March 25, 2012

What Can I Do? – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:01 am by sranderson0103

Adapted from an article by Don Truex

One question asked with frequency is, “What Can I Do As A Member Of This Local Congregation?” That is truly a fine inquiry and manifests a spirit that is much needed today.

To be happy in the work of the Lord is to cultivate a real sense of belonging, to legitimately feel that you are a vital part of the work. To be active in the work of the Lord is to have concern for that work and a genuine love for those who share in that same work with you.

There is much that you can do today to share the good message of salvation that has graced your life. You Can:

  • Concentrate, one on one, in leading a soul to salvation.
  • Entertain a group of members in your home in order to cultivate better friendships and relationships. Take a personal interest in and responsibility for the peace, harmony and growth of the church family.
  • Invite a friend or family member to our gospel meeting, Bible study and Worship. Countless people are sincerely searching for truth and would cherish and accept your interest in them.
  • Take an active interest in the visitors to our services. Greet them with warmth and friendliness. Talk to them, Sit with them, encourage them. Never allow them to merely be lost in a sea of humanity and thus leave feeling that their presence is not important and valued.
  • Through a card, visit, or call, encourage those members who are absent from our assemblies. Absenteeism is a symptom of a deeper need which must be addressed immediately.
  • Write a note of appreciation to someone who has truly influenced your spiritual life.
  • Resolve to remove all bitterness from your heart, especially toward someone who has set himself to be your enemy. Ask God to help you rise above prolonged anger, revenge and ill-will. Pray for that enemy and do him good. Always conduct yourself as a Christian in both word and action.
  • Do something thoughtful for a sick or homebound person. What better way can one illustrate love for those less fortunate than ourselves?
  • Make a special effort to show hospitality to someone who has lost a loved one or is struggling with some grave personal challenge.
  • Pray every day for the saints and the Kingdom of God on earth.

You see, there is much you can do in using this day to the glory of God and the betterment of His Son’s kingdom.

 

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March 18, 2012

Live Like Jesus – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago.  They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner.  Well, as such things go, one thing led to another. The sales manager went longer than anticipated and the meeting ran overtime. Their flights were scheduled to leave out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and they had to race pell mell to the airport.  With tickets in hand, they barged through the terminal to catch their flight back home. In their rush, with tickets and brief cases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere.

Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding. All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned and remembered his responsibilities.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. He was glad he did.

 

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did. Are you okay?”

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister….” He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, “Are you Jesus?”

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his heart: “Are you Jesus?”

Do people mistake you for Jesus?

That’s our responsibility, is it not?  To be so much like the man, Jesus, that people see Him in us, as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we are Christians…we are to walk in his footprints.  “Those who say that they live in him must live the same way he lived,” GWORD  (I John 2:6).

Living in Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to worship services. It’s actually putting His words and examples into practice, as life unfolds day to day.

Zechariah spoke of God’s chosen bride, Israel when he called them “the apple of His eye,” (Zech 2:8). Today, we Christians are the apple of His eye, even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall, one for which we are fully responsible. In spite of our just blameworthiness, He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on “a place called Golgotha”(Matt.27:33) where He paid in full for our “damaged fruit.”

“You were once dead… But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures.  He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” GWORD (Col.2:13-14).

“But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame,” GWORD (Col. 1:22).

Let’s live as if we appreciate it.

(Adapted from an anonymous author)

March 11, 2012

Images Communicate – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:03 am by sranderson0103

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Aha moments occur when we see…“Aha. I see what you are saying.”

The Christian and his characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. Figures of speech often reach beyond scope of our literal language. Picture what Christ is saying in the above text. Christ calls us “my sheep,” and has also said: “I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). If we are truly His sheep, then we will listen to His voice, follow Him, eager to receive safety, peace, and nourishment.

He has also said: “You are the salt of the earth:…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.

In another beautiful metaphor, the Lord Jesus has likened us to fruitful branches: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Does He see you as fruitful branch?

The prophets often used similar imagery to communicate God’s truth to Israel.

Jer. 17:8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,

That extends its roots by a stream

And will not fear when the heat comes;

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit.”:

Psa. 1:3 “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does,  he prospers.”

The apostle Paul compares us to soldiers, to athletes, and to farmers: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” (II Timothy 2:3,5,6). These images illustrate and help us understand what Jesus expects of us.

With regard to our Christian life, Christ said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul compares us to individual members in a great body. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” (I Corinthians 12:27). Peter says we are like, “living stones, …being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” He says we are, “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (I Peter 2:5,9).

There are many other beautiful and meaningful figures of speech in the New Testament, all of which help us to appreciate the richness and fruitfulness of the Christian life. (Adapted from comments by Henry Morris)

 

 

March 4, 2012

The Truth Standing On Its Head – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Communication is seldom as easy as it seems. We have all had the experience of trying our best to explain something only to find that the listener completely misunderstood. Communicating spiritual truths is an even greater challenge.

The Bible is God’s effort to communicate divine wisdom. In it we see the value of written instruction, figures of speech, illustrations and visual aids. The paradox is one of these communication tools. Fundamental truths expressed as apparent contradictions arrest our attention. We say, “Whoa…Wait a minute…” and we ponder. Someone has said it is as if the truth were standing on it’s head so that we can’t miss it.

Giving is not the world’s method of attaining prosperity. The value of giving is one of those difficult lessons, fundamental to Christianity, that God attempts to communicate by means of a paradox.

“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.” (Proverbs 11:24)

There are many of these acrobatic, upside down truths expressed throughout the Bible. Let’s consider some of these paradoxes that relate to this basic truth.

To really live, we must die.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

To save one’s life, he or she must lose it.

“Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33).

To be wise, we must become fools.

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.” (I Corinthians 3:18)

To reign, we must serve.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21)

To be exalted, we must become humble.

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12).

“So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)

The Corinthians, like most today, were caught up in the busy, ambitious affairs of this life. It was not an easy job to communicate to them the value diverting their temporal aspirations to that of being a servant. That’s not what Corinthians wanted to be. How do you get that message across and at the same time get them to really think about it? How about a nine-fold paradox?

“4 but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God… 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (II Cor. 6:4, 8-10).