Make the Effort

Make an Effort
Make an Effort
Of all the people that you have met, who would you consider to be the most important? While those we contact in this life may have a special place in our lives, the ultimate privilege that we have as Christians is to know the all-powerful creator of the universe. He alone can give us the security and peace of an eternal life. Paul recognized the greatness of this relationship when he wrote in:

Phil 3:8-11 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I might gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

More than anything, Paul wanted to know all he could about Christ. Yet many today live as unbelievers, missing the blessings of being in Christ and destined for an eternity in hell. Some never know God because they have never heard the gospel, while others have heard but are simply not interested. Still others try to ‘discover’ God in nature or art or other physical pursuits, but no one can know God without knowing his Son Jesus. (John 14:7-10)

But knowing God involves a price, and many are not willing to pay the cost. Some are baptized, but then drift back into the world because they are not willing to devote the time, prayer, and study that it takes to really know God. The scripture says they are worse off in this state than they were at the beginning. (2Peter 2:20-21) The disciples spent almost every minute with Jesus for three years and yet they didn’t fully understand all he was teaching them. Why should we think that spending a few minutes once a week will allow us to know God? It takes time to communicate, and it takes effort to learn all we can about the Lord.

Heb 10:23-25 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Will you make the effort to know Christ? Will you spur someone else to learn more about Christ?

Arlington church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio

Acapella singing in the church

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Fasting

Church of Christ DevotionalsMatt 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men that they are fasting. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it is not obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father , who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.”

Fasting was an essential part of religious life in Eastern countries. For the Jew, there was only one compulsory fast – the Day of Atonement – Lev 16:31. But the religious Jews made great use of private fasting. It was the custom to fast from the death of a relative until the burial, or to show sorrow for sin, or as an appeal to God in times of physical or spiritual need. Occasionally a time of fasting would be declared for the whole nation as a sign of national repentance – Judges 20:26.

While fasting was supposed to represent devotion to God and repentance for sins, it had the potential to be done for improper motives. One might fast as a sign of ‘superior piety’ – Luke 8:11-12. One might fast to show others how ‘devoted’ he was in order to gain their praise and admiration. So Jesus warns His disciples about fasting for the wrong reasons.

While we as Christians are not commanded to fast, there are some practical reasons to do so:

• healthy eating habits – makes us think about what we eat
• self-discipline – we learn to deny ourselves and break habits
• it teaches us to distinguish between needs and wants
• it teaches us appreciation of what we have
• it makes us more sensitive to spiritual things by sharpening senses

Jesus condemned the wrong kind of fasting- when it was done for outward show. But nowhere does the Bible encourage Christians to avoid the practice of fasting. We would do well to consider our own situation, and if fasting would help us get our lives into the proper perspective. However, we must follow the instructions of Christ and do it privately, so that it will not be obvious to others. Fasting is to be between the individual and God. In fact, Jesus condemned any religious practice when it was done for show. If we do things to impress men, we will get no reward from our Father. (He knows our hearts and our motives) What would the Lord say about the way that you ‘practice’ your religion? Is your heart right with God?

church of Christ Cincinnati, OH

Bible Study Lessons




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Check It Out!

Bible Scripture TruthThe scripture says “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good” 1 Thess 5:21 The Bible invites those who question it to test what it says. Jesus said in John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” In other words – check out what is taught. Try it out to see if it is true. Christianity isn’t afraid of evaluation, in fact it invites public scrutiny. (Acts 17:11)

In contrast, many religions of the world don’t see truth as something that is subject to evaluation and testing. They want truth to be a matter of personal conclusion and nothing else. When asked what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ they will claim not to be sure. This is designed to make them look humble. But these same individuals want you to believe what they believe. If you state your belief in the word of God as absolute truth, and Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven – you are looked upon as intolerant or arrogant. But it is not arrogant to state your belief and present the evidence to support it, and then invite scrutiny.

The truth is that these other religions do not want to defend their beliefs or offer proof. They castigate anyone who wants to question what they teach or to debate the evidence. Consider the following: suppose you are stranded in the desert with no water and you come across two people . One says “I have water and here is the evidence for it being pure and clean. Test it for yourself.” The second person says “Don’t listen to that fellow who wants you to test everything. I have water, I think. It may be poison, but I’m not going to allow you to test it. Just trust me and let’s drink it together and see what happens.” Who is the truly arrogant person here?

There is such a thing as false humility. Paul wrote in Col 2:23 that some had a ‘show’ of humility, but were not truly humble. Many religious teachers seem humble, but ask you to believe what they are saying without any evidence or allowing the subjective testing of their beliefs. This is the height of arrogance.

If someone says to you , ‘I’m not sure – you may be right and I may be wrong’, then you need to ask them –‘ then why are you living the way that you do? If you may be wrong or if you are not sure, then why don’t you give up what you are doing and teaching others?’ How can you ask someone to believe what you do when you cannot offer any evidence of its truthfulness? We as Christians need to clearly state what we believe and invite others to examine the truth of the scriptures for themselves. Christians have no fear of rigorous examination of our beliefs, but those who believe only because someone else ‘told them it was so’ have everything to fear! (1 John 4:1)

Cincinnati Church of Christ Cincinnati OH

Church of Christ Beliefs




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