Great Examples For Making Positive Changes

During the months of December and January people are thinking about positive changes in their lives. It would help if we tried to imitate someone who is righteous.

• Like Paul, forget those things which are behind and press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:13-14).
• Like Andrew, strive to lead others to Christ (John 1:40-42).
• Like Barnabas, encourage brethren to remain faithful (Acts 11:23).
• Like Daniel, purpose in your heart to be undefiled as you serve the Lord (Daniel 1:8).
• Like Job, be faithful and persevere through all the trials you face (Job 1:13-22).
• Like Joshua, make a commitment for the sake of yourself and your family (Joshua 24:15).

by Mike Pittman

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Is Unity Possible?

With division rampant throughout the religious world, unity would seem to be an impossible dream. Each religion and church has its own particular creed, organization, and worship. The one, true God cannot be pleased with such division. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was united in belief and practice? Isn’t this something we should pray and strive for? The question “Is Unity Possible?” deserves a Bible answer.

Unity is Possible Because…

Jesus prayed for it. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in My through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You: that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

The apostle Paul commanded it. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

The Holy Spirit teaches it. “…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:3-6).

Godly people desire it. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).

We see from these scriptures that unity is not only possible, but essential. When godly men and women desire to stand together upon the truth revealed by the Spirit of God, they will fulfill the prayer of Jesus and the command of the apostle. In doing so, they will show the world the great wisdom and work of God active in the hearts of his faithful people.

Division is a terrible thing. People are separated who should be united in the work and worship of God. Division happens when someone desires their own way more than God’s way.

by Marc Gibson

The Central Voice, Jan. 2014

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“Now This Is My Interpretation”

We have all heard someone advocate their own pet religious doctrine, and then justify (?) it with the statement, “Now this is my interpretation of the Bible; and we all have a right to our own interpretation.” And many times they have scarcely read what the Bible says on the subject, to say nothing of having made the careful study necessary for objective interpretation.

 
Perhaps they have accepted the preacher’s word for it; who, in turn accepted the word of some school teacher, commentator, or church father. Perhaps they read the Bible AFTER mentally acquiescing to a doctrine advocated by their parents or friends. Frequently this “interpretation” bit is only an effort to give respectability to a purely private opinion.

“Interpretation” — when properly used with reference to God’s Word, means, “to tell the meaning of.” The “meaning” must originate with the Bible, not in the person’s imagination. In any event, no one has the right to speak of their interpretation of the Bible until they have made a careful study of the text, in its context, coordinated all like passages, and reached a conclusion as free of bias and prejudice as is humanly possible.

Genuine Bible Study is NOT a guessing game.

by Robert F. Turner

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The Importance Of Hearing

Jesus said, “Pay attention to what you hear” (Mark 4:24). Though spoken long ago it is still needful admonition for us today. We need to be careful what we listen to. Every day we are inundated with information from all manner of sources. Like some news networks, many claim to be the “Most Trusted” source of truth. Too often people tend to just believe what they hear. Like Eve, they are giving heed to blind guides (Gen. 3:1-4; Matt. 15:14). This can lead to bad decisions which can have eternal consequences (2 Cor. 5:10). We would do well to heed what the Father told Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration. We need to hear Christ (Matt. 17:5)! He alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Filter everything you hear through the word of God (Acts 17:11).

Jesus also said, “Take care then how you hear” (Luke 8:18). We need to be careful how we listen. This is vital when it comes to hearing and understanding God’s word. Like Cornelius and his household, we should be ready to hear what God has commanded (Acts 10:33). James wrote, “let every person be quick to hear” (James 1:19). This requires humility, submissiveness, and reverence on our part. Everything God has commanded is important for us to hear, believe and obey. Many today are not willing to hear all God has said on many things. Some only want to hear the vain doctrines and commandments of men (Matt. 15:9). Instead of hearing God, they fight for the creeds and the names of men (1 Cor. 1:10-13). Others only want to hear part of the truth. Concerning salvation, they only hear faith only, grace only, prayer only and ignore or explain away what God has said on the matter (Mark 16:16). This unwillingness to hear God leads to many who are not willing to endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3). Oh, that all of us would be as Samuel as we approach His word when he said, “Speak, for your servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:10).

What prevents so many from hearing the Lord? Prejudice has closed the hearts and minds of many (Matt. 13:15). Partiality causes some to not hear anything that will put them in conflict with their parents or other loved ones (Matt. 10:37). The fear of persecution continues to discourage many from hearing, believing, and obeying (John 12:42-43). Let us not allow our ears to be stopped by such things. Let us hear the Lord!

by Phillip Stuckey

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A Parent’s Prayer

“Oh heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Help me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say and to understand all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them, talking back to them and contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Give me the courage to confess my sins against my children and ask them forgiveness, when I know that I have done wrong.

“May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children. Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame and ridicule as punishment. Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal. So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.

“Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. May I cease to nag; and when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue. Blind me to the little errors of my children and help me to see the good things that they do. Give me a ready word for honest praise.

“Help me to treat my children as those of their own age, but let me not exact of them the judgments and conventions of adults. Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity to wait upon themselves, to think, to choose, and to make their own decisions.

“Forbid that I should ever punish them for my selfish satisfaction. May I grant them all their wishes that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold a privilege that I know will do them harm.

