Browse Month: March 2016

Numbering Our Days

Church of Christ ScripturesTime passes quicker every day. We rush from job to job and often forget the big questions: Why am I here? Where did I come from and where am I going? What is beyond this life? There is no guarantee of life – James 4:14. We all have a final appointment with death – Heb 9:27. We need to understand that we have only a limited amount of time here on the earth, and that we do not know when our ‘limit’ will have been reached. We cannot go back and live life over again, so we must learn to number our days – Ps 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We need the insight that Paul had when he said in Phil 3:13-14 “…one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”

We find people who are searching for meaning and happiness in many types of places, only to find continuing disappointments. Solomon is an example of one who tried everything. Stocks, bonds, real estate, bank accounts cannot guarantee happiness. Solomon said in Eccl 2:8-9,11 “I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces …I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless.” How happy was Judas ultimately with his thirty pieces of silver, or Achan with his wedge of gold, or Ananias and Sapphira with their hoarded profits? As Paul told Timothy – many have pierced themselves through with many sorrows by coveting wealth.

Solomon had power beyond any king of the time and yet he found no happiness from all of his power – Eccl 2:18-19 “I hated all of the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.”

Solomon tried pleasure and entertainment. He tried everything that was available and wrote in Eccl 2:1-2 “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good’. But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter,’ I said ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’” When he came to the end of his life, Solomon could look back on everything that he had done or tried and say in Eccl 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment , including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

Obedience to the word of God and living life praising Him for what we have is the only way to find true happiness and fulfillment. Matt 5:1-12 is a passage called the beatitudes. Jesus gives in these verses instructions on being ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’. Read, study and follow the words of the Bible – real happiness is found in obeying God !!

Arlington Church of Christ Cincinnati, OH

Bible Lessons from The Church of Christ




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Hear His Voice

Your were given two ears to hear.
Your were given two ears to hear.
Hebrews 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”

God told Abraham to ‘go to a land that I will show you’. God sent Gideon to lead the people against the Midianites. He sent an angel to Mary to inform her that she was to be the mother of Jesus Christ. And He sent the apostle Paul in a different direction as he traveled around (Acts 16:6-7) The Lord spoke to people in Biblical times in various ways to direct and guide them, and He continues to guide us today. The method He uses has changed but the direction and help for our lives has not.

God has given us the scriptures today as a clear guide on how to live and make decisions. He has also given those who have obeyed Him in baptism (Acts 2:38) the indwelling Holy Spirit to assure us of His love and care and to help us discern the lessons He is teaching us. 1Cor 2:12-14 “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

God’s word may be made clear to you by studying a passage and meditating on it, or from a sermon, or from the words of a Christian friend. But in order to ‘hear’ the words of God, we need to clear our minds of distractions, unrepented sins, or personal preferences. We need to be receptive to what He has to say without preconceived notions or guilt blocking the message. We cannot give in to the pressures of others or of self-imposed time limits, but rather seek His Truth through persistent study and prayer asking the Lord to show you what is pleasing to Him and beneficial to you. His word contains the truth and guidance that we seek and if we look for it earnestly we will find it. As Isaiah said in Isa 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

Are you listening for His voice today? He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Cincinnati, OH church of Christ

http://churchofChristscripture.com




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Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

Church of Christ Words of GodIt has been said that bad habits are like easy chairs – easy to get into and hard to get out of. It seems so difficult to form good habits and so easy to fall into bad ones. They demand little effort and just sort of happen. And 2 Pet 2:19 reminds us … “a man is a salve to whatever has mastered him.” And Rom 6:16 points out “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one who you obey ..” In other words, watch out what controls your life. We are controlled by our habits – either good or bad.

Habits are formed by repetition. If one does something over and over enough times, it becomes a routine, a habit that is done without even thinking about what is being done. It makes sense that we are more likely to repeat things that we like doing, so it is important to be careful to ‘like’ the right things. If we want to develop a good habit, we have to make the effort to repeat the action often enough for it to become second nature to us. Likewise if we are to break a bad habit we must start by reducing the regularity of doing it. Breaking habits is hard. That is why the good ones are good and the bad ones are so bad – they are very hard to break.

