In Him by Alton Norman

Ephesians is a book every Christian should lay up in his heart. It is about the tremendous privilege we have as Christians. It is about the great blessings we enjoy as a result of being Christians. It is about the huge challenges we face because we are Christians. And it is about the eager anticipation we enjoy because we are Christians. In Ephesians Paul uses the phrase “in Him” to describe what it means to be a Christian. And he will identify the him by speaking of being “in Christ” twelve times.

In Him we have redemption through His blood (1:7). In Him we have forgiveness (1:7). In Him we are recipients of the abundant grace of God (1:7, 8). In Him we have an inheritance (1:11). Remember how Peter described this inheritance in 1 Peter 1:4-9. And so we, like them, “trusted in Him after we heard the word of truth and in Him we were sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13). And now because we are in Him we “have boldness and access (to God) with confidence because of our faith in Him (3:12; Romans 5:1-1 1).

As a Christian you are “in Him” and that is where every spiritual blessing is located (1:3). If this does not get you excited and make you want to study God’s word more I do not know what will.

Owingsville church of Christ via Bulletin Digest 

Grounded in Truth by Alton Norman

Truth is constant. Truth does not vary from one person to the next and it does not change with the circumstance. Truth is like a tree with deep roots. The winds of change may blow strong against it but that tree does not move an inch and when the storm passes by the tree is still there. The Lord’s great desire for the church is that we “no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine;” but that we would be so grounded in the truth that we would remain steadfast when the winds of change pass by. How do we get those deep roots? There are two ways the truth of God’s word takes root in the believer.

First, God “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. . that we should no longer be tossed to and fro…” (Ephesians 4:1 1-15). In other words God sat up a teaching program for the church so each member could be grounded in truth.

Second, God commands each member to study for ourselves. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15).

Spiritual roots grow deep when personal desire drives us to study and when we spend time with godly teachers of His word (Psalm 1:1-6). We hope to see you in Bible class each week.

Owingsville church of Christ Via Bulletin Digest

I’ve Got to Start.. by J. Brooks Boyd Jr.

You may actually know Someone who has begun a sentence using the above words. The words that this preacher has heard used most often to complete this sentence are “exercising and “eating right.” It appears that most of us have a sense of what it will take to improve our health.

The key to accomplishing the desired improvement is truly given in this statement. It is the word “start.” We may be playing mind games with ourselves when we utter these words, because if we never start, we will not have to continue the process. Perhaps we feel that we can handle the guilt better than the discipline.

What about spiritually? Have we not also heard someone (ourselves) say, “I’ve got to start studying my Bible regularly?” We believe what Jesus said about those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6), but we are still waiting to start.

What about the one who says, “T’ve got to start visiting like I should”? We believe what James wrote about “pure religion” consisting of visiting the “fatherless and the widows in their affliction” (James 1:27), but we just cannot seem to get started.

In reality, when we make these statements, we are taking the first step; i.e., admitting the personal need/responsibility. Now all we need to do is specify. Instead of repeating the “I’ve got to” part, say, “I will start (an activity) today at (a time).” Next, set a reminder and then START! Change for the better will become reality when we do. Paul exhorted, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Let’s get started today.

From Bulletin Digest

Let Go Of The Past by Larry Pasley

The passenger tapped the cab driver on the shoulder to ask him something. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the sidewalk, and stopped inches from a department store window. For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said, “Look mister, don’t ever do that again. You scared me half to death!” The passenger apologized and said he didn’t realize that a little tap could scare him so much. The driver replied, “You’re right. I’m sorry. Really, it’s not your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”

The cabbie allowed his past experiences to cause him to take his eye off of the road and his goal of getting his passenger to his destination.

Sometimes we allow our past to affect our present and future goals and destinations also. The apostle Paul told the Philippian brethren: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

When we find our past affecting our lives in a negative way, we need to learn how to forget those things.

We especially need to forget those things which keep us from focusing on our goal of heaven.

When we have people in our lives who are causing us to take our eyes off of our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.

When our guilt from former sins, which have been forgiven, causes us to take our eyes off of our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.

When temptations to sin lead us astray from our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.

We need not to allow anything in our past to take our focus off of heaven.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

Growing by Going Beyond

Introduction. We know that growth is only achieved by going beyond present circumstances. What we sometimes forget is, that we (adults) need to grow also. That growth, though it may be imperceptible to the eye, is still real growth. Let us consider some things we need to move beyond in order for us to grow spiritually.

Beyond Our Own Expectations. Our achievements will only be as high as our highest goals. If we aspire to be pew-warmers only, that is all we will be. Our minds will not be engaged in the private study of the word of God and our faith will not be challenged by the word’s clash with the world in our daily life. We dare not be content with “just being religious.” Here is a challenge for us: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). That ought to raise our goal.

Beyond Our Hurts, Losses, and Failures. There is no doubt about it, in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33), or trouble. Persecution is to be expected (2 Timothy 3:12). Further, physical accidents and health failures occur regularly, as does death. Christians are not immune to any of these things. Therefore, when these occur in our lives, we must deal with them in a realistic, optimistic manner. This in no way minimizes the importance of our own health or the personhood of those we love. However, if we cannot accept the loss of something or someone that/who is truly gone from this life, we will suffer serious mental and spiritual consequences.

Beyond the Expectations of Others. We all have certain limitations. They may be in our physical makeup or circumstances. However we can move beyond some of those limitations. For example, we may hold a job that pays minimum wages. However, that does not mean that we, or the job, are insignificant. We can work enthusiastically at any job we may hold (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We can do the best we can with what God has given, and be satisfied in the realization that we have done so.

