

And life till my work is done

Epitaph of Winifred Holby

 

Labor Day

 


“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day, for

the night is coming when no man can work.”

John 9:4

Once a year, on the first Monday in the month of September, the United States observes a holiday designated as Labor Day. It was created by the labor movement in the 19th century, became a federal holiday in 1894, and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Though the day is termed labor day, most partake in a break from labor rather than be involved in it.

Looking at the text above, it seems that the Lord inaugurated “labor day” a long time ago. But the Lord’s “labor day” is not a day of rest nor a holiday to refrain from work. His labor day is a day to do the work of God the Father.

The ”day” that Jesus spoke of in the above scripture is the lifetime of

the individual. The “night” He refers to is the night of death when a man’s time on this earth will be no more. Of course, for the Christian, this “night” will be a time of rest from our labors (Revelation 14:13). Sadly, some Christians have already started “resting” and are not involved in working for God. What reward do these expect to receive? No matter how old you are or how many souls you have brought to Christ,  you have not exhausted your potential to serve God.

While it is day, that is each day that we are alive, we should be involved in working for God. Paul admonishes us to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Take note that Paul gave that admonition in conjunction with a discussion of “night” from the aspect of death and resurrection.

 

  1. There is the work of saving. We must be involved in the task of carrying the gospel to a lost and dying world. (Matthew 25:18-20, Mark 16:15-16) No one is exempt from this commandment.

 

  1. There is the work of serving. Servants are the greatest in God’s kingdom (Matthew 20:26-28) and we must stay busy serving one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

 

  1. There is the work of standing steadfast. The devil is busy (1 Peter 5:8) and that means we should be busy. We must keep busy resisting him and his wiles, by being sober and vigilant. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

 

So, what are you doing on Labor Day?

Adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

A clear conscience

May just be the sign of a bad memory

 

 

Copper or Gold?

          

The story is told of a beggar who  one day asked for money from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and he had no claim on the ruler, no right to even lift his solicitous hand in anticipation of a hand out. Yet the king threw him several gold coins. A member of the kings court who witnessed this act was astonished at his generosity and he commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggars need.”

 

Alexander responded in royal fashion, “Truly, copper coins would suit the beggars need, but gold coins suit the kings giving.”

 

Just a thought: when you give each Sunday morning, does your offering reflect a beggar or does it reflect an offering to the King in whose service we are privileged to be?

-selected-

 

Do you ever wonder why you struggle or can never seem to get ahead or get the things you really want? When you find the money for everything and everyone else and give God what is left, it’s not likely that you will truly prosper.

 

When Cain offered his sacrifice to God at the altar, he offered the sacrifice not his heart and his insincerity was not accepted by God.

 

“He who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly: and he who sows

bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let everyone give

according to that which he has reasoned in his heart,

give not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful

giver. And He is able to make all grace abound toward you

that you will always have all things sufficiently and are able

 to abound to every good work: as it is written, “He that has

given to the poor, his righteousness remains forever”

                                  2 Corinthians 9:6-9.

When God gave His gift to us, He gave His best. We should do likewise.

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

A clear conscience

May just be the sign of a bad memory

 

 

Render To God

How often do we allow distractions to take our focus off of our spiritual goals?

I’m not speaking of distractions that are dripping with the venom of wickedness, but the distractions from those things in this life that are good in and of themselves and which provide us a measure of joy, happiness and satisfaction. For instance, those of us who have children know how busy our lives become when they participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, band, choir or debate teams. Life can become chaotic, especially if you have more than one child and they are enrolled in different activities. There is practice for one at one location and a game or recital for the other someplace else. 

 

Then there is the yard that needs tending, the house that needs keeping,

the small business that needs expanding, the vehicle that needs servicing, clothes that need washing/drying/folding, dinner that needs preparing, dishes that need washing, plants that need watering, books that need reading, shopping that needs to be done, and on and on and on.

 

The problem is that by the time we tend to all these things we haven’t made time for the Bible that needs reading, our marriage that needs nurturing, our children that need loving, the sick that needs a visit or a call, Bible class and worship service that needs attending, Christian brethren that need encouraging, prayers that need saying, souls that need saving and God who needs serving.

 

If Satan can’t trap us with worldly temptations, he will try to get us through the business of our daily lives and the commitments we make outside of our church obligations and our commitment to God.

-adapted-

 

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will it be trouble, distress, famine,  persecution or nakedness…?”

Romans 8:35

Render to God what is His.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Your house isn’t clean if your closets are dirty

 

Cleaning Out Your Closet

Christians should be full of happiness and joy. Actually, Christianity is synonymous with joy.

 

When your heart is full of bitterness, resentment and un-forgiveness you are not practicing Christ-like behavior and you are not going to be happy. Happiness in life depends on the quality of your thoughts, “What a man thinks in his heart, that he is” (Proverbs 23:7). Dismiss any anger and mistrust from your mind and live the life that Jesus died for you to have. (see Philippians 4:4-9)

 

Christians belong to God…not to the world. We must not allow the world to use us for its purpose. Satan is the author of perplexity, disharmony and pure chaos. When these things are present in your life you need to do some cleaning and get rid of them.

 

When anarchic issues emerge, quiet your spirit with the word of God, this is God’s way of speaking to us. He knows what plagues you; pray for His guidance, His words will comfort and encourage you.

 

Relief doesn’t always mean the problem will disappear, but trust that God has control of the situation and that He’ll work it out for you. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and quiets His child; He doesn’t always quiet the storm; trust Him, and remember, “All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

 

When negative situations occur, don’t complain, ask why me? or become angry and irritable. Everyone goes through trials during their lifetime. The level of their intensity however, is based on your perception and how you deal with them.

 

“The Lord is good, a strong hold in times of trouble: and

He knows those who trust Him.”

Nahum 1:7

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your

own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and

He will direct your path.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

                       

 

 

Thought for the week

The lesser of two evils is still evil

“All unrighteousness is sin”

1 John 5:17

 

Uncompromising

The risks we take in life are relative and personal, and socially mandated choices can be the most detrimental.

Many so-called churches have changed their “religious doctrine” and practices to accommodate modern opinion and to satisfy the world. Such practices puts a stumbling block before those who are seeking to validate and justify their desire to sin.

True religion never gives way to societal change.

The church is the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10) and must represent God’s truth at every turn.  We should never avoid an opportunity to speak the truth on God’s behalf.

Our response to sin should never be to go along with or help justify the deed, but to bring sinners to repentance through scripture and prayer with love.

There must always be a clear and distinct line of demarcation between the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-24)

Christians must never offer to anyone a watered down facsimile of God’s word. Matthew 7:13&14 tells us unequivocally that there are only 2 paths to eternity; the broad or the narrow. Each of us are either walking on the wide path of sin or the narrow path of righteousness. There is no middle ground to serving God. [Johnny Ramsey]

“Preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Always do your best

What you plant now, you will harvest later

 

 

Are You A Fanatic?

 

The Oxford and Webster dictionaries define the word fanatic as, “one having extraordinary zeal for and extreme attachment to a cause. Intense enthusiasm, phenomenal or superior bond or connection to something.”

 

Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,  with all your mind, and with all your strength…” (Mark 12:30)

 

1 Thessalonians tells us to “Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:17-18).

 

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

 

“…be thou faithful unto death(Revelation 2:10).

 

“…ever follow that which is good” (1Thessalonians 5:15).

 

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…” (Romans 12:1).

 

Is it worth it to be a fanatic? How many times have you dreamt of all you could do if you had millions of dollars? Your imagination may run wild with fantasies of how your life would be if you had an endless supply of money, but if you are a fanatic for God: “It is written, eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things that the Lord has in store for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

Are you a fanatic? Not unless you abandon all, put God above EVERYTHING and seek first His kingdom. ( see Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Matthew 6:33)

 

                         

 

 

Thought for the week

Good, better, best

Never let it rest

‘Till your good is better

 

 

We Need To Be Convicted 

 

If you come to church services week after week and are never moved by the Holy Spirit, you are not growing. If you leave church service and live the same ole life and do the same ole things, something is wrong. When you have a true relationship with God you grow. The Bible tells us, “…though our outward man perish, our inner man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Growth should be constantly taking place.

How many times do you utter words before a meal without even thinking about what you are saying? That’s not being convicted in your prayer. The good news is, you can repent of your negative behaviors NOW!

Christ is not as concerned about what you have done as He is about what you are doing now. Are you sharing the good news of the soul saving gospel as commanded by God? It’s actually easier than you might think. You can start by telling them how Jesus helped you to turn your life around, blessed you with everything that you have and gave you the power of prayer

(access to His Father) to communicate the desires of your heart. Tell them how Jesus through His loving mercy gives us all the opportunity for peace of mind, and ultimately will reserve a place in heaven for anyone who seeks Him with diligence. Tell them about the mercy He has shown you (mercy means that God doesn’t give us what we deserve).

We can’t be high-minded in our approach to someone living in a sinful state. While we were still sinners without hope, God looked for us before we ever started looking for Him. In Romans 3:23 Paul says that “all have sinned,” not “ya’ll” but “all.” So, when we evangelize, compassion is key.

Earthly laws set a standard for each of us that says, “live up to this or else.” Ignorance of those laws are not accepted as an excuse for disobedience of them. So, we are motivated to know the law and to measure up to that standard in every way we can. With God’s law, we should be even more diligent realizing that the stakes are much higher.

 

Just remember, NEVER COMPROMISE, DON’T BE STAGNANT, GROW and REMAIN CONVICTED.

 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Thought for the week

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows

 

There Will Always Be God

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8


In spite of the infinite love and awesome power of God there are millions
today who will not seek the counsel of Heaven and the constant guidance
(Isaiah 58:11) or the perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) our gracious God has promised.
When we do not retain God in our minds only chaos and ruin can
result. Regardless of our action or attitude, God has not and will never be
abdicated or overthrown, His will, will be done. A.L. Murray’s poem sums it up
perfectly:
There Always Will Be God
They cannot shell His temple
Nor dynamite His throne;
They cannot bomb His city
Or rob Him of His own
They cannot take Him captive
Or strike Him deaf and blind
Nor starve Him to surrender
Or make Him change His mind
They cannot cause Him panic
Or cut off His supplies
They cannot take His kingdom
Or stop Him with their lies
Though all the world be shattered
His truth remains the same
His righteous laws still potent
And “Father” still His name
Though we face wars and struggles
And feel their goad and rod
We know above confusion
There always will be God.
-Selected-

 

 

Thought for the week
Some of our heroes have been offered
only crumbs from his country’s table
But by ingenuity, faith and courage
has made for himself a feast
Maya Angelou

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776


Jesus on the 4th of July

We gather 'round to celebrate on Independence Day To pay homage to our country as the children run and play. With barbecues and picnics and fireworks in the air The flag we own is proudly flown to show how much we care. The stars and stripes spell freedom she waves upon the breeze While bursts of colors can be seen above the towering trees. This is all quite wonderful, we revel in delight But God above in Divine Love has brought this day to light. With just a stroke of liberty, a touch of His great hand He gave democracy to us and helped this country stand. The stripes upon our stately flag were touched by His sweet grace Each star of white that shines so bright reflects His loving face. So as you turn to face the flag for battles that were fought Be filled with pride for those who died and freedoms that were bought. But don't forget to thank the One that gives the bright display The reason why we paint the sky on Independence Day. Marilyn Ferguson

 

 

Thought for the week

Never trust a dog to watch your food

 

 

Don’t Be Credulously Gullible

 

For 8 years, Sally had been the Romero family pet. She was only one foot long when they brought her home; but Sally grew and grew until eventually she reached a length of 11 feet and weighed 80 pounds.