The mind is the place where thoughts begin. We decide when and what information we will allow into our minds. Those decisions are our own – no one can decide for us. If we allow our minds to dwell on evil, on unsuitable material, those things will become the main focus of our thoughts. Mental addictions have been determined to be the most difficult to stop by those who study such things. We cannot keep bad thoughts from entering our minds from time to time, but we don’t have to invite them in and give them a place to stay. Ephesians 4:27 tells us “do not give the devil a foothold”. Too many not only allow the devil to enter their minds, they give him a place to sit, something to eat, and comfortable company to keep. The best habit that can be cultivated is to expel evil thoughts as soon as they enter the mind. These thoughts have no place in a Christian’s heart.

One of the best ways to keep the devil out of our thinking is to acquire the habit of regular Bible reading. Concentrating on the scripture puts God into our minds and leaves no room for the devil to invade our thinking. Psalms 119:10-11 “I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We must also understand that it is easy to fall into the habit of repeating what you hear around you. If one is around those who use foul language and those who have no respect for the name of the Lord, those things will become part of your speech. We see language and actions tolerated by our society now that a few years ago would have been considered totally crude and unacceptable. Now it has become ‘fashionable’ to act or speak in such a way as to fit into our Godless society. But we do not need filthy words or swearing to express ourselves. As Christians we need to gain the habit of speaking and acting in such a way that we are unique and stand as salt and light in a tasteless, dark world. Bad habits are hard to break, but just as a horse had to be ‘broken’ to show it who was boss, so we must also make the effort to break our bad habits by the power of the Spirit who lives in us.

Provided by: Arlington Church of Christ, Mt. Healthy, OH – Cincinnati, OH




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Dealing With Insults

Church of Christ Bible LessonMatt 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye , and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

In this passage, Jesus takes a quotation from the Old Testament (Ex 21:23-25) and tells His disciples how they are to react differently. Some have looked upon this eye for eye principle as savage and merciless, but in reality, it was a merciful justice limiting the vengeance an offended party could take. Before this law was given, an offense by one person could cause the offended party to try to destroy the offender’s whole family. So the law limited the punishment and specified to whom it was to be administered. The law also required that the courts do the punishing, not the injured party.

But in actual practice, the law was seldom carried out because it was argued that it could result in ‘overcompensation’ – such as removing for a ‘good eye’ for a ‘bad eye’, or a ‘good’ tooth for a ‘bad’ tooth. The Jewish courts began placing a monetary value on an injury and requiring payment for such things as –loss of value in a slave, pain, healing expenses, loss of wages, and humiliation. And even in the Old Testament, there were glimpses of the mercy that God desires from His people. (Lev 19:17-18, Prov 25:21)

Jesus ended the resentment and the retaliation for those who would be His followers. When he said ‘striking on the right cheek’, it must be noted that for a normal right handed person – this would be a slap with the back of the hand. The rabbis taught that a backhanded slap was twice the insult of a normal slap. So Jesus is denying individual retaliation for even the gravest of insults. And he lived out His teaching – John 18:22-23, 1Pet 2:23.

Throughout the centuries, good people have been falsely accused and had their motives and conduct questioned. Early Christians were accused of being cannibals, arsonists, immoral, shameless – because they ate the Lord’s Supper (symbolic of His body and blood), they had ‘love feasts’ (a common meal), and they preached that the world would end by being burnt up. Remember that Jesus was called …’a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’. Luke 7:34

The true Christian has learned from the Master to accept insults without retaliation. (Matt 5:11-12) Will you focus on Christ and overlook the insults of those who falsely accuse you? Remember that Jesus is the victor, and that Satan’s power lies in attempting to discourage and intimidate us. May we keep our hearts and minds strong in the strength of the grace of the one who died on the cross to set us free!

churchofChristscriture.com

church of Christ Cincinnati




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Explaining God

Church of Christ DevotionalsThe following was written by 8 year old Danny Dutton of California to “explain God”:

One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to care of the things on the earth. He doesn’t make grownups, just babies. I think this is because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn’t have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to fathers and mothers.

God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot goes on, since some people, like preachers and things pray at times other than bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.

God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t waste his time by going over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.
Atheists are people who don’t believe in God. I don’t think there are any in my town. At least there aren’t any who come to church.

Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach people who didn’t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified him. But He was good and kind, like His father, and He told his father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing, and God said ‘okay’.

His dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth and said that he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps His dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray anytime and they are sure to help you because they have it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

You should go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there is anybody you want to make happy, it’s God! Don’t skip church to do something you think will be more fun, like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides, the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway. If you don’t believe in God , besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely because your parents can’t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He’s around when you get scared of the dark or when you can’t swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.

But .. you shouldn’t always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime He pleases. And that is why I believe in God.

church of Christ in Cincinnati Ohio

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God’s Correction

Church of Christ DevotionalHannah is unable to give birth, so she comes to the Lord with her need and asks God in 1Sam 1:10-11. Note that she asks not only for herself, but also for God’s benefit. We often ask for things that we desire from God, but fail to include His glory and promotion in the request. This is one reason that we do not always receive the things we pray for – James 4:2-3. In Hannah’s case, God answers her prayer and she has a son. She names him Samuel, and keeps her word to the Lord, bringing him to the tabernacle to be raised there.

Set this is contrast to the High Priest, Eli. He has two sons of his own, but they do not follow the instructions of the Lord. Eli was the ‘preacher’ in town, but his sons did not know the Lord. They went to services every day and helped Eli carry out his duties, but although they knew what was right, they refused to follow it. 1 Sam 2:22-25

In Hebrews 12:6, the writer states: “the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” The point is, if the Lord doesn’t discipline you when you get off course, you had better be checking your salvation. If the Lord does not send an attempt to correct you, then it is because you are not His child. Many people think they are OK with God because He is leaving them alone, when it is because they are not in His family! Heb 12:9 says “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” If our earthly fathers corrected us to try to guide us properly, how much more important is it for us to submit to God’s guidance in order to save our souls for eternity. When our fathers on earth corrected us, we had two options – walk out and ignore it, or get the message and learn from it. These are the same options we have as Christians – turn our backs on God and suffer the eternal consequences or learn what God is teaching and return to Him and gain His promises.

Back in Eli’s house, God is giving a message to Eli – 1Sam 2:34-35 “And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phineas, will be a sign to you – they will both die on the same day. I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do what is in my heart and mind.” If we ignore the Lord’s discipline, there will come a time when He will say – if you cannot abide by my rules, then you cannot live in my house. The failure of Eli to enforce discipline on his children, and the failure of the sons themselves to listen and follow the words of God caused the destruction of the whole family.

The Bible says that good parents will correct their children, and that Christians will accept and follow the discipline of their Heavenly Father. Whose family are you in? Do you see the correcting and guiding influences of the Lord in your life? Are you His child?

http://www.arlingtoncoc.com

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Good Days

Scriptures of the BibleThere are two days of the week about which one should never worry – two days that are kept free from fear and apprehension. One of the days is yesterday. Yesterday with all its cares and problems, aches and pains, all its faults, mistakes and blunders has passed forever. It cannot be recalled and relived. It was mine, it now belongs to God.

The other day that one can not worry about is tomorrow. Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, burdens, perils, its promise and successes, as well as possible failures is as far beyond our control as yesterday is. Tomorrow belongs to God; it will later be mine.

That leaves only one day for us – today. Anyone can only fight the battles of today, or resist the temptations of today. We can only carry the burdens of today successfully. If we try to add the burdens of those two eternities – yesterday and tomorrow – we will break down. Those are the burdens that only God can carry. It isn’t the experience of today that drives men mad. It is remorse for what happened yesterday and the fear of what tomorrow may bring. Those are God’s days – leave them to Him!!

How to listen to a sermon

1) Come to hear the sermons, not out of curiosity, but out of a sincere desire to know God’s word and do His will.

2) By prayer, prepare your heart before you hear, and then pay diligent attention to what is spoken from the word of God.

3) Do not hold any prejudice against the preacher, nor depend on him too much or think of him more highly than you ought to think.

4) Seek to apply what is heard to your own personal life and heart.

5) Before and after you hear God’s word, pray that God will give the preacher wisdom to understand, power to speak His word, and that He will give you the will and ability to put into practice what you have been shown from His word.

www.arlingtoncoc.com

Scriptures of the Bible




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Giving

Church of Christ SermonsMatt 5:42 “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving. Giving is a part of God’s plan to make the Christian like Himself. Jesus says in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Someone once said, “It’s not what you’d do with your millions, if millions were your lot; it’s what you’d do with that dollar that you got.”