“Make me so fair and just, so considerate and companionable to my children that they will have genuine esteem for me. Fit me to be loved and imitated by my children. Oh God, do give me calm and poise and self-control.”

-Anonymous

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There Always Will Be God

They cannot shell His temple, Nor dynamite His throne;

They cannot bomb His city, Nor rob Him of His own.

They cannot take Him captive, Nor strike Him deaf and blind;

Nor starve Him to surrender, Nor make Him change His mind.

They cannot cause Him panic, Nor cut off His supplies;

They cannot take His kingdom, Nor hurt 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 war and struggle, And feel their goad and rod;

We know above confusion, There always will be God.

                                                                                          Author Unknown

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Fellowship

What about fellowship?  Doesn’t the Bible teach that the church is to have fellowship Indeed!

The Bible does teach that the church is to have fellowship.  But what a lot of people overlook is the fact that the word “fellowship” in the Scriptures has to do with spiritual activities.  I have before me a photocopy out of a book that I have which contains every scripture that uses the Greek word for fellowship.  An interesting thing about this is – - not one time does it have reference to social fellowship.

What does the word fellowship mean?  It is defined  as “sharing,  communion, and participation in, joining together.”

Another use of “fellowship” in modern times is social fellowship. This is where we smell the doughnuts and coffee.  Friday night a bunch of us got together and had some elk stew, and I tell you it was all right.  We had a good time together.  We socialized together.  We shared in the eating of elk stew and a few other things that some of the people brought.  Are you aware that the Bible never uses the word “fellowship” in reference to such social activities?

Still another use of “fellowship” has to do with spiritual things.  Every time, every time, the word is used in regards to the church’s activity, it is always this.  and to my knowledge, there is not one Scripture in the Bible that uses the term “fellowship’ like that.  Fellowship has everything to do with our sharing together in spiritual things.

What has happened to us, brethren, when every time we hear the word “fellowship” we immediately think in terms of fun and games and eating and drinking together?  What has happened to us that we see that,– every time we see the word “fellowship,” when it is never used in the Bible that way?

No, you cannot find the authority for a local church as a part of the program of , planning and providing materials for a social activities in the word “fellowship” in the Bible,- because it doesn’t use the word “fellowship” in that way.

May I make a point?  The local church where you are a member has a fellowship hall.  Let me say that again.  The local church where you are  member has a fellowship hall.  When you are assembled together with the other members , and together share in worshiping God and studying God’s word, you are in it!  We must learn that this is the kind of fellowship that the Bible talks about.

Is there a place for social activities?  Indeed.  But let me provide for hospitality.  Let me provide for social events.  And if others want to join with me me in that, that’s fine.  But let not the church be charged or burdened (1 Tim. 5:16) with providing for social activities, so that the church can do the things God has told His church to do.  It’s just that simple. And nowhere in the Scriptures is there anything to indicate that the church is to provide materially and plan for social activities.  That is the issue.  That is where the truth lies.                                                                                                           

- Bill Hall

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You Are Invited

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What Is The Church Of Christ

What Is The Church of Christ? (Steven Deaton)

Many people view churches as essentially the same. It is the way they are conditioned from their youth up. Every church in their eyes is a denomination and differs very little from any other church. Sure, there are a few that are really “out there,” like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but change the name on the sign and you get the same old song.

This jaded view is also applied to congregations designated as a church of Christ. However, it is not an accurate view for the most part. Churches of Christ are quite different than the typical denominational church. To begin with, they are not part of any denomination. They have no affiliation with a larger body that oversees or advises the thousands of congregations. Rather, they are independent and self-governing. This is because churches in the New Testament were autonomous. The churches were overseen by a plurality of elders (Acts 20:17, 28-32; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). These churches were not tied together in a larger earthly body. Thus, in the New Testament we only see local congregations and the universal body of Christ, the latter of which was overseen by Christ alone (Eph. 1:22, 23).

The Church Belonging To Christ

As stated above, the New Testament only speaks of two religious organizations approved by God; the universal body of the saved and local congregations. The universal church is the church Jesus promised to establish (Matt. 16:18). There is only one, as Paul wrote, “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4; cf. 1:22, 23). It is in this one body that men are reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16). Christ is the head; the saved are the body (Eph. 1:22, 23; 1 Cor. 12:27).

The church belongs to Christ because He purchased it with His blood. “…the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Therefore, it is the church of Christ.

The Churches of Christ Salute You

Paul wrote that the “churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16). Various congregations sent their greetings to the Christians in Rome. Local churches in the New Testament consisted of Christians banding together to worship and work in the Lord. Acts 9:26-28, shows us a picture of Paul seeking to become a member of the church in Jerusalem. They were understandably leery of him. However, after Barnabas informed them of his preaching and labor for Jesus, they accepted him and he worked with them; “So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out” (Acts 9:28).

The Church of Christ Today

The Church of Christ exists today. The same way people were added to the church in the first century is the way it is done today (Acts 2:38-47; 1 Cor. 12:13). Those who are added join in the work of a local congregation that is nothing more or less than a church belonging to Christ; no denominational ties, no hierarchy to answer to, no entanglements financially, no subjugation to a central earthly authority. They are simply free to act as their conscience dictates, that is, as they understand the word of God.

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We would like to invite you to attend our VBS. Hope to see you there.

You are invited to our VBS. Hope you make plans to attend.

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