 

Then one day, Sally, a Burmese python, turned on 15-year-old Derek,

strangling the unsuspecting teenager until he died of suffocation. When they arrived to investigate the young man’s death, police said that the snake was “quite aggressive, hissing, and reacting.”

 

Sin is like that snake. When a sin first enters our lives, we think of it as harmless and sometimes it is unrecognizable. Yet it doesn’t stay small. Sin has a way of growing. We think we can handle it, but then it begins to handle us, and it always leads to death…sometimes emotional death, sometimes physical death, and if sin is not repented, confessed and forsaken, it will bring spiritual death. James warned us that “sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death” (1:15).

“Blessed is the person who perseveres under trial because,

having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of

life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. When

tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God

cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone;  but

each person is tempted when they are drawn away by their

own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived,

it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth

to death.” James 1:12-15

           

If you are playing with sin in your life, God urges you to be aware. It’s a life-and-death matter.

 

Just one little sin, what harm can it do?

But give it free reign and soon there’ll be two

And then sinful deeds and habits ensue;

So guard well your thoughts or they’ll destroy you.

selected

 

 

 

Thought for the week

    Small deeds are worth far more

Than good intentions

 

History of Father's Day in US


The Modern version of Father's Day celebration originated in the United States of America and thereafter the tradition spread to countries around the world. 

The idea of a Father's Day celebration originated in the mind of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd after she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Sonora pondered, if there is a day to honor mothers then why not a day for fathers? Sonora felt strongly about this because of the affection she received from her own father, Mr William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Sonora's mother died during childbirth when she was just 16 and Mr Smart raised the newborn and Sonora on his own with love and care.

Inspired by Ms Anna Jarvis's struggle to promote Mother's Day, Ms Dodd began a rigorous campaign to celebrate Father's Day in the US. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) supported Sonora's cause. As a result, Spokane celebrated its first Father's Day on June 19, 1910. Though there was initial hesitation the idea gained gradual popularity all over US and Fathers Day came to be celebrated in cities all across the country.

Seeing the heightened popularity of Father's Day in the US, President Woodrow Wilson approved of the idea in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge also supported the idea of a national Father's Day in 1924 to, "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." After a protracted struggle of over four decades, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation in 1966 declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day and in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day to be held on the third Sunday of June. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World's Fair in Spokane in 1974. Mrs. Dodd died in 1978 at age 96.

Adapted

 

 

Thought for the week

   Choice not chance will determine your destiny

 

 

Go Tell It On The Mountain

 

Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, text messaging and e-mail are all essential ways to communicate these days. Many people spend so much time in front of their screens that they forget how to physically interact with others, some reported that they feel uncomfortable talking with people face to face. They see so much of their friends lives on social media that they simply don’t bother seeing them in real life.

 

Nowadays, people send texts as Birthday greetings instead of making a personal phone call or visit. Could it be that in the future Siri will be the only one that can recognize our voice?

 

Among the excuses for using technology instead of human contact is: “My friends are so busy that they are hard to reach” or “My schedule doesn’t allow me time to sit and chat on the phone.”

 

On my last birthday, I received an alert from an app called Venmo. My friend sent me $60.00! The message was all in emoji, but it translated to “Happy Birthday dear friend, have dinner on me.” Though she wasn’t there personally, the thoughtfulness of the gesture was really uplifting.

The surprising, spontaneous nature of a gift rarely fails to delight! Once I used an app called “Seamless” to send chicken soup to a co-worker when she was at home sick with the flu.

 

The New York Times published an article that declared texting and instant messaging are turning the millennial generation into “ill mannered

flakes.” The Wall Street Journal ran a headline that asked, “Is Technology Making People Less Sociable?” My opinion is this, I know that no app will ever make me feel as connected to my friends as I do when I get to physically spend time with them, but I am grateful that I can use technology to send them reminders that I am thinking of them between the times that our calendars align. Yes, technology can be menacing, but as with everything we do, it can be a tool to glorify God. There are many apps that can be used to inspire and edify ourselves and others. You can program your phone, computer or other device to send devotional messages to yourself or to someone else each morning or throughout the day. When responding to your Facebook friends why not remind them about the love of God? Turn your Apple into a mountain for God’s glory!   

 

 

Thought for the week

The sign of a beautiful person

Is that they always see the beauty in others  

 

Charity Begins at Home

 

In the early church, the members provided for each other and no one was in need of anything. “All who believed were united and they shared everything. They sold their possessions and distributed the proceeds to each other to meet their needs.” Acts 2:44-45

 

God and His church is our sustenance for everything, not the other way around. When we live together, contemplate one another and cultivate our commitment to God we are strong, but when our personal pursuits overtake our Godly responsibilities, our bond is weakened and we falter. When we look outside of the church trouble is sure to be found. We must never allow our fascination with the world to exceed our obligation to please God.

 

Your church home and family can provide a place of safety, comfort and survival that cannot be found anywhere else. While it is true that dysfunctional individuals in the family can be a detriment to it’s members, God commands us to love. (John 15:12) If we are to love our enemies, surely we must love the brotherhood of the church. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). No one can acquire salvation without love.

 

There are distinct commandments we must obey that puts us into Christ’s kingdom and distinguishes us from sinners. (John 13:35) Sometimes it may be difficult to “do good to those who curse you” (Matthew 5: 44, Luke 6:28), or to do the right thing when the wrong thing is tempting. Perhaps someone is treating you disrespectfully or unfairly; don’t react negatively, trust God to avenge the issue (James 1:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-8).

 

Our goal should be to love God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves, without reservation. (Luke 10:27)

 

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially those who are of the Household of Faith.”  Galatians 6:10       

 

 

Thought for the week
Being alone is better than being in bad company

 

Secure Your Border


The 2016 Presidential Campaign has thrust the subject of immigration to the forefront of our nations discussion and agenda. Recent polls reveal that the majority of American citizens support the idea of stricter control of the US borders.


It is clear that media coverage has had an indubitable impact on public opinion; images of children without their parents, migrants telling stories about seeking a better life, US citizens blocking busses at the US/Mexican border filled with immigrant children, and stories of the perilous journey they forged to get here have all influenced the way people view migrants.


Yes, there are lots of opinions and controversy regarding the border, about who the US should let in and who should be kept out, and the reasons America deems it necessary to secure its borders are many; some you may agree with and some you may not, but when it comes to Christians, we definitely need to set boundaries in our spiritual lives. Not everyone is going to be a positive influence on us, so we must guard our souls against evil and be cautious about who we allow to enter our personal domain, who we associate with, and who we embrace. Guard your heart and mind against evil. Love everyone, but remember: “Evil companions will corrupt good behavior” (Corinthians 15:33).

Your spiritual border is by far more precious than a physical border.

 

 

Thought for the week

 

When money talks

The truth remains silent

 

 

Money Mindset

“Like the partridge that sits on eggs he did not hatch, he that attains riches

 unrighteously, they will leave him and in the end he will be a fool.”

Jeremiah 17:11

From the moment we become aware that nickels, quarters, and dollars enable their owner to acquire things that are not available to those who don’t have it, we form an opinion and develop a connection with money. We learn that there is a certain advantage to having it opposed to not having it.

 

For many the anxiety that surrounds money stems from not having enough. However, once money is attained, the stress doesn’t go away. People of all ages, educational backgrounds, and income levels report that money is a major stressor in their lives. It’s even true to say that money strongly drives peoples emotions, hopes and dreams.

 

For young children, their introduction to money is in the form of a reward for achieving good grades in school, monetary allowance for the completion of household chores or for performing tasks for a neighbor, relative or friend. But, as they grow it is important for them to learn that, “Success is not knowing only how to create wealth, but how to use it. Not how fast you can go, but where you are headed. Not how much, but how good” (Lyndon B. Johnson). Greed can turn a wise man into a fool.

 

Sometimes survival is bought at the expense of happiness (survival being termed as material things that we think we cannot live without, like huge houses, expensive cars, clothes, jewelry etc.). When fulfillment is too distant to imagine, courage and resiliency are required, along with the recognition that money cannot but everything. Many people who have money are unhappy.

 

In relationships, be it marital or business, unimaginable hardship can arise when one person is weak and the other is greedy. Money lessons are sometimes garnered by the concept that we unfortunately live within a justice system that favors the rich and guilty over the poor and innocent. There is a line in the movie Annie Hall that says, “I will never turn in my brother the chicken, because I need the eggs.” Today’s “Thought for the week” rings true, When money talks, the truth remains silent. But, let us remember, Money will not enter into the “Land of Endless Day.”

 

“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can take nothing out of it. Having food and clothing, we should be content. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts that drown men in destruction and damnation. For the love of money is the root of all evil; while coveting after money some have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things and follow after righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness.”

1 Timothy 6:6-11

 

 

 

Thought for the week

We are often limited by attitude

Rather that circumstances

 

Boldly, But With Respect

 

There is a fable by Aesop that tells of a competition between the wind and the sun about which one could get a man to remove his coat. The wind blew hard and ferocious, but the man just pulled his coat tighter. The sun shined on him warm and bright, and the man removed his coat. The moral of the story is: gentle, kind persuasion wins where force fails.  

 

When we are trying to convert someone, it is important to remember that all have sinned, and only God’s grace separates “us” from “them.” We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we are all subject to God’s judgment.

 

Let us pray to avoid the pitfalls of prejudice, pride and vanity, ridding our hearts of selfishness and teach ourselves to be humble and thoughtful.

 

You can become judgmental when you create your own standards, measure others against and expect people to live up to them. When you do this, you overstep your boundary; God is Judge of all, and He makes the rules!

 

When you are judgmental, you become indignant of others shortcomings while being indulgent of your own. Think about it, could you live up to the standards you expect from others? Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes; if you don’t think you make mistakes, ask someone. Nobody knows what’s wrong with themselves, but others can see it right away. The Bible tells us, “Every mans ways are right in his own sight” (Proverbs 21:2). The most lethal deceptions can be those we believe ourselves.

 

We must love one another in spite of our faults and our differences and avoid establishing our own laws, “…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, they go about establishing their own righteousness without submitting themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:2-3)

 

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

 

“…learn not to think above that which is written that you will not be arrogant of one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6)

 

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find  grace to help us in times of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

 

Thought for the week

God wants custody

Not just weekend visits

 

 

Learning So I Can Grow

 

Each of us should have a burning desire to grow spiritually. We should be like the little child who is eager to learn independence, who enthusiastically says, “I can do it by myself.” Spiritual growth involves consistently feeding on God’s word through personal study, congregational study, and fellowship with church members (1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 10:24-25). Spiritual growth involves endurance and suffering through adversity (James 1:2-30); it involves independence in areas of prayer, study, and the decision to attend worship services and Bible classes.

We all know what happens to grass when it is not exposed to sunlight…it soon dies. Likewise, Christians who are not exposed to the continual light of God’s word will die spiritually. The Bible says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

Without continuous stimulation our brains will grow weak and lazy. If our minds aren’t focused on “good” we will end up focusing on the “bad.” It’s a proven fact that we only use a very small portion of our brain’s capacity; so the small portion that is used should be chiefly utilized for the glory of God. Bible class is where we come to use our brain to feed our spirits so we can grow healthy in the knowledge of the Lord.

It is true that almost 80% of converts come straight out of Bible class; but the reverse is also true; children who do not attend Bible classes are not likely to attend church services as an adult, and adults who do not attend Bible classes are not likely to be faithful to their Christian commitment.

Bible class is a blessing for us and for our children. So many children have parents who couldn’t care less about their knowledge of Jesus. For many of them Bible class is often the only opportunity for them to hear God’s word. So be vigilant and seize every opportunity to teach youth about Jesus. You never know what good things will happen until you plant the seeds of truth in tiny pure hearts.

Adapted from “The Informer” the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin.

