Archives for : February2016

What would life be like if Christ actually had not been raised from the dead?

    LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

Imagine with me for a moment.  The year is 2075 and technology has advanced in ridiculous proportions.  Through these advancements, researchers have been able to find out, with 100 percent accuracy, specific details of major historical events.  Using these tools they discovered the answers to questions like who killed John F. Kennedy, what happened to Amelia Earhart, what happened the Angkor Wat civilization, and what happened to the dinosaurs.  Most importantly, the researchers found, again with 100 percent accuracy, that Christ was not raised from the dead and was actually a normal man.

What would life be like if Christ actually had not been raised from the dead?  Just posing this question sends painful chills through my body.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul was posing this exact question.  If there was no resurrection (Vs. 13) and Christ had not been raised (Vs. 13-14), then what would this mean?  Here is Paul’s answer…

If Christ Had Not Been Resurrected…

– Preaching Would Be Vain (Vs. 14).  Anything that would be preached from Scripture would be meaningless.  There would be no point in coming to church and worshipping.  The Bible would be degraded down to a “good book” about moral living.  There would be no point in believing what was preached or making any life changes.

 – Faith Would Be Vain And Worthless (Vs. 14, 17).  If Christ remained in His tomb, faith would simply become ignorance.  There would be no point in having faith.  It would just be a waste of time.  If there is no faith, then there is also no hope (Vs. 19).  No hope in or after this life.

– The Apostles Become False Witnesses Of God (Vs. 15).  All of the apostles’ writings and teachings would be trash.  Instead of being witnesses of God, they would be liars.  So for us, there would be nothing meaningful to tell people about Christ.  There would be no conversions.  No one would, or even could, be saved.

– We Would Be Lost In Sin (Vs. 17).  This is definitely the most painful point to grasp.  We would not be going to heaven.  There would be no hope of salvation or peace after this life.  The burden of our sins would be ours alone to bear.

– Those Who Lived A Life For Christ And Died Are Not In Heaven (Vs. 18).  One of the single greatest hopes after this life is to be able to see the ones we loved in heaven again one day.  However, if Christ was not raised, then they lived a pointless life.  We will not see grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, or our brothers and sisters in heaven because a lie.

 – Christians Are To Be Most Pitied Of All Men (Vs. 19).  We are to be most pitied because we have chosen to live a life abstaining from all the “pleasures” in this life.  Instead of “living life to its fullest” we have chosen to miss out.  But all of this turns out to be for nothing.  In addition, we have taught others to obey the Gospel, based on false promises, thus robbing them of this “good life” as well.

No Christ, no faith, no eternal expectations, no heaven, and certainly no salvation.  What a miserable life this would be!  Sadly, this is exactly how many people in this world live.  Everything is about the here and now.  There is simply no hope to be found and as a result there is very little purpose to life.  If everyone in the world came to this conclusion, there would be nothing to stop people from committing heinous crimes day in and day out (Genesis 6:5).  People could do whatever they wanted (Judges 17:6; 21:25).  It’s hard to imagine, but this world would be even more sinful and corrupt.

However, praise be to God that Christ WAS raised from the dead!  This being the truth, it makes everything we do as Christians worth it.  Preaching becomes significant, faith becomes valuable, the apostles’ writings become meaningful, evangelism becomes beneficial, and most of all, we can be saved from our sins, which is unimaginably precious.

Christ has been raised from the dead!  Therefore, the service we do as Christians is priceless.  It’s sad that Christians who know Christ has been raised are actually living their lives as if He had not been.  Do not get discouraged by the daily challenges and struggles that come with living a godly life (1 Peter 1:6-9; James 1:2-4).  It is meaningful and valuable.  Keep pressing towards the goal that has been promised to the faithful (1 Peter 1:4-5; Colossians 1:5; Matthew 5:11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:1-2).  Christ has been raised, therefore we too will be raised one day (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Since this is the truth, let’s live our lives like we believe Christ was resurrected.

–Brett Petrillo

We love to hear gossip

“A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever” (Proverbs 21:28, NIV).

