ABIDE WITH ME                                                                 May 19, 2024

“Abide with me!  Fast falls the eventide,

The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide!

When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, oh abide with me!”

In 1847, Henry F. Lyte’s poetic words were published in this beautiful song.  Singers of these words plead with God to abide in their presence every day and in every way.  What if God wrote a song to us, pleading us to abide with Him?  What would He say?  He did, essentially, at the test of Psalm 15.  David asked, “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle?  Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?” (Psalms 15:1).  By God’s divine revelation, David penned these characteristics:

1. One who walks uprightly (2a).

2. One who works righteousness (2b).

3. One who speaks truthfully (2c).

4. One who does not waste the reputation of another behind his back (3a).

5. One who does not do evil to his neighbor (3b).

6. One who has no reason to be ashamed in the presence of a neighbor (3c).

7. One who despises the evil actions of men (4a).

8. One who honors God-fearing men (4b).

9. One who keeps his word, even if it hurts (4c).

10. One who does not exact interest on gifts/loans (5a).

11. One who does not take a bribe against the innocent (5b).

What a list!  In essence, God pleads with us, “Abide with Me,” by showing us the type of person who can abide with Him through His word.  Truthfully, none of us are worthy to abide in God’s presence; however, His Son Jesus has made it possible for us to change (Acts 2:38; 17:30; II Corinthians 7:10), obey (Hebrews 5:8-9; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 22:16), be changed (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:47), and abide (Romans 6:4; Galatians 6:9-10; I John 1:7). 

Will you abide with Him?                                           By Clifton Angel Via Bulletin Gold

Honoring Our Mothers

Honoring Our Mothers                                                           May 12, 2024

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth'” (Ephesians 6:1-3).  The command “honor your father and mother” was one of the Ten Commandments given by God (Exodus 20:12).  It includes both the concepts of obedience of children and caring for wizened (wrinkled with age) parents.  Jesus made this latter point in Mark 7:9-13.  The Pharisees thought that by giving their money to the temple, they would be excused from taking care of their parents.  They were wrong.  Jesus taught that the commandment applied just as much to our elderly parents.

On Mother’s Day, we show respect for our mothers by praising their role as child bearers.  For those who have reared children, we acknowledge their dedication and sacrifices, but mothers are not perfect.  Even the most saintly sins.  The first mother brought sin into the world, yet she was honored with the title: the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20).  Jesus died for his own mother’s sins, but He honored her by appointing the apostle John as her guardian (John 19:26-27).  We should honor our mothers despite their faults; Jesus certainly did.

Some are fortunate to have their mothers nearby where they are available to have an everyday relationship.  Other mothers are not so near and are celebrated when opportunity arises.  Yet other mothers have passed on and are no longer with us, but their life and memories may yet be honored.  God’s command to honor our father and mother, however, isn’t about superficialities, but a manner of living that extends to every day of the week.  May God bless our mothers, and may our mothers be Godly.

By Kevin Cauley (Adapted)

To Be Like Jesus

To Be Like Jesus                                                                      May 5, 2024

We love to sing, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him.

                             All through life’s journey from earth to Glory

                            All I ask, to be like Him.”

But how much do we really mean it?  Personally, I believe most Christians really do mean it, but many don’t realize what it entails.  It certainly must include forgiving one another.  In what we call the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus explains just one of the items, “But if we do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.” (Matthew 6:15, NASB).  Most Christians remember that one.

But another concept of being “like Him” is far less often recognized.  In Ezekiel 18 God is quite clear that He, Himself, does not hold a son responsible for the sins of his father, nor the father responsible for the sins of his son.  Read Ezekiel 18.  Therefore, if we are seeking to be more Godly in our daily walk with Him, we must strive diligently to judge others as individuals rather than by their ancestry.  That is usually far more difficult than we realize.

The reality of judging each person as an individual, can be excruciatingly hard!  Racism, around the world, is a result of judging others by who their ancestors were: black/white; Muslim/Jew; Japanese/Chinese (yes, they have centuries-long violent conflicts); Comanche/Ute; etc., for virtually every people group on earth.  Consider Naomi who was an Israelite and Ruth who was a Moabite – (Israel and Moab were traditional enemies).  But as individuals, they became like mother and daughter, precious friends (see Ruth 1:16).  How could that happen?  They judged one another as individuals, not by the bloodline of their ancestors.  In fact, Ruth was converted to Judaism, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”

Likewise, King David had a faithful soldier in his army named Uriah.  He was a Hittite, another nation which was a traditional enemy of Israel.  How could that happen?  David and Uriah must have judged one another by individual, personal merit and not the bloodline of their ancestors.  (Yes, there’s a lot more to that story, but that doesn’t negate this ancestral reality).