 

Indeed, church attendance is essential (Hebrews 10:25, Acts 20:7), but it is only one of many commandments given to us from God; obeying just one is not enough to gain the reward promised to those who keep His commandments. (James 2:10)  If you come to church every Sunday and Wednesday, that’s a good start, but the lifestyle of a Christian goes far beyond church attendance. Attending worship for 2 hours per week is not enough “labor” to get you to heaven.

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Resentment rots the container that carries it

 

Conquering the Inevitable

Each day we are alive we are afforded the opportunity to glorify God; once lived you can never relive it so make the most of everyday, you may not get another one. If you knew you only had 6 months to live, what changes would you make? Now is the time to make them.   

At every turn, resist the devil and refuse live your life with a chip on your shoulder, being angry and upset by every little thing that doesn’t please you or go your way. Refuse to be unhappy. When negative situations  occur in your life, use them to make yourself stronger. Negativity only has power if you allow it to.       

Don’t let adversity control you! You can’t go through life letting everything get on your nerves and stress you out. Most of those things you can’t do anything about anyway, so why allow it to cause you anguish? Usually pessimisms will rectify themselves anyway, without your intervention.

When you primarily dwell on negative issues, it can lead to physical problems like hypertension, ulcers, stroke, heart attacks, and all around dissatisfaction with your existence. Instead, think on these things: things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Philippians 4:8). 

You cannot go around cussing people out with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and expect to be respected as a Christian just because you attend church services on Sunday.

When negative situations arise, take what’s useful from the experience and shrug off the rest. There’s always a lesson to be learned from the disappointments in life. Anger, resentment, and betrayal are all human responses to negative occurrences, but don’t let them define your future.

We are whirling across the universe at 1.3 million mph, this is the speed at which the galaxy moves, so whatever negativity you incurred in the past was millions of miles ago and you are already moving on. Don’t let the past be the place you call home, if you don’t let go, you don’t grow. Why spend your life being mad at and seeking revenge on those who have wronged you? It will backfire, and you will be the one who suffers. Let God be your avenger.

(see Romans 12:19)

If you deny your feelings they will haunt you for years to come; give yourself a timeframe, don’t get stuck in that dark place, you have to feel it to heal it; acknowledge it, let yourself mourn negative instances (mourning is vital to healing) then move on. Everyone has problems, what defines you is how you deal with them. Sometimes God will deliver you from the fire, at other times He will take you through the fire, and sometimes He will make you fireproof like He did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel 3). If you are living for God your current situations are working for good. (Romans 8:28)

Whatever in your life is amiss or has gone awry, remember God is in charge of every situation and He has promised never to leave or forsake you (Hebrews 1:5).

“Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”

James 4:7-8

 

 

Thought for the week

Turn or Burn

 

Satan’s Gratitude

He is grateful to those who…

are too tired and too busy to go to worship services, they are among his best workers.

do not stand for and proclaim the truth, they are some of his most effective workers.

are Christians that need to be begged to attend worship services, they are very important to him.

do not go to worship services at all, the world sees their ways and are influenced by them.

gossip, for they cause strife and division, this pleases him greatly.

are easily offended, for they soon become discouraged, angry and quit.

do not give of their prosperity to carry on God’s work, they are an enormous help to him.

profess to love God, but hates his brother, these shall live with him forever.

have no time to pray, they are easy prey.

do not read God’s word, they will be confused and follow him without even knowing it.


Satan is grateful to these servants because they serve him unaware.

 

 

Thought for the week

B-U-S-Y

Buried Under Satan’s Yolk

 

 

My Comfort Zone

       I used to have a Comfort Zone

      Where I knew I couldn’t fail

      The same four walls of busy work

      Were really more like jail

 

      I longed so much to do the things

      I’d never done before

      But I stayed inside my Comfort Zone

      And paced the same old floor

 

      I claimed to be so busy

      With the things inside my zone

      But deep inside I longed for

      Something special of my own

 

      I couldn’t let my life go by

      Just watching others win

      So I held my breath and stepped outside

      And let the change begin

 

      I took a step and with new strength

      I’d never felt before

      I kissed my Comfort Zone goodbye

      And closed and locked the door

 

      If you are in a Comfort Zone

      Afraid to venture out

      Remember that all winners were

      At one time filled with doubt

 

      A step or two and words of prayer

      Can make your dreams come true

      Greet your future with a smile

      Success is there for you!

      Author unknown

 

         “Do not be conformed to this world, but transform yourself by renewing

           your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, perfect and acceptable

              will of God.”

           Romans 12:2

 

 

Thought for the week

JESUS: BORN TO DIE FOR YOU

Jesus came to compensate for all the wrongs we do.
He came to earth to die for us so we’d be born anew.

"This bitter cup, let it pass from me," He cried, in a plaintive voice;
"Yet not My will, but Thine be done;" He said, in His faithful choice.

The Judas kiss would seal his fate; He faced a hostile crowd;
The governor, Pilate, saw through it all; Jesus’ guilt he disavowed.

"I wash my hands of all of this," said Pilate, "Let Him be."
But the crowd yelled "Crucify him now and set Barabbas free!"

Pilate yielded to their wish and Jesus was led away.
The soldiers beat him, and mocked Him too, yet He continued to obey.

A crown of thorns lay on His head as His sentence was carried out,
His hands and feet were pierced with nails, but He did not scream or shout.

"Father forgive them for this crime; they know not what they do."
He said this despite His torment because He was thinking of me and you.

"It is finished," He sighed in His anguish and pain, as His body gave up to death.
The curtain tore and darkness fell after He took His last breath.

The best of the story is the very last part, it’s the reason we’re filled with pleasure:
Death could not our Savior hold; His power is beyond all measure.

He rose from the grave and was seen all around after showing His unmatched devotion
And we’ll be with Him for eternity when we get our heavenly promotion.

That’s why every day is a major event: He suffered and died in our place.
He rose and forgave us and loves us still, Our Savior of matchless grace.

By Joanna Fuchs

 

Thought for the Week 

The blessing of heaven is perfect rest

   The blessing of earth is to labor

 

 

What’s Your Story?

Every believer has a unique story of how he/she became a Christian. Years ago in a personal evangelism class, the students were asked to write out their story of how they came to Christ. It was amazing how differently each person accounted their journey. Some were converted after a life of drugs and immorality, some were church attenders who confessed Christ after weeks, months or even years of biblical instruction, and others told of how they grew up in the church under Christian parents.

 

Stories vary; the apostle Paul had a crisis encounter with Christ that turned him from being a persecuter of Christians into a gospel preacher (see Acts 26:9-18). In contrast, Timothy was nurtured in the Scriptures from early childhood, which resulted in his conversion experience (2 Timothy 3: 14-15). It’s true, no two journey’s are identical, but each has a common element: faith in the Lord to save them from their sins and a repentant commitment to life as a new creature and to remain a faithful and obedient servant.

 

Can you retrace the events that lead you to commit to Jesus? Is your devotion more or less passionate now? How many people have you converted and lead to Christ since your own conversion? The life of a Christian is not just church attendance, it’s preaching the gospel!

 

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”  Mark 16:15.

 

“The gospel must be preached to all nations”  Mark 13:10.

 

“I preach the gospel not to boast but because it is a neccesity, woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel”   

1 Corinthians 9:16.

 

“Now, brethren, I want to remind you of the gospel, which you have received and on which you stand; by the gospel you are saved if you keep in mind what I have preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain”

1 Corinthians 15: 1-2

 

Are you as committed to Jesus as He has commanded you to be? You’re either in or out, hot or cold, there is no middle ground. What’s your story?

-adapted-

 

 

 

Thought for the Week 

There are no crown wearers in heaven

Who were not cross bearers on earth

 

Blessed Assurance

At birth, we leave the sanctuary of the womb as we are pushed into another   existence. Similarly, we cross the boundary from childhood to adolescence to adulthood; from being single to marriage; from life to death. Moving across these boundaries isn’t always easy; the unknown is often scary, but Jesus is always with us, through every stage of life, loving us and helping us like no one else can.

           

Life can be difficult, even for Christians. Overwhelming crisis can make us feel like we’re about to drown. But, just as God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites, He’ll protect us too.

 

The Lord is our salvation

And our strength in every fight,

Our Redeemer and Protector,

Our eternal Guiding Light.

 

He has promised to sustain us,

He’s our Refuge from all harm,

And underneath this refuge

Are the Everlasting Arms.

 

For God in His goodness has promised

That the cross that He gives us to wear

Will never exceed our endurance

Or be more than our strength can bear.

 

Secure in a blessed assurance

We can smile as we face each new day

For God holds the key to the future

And He’s with us come what may.

Helen Steiner Rice

 

“No temptation has been given to you except those that are common to mankind; but

God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to withstand;

but when you are tempted, He will provide a way to escape so that you will be able to endure.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

 

Thought for the Week 

The good you do people may not remember

The bad you do they never forget

 

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Have you ever had a bad experience or encountered someone who was rude

or unkind to you, and said, “that spoiled my whole day?”

 

Just think of what would happen if that person had been nice to you; better yet, suppose you were the one who was kind to someone, you could make their day!

 

You never know who is having a “bad” day, or who is going through a “rough patch” in their lives, and a kind word, gesture or a smile from you could help them feel better.

“A merciful man does good to his own soul, but he who is cruel brings ruin on himself. The wicked do deceitful work, but he who sows righteousness will surely be rewarded. Just as righteousness leads to life, he that pursues evil pursues his own death. Devious hearts are an abomination to the Lord; but the righteousness are His delight” (Proverbs 11:17-20).

 

Some people will never forget your good deeds, and some may not remember them; but God who sees all will reward you for your kindness.

“…your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:4). Anytime you have the opportunity, be kind. “As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Even though others may not be kind to you, overcome them.

 

“Love without hypocrisy,hate evil and cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another…bless those who persecute you and do not curse…do not render evil for evil. If your enemy is hungry feed him, if he is thirsty give him drink…Don’t let evil overcome you, overcome evil with good”

(Romans 12:9,10,14,17,20,21).  

 

 

Thought for the Week 

Be a fountain

Not a drain

 

The Sower

 

The one who sows sparingly

From that he shall reap

But he who sows generously

Will be blessed accordingly

 

Let each one give as he’s chosen

With a heart of gratitude

Not with grumbling or reluctance

But with a cheerful attitude

 

And God is able to make all grace

Abundantly abound toward you

So you will be fully equipped

And be blessed in all you do.

By M.S. Lowndes

Adapted

“…he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, he who sows

bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he

has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or because of necessity;

for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace

abound and every blessing overflow for you, so that you will

always sufficiently have abundance for every good work”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

 

                                            

 

 

Thought for the Week 

You will never be right

If you don’t agree with God

 

                                              

Compromising The Truth

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power

of God to salvation for everyone who believes”

Romans 1:16

Delinquent members and non-Christians have made a mess of their lives; they are going places they don’t want to be, doing things they know they shouldn’t do, and associating with people they know are negative influences in their lives. As Christians, we need to reach out to them and let them know that we care. Don’t wait for someone else to do it…you do it! Be an ambassador for Christ! If more than one person reaches out, great; if no one reaches out, it’s your fault.

 

We compromise the truth when we hold back and fail to teach all of God’s word. “I therefore declare to you today that I am not responsible for the blood of anyone, for I have never declined to tell the whole plan of God” (Acts 20:26-27). We will be held accountable if we are reluctant to teach the word of God in its entirety. Today there  are certain things in God’s word that some people will not teach because they are afraid they might offend someone. They are more afraid of upsetting people than upsetting God. But remember what Jesus said, “Fear not them who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

 

Those with whom we have fellowship can also influence us to compromise God’s truth. We are warned, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Also, “Be not deceived: evil companions will corrupt a good character” (1Corinthians 15:33).