You know the story about the lady who apologized to her preacher for spreading some juicy piece of gossip. He tore a hole in a pillow, and allowed the goose feathers to fly away in the wind.

The point of the story was that retrieving a piece of gossip was as impossible as retrieving all those feathers, scattered across the plains. But I know how to stop gossip.

We love to hear gossip. And especially if the gossip is racy, if it brings the rich and famous down to our level. Somehow we feel affirmed if a film star’s beauty was, well, cosmetically enhanced.

We reason that all it would take for us to be as stunning is a nip here, and a tuck there. In my case, only minor surgery would be necessary, right? But I know the secret to stopping gossip, dead in its tracks.

It takes two to gossip, a speaker, and a willing listener. Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everyone enjoys. It seems that though we don’t believe everything we hear, that doesn’t stop us from repeating it.

Is it really true that “that church” didn’t do so and so, or is the speaker really seeking an excuse for not being faithful? Is it really true that that “horrible man” did those things to his wife, or is she simply trying to get back at him?

The best way to stop gossip, dead in its tracks, is to stop listening. While it is certainly true that the gossiper is wrong to spread rumors, it is also true that the listener enables gossip to spread. He is the wind that spreads the feathers to places far and wide!

by Stan Mitchell

Marriage with selfish participants is doomed.

MARRIAGE: CONSUMERS OR COOPERATORS?

William Doherty, in Take Back Your Marriage, writes about “Resisting Consumer Marriage.” He goes a long way in defining that concept with his good, thorough discussion of it. He writes, “Consumer culture has always been based on individuals pursuing their personal desires. But in the late twentieth century, advertisers began to emphasize desire for desire’s sake…Consumer culture has always been one of self-gratification, but the entitlement dimension is more prominent now” (30-31). He later says that certain “jingles” or tunes, to borrow ad speak, play in our minds, things like “I am not getting my needs met!”, “I deserve better!”, “If only I were married to that one!”, “My marriage is not as good as you’re marriage!”, “My spouse is a flawed person!”, or “I’m the good guy here!” (ibid., 44-46). He ends by urging, “The best way to keep the consumer culture from dominating your marriage is to see yourself as a citizen of your marriage…Being a citizen of a marriage means taking responsibility to make things better and not just be passive, to value the marriage itself and not just your own interest in it” and several other wise, valuable pieces of advice (47). Doherty seems to have identified a major threat to marriage in the modern world. He gives it a new and catchy name, but its true identity is “selfishness.”

Marriage with selfish participants is doomed. That seems harsh and pessimistic, but I have seen it too many times. Me-first marriages meltdown. Interestingly, Peter encourages a different model upon which to build a marriage. In 1 Peter 3:1-7, he addresses husbands and wives. It is a passage that speaks to unity and security. Focus particularly on the central phrase, “Being heirs together of the grace of life.” In marriage, you have a singular identity because you are “fellow-heirs.” You have a singular goal since you are fellow-heirs “of the grace of life.” You have a singular approach as you are heirs “together”–not mine, not yours, but ours and us! This model, the biblical model, calls for husband and wife to be cooperators. We are teammates, pulling the same direction and encouraging each other. That will never be done in a sin-free, perfect environment because each participant cannot qualify for that (cf. Rom. 3:23). At the beginning, God saw marriage as the lifelong opportunity of each to suitable help for the other (Gen. 2:18). May we have the grace and wisdom to do the same.

— Neal Pollard

The Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is a philanthropic campaign led by two billionaires, investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in which other billionaires are asked to give away at least half their wealth during their lifetimes or after their death, and to publicly state their intentions with a letter.

Another 17 U.S. billionaires, including Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, have made the pledge. In addition to Zuckergerg and Moskovitz, pledges were also made by AOS co-founder Steve Case, financier Carl Icahn, and former Wall Street executive, Michael Milken. They join 40 other U.S. billionaires in The Giving Pledge.

“The Giving Pledge has re-energized people thinking about philanthropy and doing things in philanthropy, and I look forward to many more conversations with families who are truly fortunate and whose generosity can and will change lives,” said Warren Buffett.