Today is no different.  The current war between Israel and Hamas is based on millennia long bloodline hatred.  (Notice that I say “Hamas” not “Palestinian”).  The savage attack by Hamas that even killed babies is evil to the core.  If anyone of any bloodline seeks to be pleasing to God, we must strive to be like Him, not holding the sins of the fathers against their offspring.  Through thousands of years of war on every continent in every century, bloodline hatred has fomented (stirred up) war and violence on totally innocent people – people who had nothing to do with former sins of violence.  Again, in Ezekiel 18, God says, “The person who sins will die.  A son will not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt, nor will a father suffer the punishment for the son’s guilt; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”  If and when anyone tries to exact inter-generational punishment or revenge, he becomes very much not like God!

We rather easily understand and practice the concept legally – we don’t put a son in prison for a crime his father committed.  We don’t execute the grand-children or great-grand-children of men who committed war crimes (on either side).  So why do we often find it so hard to stop judging the progeny of evil men?

Let’s keep singing “To be like Jesus,” and keep striving to do exactly that.                By Ray Wallace

The Value In A Cracked Pot

The Value In A Cracked Pot                                                       April 28, 2024

An elderly woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and half pots of water.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment.  But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.  “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”  The old woman replied, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?”  That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.  For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw.  But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.  You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

So, to all my cracked pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!  God bless you all!                                                                   

(Author Unknown-From the Collingwood church bulletin, April 21, 2024)

Picture By Penny Parker

The “I Musts” of Jesus

The “I Musts” of Jesus                                                              April 21, 2024

            I once heard a preacher make light of his fellow preachers for tossing around words like “must” and “have to.”  I didn’t agree with him, for the Bible clearly uses such words.  But the longer his barb has hung in my mind, the more I think I understand what he meant.  We do toss those words around a little too lightly.  They are designed to be heavy words.

            The word “must” first appears in the New Testament in Matthew 16:21 as Jesus began warning the disciples of His impending crucifixion.

            In Luke 4:43 Jesus issues the “must” of responsibility”: “I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

            Luke also records for us a transaction that lets us know that sometimes the needs of others came into His scope: “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house'” (Luke 19:5).

            On two occasions Jesus shows us the importance of obedience to the scriptures with the “musts” that He issues (Luke 22:37; 24:44).

            And the words of necessity are clear from the lips of the Lord when ot comes to worshipping His Father (John 4:24).

            In John 9:4 Jesus teaches says: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

            Of course we know that the greatest question ever asked involves a “must”: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).  But even after that question has been answered and followed correctly, there are still some “musts” for the Christian.

            For a culture that prides its postmodern self in not accepting being “told” what it has to do, there are “musts” for any person who would be a follower of Christ.  Among those must clearly pointed out by Christ are: denying self and taking up one’s cross (Luke 4:43; 9:23), inconveniencing ourselves to meet the needs of others (Luke 19:5), and being involved in the work of God (John 9:4-5).

            I didn’t ask it lightly:  What must you do?

By Dale Jenkins (via Bulletin Gold)

They All With One Accord

They All With One Accord                                          April 14, 2024

Have you ever been in a worship service and all of a sudden, you’re thinking about a Honda Accord?  Perhaps you’ve experienced this brain tease, when a verse is read from the book of Acts about the Christians being gathered together in “one accord.”  One accord?  What does that mean?

The expression “one accord” is used 11 times in the book of Acts.  It comes from a compound Greek word that combines the words for “same” and “mind,” to literally mean “the same mind.”  The word is used to emphasize the “unanimity” of the early church.  They were not all sitting together in one Honda Accord, but they were so unanimous in their devotion to the Lord that maybe they could have figured out a way to fit.

Let’s consider the usage of this word in the book of Acts.  First, note that the early Christians were not the only ones who acted in unanimity.  The enemies of Christ themselves acted “with one accord.”  Those who heard Stephen preach “cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord…and stoned him” (Acts 7:57-58).  The same occurred when the Jews in Corinth “with one accord rose up against Paul” (18:12), and when the Ephesian mob “rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions” (19:29).  In each of these instances, the people were of “the same mind” and “same purpose” and “unanimous” in their actions.

When the enemies of Christ ally together in attacks against Christians, guess what Christians need to do?  They also need (and will) ally together, with the same mind, to stand against such attacks, defend the gospel and further the cause of Christ together.  Take note of some other times in Acts when Luke employed this expression.

The early Christians “with one accord” came together “in prayer and supplication” (1:14) and “raised their voice to God” (4:24).  How often today do we come together “with one accord” for the purpose of praying to God?

The early Christians “with one accord” came together to enjoy fellowship and food with one another (2:46).  How often today do we take the initiative to get a group of Christians together “with one accord” just to be with each other and enjoy each other’s company?