 

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Instead of going along with those who are evil, rebuke them! If we establish or maintain worldly relationships with those who practice evil, we become partakers of their sin. “If anyone comes to you and brings not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not, neither greet him, for if you welcome him you become a partaker in his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11). 

 

“Nevertheless even among the chief rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be expelled from the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43).

 

Jesus says, He who is not with Me, is against Me” (Matthew 12:30). Take care and be diligent to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). It’s your Christian duty!

            Adapted from an article by Brother Paul Bush, Submitted by Sister Waurene Lewis

 

 

Thought for the Week 

Give without remembering
Take without forgetting

 

God’s Wonderful Gift of love to us

Was not a bunch of flowers;

It wasn’t candy, or a card

To while away the hours.

His Gift was to become a man,

So He could freely give

His sacrificial love to us,

So you and I could live.

                                              

 

She said: “Whenever he looks at me I believe every fairy tale about love that I ever read or heard, and I still want to live them all with nobody else but him.”

He said: “I thank God everyday for blessing me with a partner who loves God and works by my side in service to Him.”

They said: “We reminisce about the memories we’ve made, and we look forward to those still to come.”

“In the beginning of creation, God made male and female and said, man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate” Mark 10:6, 8-9, Matthew 19:4-6.                                  

In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 38% of singles meet on line or via mobile app. So, when the children of modern couples are asked, “Daddy how did you meet Mommy?” The answer may very well be, “I swiped right!”

Statistics reveal that on Valentine’s Day, men outspend women 2-1

 

 

 

Thought for the Week

 

The barriers that keep you from achieving your goals

Are built by you

 

Who Can Separate Us from the Love of God?

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:35

 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors because of Christ Jesus…. For I am persuaded that neither death or life or angels or principalities or powers or things present or things to come; not height or depth or anything else in all creation shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 35:35, 37-39).

 

Life’s disappointments are like road bumps, they slow you down a bit, but if you continue on you will enjoy the smooth road afterwards. Don’t stay on the bumps too long. Move on! Otherwise you’ll stand in your own path and block your own progress.

 

Yes, there will be times when life will be dark, depressing, and frustrating, but then you come across clean, well lit places. “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). As my grandmother used to say, “Trouble don’t last always.”

 

When problems arise, occasionally people will create the idea of a sanctuary for themselves to provide comfort when they are desperately trying to cope in an uncertain world. Thinking that a sanctuary is possible provides a solace that is needed when we feel distressed. But, real comfort comes when we trust God to keep His promise, so start enjoying the life that Jesus died for you to have. The only walls that keep you from success are those you build yourself.

 

 

Thought for the Week

People know what you are by what they see

Not by what they hear

“Let you light shine before men

that they may see your good works,

and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

 

Hear The Invitation!

 

Jesus extended the greatest invitation that has ever been known when He said, “Come to me all that labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and humble, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

Have you ever wondered why more people don’t respond during the invitation? Have you ever thought it could be our fault? Perhaps it is the way those of us who are already children of God treat the invitation. Perish the thought! The fact is that many of us are careless about this portion of the service. The invitation should be a time of special devotion, serious reflection, and prayerful contemplation. Here are some suggestions to follow when the invitation is being extended:

                    

  • When you know the preacher is concluding his sermon, begin praying for him that he may say something that will touch the hearts of those who need to respond.

 

  • If you know of a lost soul in the assembly, pray for him/her as the singing begins. Think about the words of the song and sing as if you mean it. This can’t be done if you are looking around, day dreaming and not paying attention. (Children who are old enough to be members of the church are old enough to concentrate on what is happening during the invitation).

 

Isn’t it wonderful to think that by cooperation and prayer, we may favorably influence a soul to decide to follow Christ? Yes, Jesus is saying, “…Come, all things are ready.” Luke 14:17

 

Let us assist in the invitation to lost souls to come and join us in the wonderful servitude to Jesus Christ

         Adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin.

 

Thought for the Week

The Most Powerful Testimony

Is How You Treat Others

After The Church Services

Are Over.

 

 

The Power to Obey

The first step in overcoming faults is to admit them. The Bible tells us to confess our faults (1 John 1:9), but we cannot confess what we refuse to acknowledge.

We must learn to recognize evil on the road to redemption. The devil is very cunning, and he can confuse you into thinking you are righteous when you are really professing evil.

But, how can you distinguish whether you are doing right or wrong? Study Your Bible!  “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly managing the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).

When Jesus returns to earth to procure those who are His, ignorance will not be an excuse for doing wrong. In order to get to heaven we must repent. (see Acts 17:30, Matthew 16:27) We must Wake Up, Get Up, and Shape Up.  Christ is not going to advocate in the presence of His Father for someone who allows himself to be lead by the devil and refuses to study His word to seek ways to serve Him.

The power to obey is within each of us, if you don’t make it to heaven after all Jesus has done; you only have yourself to blame.

Brother Johnny Ramsey stated in his Shield of Faith Ministries, “The saddest of all things will be of the person who was once a faithful child of God who died out of duty, it would have been better if he/she had never been born.”

 

 

Thought for the Week

The Word of God should be read daily

You cannot take in enough air once to last a lifetime

Or eat enough food to last forever

God’s word is needed day to day

 

 

Tips for Bible Study

 

  • Environment

Time: It is important for Christians to set aside time each day for prayer (talking with God) and reading the Bible (letting God talk to us). We should select a time when we are fresh and relaxed, preferably the same time each day to form a habit.

Location: We should choose a well-lit place with room to spread out, take care to prevent technology (phone, text/e-mail alerts), sound (TV/radio), and people distractions. We should have paper, pens, and highlighters at hand. If we use an electronic Bible, we should use the note-taking and Bible-marking features.

 

  • Context

When was the text written? Is it part of the Old or New Testament? Under which dispensation does it fall? Who wrote it, who is speaking, and who is being spoken to? This information gives insight into meaning. Where was it written?  Knowing where a book was written and under what circumstances can help with interpretation.

 

  • Interpretation

Let the text speak. We must never force the Bible to say what we want it to say. The Bible is our perfect guide (James 1:25), but only when we let the text guide us to it’s meaning rather than looking for verification of something we already believe.

 

  • Resources

Many Bibles come with cross-references, introductions, devotionals, and other study helps. While these are often good resources, it is important to remember that they are not part of the Scripture, so they are subject to error and bias. Trust the text of the Bible, and always weigh carefully what men write. (Acts 17:11)

 

  • Notes

As you study, highlight, underline and keep notes in your Bible. These can be valuable to you later when you review a passage.

–selected-

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week

Don’t fret over what you’d do with your time

if you could live life over

Just get busy with the time you have left

 

 

Redeem the Time

“Be wise in the way you behave toward outsiders, redeeming the time.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know

how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:5-6

 

 

Maturity is the product of desire and choice.

Study is essential to a Christian’s salvation, you cannot teach people what you do not know; and may God have mercy on the Christian who gets humiliated by a non-Christian who can outwit you scripturally.  

Each of us are responsible for our own spiritual growth. If you are at the same spiritual level right now as you were this time last year, you have not grown. Would you want to go to a doctor who has not studied since he/she graduated from medical school? There has been many medical breakthroughs in recent years, and physicians who do not grow in their field can be a detriment to their profession and to their patients. How much have you studied since you were baptized, and entered your profession of Christianity?

Don’t continue to function in your dysfunction, allowing yourself to live with less than your best. God expects Christians to grow. Christ has already done most of the work, the rest is up to you.

The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10) and many will be taken away from the presence of the Lord where none of His blessings exist; all because they are willingly ignorant.

Will you rise and be taken up with the Lord forevermore (Matthew 13:41-42, Colossians 3:24, Matthew 16:27, Revelation 20:10, 22:12) or will you eternally suffer retribution? If the latter happens, you will not be able to pray for redemption…it will be too late; so work now while you can.

If you think you don’t have time to read your Bible consider this: the average commuter spends 300 hours per year in their car, train or bus travelling to and from work. Instead of reading a book, listening to your IPod, or radio, try listening to or reading the Bible. Realize how much you could learn in 300 hours. For those who don’t commute, or if your reading skills or eyesite is not up to par, download the Bible to your listening device or purchase tapes or CD’s and enjoy the luxury of hearing the Bible being read to you. If you have trouble with the download, there are many Christians right here at Stony Island that can easily help you with the task.

Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. 

“Make the most of every opportunity, redeem the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:16

 

 

Thought for the Week

new beginnings

 

Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Joshua 1:9

 

 

The Old and the New

 

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

2nd Corinthians 5:17

 

Typical resolutions in January are to lose weight, exercise more, spend less time at work and more with family, save money, and address any bad habits.

 

It’s not surprising that people want to change the things in their lives that they’re unhappy with; though statistics show that most New Year’s resolutions are kept no longer than 3 weeks.

 

But what if you were to ask God what He wants you to change, improve or begin this year? He might tell you to:

 

  • Demonstrate more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

  • Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

 

  • Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone. (Mark 16:15)

 

  • …Be content with what you have… (Hebrews 13:5)

 

  • Walk according to God’s commandments. (2 John 6)

 

As Christians, we can be free from old patterns and failures, if we ask God to help us to live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we can shed the old and embrace the new with success.

-adapted-

 

 

 

Thought for the Week 

Happy New Year

 

 

Just Another Turn Of The Page

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy, sell, and make a profit;  when you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live and do this or that” James 4:13-15.

 

It is time to flip the page on our calendars to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another. Sadly to many, it means nothing more than just turning  the page. Some will take no thought of the fact that God has blessed them to see another year. Many will not give thanks, or even assemble on this coming Sunday to praise and extol the name of the Lord for His goodness and mercy. For them turning the page of the calendar from one year to the other will be just another turn of the page.

 

A few will turn the page but not “turn their lives,” they will not give thought to the way they live. They have not obeyed the Lord or they have lived apart from the Lord in apostasy and sadly, they will not heed the warning of the Lord in Luke 13:3; “Repent or you will perish.”

 

Others will turn the page but will not return to faithfulness in Christ. They have turned away from God and returned to sin, “like a dog turns again to his own vomit and devours it” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

 

A vast number of people will turn the page with no thought for the fact that this may be the day they are called from this earth; like the rich fool in Luke 15, they are living for  “things” and not for God.

 

What about you? Will you be different? Better? More faithful and determined? Or will the change from 2015 to 2016 be just another turn of the page?

Adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin

 

Thought for the Week

Over 2000 years ago

Heaven touched earth

And the rest is “His story”

 

 

The Gift of Salvation

 

God saw this creature He placed on earth

A being of His own creation

Slip slowly away from His Father’s love

And change to an aberation

 

Using the freedom of choice he was given

Estrangement from God, man elected

He turned to the gods of Power and Wealth

And the love from his Master rejected

 

Then part of God’s Spirit eternal

Adopted the image of man

And He came to earth in human form

Fulfilling His Master Plan

 

He appeared in the person of Jesus Christ

As a model for humans to live

And He offered a sacrifice of Himself

So He could all sins forgive

 

God offered Christ for man to accept

As a gift and inspiration

For seeking the path to eternal life

And insure his soul’s salvation

 

Thus the true meaning of every season is clear

As the star shines brightly above

We celebrate the birth of the Christ child

God”s most precious Gift of love

Adapted

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Of all the sad words of tongue or pen

The saddest are “what might have been”

-Whittier-

“Be doers of the word not just hearers”

James 1:22

 

The Path to Redemption

Christ, who is all knowing, tells us that many people are going to be eternally lost. According to the Bible, the majority of people will be lost. “…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there will be many who follow that road” (Matthew 7:13). We should take this warning seriously. Only a few people will be saved.