Buffett and Gates have been trying to generate similar philanthropic efforts in other countries. They will continue to try to encourage other billionaires in the U.S. (numbering more than 400 according to Forbes
magazine) to make the pledge.

Billions of dollars spent in charitable efforts will accomplish a lot of good, but all of the billionaires in the world can’t out-give God!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“He has not left himself without witness: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” – Acts 14:17

God “gives to all life, breath, and all things.” – Acts 17:25

The GREATEST Gift that God has given is the Gift of His Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Jesus was the greatest Gift because He met our greatest need: salvation from sin. Through our acceptance of this Gift on His terms, we may have forgiveness of our sins and the hope of living eternally with Him (Ephesians 1:7; Titus 1:2).

The terms of acceptance for the Gift are: faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Christ before men (Romans 10:9-10), baptism (immersion) into Christ (Acts 2:38), and the “pledge” and commitment of living faithfully to His will for the rest of one’s life (Revelation 2:10).

God has acted on His Pledge of love for you and for me in many ways, but especially through the Gift of His Son. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Won’t YOU express your gratitude to the Giving God by accepting His gift through your trusting obedience?

David A. Sargent

How many people do you know who are “believers” but ’re not “belongers” ?

JOSHUA HARRIS AFFIRMS that there are many people who “date” the church, but who are unwilling to fall in love with and be committed to her…

And you know, I think he’s right. How many people do you know who are “believers” but they’re not belongers? They believe in Jesus, but don’t want to be tied down. They “date” the church, but want to remain independent and free of commitment and responsibility.

Friends, instead of seeing the church for all its flaws and foibles, why not see it as the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:9-11), and the beautiful bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32). Committing to the church doesn’t tie one down, rather it anchors one through the storms of life. And it’s flaws? It’s flaws provide us with an opportunity to love, serve, practice patience, and grow more like our Savior.

Listen friends, don’t allow yourself to use the excuse that the church is too messed up to commit to it. Jesus is the only one who has the right to disown or give up on the church, but he never has and never will.

Therefore, let me leave you with this challenge. Many people are fond of saying that we need to develop a heart for the poor or a heart for the lost, and these are good desires. But may I challenge you to also develop a heart for the church? Get involved. Get committed. Take on responsibility. Invest yourself. After all, if Jesus loves the church, shouldn’t we? Steve Higginbotham at: http://preachinghelp.org/articles/MercEmail338%20(05-21-09).htm

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Mike Benson

The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called out.”

NO ONE WILL deny that the Bible talks about a church…

But whose church? Which church? What church?

Let us begin by pointing out what it is not. The church as described in the Bible is not Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. It is not denominational, inter-denominational, or sectarian. It is not a political organization, just another social organization, and neither is it a material meeting house.

The majority of people do not understand the church because they do not know what it is. Consequently, they do not understand the purpose of it, the importance of it, or the work of it. But the Bible plainly tells us what it is. The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called out.” So the church is a called out body of people, those who have been called out of the world into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). It is the spiritual body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), made up of those who have obeyed Christ (Hebrews 5:8,9), and therefore saved by Him and added to His church (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:47). Another way of putting it, the church consists of the followers of Christ.

The word church appears in the Bible in two senses. First, it is spoken of in the universal sense. This is what Christ had in mind when he said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). There are many other verses where the word church is used in the same way, speaking of the church in a universal sense. That is, wherever the church may be found in the world, if it is the Bible church, it is that church which Jesus said He would build. Second, it is spoken of in the local sense. For instance, when Paul was writing to the church at Rome, and speaking of the various congregations, he said, “The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). He wasn’t speaking of a number of churches, in the sense of denominations, but rather a number of local congregations of the Lord’s church. J. C. Choate

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

Mike Benson

It’s unpleasant to live with a wife who nags

“It is better to live in the corner of the housetop than in a house shared by a quarrelsome wife,” (Proverbs 21:9, ESV).

Before we go any further, a warning to the chauvinistically challenged. The image given here pictures a typical house in Israel during Solomon’s time, where the roof was flat, and one could mount a flight of stairs in order to gain access to the roof.