The early Christians “with one accord” came together in one place to “speak” God’s word (5:12; cf. 8:6) and to send chosen men out with a message to the churches (15:25).

God still wants His church to assemble and behave “with one accord.”  So, are you “in” the accord or not?

David Sproule, Palm Beach Lakes, Florida

Flying Blind

Flying Blind                                                                                     April 7, 2024

Our son is a pilot in general aviation.  He flies for business trips and for pleasure.  He recently got his IFR rating.  For those who aren’t familiar, that means Instrument Flight Rules, in other words he is now rated to fly at night and in other limited visibility situations.

Personally, I think it’s almost terrifying, and I grew up flying!  Imagine you are flying along on a beautiful, sunny day and suddenly you find yourself in dense fog, rain, etc.  You literally cannot see anything outside the plane but gray or black.  It’s as if you closed your eyes or turned off your headlights while driving at night.  Countless plane crashes have happened simply because the pilot could not see anything.

Enter the instruments, as in Instrument Flight Rules!  His plane is equipped with several instruments that tell him where he is, where the ground is, where the mountains are, where other planes are and where the airport is.  Flying blind still seems weird to me, but after he explained to me the details of how it works, I get it!  The instruments can “see” into the future, ten feet, ten miles, ten seconds, or ten minutes or even more.  And they can get you safely to the airport!  The instruments are the lifeline, IF one knows how to use them.

It’s the same way in life.  We cannot see ten minutes or even ten seconds into the future.  But God can and He can get us safely to life’s airport, whether that be next week or eternity.  But I must know how to use His instrument, His written word.  I am totally amazed how many Christians will read the paper, read online news, watch TV and attempt to “see” what’s happening, but seldom if ever spend deep, quality time reading God’s word, which is our instrument panel for flying blind – into the future.

In John 6:68, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Paul knew how it works – in Romans 1:16 he wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Aircraft instruments get us safely to the airport when we can’t see what’s happening.  As the aircraft instruments get us to the flight pattern at the airport, God’s word gets us to our final destination when we can’t see the future.  Paul wrote, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”  (II Timothy 1:13).  Never make God your co-pilot, He must be your pilot!  He is the captain of our faith (Hebrews 2:10, KJV).  Use the instrument of Scripture to get safely home.

By Ray Wallace

The Resurrection is the Why

The Resurrection is the Why                                                  March 31. 2024

“Why should I remain a Christian?  The church has so many hypocrites in it.  I have been mistreated by Christians who don’t seems to care about me as a person.  And some Christians have conflated American political party views with what the Bible teaches and it reflects poorly on all of us.  Christians are worldly anyway, so what’s the difference?  The church just doesn’t care for people and is more interested in rights than service.  Why shouldn’t I leave it?  Why shouldn’t I walk away from God?  Give me a good reason.”

These are objections and reasons we sometimes hear from those who are on the verge or who have already walked away from the Lord.  There are others, too, but these represent what I have seen and heard.  What do we say?  What is the answer?  Why should we stay and continue to serve the Lord?  The answer is…

The resurrection of Jesus.  This is the why.  This is the reason.  If it is true, then everything else that one thinks works as an objection could never justify walking away from God.  If the resurrection didn’t happen, then the way of Christ is false (I Corinthians 15:12-19).  If it did happen, then we are responsible for the implications that should be affecting our lives in vital ways.  Paul said it: “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised” (II Corinthians 5:15).

I do not doubt that there are hypocrites among God’s people, or that some churches have mistreated people, or that some have abused political platforms, or that some are worldly and more interested in personal rights.  I’ve seen and witnessed all of this, and we ought to show compassion on those who have suffered mistreatment.  But these do not mean that the resurrection is false.  These do not mean that walking away from the resurrected Lord is justified.  If the resurrection happened, then Christ is indeed Lord and we are accountable to Him.  Period.  No other reason could justify walking away from Him.  The resurrection is the hinge issue.

Perhaps adjustments need to be made regarding one’s associations (I Corinthians 15:33).  Perhaps by our own commitment we can show others by example how they ought to be living and acting.  Whatever we must do to serve the Lord, let us do it, for the resurrection is the driving truth as to why we need to remain faithful to Him.  He was raised and He is Lord.  How others treat me does not change that conclusion.  How hypocritical some may be does not show Jesus wasn’t raised.

“But you don’t understand what I’ve gone through.”  Maybe, maybe not.  None of us should be assuming what others have gone through.  That’s not the issue, however.  If Jesus was raised from the dead, then whatever else we may say, we must acknowledge Him as Lord and act accordingly.  “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord.  You serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).  Remember that Jesus was treated poorly.  If others treat us poorly or we have some bad experiences, then show people what living a resurrected life for the Lord looks like.  Perhaps they will repent and turn to Him.  Because:

The resurrection is the reason for the existence of the people of God (Acts 2).