How many is a few? In 1 Peter 3:20 we read, “In the days of Noah, God was patient while the ark was being prepared where only a few, that is,  eight sould were saved…”

The conservative estimate of the number of people on the face of the earth in the days of Noah is 200,000,000 (two hundred million). But only 8 (eight) out of the estimated two hundred million were saved.

There are only two roads to eternity and everyone is on one or the other. One of the saddest things about being cast into eternal hell fire is the fact that it could have been avoided.

If we believe in Jesus and call Him, Lord, we are still lost if we don’t obey the commands of God. Jesus says in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who calls me Lord will inherit the kingdom of God; only those who obey the will of My Father.” 

On Judgement Day many will be pleading with Jesus, reminding Him of the many wonderful works that they have done, but He will say to them, “I never knew you, depart from Me…” (Matthew 7:22-23). Why? Because they have not done the will of the Father in heaven. The worst thing that will be said on Judgement Day will be said to the majority of people, “Depart from Me.” There will be no appeal for this decision.

God has no non-essential commands. When we fail to obey a command of God, we sin. We must obey God by doing what He says, when He says to do it, how He says to do it, and for the reason He says to do it. Nothing is more important than pleasing God.

Adapted from an article by Brother Paul Bush

Submitted by Sister Waurene Lewis

 

 

Thought for the week

Try to exceed the goodness you did last year

 

Where Should Your Garden Grow?

I don’t know how to say it
But somehow it seems to me
That maybe we are stationed
Just where God wants us to be.
That the little place I’m filling
Is the reason for my birth
And just to do the work I do
He sent me down to earth.
And since God knows and understands
All things of land and sea
I fancy that He placed me here
Just where He wanted me.
Sometimes I get to thinking
As my labors I review
That I should like a higher place
And greater things to do;
But I’ve come to the conclusion
When the wondering is stilled
That the post to which God sent me
Is the post He wanted filled.
So I plod along and struggle
In the hope when day is through
That I am really necessary
To the things God wants to do,
And there isn’t any service
I can give which I should scorn
For it may be just the reason
God allowed that I be born.
Selected
“I have learned that whatever state I’m in, to be content”

Philippians 4:11

 

 

Thought for the week

Don’t let what’s in the news get in the pews

 

Don’t Take on Water

When a boat is out on the water it will float as long as it doesn’t start taking on water. The boat can be surrounded by water but as long as the water stays on the outside of the boat it will not incure threat; however if for some reason the water starts to come inside the boat, problems will ensue.

The same is true of trouble; you can be surrounded by trouble, but as long as you keep the trouble from permeating your thoughts, you will be at peace. But, if for some reason you “take on water” by allowing  problems to enter your psyche,  you will become stressed out and your joy will wane. You forfeit peace when your faith is weak.

Life’s mishaps will surely happen to all of us, but sometimes we become stressed just because we don’t get our way; that’s taking on water. God never wants His children to be stressed out; He wants us to trust Him and have faith that He will work things out in our best interest. When your faith is strong, you are at peace, even in the midst of trouble.

When things don’t go your way…don’t pout…trust God. You shouldn’t allow your circumstances to determine whether or not you will be joyful. When you do, you let water inside of your boat. Never allow what’s on the outside to get inside. When there’s chaos outside, remain peaceful inside through prayer, faith and trust in God .

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing.  Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap or gather food and store it in barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Matthew 6:25-27

When you are in the midst of a storm, everything around you is hectic and chaotic and frenzied, but in the eye of the storm it is peaceful and calm and tranquil. Keep yourself in the “Eye,” God’s eye, and be at peace. Those around you will wonder why and how you can be calm in the midst of storms and tribulation, but, if you are a true believer, it is a testament to God’s glory, for it proves that you know there is a peace that surpasses the comprehension of mere mortal conception. (see Philippians 4:7)

Keep the water out of your boat.

 

 

Thought for the week

A wise man does not grieve for the things which he has not

But rejoices for that which he has

Epictetus

 

My Thanksgiving To God

    Not just once a year but each and every day I am thankful

 

Thankful for the blessings

He gives me every day

And for His Son, Jesus

Now I can know the way

Knowledge of His Holy Word

Signs reveal it’s true

God is Master of it all

I trust Him through and through

Verily He reminds me

I am blessed and He’s my Father

Now I want the world to know

God’s Son is like no other

By Sandy Sexton

“Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, and make known His ways among the people.

 O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for His mercy endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:8 & 34

Submitted by Sister Tiffany Ballenger

For the Love of Pie

The adage, “As American as apple pie” apparently has some real basis in fact.

According to a 2004 survey of 800 people by Crisco and the American Pie Council, one out of four Americans choose apple pie as their favorite. The second most popular (17%) was pumpkin or sweet potato, (14%) anything chocolate, (11%) lemon meringue, and (10%) cherry.

Nearly twice as many people enjoy their pie plain compared to those who like it with ice cream or whipped cream. Three out of four prefer homemade pie vs. 13% who choose pie from a bakery or pastry shop. One percent said they head to their favorite restaurant or diner.

Another interesting fact about pie is: if you lined up side by side, the number of pies sold in grocery stores in the U.S. in one year you could more than circle the globe.

 

 

Thought for the week

Every negative situation

Presents the opportunity to create a positive one

 

Trusting God

“That the testing of your faith, being more precious than gold

which will perish if tried by fire, will result in praise and honor

and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:7

 

Difficulties in life are inevitable. Life’s challenges are sometimes unexpected and they seem to come at the most inopportune times. But whatever problems you may be facing, know in your heart that Jesus understands and has conquered them. When you are truly a child of God, you put your trust in Him and know that even when problems come, all things will work out for your benefit. “Whatever my lot, God has taught me to say; it is well, it is well with my soul.” True Christians don’t fall apart at the first sign of trouble. We know that God is in control and He can make trouble work to our advantage.

Whenever we face uncomfortable or difficult situations in our lives, the opportunity is presented to refine yourself. Every traffic jam, every rude person we encounter, every flat tire offers us a chance to grow spiritually and prove our faith. The 3 boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace never complained saying, “why has God allowed us to be in this situation?” They simply remained faithful and trusted God to deliver them…and He did! Daniel was able to sleep peacefully when he was thrown into a den of lions. Can you sleep in your lions den? When all around you is in chaos, how do you react? Do you allow problems to keep you awake? Are you peaceful enough to rest or do you toss and turn in angst?

When God chose David to defeat Goliath, He didn’t choose the biggest, the strongest or the most experienced; He chose the one with the willing heart. If you respond to negativity time afer time after time with rage, it’s time to change your attitude and trust God. If you have already prayed and God has not responded in the time frame you want with the solution you expect, trust that He is dealing with the problem using His infinite wisdom. (see romans 8:28)  God can use rude people to teach you how to be kind, understanding, merciful and patient. If you are still reacting to trouble the way you did 2 years, 3 years, or even last year, you haven’t grown. If the same things still unerve you, you have work to do.

“…He that began a good work in you will not stop until it is complete” (Phiippians 1:6). Babies cry when they are hungry, but within a year they learn to grab the bottle on their own and feed themselves. When toddlers are learning to walk, they waddle and fall; sometimes they become frustrated but within a few months, they learn to walk and are no longer uneasy about that same issue. They have grown!

God is not going to shield us from every offense. We have to learn to not be easily offended, be willing to change and keep growing. Do the right thing even when the wrong thing is familiar or difficult.

If you are in a volitile situation, you cannot bring peace to the forefront if you are not at peace within yourself. The peace that comes from knowing God. Worry, fear, and anxiety will always exist; you must find inner peace to successfully navigate these emotions. Troubles don’t stop God’s plan. Make the decision to recognize the opportunity to change and grow, then do it!

 

 

Thought for the week

Don’t let vanity
Lead to insanity

 

Adorning Yourself


When we prepare to leave our homes, we adorn ourselves; we bathe or shower, we comb our hair, put on clothes, etc. When we get to church we can see that the building has been adorned; the carpet has been vacuumed, the restrooms cleaned, trash emptied, etc., we also adorn our homes with paint and furniture and we maintain our yards; but have you ever thought about adorning your spiritual self?


Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members and their families. Service to country is the common thread that binds all who are remembered and honored there. It is open 365 days a year. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C., sculpted into the east panel are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God”


The graves are all lined up symmetrically, the landscaping is impeccable, the crosses on the graves are all specifically centered; great effort has been applied to the adornment of this place. When you go to Arlington as a visitor, you must adhere to certain rules and conduct yourself in a respectful manner. You are not even allowed to chew gum because you might drop it on the ground whether accidentally or intentionally creating a mess. There is no littering and you cannot make loud noises of any kind. The only noise allowed are those of guns giving honorary salute by cemetery personnel.


Soldiers who guard the Tomb must be properly adorned; their clothes must be clean and pressed, their shoes must be shined and their buckles must be polished. Why? Because the impression must be presented that this is a place of honor. Irreverent behavior will not be tolerated. Great care and effort is executed to keep Arlington National Cemetery properly adorned.


As a Christian you disrespect your neighbor, your co-worker, your employer, your family, and your fellow Christians if you have not adorned yourself with the doctrine of God. Your negative actions can cause others to blaspheme and doubt the word of God and even disrespect His church with labels such as hypocrite. If you profess to be a Christian you must live as a Christian. Even when others are persecuting you, you must not react negatively. Sometimes you may be the brunt of jokes, but remain vigilant and steadfast, pleasing the One who counts.


What would Arlington National cemetery look like if the grass wasn’t cut, the crosses on the graves were crooked and disheveled and trash was strewn about? It would signify the notion that it wasn’t a place of honor and that nobody cared about the soldiers buried there and their sacrifice for America.
When we adorn ourselves with the doctrine of God we display an appeal to others. We should all be walking, talking testimonies of God’s power and grace.
Are you adorning yourself with the doctrine of God? Do you bring glory and honor to Him? Can you do a better job of promoting His agenda? If not you can change RIGHT NOW!


“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, rather it should be from within, 
displaying a meek, gentle, quiet spirit which is great in the sight of God.”

1 Peter 3:3-4


Source: Arlingtoncemetery.mil & a sermon by Brother Alan McNabb

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

God wants spiritual fruit

Not religious nuts

 

Your Life Is Jesus To Someone

         YOUR LIFE is Jesus to someone,
         Though tattered and torn it may be.
         Though often times weak and unstable,
         You're all of God someone will see.

         YOUR TONGUE is Jesus to someone,
         That idle, insensitive word
         Reflects to at least one searching heart
         The image of Jesus, our Lord.

         YOUR GOALS are Jesus to someone,
         What you put first, they believe.
         Are the goals of God for the Christian
         The image from you they receive?

         YOUR FAITHFULNESS is Jesus to someone,
         Their perception of how God is true
         Rests unquestionably in the faithfulness
         They see day by day in you.

         YOUR LOVE is Jesus to someone,
         That someone who is seeking to know
         That Jesus will guide and protect us
         Shielding us from every foe.

         SO BEWARE lest others blaspheme God
         By the things that you say and you do;
         For the only Jesus that someone may know
         Is the Jesus they see in you.

    adapted-

 

 

Thought of the Week

No man has ever injured his eyesight

By looking on the bright side of things

 

 

Preaching from the Pew

 

The first sermon preaced each Sunday is not by the minister, but by you! What messages are you delivering each Sunday?

 

  • You preach a message of GOOD CHEER when you meet someone in the parking lot, entering the church building or in the lobby and you greet them with a smile and say, “good morning.”

 

  • You preach a message of WELCOME when you slide over in the pew instead of forcing them to squeeze past you. You are saying “we have room for you.”

 

  • You preach a message of HOPE and JOY when you enthusiastically sing during song service.

 

  • You preach a message about the POWER of PRAYER when you bow your head, and close you eyes while fervently following the lead of the prayer giver. You are saying, “I believe in the power of God.”