On hot summer evenings, this was the most pleasant part of the house, for from its vantage point one could perhaps pick up an evening breeze. It was from the top of the palace roof that King David spied the beautiful Bathsheba engaged in an effort to become, well, hygienically correct (2 Samuel 11:2).

It was also from the roof of Simon the Tanner’s house that Peter viewed three visions on the nature of his diet and the value of the Gentile races (Acts 10:9).

Of course in the winter, when the weather was rainy and windy, the rooftop would not be the preferred place to sleep. But Solomon suggests that it is better to live there than to share a house with someone who is constantly critical and argumentative. Again, however, it might be prudent for the misogynist to be humble at this point.

It’s unpleasant to live with a wife who nags, who feels it is her duty to engage in a daily review of her husband’s words and actions. No one wants to be under a microscope, especially in the supposed sanctuary of his home.

But be careful if my observations tempt my male readers to dredge up wife jokes. Because I have a question for you: Do you suppose it’s pleasant to live with a demanding and autocratic husband?

For this principle can be taken generically. It’s not like it’s fun to live with a man who makes fun of his wife, demeans women, and criticizes her efforts.

Just remember that in our part of the world… our roofs aren’t flat!

–by Stan Mitchell

The resurrection is central to the truth of Christianity

IN ATTACKING THE existence of God, many atheists have attacked the biblical account of the resurrection…

The Apostle Paul himself said the resurrection itself is central to the truth of Christianity. He wrote:

“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. ( 1 Corinthians 15:13-16 ESV).

The most certain proof for anything is eyewitness testimony. In criminal trials, a conviction is almost certain if eyewitness testimony is given. While it is true that people alive today have never seen anyone raised from the dead, it is most certainly true that the resurrection of Christ has been seen by many.

In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote the eyewitnesses to Christ in his resurrected body numbered more than just himself and the other apostles.

“… that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me,” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 ESV).

The eyewitness of Paul is of great importance because when he saw the resurrected Savior, he was 100 percent opposed to Christ. At the time Jesus appeared to Saul in Acts 9, the future apostle was traveling from town to town putting Christians in prison and killing some of them.

But, Saul saw Jesus alive after he himself knew Christ was dead. The eyewitness account was repeated to Roman rulers. Paul appeared before Felix and Festus, Roman governors, and to Herod Agrippa, one of the Idumean kings (Acts 24-26).

Eyewitness testimony does not lose its truthfulness over time. One cannot discount the testimony of so many just because one does not want to believe it. If one looks at the objective testimony of the hundreds of witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected body, one must admit God does exist and that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. John Henson at: http://www.forthright.net/christian_evidences/cases_for_the_resurrection.html

” Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8).

Mike Benson

It just depends on whose hand it’s in

YOU PLACE A basketball in my hand and we can play a pickup game of basketball…

You place a basketball in Michael Jordan’s hand and you get six NBA championship rings. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a football in my hand and I can toss it to my grandson. You place a football in Peyton Manning’s hand and you get a $19 million dollar contract. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a mathematical formula in my hand and you get confusion. You place a mathematical formula in Albert Einstein’s hand and you get the laws of relativity. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a rod in my hand and I can beat an angry dog away from me. You place a rod in Moses’ hand and he will part the Red Sea. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place a stone and a slingshot in my hand and you get a kid’s toy. You place a stone and a slingshot in David’s hand and you slay a giant. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place two fish and five loaves of bread in my hand and you get a couple of sandwiches. You place them in Jesus’ hand and 5,000 men are fed. It just depends on whose hand it’s in…

You place some nails in my hand and you might get a birdhouse. You place nails in Jesus’ hand and you get the forgiveness of sins. It just depends on whose hand it’s in. Paul Ciniraj

“Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:3

Mike Benson

Article on backbiting PLUS 2 BONUS files!

Get an instant overview of the Old Testament with these 12 PowerPoint slides by Tommy South.

This PowerPoint file offers a little more technical information on the Old Testament.