We are told to be a cheerful giver – 2Cor 9:7. Too often the giver is ‘cheerful’ only because they got away with giving as little as possible. We forget that everything we have came from God and belongs ultimately to Him. We call things ‘ours’ and ‘His’ – 1 Tim 6:7-8. Giving is sometimes called a sacrifice – but how does our ‘sacrifice’ compare to Christ’s?

There are five principles that the rabbis taught about giving:

1) Giving is not to be refused. When a need is seen, one must willingly give to that need. Covetousness is the same as idolatry – Col 3:5

2) Giving must benefit the one to whom it is given. In other words, give what is needed. This is what Jesus taught in Matt 7:9-11.

3) Giving is to be done privately. The world may ask “how much”, but Jesus only asks “why it was given”. Matt 6:2-4

4) The manner of giving must fit the receiver. If one gave to someone who refused to use their own resources first, the gift could be reclaimed from the person’s estate. Giving is never to encourage or support laziness or shiftlessness. On the other hand, if the person was too proud to ask for help, the giver was to go and offer the help themselves.

5) Giving is both a privilege and an obligation, for in reality, all giving is giving to God. Eph 6:7-8

It has been said – give strength, give thought, give deeds, give wealth, give love, and most importantly give yourself. The one who does not give cannot find the life Christ died for us to attain. Matt 10:39 – Remember what the Lord has given to us. He gave exactly what we needed, when we needed it – Rom 5:6-8. Have you accepted His gift and obeyed His commands? John 14:15

http://www.arlingtoncoc.com

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Forbidden Anger

Church of Christ ScripturesMatt 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother is subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother ‘Raca’, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

In the Greek, there are two words translated as ‘anger’. One is ‘orge’ and refers to violent passion, indignation, long-lived vengeance and wrath. The other is ‘thumos’ and refers to anger that flares up quickly and quickly passes. Jesus forbids ‘orge’ that broods, is unforgiving, refuses to be pacified, and seeks revenge. We must banish that sort of anger form our hearts. (Eph 4:26-27) Jesus got angry, but the anger was at the hardness of hearts, not some personal insult or injury – mark 3:5. The Jewish teachers said that there were three classes that went to Gehenna – the adulterer, the one who shames his neighbor, and the one whom insults his brother’s name. Anger shows up in a person’s speech.

The term ‘Raca’ was always said with the attitude of contempt. It meant brainless idiot, empty-headed, or blunderer. It was said from a sense of superiority due to birth, money, or supposed knowledge. God said we should never look with contempt on any person for whom Jesus died -2 Pet 3:9.

The term ‘You fool’ comes from the Greek ‘moros’ and is not a criticism of the intellect, but rather of the morals. It was used to describe someone who had lived an immoral life. To call someone a ‘fool’ was to take his good name and reputation from him, and cast doubt on his moral character. Jesus said that the gravest thing one can do is to destroy another’s reputation. The gossip that destroys people’s reputation is a hell-deserving sin.
So what Jesus is teaching is this: In the judgment of God, long lasting anger is bad, contemptuous speaking is worse, and talk that destroys a person’s good name is the worst of all. The man who does these things may never commit murder outwardly, but he is a murderer at heart. Matt 18:1-6

May we think on the responsibility we have for our words – Eph 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

http://arlingtoncoc.com

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God’s Faithfulness

Church of Christ Words of GodEverything we need is in Christ Jesus. If you are a Christian, then you already have all the promises of God. He has not promised wealth or possessions here, but rather to supply our needs and give us spiritual blessings. ( Phil 4:19, Eph 1:3) The happiest people are those who have less ‘stuff’ and yet are spiritually rich and emotionally stable. They have put their trust in the one who will never forsake them – Jesus Christ the Lord.

A person may attend services regularly, pray faithfully, give generously – and yet if they trust in their own ability and intelligence to handle their lives, they will never experience the power and peace that comes from God working in and through you.

God sees life from the beginning to the end. He loves us and is working all things so as to bring glory to Himself. All throughout our lives, we are being shaped, reformed, and conformed to the image of His Son. (2Cor 12:7-10) We must keep our eyes fixed on Him and try to see life from His viewpoint. This allows us to live to His standards instead of the standards of men. We may feel the rejection of the world – Jesus did. We may suffer pain – Jesus did. But in living to His standards we will bring Him glory and will walk in victory!

Cincinnati church of Christ

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