 

  • You preach a message on the RESPECT of the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST when you reverently quiet yourself and partake of the communion, focusing on Christ and His precious death, burial and rise from the grave.

 

  • You preach a sermon of GRATITUDE and DEVOTION when you give of your FINANCIAL MEANS.

 

Many messages have already been preached long before the minister stands in the pulpit to deliver his message. If your message has been positive, loving and encouraging, the message from the pulpit will be much more effective.

 

COME FAITHFULLY EACH LORD’S DAY PREPARED TO PREACH YOUR BEST SERMON!

Submitted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

Thought of the Week

Bitterness rots the container that carries it

 

 

Forgiveness Lesson

    Holding a grudge harms no one
    Except he who continues the feud,
    Though the other party in question
    May have been thoughtless or even just rude.
    The hours you spend hating others
    Are a terrible waste of time,
    Bitterness destroys your connection
    To God, with no reason or rhyme.
    Christ has taught His followers
    To be peaceful and not purvey hate,
    So set aside your negative thoughts,
    Learn to love before it's too late.
    Life is short and passes too quickly
    To waste it on hate and contempt
    For another's supposed shortcomings,
    At least try to make an attempt
    To accept what you view as flaws
    And realize God made us all;
   However imperfect in your eyes,
    Judging others is only God's call.

    Mary Eileen Butera

 

 

Thought of the Week

One of the greatest tricks the devil performs

is getting people to believe that he isn’t real

    

 

Spiritual Disconnect

“The wisdom that is from above is…without hypocrisy”

James 3:17

 

In ancient Greek dramas, a person behind a curtain would speak the lines while the performer acted out the role. We might refer to the speaker behind the curtain as one who didn’t “practice what he preached.”

This person behind the curtain reminds me of a problem many Christians experience today. A number of us are skilled at sounding religious, but not putting our words into action. This is hypocrisy. Jesus admonished the scribes and Pharisees saying, “… on the outside you look righteous, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28).  Remember, “The wicked triumphs only briefly; and the joy of the hypocrite is momentary” (Job 20:5).

When there is a discrepancy between what we say and what we do, we create confusion in the minds of our “audience.” That is why so many nonbelievers do not take the gospel message seriously.

A Christian who makes the greatest impact on a watching world, and who furthers the cause of Christ, is one whose actions harmonize with his words. When James spoke of the “wisdom that is from above,” he described it as “pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).  

Our role as Christians is vastly different from the ancient Greek actors. They had speakers who didn’t do, and doers who didn’t speak. We are commanded to speak and do.

 

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only…”

James 1:22

 

You’re writing a narration, a chapter each day

By the deeds that you do, by the words that you say

Men read what you write, whether faithless or true

Hey, what are you narrating, according to you?

Selected

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

The heart of worship

Is worship from the heart

 

Active Worship

 

In his book Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray Stedman wrote that he wished all churchgoers could stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and watch the faces in the congregation during the sermon.

            Although most people seem to give the minister their attention, many have their minds elsewhere. Stedman writes, “It would be fascinating at the end of service to know where every-body had been.”

            To receive the greatest benefit from worship service, we must prepare our hearts and become wholeheartedly involved in singing the hymns, silently praying as the congregation is led in prayer, and worshipping from the heart as the services unfold.

            In addition, we need to discipline ourselves to listen intently and with a receptive heart to the teaching of God’s Word. We must develop a hunger for truth that quiets our spirits, inspires worship, evokes praise to God, and moves us to serve Him.

            It’s easy to blame the pastor if we leave services feeling empty and discouraged. But he’s just one participant; we must do our part too. Those who get the most out of worship service are those who put the most into it.

 

The house of God should be a place

For praise and reverent prayer,

Where holy thoughts our spirits fill

Each time we enter there.

Selected

 

 

Thought of the Week

Don’t mistake activity with achievement

 

Godly Exercise

Fitness advocate Jhannie Tolbert says you don’t need a treadmill or specialized equipment to get a great physical workout at home. Tolbert uses a toolbox for stepping exercises, lifts soup cans to work shoulder muscles, and employs other common household items in his daily training.

He says you can stay fit at home using a low-tech approach. Other trainers agree and encourage people to use jump ropes, chairs, brooms and even bags of groceries in conditioning routines. They see excerise as a matter of will, not wealth.

The same principle holds true with spiritual fitness. While Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and other books are helpful, we can begin spiritual training with nothing more than the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul urges his protégé Timothy: “…Exercise yourself toward Godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable for all things, for it has the promise of life that is now and that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

It requires no money to study the Bible. We don’t need special equipment, materials or education to pray, give thanks or sing praises to God. We just need a humble heart, a willing spirit and a submissive mind.

selected

 

Thought of the Week

An eye for an eye

Leaves us all blind

 

His Eyes

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

Proverbs 15:3


Lord God of all creation,
The sun and moon and stars,
Lord God of all the broken homes
And ghettos near and far

We cannot leave You in the church
Or bribe You with a prayer
For Your eyes look deep into our hearts
And they see everywhere

Your seeing eyes take in all things
You see inside our head
The insults left unspoken
The unkind words unsaid

With tears You watch us as we fight
And lash out angrily
With cutting words we inflict scars
Forgetting that You see


Your grief-filled eyes strip bare our hearts
Our prejudice and pride
Our contempt for "the lowlier"
That we hide deep inside

I'll never cease to wonder
That though You see us fall
Your eyes watch us in purest love
O Lord God over all

When will Your children wake up
When will we realize
There's no such thing as hidden sin
We can't escape Your eyes

By Connie Hinnen Cook

 

 

Thought of the Week

Strong men suffer without complaining

Weak men complain without suffering



Miracles Jesus Did Not Perform

By Randy Vaughn

Jesus’ four biographers tell of thirty-seven specific miracles He performed during His earthly ministry. He fed thousands with a few morsels. He stilled a tempest and walked on water. He healed the deaf, blind and the lame. He even raised the dead.

There is much to gain from a study of the miracles Jesus performed, but let us examine some miracles Jesus did not do. There were miracles which were suggested, that He could have done, but refused to.

After fasting in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan who said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones be turned to bread.” That would have abused His power so Jesus refused saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3-4).

In Samaria, a village did not receive Jesus. James and John asked, “Lord, will you command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elias did?” Jesus had more power than Elias; He could have called for fire, but He rebuked them saying, “I came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).

When the mob came to Gethsame to apprehend Jesus, one of those who were with Him drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest; Jesus said to him, “Put away your sword…do you think that I could not pray right now to My Father for Him to send twelve legions of angels, but if I did how would the scriptures be fulfilled?” (Matthew 26:51-54). This is another miracle Jesus did not perform.

At the trial, His enemies tried to make Him perform miracles, but He would not. His power was not intended to satisfy their wicked curiosity (Matthew 26: 67-68, Luke 23:8-9).

Finally, while on the cross, His enemies taunted, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). He was the Son of God; He had the power, but He chose to die that others might live.

A study of the miracles in the New Testament validates the claims of Jesus; His works proved that He was God’s Son. Both the miracles that He did and did not do proved who He was.

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

A man is not paid for having a head and hands

But for using them

 

The Art of Work

“Come unto Me all that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”

Matthew 11:28

Early in my career I was laid off from my job; at the time I was devastated. Though I and 30 others were told it was because of budget cuts not performance, it felt deeply personal. Now I view it as one of the best occurrences in my professional journey.

For many of us our careers have become such integral parts of our identity that losing a job doesn’t only upend our wallet, it also feels like a hole has been poked through who we are. And yet these days the world of work is more uncertain than ever. “There is zero loyalty or security,” says Anne Kreamer, author of Risk/Reward, which gives advice on navigating the chaotic work climate. It’s good news that U.S. unemployment is finally falling, but among 18-29 year olds, the rate of unemployment is 14%, more than double the national average, according to a report by the youth advocacy group Generation Opportunity. And that figure does not include freelance workers or the underemployed. Also, the number of college graduates working jobs that don’t require a college degree is growing, accordibg to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Whole industries that used to seem safe a decade or 2 ago barely exsist today. Can you remember the last time you dialed Directory Assistance and spoke with an operator or dialed a travel agent? While telephone operators, and retail jobs were once viewed as beacons for job security, they aren’t anymore. Malls that thrived in the 80’s and 90’s are now desolate and face extinction. “If you go into an indusrty that hasn’t figured out how to modernize, you’re not going to have much job security,” says cooperate advisor Binta Niambi Brown, a former attorney and Barnard College trustee who has mentored dozens of young professionals. –adapted-

Studies reveal that Amazon is the largest retailer in the world…and they don’t own a single store; proving that the economy has been radically transformed.

Findings like these can breed fear and anxiety, but don’t despair! There is always work to be done in the Lord’s House. We have a member here within the Stony Island family who has not been employed since last year; she has devoted her time to working at the church building and attending Bible class which she was unable to do while she was working. God is always pleased when we choose to allocate our time for His glory, both in season and out of season; when it is convenient and when it’s not.

“…work while it is day, for the night is coming when no man can work”

John 9:4

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

When Satan knocks at your door

Ask Jesus to answer it

 

Christian Humor

Unshakable Faith

A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God: "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!" he yelled not caring if anyone heard him.
          Shortly after, a man came along who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling he was confident in the ways of truth and very eager to show it, he asked the boy about the source of his joy, "Hey" asked the boy in return with a bright laugh, "Don't you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle."
         The enlightened man laughed, sat down next to the boy and began to try to enlighten the boy to the "realities" of the miracles of the Bible. "That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time. So it was no problem for the Israelites to wade across."
         The boy looked bewildered, his eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible lying open in his lap. The man, content that he had educated a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to leave. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise even louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.
         "Wow!" exclaimed the boy happily, "God is greater than I realized! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in only10 inches of water!"

Selected

 

         “…your faith should not stand on the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”

1 Corinthians 2:5

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Knowledge is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere

 

Home for Sale

By Owner

The large hand-lettered sign in a front yard read simply:

Home For Sale, By Owner

 

Unfortunately, many people are selling their homes; but take note; there is a difference between selling a house and selling a home.

 

Homes are being sold every day because of moral and spiritual bankruptcy…because of social pressures, permissiveness, and materialism…because of unfaithfulness, bitterness, gambling and divorce.

 

The late Batsell Barrett Baxter suggested some ways we can be guilty of selling our homes without realizing it:

 

Preoccupied Fathers. Several surveys indicate that most fathers spend very little time with their children.

 

Working Mothers. As more and more mothers have left the home because of economic pressures, social problems with children have increased.

 

Disappearance of the Extended Family. Few young people grow up these days surrounded by close relatives. In many cases, grandparents, aunts and uncles no longer live nearby.

 

The Invasion of the Home by TV and the Internet. Television and the Internet exposes family members to attitudes, philosophies, and lifestyles which undermine the family unit and sabotage family values.

 

A Deluge of Outside-the-Home Activities. Too often, the home has become like a motel…a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes before rushing off to the next activity.

 

A Disregard of Biblical Standards. Traditionally, families have been established and maintained by Bible principles such as love, respect, duty, honor, humility, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness and diligence. Many modern day households have abandoned these principles.

 

We may need to sell a house at some point in our lives, but let’s never sell our homes.

Adapted from “House to House”, The Jacksonville Church of Christ bulletin 

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Why do so many people offer to carry the stool

When the piano needs moving?

 

Use the Day  

Any day’s worth living, if all the whole day through

      Just one someone is happier, because of knowing you.

      No day is ever wasted if there’s a happy song

      In even one heart somewhere, because you came along.

       Each day’s an opportunity, so use it, every minute

      And make the world a nicer place, because it has you in it!

      Selected

 

        

      Happiness

      Happiness is something we create in our mind

      It’s not something we search for and so seldom find

       It’s just waking up and beginning the day

      By counting our blessings and kneeling to pray

       It’s giving up thoughts that breed discontent

      And accepting what comes as a gift heaven-sent.