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TODAY’S ARTICLE:
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THE TERM BACKBITE comes from the popular sport of bearbaiting in Medival Europe…

In the sport of bearbaiting, a bear was chained to a post and a few dogs were released at a time to attack the bear for the entertainment of the crowd. Sometimes, in the contest, one of the dogs would slip behind the bear and attack him from the rear. Althought good sportsmanship outlawed biting from behind, it was common in such contests.

Over time, the expression came to refer to anyone taking an unfair advantage, such as speaking ill of a person behind his back.

As you know, the Bible condemns backbiting. Wade L. Webster, “Backbiting,” Riches From My Reading, The Searcher, May 29, 2011

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.” Psalm 101:5 — Mike Benson

Are you an average American?

In our ‘easy credit’ times, many people are having issues with buying things they can’t afford and ultimately failing to pay for the things they have purchased. Surveys indicate that the average American household has over $15,000 in credit card debt. That represents a good bit of buying without the ability to pay. And that leads to the rapid increase in bankruptcies being reported. One out of every 55 households in America has filed for bankruptcy.

What’s a Christian to do? There are several important things to consider:

1) Remember that everything we have is from God. We are simply stewards of His blessings, and should use all for His glory. “Let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandest and knoweth God” (Jer. 9:24). “Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18).

2) Be carefully on guard against materialism and covetousness. Jesus warned, “How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24). The desire to be rich leads to temptation and destruction (1 Tim. 6:9). Jesus advised that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).

3) Prudent saving is commended in the Scriptures. “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up” (Prov. 21:20).

4) Know that God expects and demands that we pay our bills. “The wicked borroweth and payeth not again” (Ps. 37:21). “Owe no man anything, but to love one another” (Rom. 13:8).

Wise planning and careful spending are essential, not just for financial security, but also for spiritual safety. Right priorities will keep us on track in both realms. Think!
– by Greg Gwin

These posts will resume on 2/15 – Saved By The Blood,

Not The Bell – Neal Pollard:

There is no better New Testament chapter for showing us the power of forgiveness than Romans 5. One of the concepts Paul uses to teach forgiveness is “justification” (5:1,9, 16, 18; see also “reconciled,” “saved,” and “made righteous” in this chapter). One source illustrates justification by referencing a supposedly true story centering around the ringing of the bell in London’s St. Paul Cathedral. It is said this bell saved a sentinel soldier’s life. The man was on duty at distant Windsor Castle and accused by the guard who relieved him of sleeping at his post. He was tried by court martial and condemned to death. The man denied his guilt, saying that on the night in question he heard the bells of St. Paul ring 13 times at midnight. The court did not believe he could hear the bells from so far away, but eventually the testimony of many people supported the claim of this condemned man. The mechanism on the bell malfunctioned that night. The king pardoned the soldier, who supposedly lived to be 100 years old. He was justified after he was condemned.

The word translated “justified” in Romans 5:1 means “acquitted, put right with, and set free” (Louw & Nida, Vol. 2, Gk.-Eng. Lex. of the NT, 64). It means to be declared righteous with God (Friberg & Miller, Vol. 4: Anal. Lex. of the Gk. NT, 117). Paul mentions three things we get to enjoy, being justified by Jesus’ blood, death, and life (5:9-10).

Because we are justified by Jesus’ blood, we have peace with God (5:1), we get to stand in this grace (5:2), and we get to boast in hope (5:2), in our tribulations (5:3), and in God (5:11). In the end, because of Jesus, we shall be saved (5:9-10).

We deserve the wrath of God (5:9), spiritual death (5:12), and condemnation (5:16). Unlike the fortunate soldier, we could not claim innocence (5:12,19). Our pardon is the result of Jesus’ innocence, but because of that we can lay claim to “eternal life” (5:21). Thank God for the saving blood of His Son.

I’m not going to write him any paperwork for a ticket or even a warning

Just What He Needed

Rodney Gibson was speeding down a busy highway in Bloomington, Indiana in his truck earlier this month, but he didn’t realize it. His mind was focused on something else.

Indiana State Police Sgt.T odd Durnil saw that Gibson was speeding, so he pulled him over. It didn’t take Officer Durnil long to see that Gibson was very upset – not about the traffic stop, but about some other thing going on in his life.