Conclusion. Growth, by its nature means moving beyond the present circumstance to even better circumstances. If we approach it in that manner, even the most disheartening of circumstances can be faced with courage and optimism. Let us go beyond…and grow.

 Lance Cordle Calvert City church of Christ Via Bulletin Digest

The Goal for All Seasons

Often times, I find myself lost in thought as to how I can improve as a worker in the kingdom of God. My thoughts most recently have been focused around the idea of the goal we pursue. So many aspects of Christianity seem to exist and all seem worthy of pursuit, however, God’s word is much more simple than that. We must remember the singular goal of Christianity is to pursue God.

In our pursuit of God, we find ourselves devoutly committed to the church. We find ourselves seeking fellowship with other Christians. We find ourselves craving a deeper understanding of our Lord. We find ourselves building life around the church, and not the other way around. We find ourselves evangelizing at every opportunity. We find ourselves producing fruit, planting and watering as God provides the increase. These aspects themselves are not the goal, but a result of the true goal of Christianity: pursuing God. As the busy holiday seasons roll in, do yourself a favor, Christian, and narrow your focus on the one goal that matters!

Calvert City church of Christ Calvert City, KY Via Bulletin Digest

The Word of God By John Cumming

The empire of Caesar is gone; the legions of Rome are decaying in the dust; the avalanches that Napoleon hurled upon Europe have melted away; the pride of the Pharaohs is fallen; the pyramids they raised to be their tombs are sinking in the desert sands; Tyre is a rock for bleaching fishermen’s nets; Sidon has scarcely left a wreck behind; but the Word of God still survives.

All things that threatened to extinguish it have only aided it; and it proves everyday how transient is the noblest monument that man can build, and how enduring is the least word that God has spoken.

Tradition has dug for it a grave, intolerance has lighted for it many a fire; many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss; many a Peter has denied it with an oath. Many a Demas has forsaken it, but the word of God still endures.

via Bella Vista church of Christ (Bulletin Digest)

In Everything Give Thanks by Mark Lindley

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This statement Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica is one that should be applied to our lives daily. During the holiday season, there is an emphasis on the need for being thankful. However, if we adopt the attitude Paul commanded, we will give thanks “in every thing,” at all times, and not just during Thanksgiving.

Notice that Paul admonished to “give thanks.” This term implies that God wants His children not only to feel thankful, but also to “express” gratitude and thanksgiving. Paul taught this same principle in writing to the church at Ephesus: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). It will do us all good to “give” thanks to God through prayer. By offering prayers of thanksgiving to God, we are reminded that we are dependent on God for all things. Every “good and perfect” gift is from God (James 1:17). Without His blessings upon our lives, we would have nothing. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Every breath, every meal, every ray of sunshine is from His bountiful hand.

Further, consider that Paul instructed us to give thanks “in everything” He did not teach that we should be thankful “for” everything. Certainly, we should not be thankful “for” gang violence, child abuse, broken homes or divorce. Nevertheless, Christians can learn to be thankful “in” all circumstances. For the Christian, there is always a “bright side.” In all circumstances, there is the quiet confidence and calm assurance that comes from knowing God and being close to Him. The Father has promised that He will never leave or forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5-6). Finally, notice from the text that being thankful is “the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that “doing the Father’s will” is necessary to go to heaven: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “Doing the Father’s will is vital! It is only by doing His will that we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. We might think that “doing the Father’s will” involves some great” accomplishment that would dazzle others who heard of it. But Paul taught that simply being thankful in everything is part of doing God’s will.

In view of these thoughts, we should all realize the great importance of being thankful. If we have not been “giving thanks in everything,” then a change is in order. A day should not pass without every responsible person giving thanks to God for the countless blessings He provides. 

Thanksgiving Proclamation By George Washington

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and-Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of1 November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

President of the United States October 3, 1789 

Thanksgiving? by Edd Sterchi

Paul told the young preacher Timothy concerning the eating of food, “for every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4). That certainly includes the Thanksgiving meal that we will partake of in a few day

But, it seems that, in this day and age, there is something fundamentally wrong With the contemporary American approach to Thanksgiving. We use the Occasion of Thanksgiving to inventory our blessings and then carve the traditional turkey. When you get right down to it, there is something pretty empty and shallow with the attitude of “I appreciate what God has done for me therefore I will indulge myself with a big meal!” Now, don’t get me Wrong-I probably will do my share of overeating on Thanksgiving Day-but I can 1 help but wonder if we are, in reality, participating in “Thanksfeeling” instead of genuine Thanksgiving. Real gratitude should give! What should thanksgiving really mean?

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO GOD. Paul stated to the Corinthians that remembering what Jesus gave for our sakes should make us want to give generously and cheerfully to God in return. (2 Cor. 9:6-9). The point is that thanksgiving to God should be rendered with our hearts, with our talents, with our time, and yes, even with our pocketbooks.

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN TO US. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who raised us. Certainly we should honor them (Eph. 6:2). Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, many children seem unable (or unwilling) to give their parents the time they should (this is true no matter how old you or your parents are). Are we truly thankful for our parents? Then let’s demonstrate our gratitude by giving them the most valuable gift of all-ourselves. And not only our parents, but truly give back to any and all who have selflessly touched our lives (i.e. fellow Christians, teachers, friends, etc.).

Thanksgiving means GIVING TO THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED. Real gratitude shares. Those who have been richly blessed by God must, in turn, be a blessing to others. It’s too easy for us to look at world hunger, hardship, and the needs of so many others and excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I can’t help everyone.” True, you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone (Gal 6:10)! It is not enough to count our blessings, we must also share them with others. We have so much for which to be grateful. But genuine= thankfulness, genuine thanksgiving not only feels, it acts! Does you thanksgiving really give?