The resurrections is the basis for any hope we may have (I Peter 1:3-5).

The resurrection is the grounding for our resurrection (Romans 6:3-6).

The resurrection means that we know our work in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58).

The resurrection is the proof that we will stand before God in judgment (Acts 17:30-31).

The resurrection is the reason we ought to be living as those who have been born again: buried with Him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life, “For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5).  When people mistreat, abuse, or act hypocritically, that is not the fault of the risen Jesus.  Rather, it only shows that we have not allowed His resurrection to have the kind of impact in our lives that it ought to have.  Instead of walking away from the resurrected Lord, we need to be turning back to Him so that we are no longer living for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised.

No negative personal experiences change the truth of the resurrection.  Feelings do not change facts.  Christians acting poorly do not extinguish the truth of Jesus.  Again, whatever we must do to serve Jesus, do it, for it all hinges on His resurrection.  If it did not happen, then walk away.  If it did happen, we must cling even closer to Jesus as Lord so that we have life in His name (John 20:30-31).

I believe Jesus was raised.  That’s why I stay.                                             By Doy Moyer

“Do This” = “Don’t Do That”

“DO THIS” = “DON’T DO THAT”                          March 24, 2024

Without controversy, one can declare that God does not change (Malachi 3:6).  But what many may not realize is that the same is true of God’s spiritual principles.  Among these is the exclusive nature of God’s “positive” commands, that is, “When God says, “Do THIS” it means, “Don’t do THAT.”  Let us briefly consider the clearest possible example of this spiritual truth.

Leviticus 10 opens with the account of the divine execution of two men who were in charge of the incense-burning portion of Old Testament worship (Vs 1a), which, naturally, required fire.  But the fire they offered on this occasion is said to have been “strange” (Vs 1b/ASV) to God, or “unauthorized” (ESV) by God.  That kind of statement naturally leads the reader to ask this question: “Why was this fire ‘unauthorized?’  What was it that made this fire ‘strange’ in God’s sight?”  According to the Holy Spirit, the reason it was “unauthorized” is because it was “fire that (God) had never prescribed for them” (Vs 1/ESV), fire “which He had not commanded them (to make)” (Vs 1c).

When it comes to the manner in which we worship God: if it is not in His word, it better not be in our worship.

This terminology is extremely significant for it was NOT that God said, “You shall NOT make that kind of fire,” and that these two men who made that kind of fire anyway; rather, God had simply said, “You shall make THIS kind of fire,” and, therefore, to make any other kind of fire was sin.  Unfortunately for these two men, they did just that: they made “Fire B” when God had prescribed “Fire A,” and He repaid their fire with a fire of His own (Vs 2).  Not one Israelite would have failed to get the point.  You and I had better “get it,” as well!  He didn’t have to specifically condemn or prohibit every single particular thing of which He disapproves.  All He has to say is “DO THIS,” and everything which the mind of man could possible imagine besides “THIS” is direct rebellion against the word of God.

The spiritual principle that resulted in the death of Nadab & Abihu has not changed.  When it comes to the manner in which we worship God: If it is not in His word, it better not be in our worship.  For, if we want our worship to be acceptable to God, we “must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

By Seth Myers Via Bulletin Gold

What True Fellowship Involves

What True Fellowship Involves                                 March 17, 2024

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?”  (II Corinthians 6:14-16a, NKJV)

Even though written in the negative, I believe we can examine this text and extrapolate many positive aspects of true fellowship which come forth clearly in the words used.  So here’s what true fellowship involves:

  • Yoked together.  True fellowship involves being linked together for the purpose of being productive.  Fellowship operates best when people work closely together for a common cause.
  • Fellowship.  True fellowship involves companionship and comradery (which is the definition of the Greek word translated “fellowship”).  Fellowship is formed when people are truly together.
  • Communion.  True fellowship involves close, personal association with one another.  Fellowship is strengthened when personal connections are made.
  • Accord (harmony, NAS).  True fellowship involves unity, harmony, and peace.  Fellowship grows when people get along.
  • Part (share, ESV).  True fellowship involves sharing and partaking together.  Fellowship blossoms most beautifully when everyone does their part.
  • Agreement.  True fellowship involves being one in thought, belief, expression, effort, and outlook.  Fellowship moves forward when there is common ground.

Truly, true fellowship is wonderful.  Take a look at the above list again and note  all the benefits of true fellowship.  Resolve to do your part to be in true and total fellowship with Christ and His church.                                                                                        

By Edd Sterchi Via Bulletin Gold