Gibson explained with tears in his eyes that his daughter was recently told the breast cancer she’d been battling for six years had metastasized and that she likely wasn’t going to make it. He had been agonizing over that news and didn’t realize how fast he was driving.

On his way back to his patrol car, Durnil said his first thought was that Gibson really needed prayers. He planned to tell his family and church to pray for Gibson.

“I also thought, this man already has enough. I’m not going to write him any paperwork for a ticket or even a warning,” he said. “When I walked back to his truck, I explained everything. He still seemed agitated, but not as bad, and he apologized, saying, ‘I’m sorry. I usually don’t act this way; I’ve just been going through a lot.’”

Durnil then asked Gibson if there was anything else if he could do for him and Gibson asked, “Do you know how to pray?”

“Here I was thinking this man needs prayer, and now he’s asking me for a prayer,” Durnil said. “The good Lord put us together for a purpose.”

Durnil then went over to the right side of the semi, took his hat off, knelt down, took Gibson’s hand and said a prayer. Both the men had tears in their eyes, Durnil said. *

Gibson deserved a ticket for speeding. But what he needed was someone with compassion who would pray with him. Sgt. Durnil gave him what he needed, not what he deserved.

Having transgressed the law of God, each of us DESERVES the punishment for sin: death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

But what we NEED is forgiveness and hope. What we NEED is the grace of God.

God loves us so much that despite the fact that we sin and continue to fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), He gave His One and Only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). Through His atoning sacrifice, we can be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God will forgive and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

Because of His great love for us, God longs to give us what we need (GRACE) instead of what we deserve (PUNISHMENT).

Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?

* From “Indiana Cop Brings Speeding Driver to Tears With Prayer Rather Than Ticket” by AVIANNE TAN, January 7, 2016, Good Morning America and “The Policeman Who Offered Prayer Instead of Punishment” by Brett Petrillo in Daily Bread (1/18/16).

David A. Sargent

It is all about me

“I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them?” (Song of Solomon 5:3 NKJV).

I am continually impressed with the concern of Christian brothers and sisters for my welfare while I am with them in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is normal for them to give me their best room and furniture for my stay, to feed me at a higher standard than that to which their family is accustomed, and to show every kindness and courtesy in providing whatever it may seem that I need. They do this without being asked, and even sometimes when I have requested that they not do so much.

I remember one occasion when I stumbled and fell stepping off a porch onto an unsteady and uneven set of rock steps. Almost before I could get back on my feet a brother was taking apart the steps and rebuilding them so I would not fall again. It was not even his house.

Unfortunately, that is not the norm everywhere in our relations with one another. The experience cited above from the Song of Solomon is perhaps more typical. The heroine of the story (called in the NKJV “The Shulamite”) tells of a night when her new husband came in late. She had already retired and resented having her sleep interrupted. “I have already washed my feet and dressed for the evening – why must I get up and undo all of that?” Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Predictably, her reluctance to greet him created a strain in the marriage.

So often it is only our own need or convenience that we consider important. “It is all about me.” Not only is this un-Christian and un-Biblical, it is counter- productive. It is precisely this attitude which Jesus targeted when he promised, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

It is not only by dying that one may lose his life. It is also by renouncing personal selfishness in favor of doing for others first (see Philippians 2:2-4). The more we seek to gain for ourselves at the expense or to the neglect of others, the less we will have. That is what the Bible teaches, unequivocally, for everyone.

In the days of Haggai, the people of Judah had put their own affairs first, building houses for themselves while neglecting the rebuilding of the Temple, which was their stated purpose for returning from Babylon (Haggai 1:4). As a result the Lord spoke:

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).

By seeking only what was important to themselves and neglecting those things for which God had sent them back from captivity, they had become impoverished.

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away” (Haggai 1:9).

The solution to their need was simple. Trust the Lord and put him first, and he would assure them of blessing. “Consider now from this day forward . . .
from this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:18-19). Once they had resumed work on the temple, God removed the famine and drought and gave them prosperity.

