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PUSHING THE LORD ASIDE?

Friday, July 30, 2021

In the late 1700s, the manager of Baltimore’s largest hotel refused lodging to a man dressed as a  farmer because he thought this fellow’s appearance would discredit his inn. So the man left. Later that evening, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than Thomas Jefferson! Immediately he sent a note to the famed patriot, asking him to come back and be his guest. Jefferson replied by instructing his messenger as follows:  “ Tell him I have already engaged a room. I value his good intentions highly,  but if he has no place for a dirty American farmer, he has none for the Vice President of the United States. ”
 
Likewise, the Lord is often pushed aside in our lives, because we disregard needy believers of humble circumstances. We forget that Christ may be in the small child who needs attention, the exhausted wife who needs encouragement, or the frustrated laborer who needs recognition. He might be in the grieving grandmother, the lonely shut-in, or the struggling neighbor. They may seem to have little to offer, but if we show kindness to the  “ least of these, ”  it’s as if we are doing it to Christ.


 -- Selected … from “The Bulletin”, Hickory Ridge church of Christ...Source: Central Church of Christ in Paducah, KY

Integrity

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Issue No. 11      Mark Aites, Editor

Integrity

 

            One of the greatest compliments ever paid to King David, is found in 1 Kings 9:4-5: “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, 'You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

          Integrity is an elusive quality in far too many lives. It is interesting to note the Merriam-Webster definition, “A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility.” It is a concept that embraces “honesty, sincerity, and serving God out of a pure heart.”

          Why is it so difficult to find lives known for integrity? Because in the world in which we live, far too many people have no idea of what is right and wrong. Having been taught that all truth is relative, and that feelings reign supreme, it does not bother them if they don’t have true integrity. They would dismiss it as simply a matter of opinion.

          Some of this is the fruit of humanism and situation ethics. Human feelings super cede a code of conduct. There is no sense of guilt when they cheat people out of money, as they rationalize it as something for their own good. It is okay to deceive people if it achieves the desired outcome. Hence lying, cheating, stealing, living together without being married, divorcing and remarrying for any reason, homosexuality, etc., are immaterial. All that matters is that one is happy and content. In turn, others are to respect their convictions, or more appropriately, their lack of them.

          It is frightening to live in a society that does not laude those who live good, upright moral lives. Instead they are chided and hated. It is an apt description of what the prophet of old wrote: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).

          Out lives should be honest, just, and pure because we seek to glorify God (Rom. 12:1-2). Regardless of the view of the world, ours should be lives of integrity. Like David of old, may we exemplify the kind of life that could be described in this manner, “In integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you.”

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The Royal Visit

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

 

In his devotional book, Awake, My Heart, J. Sidlow Baxter shared the following anecdote:

In 1934, a British magazine told the story of young Prince Edward and a visit he made to a small hospital where thirty-six hopelessly injured and disfigured veterans of the First World War were tended.  He stopped at each cot, shook hands with each veteran, and spoke words of encouragement.  He was conducted to the exit but observed that he had only met twenty-nine men.  At that point he questioned those present, “I understood you had thirty-six patients here.  I have only seen twenty-nine.”

The head nurse explained that the other seven were so shockingly disfigured, that for the sake of his own feelings, he had not been taken to see them.  The prince insisted that he must see them.  He spoke to each of them and thanked them for the great sacrifice they had made and assured each that it would never be forgotten.

Then he turned to the head nurse and said, “There are only six men. Where is the seventh?”  He was informed that no one was allowed to see him.  Blind, maimed, dismembered, the most hideously disfigured of them all, he was isolated in a room where he would never leave alive.  The nurse said to the Prince, “Please don’t ask to see him.”  But the Prince could not be dissuaded.

The nurse reluctantly led him into a darkened room.  The royal visitor stood there with white face and drawn lips, looking down at what had once been a fine man, but now was a horror.  Then the tears broke out, and with lovely impulse, the prince bent down and reverently kissed the cheeks of that broken war hero. *

Sidlow made this apt application: “There is one who has stooped far, far lower, to kiss a far, far worse ugliness — not the physical disfigurement of a broken hero whose brokenness called forth reverent gratitude, but the leprous, evil ugliness of corrupt sinners and hard rebels against infinite love!”

The One who “stooped” so far to demonstrate such undeserved love was Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8

God will save 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 sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

Because of His love for us, Jesus “stooped” low through His incarnation and crucifixion, so that you and I can be raised up to enjoy eternal blessings “in the heavenly places” in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10).

-- David A. Sargent

* As cited in www.ministry127.com

David A. SargentMinister

Church of Christ at Creekwood 
1901 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, Alabama  36695

Archived issues of Living Water can be viewed and accessed from our website at:

www.creekwoodcc.org

BETTER THE BIG NUMBERS

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

By David Powell
The success of the church is not determined by numbers but by faithfulness to God's word. The restoration plea emphasizes going back to Jerusalem and remaining loyal to the "apostles' doctrine." It was in Jerusalem that the Lord's church began (Acts 2). Any religious group that fails to pattern itself after the Jerusalem church is in error.  During the early days of the divided kingdom, Jeroboam attempted to prevent the people of Israel from going back to Jerusalem. He set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel saying: "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt (1 Kg 12:28) !" Jeroboam, concerned with retaining numbers, departed from the old paths.

A recent "trend" is for churches to add an instrumental service to its scheduled services. Why? To enhances the numbers! Keith Luttrell explains why the Southlake Boulevard Church added the instrument by saying: " Relevance is driving it. Relevance to our community. Reaching out to seekers. " Chris Seidman who preaches for the Farmer's Branch Church reports that since adding " a Saturday night instrumental service in addition to two Sunday morning a cappella services, they have grown from 1,000 to 1,400 ." King Jeroboam, through innovation, succeeded in retaining numbers. While Jeroboam must have been pleased with himself, God was displeased. God, through the prophets, pleaded with Israel to repent. Finally, in 721 B.C., Israel fell to the Assyrians. Why? Because of apostasy! Appealing to the "pride of life" (1 Jh 2:16) is one of the three tactics used by Satan. If we are not careful, pride will motivate church leaders to boost attendance without regard for the "apostles' doctrine." It isn't about packing pews. The issue is one of loyalty — being loyal to the Lord.
via Grant Bulletin

Living Together Before Marriage

Monday, July 26, 2021

Daily Devotional
by Max Patterson

For a long time there have been individuals who championed the idea that if a man and woman would live together before they get married, it would allow them to know whether they are compatible for marriage. Many people have bought into this idea. We know that many households are made up of unmarried couples. But, alas, all is not well in such situations. Consider the following:

1. A woman who lives with a man before marriage is more than two times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence (Washington State University researcher, Jon Stets).

2. Women who live with men outside of marriage suffer depression more than three times that of married women (National Institute of Mental Health).

3. Those men and women who live together and then get married report less satisfaction in marriage than other couples (National Institute for Health Care Research).

4. Couples who live together and then get married have a significantly higher divorce rate than those who did not live together first (University of Denver researcher, Scott Stanley).

Are you surprised at the above? I am not surprised at all. There is no way that man has found that is better than God's way. The research given above seriously challenges any values of living together before marriage.

Further in the work, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, University of Washington researcher John Gottman makes the argument that many couples who live together do so because they are already suspect that more permanent commitments are doomed to failure, and they simply fulfill their own expectations. Whatever the reasons are, it is plain that God's way is best. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).

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