       It’s giving up wishing for things we have not

      And making the best of whatever we’ve got.

      It’s knowing that happiness is determined by us

      And pursuing our tasks without fret, fume or fuss

      For it’s by completing what God gives us to do

      That we find real contentment and happiness, too.

       Helen Steiner Rice

 

        Like Paul, whatever state you are in, learn to be content.

      Philippians 4:11

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Don’t try to get to heaven using your mind
Use your knees

 

 

Let Go and Let God

If you learned today that you only have two weeks to live, would the things that upset you last week have the same effect on you today?


Much of the frustration we experience comes from trying to control elements in life that we have no command of. As soon as things don’t go our way we get to work trying to change them. Yes, we should do what we can to make our lives better, but we shouldn’t stress out over trying to do or undue what we cannot control. We must learn to let go and let God. When we learn the art of trusting God our lives will be so much easier. We should view life’s difficulties knowing that God will work it out for our betterment. Let Him direct your steps.


Take Martha, who became discouraged when Jesus did not come as soon as she wanted Him to after receiving the news that Lazarus was ill. Jesus knew that He didn’t need to hasten because He knew He could remedy the situation once He got there, no matter what had happened.


In 1 Kings 17:11-17 we read of a widow who only had enough food for 1 meal for herself and her son to share. She had accepted what she thought was her fate of starving to death. But God blessed her in the midst of the negativity that was around her. There was a famine taking place, but God didn’t stop the draught, the conditions surrounding remained the same, but God changed how it affected her. She didn’t win the lottery or land a job with a huge paycheck, but every time she wanted to prepare a meal the ingredients were always there. Her supply never ran out.


God can bless us too, in spite of what is going on around us. Though we don’t see a way and our prospects seem nonexistent; God can make a way. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, Mark 10:27).


“Lord, I know that a person’s life is not in his control, nor is he able to establish his way in life. Correct me Lord, with justice, not in anger, or you will reduce me to nothing”
Jeremiah 10:23-24

 

 

Thought of the Week

One of the hardest things to learn

Is which bridge to cross and which to burn

 

That They Should Be One

 

“My prayer is not for them alone (the apostles). I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us…”

John 17:20-21

This prayer comes near the end of John’s account of the Last Supper, the Passover meal Jesus shares with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus began this important evening by washing his disciples’ feet as a reminder of their responsibility to serve.                                

Jesus indicates that His prayer is not only for them, but for believers in all future time. Jesus prayed for you and for me, and the central idea of His message is that we all may be one, just as God the Father and Jesus are one. Jesus’ prayer in the first century is just as important for believers today as it was for the apostles and those brought to belief on Pentecost.

In many congregations there is a disconnect between policy and procedure, dozens of groups mark their building with a cross and profess to be followers of Christ. Yet the history of most congregations has been marked by a rift and division at some point. We can be sure that God is not happy with the attitudes and circumstances leading to those divisions.

How great would the influences be if all those who believe in Jesus would study His prayer and make the goal for unity and love to be their common commitment?

Jesus’ teaching is very powerful in establishing the basic principles for bringing glory to the Father. How destructive is it when believers have endless arguments about frivolity? How much time do we have to change obvious disunity and present a united front and win lost souls? No one knows.

The disciples turned the world around in the first 100 years after the death of Jesus as they went into the world sharing the story of redemption to unbelievers. Jesus prayed for our unity and we should all be echoing that prayer and working to establish a unity that will glorify God.

Adapted from The Christian Chronicle, Bailey McBride, March 2013

 

  

 

Thought of the Week

Don’t focus on the problem

Focus on the promise



Do You See What I See?

In Numbers the 13th & 14th chapters we read that the Lord told Moses to send 1 leader from each of the 12 ancestral tribes of Israel to survey the land of Canaan. Keep in mind that these men were heads of the children of Israel.

Moses told them to go out and see if the inhabitants of Canaan were weak or strong, few or many, what kind of towns they lived in, if the soil was fertile or unproductive and whether there were any trees. He also told them to bring back some of the fruit that was there.

So, they went and explored the land, and after 40 days they returned to Moses with grapes, pomegranates and figs and they showed them to Moses and gave him their report. They said, “We assessed the land and indeed it is plenteous, it flows with milk and honey, but the people are strong and great and they are giants.” 10 of the 12 men said, “We cannot go up against them because they are stronger than we are. They are giants and we are as grasshoppers compared to them.” But 2 of the 10 said, “We should go up and overtake them. The land is extraordinary. They may be great but we have the Lord on our side, let’s go in and we will defeat and conquer them.”

All 12 men went to the same land and saw the same thing, but their perspectives were very different.

How do you view issues in your life? Are you like the 10 men in our story with a defeatist attitude? These men by the way were within sight of the Promised Land, but for them the opportunity to enter never returned. Or, do you address obstacles like the 2 men who were optimistic with a triumphant outlook? They were the only ones of the 12 leaders to enter the Land of Promise.

Let us practice the example of the 2 Israeli leaders whose faith in God’s ability to overcome any hindrance and of Zerubabel who said to the mountain, “You will become a flat and level ground” (Zechariah 4:7). They knew that a mountain or anything else is no match for God!

 

 

Thought of the Week

I am just a nobody

Trying to tell everybody

About Somebody

Who can save anybody

 

The Effective Edge

There must always be a clear and distinct line of demarcation between the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh. (see Galatians 5:19-24). Christians must never offer to anyone a watered down facsimile of God’s word. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us unequivocally that there are only 2 paths: the broad or the narrow. Each of us is walking either on the broad path of sin or the narrow path of righteousness. There is no middle ground to serving God.

Johnny Ramsey- Shield of Faith Ministries

When someone knocks on your door and challenges you to defend God’s word make sure you have studied so that you have the effective edge. You should never let them be more proficient at navigating through the Bible than you. Teaching and enlightening others about Christ is a component of Christianity. Never let those who don’t know the Truth outwit you.

Be innovative; find ways to teach the gospel in ways that are comfortable for you. Bible class is where we meet to gather our information and become adept in the word of God. But our mission doesn’t end there; we must go the extra mile and develop the content of what we learn and devise a strategy for delivering God’s message to those who are lost.

People are enamored and in awe of the intelligence and steadfastness of those who have perfected their skills. We are all equipped to teach others and make their transition to Christianity a reality. It takes courage and an abiding sense of purpose and conviction to be innovative. Most of us at one time or another had to perform tasks we found difficult or just didn’t want to do, but if it was something we couldn’t get out of doing we found a way to do it.

Excuses only allow you to give God less than your best. Excuses are crutches that people use to justify inaction and they won’t be accepted by God.

God has given us all commandments and instructions. He has also given us free will. He won’t force you to worship, praise and obey Him. It’s your choice. Either way you’ll receive an eternal reward.

 

Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28: 19-20

“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 divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to them on His right hand: Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Matthew 25:30-34.

Then shall He say to them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46

 

 

Thought of the Week

An optimist sees opportunity in difficulties

A pessimist sees difficulty in opportunities

 

Anxious for Nothing

“Be anxious for nothing, but pray always with thanksgiving, making your requests known to God: And the peace of God that goes far beyond anything we can imagine or understand will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Uneducated fishermen, political outcasts and a despised tax collector: the disciples weren’t heroic trailblazers before Jesus chose them. You too can become remarkable and outstanding in your daily performances, but you must allow God to govern your activities. Don’t think that because you are not tall, or thin, or rich, or smart and articulate that you cannot be beneficial in the work of God.

 

God delights in using imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will. Even though you may not consider yourself as skilled and proficient, God can shape you for greatness.

 

Moses had a speech impediment, he told God he felt incompetent to do what God asked of him. But God said to Moses, “I will be your mouth and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:10-12). Moses went on to intercede with Pharaoh for Israel, he brought the law to his people and lead the Israelites. (see the book of Exodus)

 

David was a shepherd boy who was of small stature, yet he killed Goliath, a giant (I Samuel 17:49), overcame the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:27, 19:8), and became the king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3, 1 Chronicles 11).

 

Paul who admitted he had been a “chief among sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) had viciously, cruelly and ferociously, persecuted members of the church. But, despite his sinful beginnings, Paul became undeniably one of the most prolific and powerful gospel preachers ever.

 

God has achieved extraordinary things by using ordinary people; won’t you surrender yourself to Him today and see what great things God can do through you?

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Those who refuse to obey God will forever endure

The horror of the freedom they demanded

 

 

Neglected Freedom

 

We have the freedom to live

Yet some still live in sin. Freedom from sin is a fabulous gift, but some neglect it because they do not live soberly, righteously and Godly (Titus 2:11-12).

 

We have freedom of speech

Yet it seems that this also is a neglected freedom because most people never speak up for Jesus. He taught us to teach and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16). We should take full advantage of this freedom by going out and sharing with others what great things God has done for us (Luke 8:39).

 

We have the freedom of assembly

Yet some members forsake this freedom. This is one that we should take full advantage of because it demonstrates our love for God and our desire to praise Him, to be fed, encouraged and strengthened.

 

“Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Galatians 5:1

Adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin

 

Presidential Wisdom

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.” Abraham Lincoln

 

 

One Nation Without God

by Ron Tranmer

 

America, the beautiful.

Home of the brave and free,

Is threatened by an evil

That we don’t seem to see.

 

There is a God in Heaven.

Let’s not let His light go dim.

How can He bless us from above

If we won’t acknowledge Him?

 

 

Thought of the Week

People are more important

Than achievements or possessions

 

 

Merit God’s Favor by Sharing With Others

 

Most of us are well blessed because God has been so good to us; we eat food that we did not have to plant, harvest, or slaughter, we live in houses we did not have to build and we wear clothes we did not have to sew; and while we are richly blessed most of us take advantage of God’s favor. How many of us use what God has given us to be a channel to give to others? Many people actually hoard their blessings and hold on to them long after they are of use to them. Don’t let the fact that you can’t help everybody hinder you from helping somebody. When you receive/accept a gift from God you should use it responsibly (for His glory), keeping in mind that all things should be done to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

We should seek to cultivate the ability to give liberally toward the work of the church and to those who are in need. Eternity is too long, Hell is too horrible, and money is too trivial to risk our souls for the things that it can buy. We must shun the compulsive desire to be richer at the cost of our souls.

 

Are you so busy and so comfortable enjoying God’s clothes, eating from God’s table, riding in God’s automobile and living in God’s house that you have neglected to recognize where these blessings come from and why you have them?

 

You are not blessed because you work hard on your job or because you went to school and earned a trade or degree. You work hard on your job and earned a trade or degree because you are blessed.

 

If we stop to think about the price Jesus Christ paid for us, we can’t help but have a sense of the need to give back to Him. But how do we give to God? We don’t have to wait until we get to the church building to serve God; we serve Him in reading and studying the Bible, we serve by living according to God’s standards, and we serve by giving to others in need. We serve by sharing the gospel of Jesus with family, friends and others. All of this is done sometimes in, but mostly outside of the church building.

 

We are like pieces to a puzzle being assembled into one Godly image; an image designed by God. We’re here for a Divine purpose. In the outside world we might have a particular profession, but in church we learn to humbly serve and work together. We mustn’t always seek to be on the receiving side of the blessing. Those who are lost need someone to show them the way. Let us follow Jesus’ example and leave our comfortable abodes to seek them out.

 

Your eager intent to serve God must be matched by action. But, be mindful, take heed, and make haste; you never know what your last deed will be or when.