So Jesus taught, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

The path to blessing and prosperity is not selfishness, it is service, accompanied by faith.

by Michael E. Brooks

Folks do not need to be “talked into baptism.”

HOW MANY OF us have heard folks say, “They just won’t be baptized…?”

“What can we do to persuade them to be baptized?” These statements seem to overlook the greatest challenge of salvation for most folks. Have you ever seen one who believed in the Lord (John 8:24), was not ashamed, but willing to confess Him before others, (Matthew 10:32-22; John 12:42-43) had repented of their sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 26:20, 2 Corinthians 7:10) and not be baptized? I’m sure there are exceptions, but the general rule in Acts is that penitent believers asked to be baptized.

Repentance is a change which begins in the mind which changes lives. In Acts 19 the city of Ephesus, the home of the Temple of Diana and capitol of worship to this goddess, was presented with the Gospel of Jesus. For the pagans to become Christians, what changes did “repentance” demand? In verse 19 they brought their books of magic into one pile and burned them. The value was 50,000 pieces of silver. This was a considerably large sum of money. Books were valuable passions and very expensive in those days. Remember Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15), which brings their sacrifice of burning their books into perspective. Instead of selling them and advocating false doctrine, the repentance of the Ephesians led them to suffer financial loss. A second sign of their repentance was the fear their actions brought upon Demetrius the silversmith. He was in the business of selling shrines of the goddess Diana. He realized penitent Christians changed their behavior. Their change in behavior would mean they would no longer buy his shrines. The more Christianity spread (the more people repented) the less business he would have! He started a riot, hoping to defeat Christianity. Some are never willing to repent, others give up all!

Jonathan Winchester is a fine young missionary we worked with in El Salvador. He wrote me this note:

“We had some good and sad results. The area where we worked was one of the poorest and most dangerous in Ica, Peru. One woman had decided to be baptized, and had changed into the baptismal robe, but then decided that she could not. She knew that repentance was necessary. She told us that her only way of providing for her children was to go out and steal people’s wallets, and she knew that she was not going to stop.”

Should she have been advised to be baptized anyway? What would God say? “Repent or perish” (Luke 13:3). Folks do not need to be “talked into baptism.” What folks need is to be taught the doctrine of Christ and see if they are ready to repent! Penitent believers have always responded by saying, “What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). David Shannon

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Acts 2:38

Mike Benson

How compassionate are we with the afflicted?

WHY DOES GOD permit imperfection in His world…?

Why are babies allowed to be born handicapped? Why do limbs not move, eyes not see, mouths not speak, and ears not hear? Skeptics and Christians alike struggle with the answers to such questions. How can a perfect God allow such imperfection in His creation?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to human suffering, but I do know there are some things that help me deal with such difficult questions. One such aid comes from a change in perspective. What if the perfection God is looking for is in us, not the imperfect bodies of people? What if the greater perfection God desires is in our reaction to people who are imperfect?

How compassionate are we with the afflicted? How patient and understanding are we with their trials? Do they have too many troubles to make getting involved with them worthwhile? Are we inconvenienced and resentful of their demands on our time and lifestyle? Are we annoyed at their presence or even worse, embarrassed by them?

Just maybe the perfection God is looking for is in our Christ-like response to imperfect people. Instead of allowing people born with physical disabilities to shake our faith in God, should we not rather allow them to challenge us to reach toward Christ-like perfection in our response to these people?

While Jesus walked this earth, He was God in the flesh (John 1:1,14). He came in contact with people who were burdened by imperfect bodies. In fact, multitudes of people with physical disabilities flocked to Him because they knew He was one who had compassion upon them. On one occasion, a leper came to Jesus for help (Mark 1:41). The text says that Jesus had compassion on him and healed him. But not only did Jesus heal him; He also reached out and touched him! I wonder how long it had been since anyone had touched this leper? This passage gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. He wasn’t one who stood at arm’s distance from the suffering, but rather touched their lives.

Friends, from God’s perspective, the imperfection in this world may not be in the physically and mentally disabled, but in a healthy person’s uncompassionate response to these individuals. Steve Higginbotham

“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His Hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.'” Mark 1:41

Mike Benson