 

 

Thought of the Week

The most important thing a father can do for his children

Is to love God and love their mother

 

Dad’s Are Special

 

Dads are special people

No home should be without

For every family will agree

They’re so nice to have about

 

They are a happy mixture

Of a small boy and a man

And they are very necessary

In every family plan

 

Sometimes they’re most demanding

And stern and firm and tough

But underneath they’re soft as silk

For this is just a bluff

 

For in any kind of trouble

Dad reaches out his hand

And you can always count on him

To help and understand

 

And while we do not praise our dads

As often as we should

We love him and admire him

And while that’s understood

 

It’s only fair to emphasize

His importance and his worth

For if there were no loving dads

This would be an empty earth.

 

Helen Steiner Rice

 

 

Thought of the Week

If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see

Don’t blame the mirror

 

BRIGHTEN YOUR CORNER

We cannot all be famous, or be listed in "Who's Who",
But every person, great or small, has important work to do.

For seldom do we realize the importance of small deeds,
Or to what degree of greatness unnoticed kindness leads.

For it's not being the big celebrity in a world of fame and praise
But it's doing unpretentiously in an undistinguished way
The work that God assigned to us, unimportant as it seems,
That makes our task outstanding, and brings reality to dreams.

So do not sit and idly wish for wider, new dimensions
Where you can put into practice, your many good intentions.
But at the spot God placed you begin at once to do,
Little things to brighten up the lives surrounding you.

If everybody brightened up the spot where they are standing,
By being more considerate, and a little less demanding
This dark old world would very soon eclipse the evening star,
If everybody brightened up the corner where they are!

Submitted by Sister Tiffany Ballenger

 

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Truth carries a weight that no lie can counterfeit



Counterfeit Faith


A counterfeit is created to resemble the authentic; but it’s similarity does not make it genuine. Counterfeits are illegal, useless and worthless. Making and using counterfeit money will land one in federal prison. Even more serious are the many counterfeit faiths in existence today that are deceiving so many people. Counterfeit faiths will cause many people to lose their souls in the eternal fires of Hell. Jesus said in Matthew 24:4, “Let no man deceive you” He also warns us to, “Beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). Those who promote counterfeit faiths appear as though they are presenting the truth. They do this by being crafty and handling the word of God deceitfully. (Romans 16:18)
We are admonished that we should not be as “children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, in cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). Many people today are following false teachers. The Bible tells us that “Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing that his ministers also transform themselves to resemble ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Satan does not appear in a red suit with a pitchfork in his hand, he can present himself as a well dressed, smooth talking preacher, promoting his counterfeit faith. They have “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25). These false teachers are trying to deceive people and they are quite successful.
Satan tempts people to take short cuts around God’s word and subvert it.


A partial truth can be just as dangerous as a total lie. Deception by perverting the truth is used by those who practice dishonesty. But we are taught in Galatians 1:6-8, “Even if we or an angel from heaven come preaching any gospel other than that which we have preached, let him be cursed.” There are many false prophets who pretend to be God’s spokesmen, promoting counterfeit faiths by exploiting people with their messages. All counterfeit faiths are corrupt.
“There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
We have often heard, “attend the church of your choice.” Why not attend the church of God’s choice?


We are cautioned to “beware so you will not be lead away by the deception of the wicked and fall from your faithfulness” (2 Peter 3:17). How do we protect ourselves from counterfeit faiths? 1 John 4:1 tells us to not believe everything you are told. We are to validate what is being preached or taught and if anyone comes to you teaching anything that cannot be authenticated by the scripture, do not receive or welcome them. The one who welcomes them is a partaker of their evil deeds. (2John 1:10-11) We become guilty of sin if we encourage anyone who is promoting counterfeit faith. The one true faith has been once delivered and it will not change. Counterfeit faiths are designed to cause people to be lost. Anyone who follows any counterfeit faith can lose their souls in eternity.

 

Adapted by an article by Brother Paul Bush
Submitted by Sister Waurene Lewis

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Don’t magnify your problems

Magnify your God

 

Problems In Life

 

Problems are a fact of life, we all have them now and then;
They may be small, they may be large, but they are common to all men.

You may have problems of the heart when a loved one goes astray,
Or someone dies who is close to you, or your best friend moves away.

The IRS knocks on your door and says, "You owe us Money."
You know you paid, you go to court to prove their claim is phony.

You take a trip, you lose your bags in an airport far from home,
You say, If I can get them back, I never more will roam.

The problems that you meet in life are never all the same;
Some you solve, some you accept, it's a never-ending game.

If you have faith, it helps a lot to know that God is there,
To hold your hand and carry you, and gives you strength to bear.

With His hand you know that you will always find a way
To deal with life, to solve your problems and be happy day by day.

Mary Eileen Butera

Adapted

 

 

 

 

 

 Thought of the Week

Personal Responsibility

 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular"

1 Corinthians 12:27  

 

Personal responsibility entails that no matter what someone else does; you are accountable for your own actions. As much as we depend on one another, the final responsibility for what we do lies with each of us individually.

 

God’s church and His mission will be accomplished; those who work toward it’s success will be rewarded, those who don’t will be punished. Don’t think that because “things are going great” you can scathe by without doing your part or that you can take credit for successes you had no part in achieving.

 

“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is not, he is only deceiving   himself. Each person must examine his own actions; then he can take pride in his own accomplishments and not someone else’s.”

Galatians 6:3-4

         (also see 1 Corinthians 3:13, James 2:14-26, Revelations 14-13)

 

As a congregation we are responsible to fulfill God’s purpose. Each of us has an obligation to use the abilities given to us by God to fulfill His mission.

Paul taught the Ephesians about the importance of every member to work in order for the whole church to function effectively (Ephesians 4:11-25). In

1 Corinthians 12, Paul demonstrates the importance of the whole body as it relates to each individual member of the body.

 

Each and every one of us must resolve to do our part, to give as we prosper, to pray without ceasing, to grow in grace and knowledge, and to reach out to the lost in order to be an effective and productive working member of God’s church.

                       adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin

 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Sometimes only risk will bring the possibility of reward

 

Wise Decisions

 

Every day we have choices to make; choices between right and wrong, forward or backward, to love or to hate, etc…, when these choices are connected they become your life.

 

When we come to the end of life and look back, we will finally realize that our choices along that pathway have spelled success or failure. Decisions that we make day by day will determine our destiny. So many people overlook the importance of monumental moments when everlasting repercussions take center stage. We often allow blockbuster decisions to be taken lightly as we nonchalantly tend to forget that we will eventually, certainly reap what we sow. Christians need to pray for wisdom to discern properly and perceptively what we are building for eternity.

 

“But the wisdom that is from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to accept, full of mercy and good fruit, without impartiality and without hypocrisy”

(James 3:17).

 

Too many times we pitch our tent toward Sodom when we think we are being smart enough to choose an easy road to prosperity. We often double our troubles by looking for gold at the end of the rainbow that actually prove to be a mirage of our own vanity and greed.

 

Let us make wise decisions and make sure we build on Jesus, the solid Rock; remembering what Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25:

 

“Therefore, everyone who listens to these messages of Mine and practices them is like a wise man who built his house on a rock: The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not fall because its foundation was on the rock.”

adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ

 

 

Thought of the Week

Children hear what you say

But they learn from what you do

 

Mother

Mother is a word called LOVE

And all the world is mindful of

The love that’s given and shown to others

Is different than the love of Mothers

 

For Mothers play the leading roles

In giving birth to little souls

And though small souls are heaven sent

We realize they’re only lent

 

It takes a Mother’s loving hands

And her gentle heart that understands

To mold and shape this little life

And shelter it through storm and strife

 

No other love than Mothers Love

Could do the things required of

The one to whom God gives the keeping

Of His wee lambs, awake or sleeping

 

So Mothers are a special race

God sent to earth to show His grace

And Mother is a lovely name

That even saints are proud to claim.Pro 31:30 

 

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

 

 

                                 

 

 

Thought of the Week

Live your life accordingly

You may be the only Bible some people are reading

 

Everyday Evangelism

 

When people know that you are a member of the Church of Christ, you need to be mindful of your behavior. This is very important because our actions can bring shame upon the church. If people know of your ungodly conduct, it could cause them to lose confidence in the church and may prove to be a stumbling block to those who are weak or lost.

 

We must endeavor to live a Christian life, not only in church, but at home, at work, and in any and every place. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take heed unto yourself and to your preaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). He told the elders of the church at Ephesus, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock” (Acts 20:28). Note that in both cases he placed the first emphasis upon personal living, “Take heed to yourself.” The proper place to begin preparing ourselves for Christian service is with Christian living. Careful consideration must be made to maintain proper influence in the world and bring respect to the church. This matter cannot be ignored; our actions carry far greater weight and persuasion than we may realize.

 

Let us all prepare ourselves to serve God in everything we do. If you love the cause of Christ you will conduct yourself decently and orderly (Corinthians 14:40) knowing that you represent Christ and His church.

 

We will never be worthy to serve, but we must be willing and committed to serve in whatever capacity we are able (Isaiah 64:6, Galatians 2:16).

-adapted from The Informer, the East Jackson Church of Christ bulletin-

 

It is essential to have a reputation that allows others to see Christ in your behavior. People that encounter you regularly during the week should see a difference between you and other people. Even though they don’t see you going to church they should be able to somehow know by your character that you are a child of God.

 

“Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

 

 

Thought for the Week 

More powerful than the will to win

Is the courage to begin



 

Don’t Let Minors Become Majors

                         

Every year across America hundreds of thousands of children wind up in front of juvenile judges. Most are for non violent crimes such as, vandelism, theft, fighting or other disordery conduct offenses. Children from low income families with parents who cannot “work the system” make up most of those who are incarcerated for minor offenses and once they spend time in a juvenile center (usually 2 years) they are reluctant to return to school; education just isn’t a priority for them anymore.

Economic disparity or the circumstances of being in a “non-traditional” household often lend to the negative choices that are made by these children.

Let’s consider one condition: imagine the frustration that occurs when there are over crowded classrooms with teachers who are inexperienced with managing children that have behavioral issues. Add to this scenario children who may for various reasons may be 1 or 2 grades behind. Unfortunately, when children “act out” protocol is to inform a justice system officer stationed at the school, and the cycle begins. There are teachers in our schools that perform phenomenally, but when a recipe for volitivity is presented on a daily basis, the quick fix of getting the child out of the classroom by calling the justice system person becomes the norm. Sadly, this can put the child on the fast track to prison. Ironically, once incarcerated they can get the services they need to address behavioral management, the class sizes are much smaller and a staff person is available to discuss issues and problems the child may be facing. Social services are scarce in the school system, but they abound once these children have been incarcerated. But, doesn’t it seem logical that these services should be available on the outside, before incarceration is implemented? Counselling within the school system could serve as a deterrent and could eradicate the need for juvenile justice system intervention.

Suppose one, two, three or more of these children walked into our church services next Sunday; would you move away, giving them more space than is needed? Would you clutch your purse, Ipad or other belongings a little tighter? Or would you greet them with a welcoming embrace, a smile and make them feel as though you are happy they are here?

These children all have the potential to be successful in life, they do not create the burdens and personal issues they face. Most of them need someone to care about them. Many people who are successful can tell stories of someone who paid particular attention to them, encouraged them and contributed to their success. None goes his way alone.

The current system works against children, not for them and it is failing society. Once these children are thrown into the prison system they adapt skills that help them to survive in that environment, they learn the art of defense when defense may not be called for, they are often aggressive when passivism would work better. As we have opprotunity, we must with love lead them to know Christ and to know that they are loved and accepted within Christ’s church. Some crimes will not only send them to the penitentiery, they will send them to hell.

It can be said that there are plenty of children who live in the same environment and choose not to commit crimes; this is true, so we must focus on the ones that are not able to adapt. Jesus gave the parable of the shepherd who focuses on the lost sheep. If we don’t deal with them now, we’ll likely have to deal with them later; perhaps when they are criminalizing us, our family or our neighborhood.