Afraid? Of What?

Church of Christ Bible Scripture TeachingsIn Luke 8:26-37, we read of the healing of the man possessed by demons who is healed by Jesus. The demons are allowed to enter pigs which rush off a cliff and are drowned in the lake. When the people of the region see this, they ask Jesus to “leave their region”. There have been many who have given reasons for this request from the people of the region. We know that the people were from the area of the Decapolis and so were not Jews. We are told that they were afraid and asked Jesus to leave – but what were they afraid of?

We can assume that they were afraid of the economic impact that Jesus may have if all the pigs in the area were to end up in the lake. They were afraid of the power demonstrated by Jesus when they saw the once violent, demon-possessed man now sitting calmly in his right mind. They recognized that Jesus represented the God of the Jews and they weren’t sure what or how to respond to His power. And perhaps they were afraid of the changes that a man like Jesus would make to their lifestyle.

Years ago in northern India, a missionary was preaching to group of local people all seated on the ground. He told of the Christ who loved the whole world and came to serve others. He told about the abuse that he suffered, how he was mocked and spat upon, and how he was condemned to die on Calvary. He described the sufferings of Jesus on the way to the cross, and how his friends deserted him. And finally he told of Jesus, on the cross in terrible suffering, crying out “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!”

When the missionary reached this point, an old Hindu priest could stand it no longer. He rushed over, threw himself at the missionary’s feet and said over and over again – “We want you to leave India, we want you to leave India.” When asked, “Why do you want me to leave?”, the old priest replied “Because we have no story like this. We have no Savior who lived a sinless life, died for His enemies, and prayed for the forgiveness of those who took His life. If you keep telling this story, our people will forsake the temples and follow your savior.”

Those who would accept Jesus must change their lives. Many are not willing to do so and so will not respond to the Savior. Their response is to ask Jesus to “leave our country”. Perhaps that is some of what is behind the move in our nation today to remove Jesus from the public square. If His message is taught, people will understand that He requires a change in lifestyle and will forsake the ‘temples of the culture’. Jesus had predicted that “when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12: 32) The idea of the Son of God shedding His blood for all mankind is unique in all the religions of the world. It is such an absurd notion to the world’s standards that those who accept it cannot continue in the same path they had been following. Let us keep the cross of Jesus firmly in the forefront of our hearts, minds, and teaching – and may we show it our words and lives. Let us invite Jesus to stay, not leave our nation, our communities, and our own lives. located in Cincinnati, OH


Spiritual Surgery

Church of Christ Scripture Readins, Bible Lessons and SermonsMatt 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for the whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for the whole body to go into hell.”

Jesus sets a new standard for His followers. The other rabbis urged their disciples not to participate in sinful acts, but Jesus tells His not to even think about them. Jesus is teaching that a defiled heart is one that looks at ordinary things and uses them as an occasion to stimulate sinful desires. What ‘cure’ does He suggest?

Spiritual surgery – anything that is a cause of, or a seduction to sin, must be cut out of life. The type of thing Jesus is speaking of is described by the Greek word “skandalizo” and refers to a baited trap or snare. Anything that is a temptation to us, or incites us to sin is to be ruthlessly rooted out of our lives. Any habit, association, or pleasure that leads us astray must be removed. But how can a person shut those things out of their mind? It cannot be done by simply saying ‘I won’t think about such and such.’ The more we try to not think about them, the more we do. How can we defeat the forbidden thought?

1) Fill you mind and heart with good thoughts – be so busy with the good that there is no time for evil thoughts. (Phil 4:8, 2Cor 10:4-5)

2) Fill your life with activities that glorify God and promote Him. Much of Jesus’ life was spent simply going around doing good. (Acts 10:38) Just thinking about God’s word is not enough – we must put it into constant practice. (James 1:22, 1Cor 15:58) Keeping busy leaves no time for these problems. (2Thess 3:10-13) it comes down to a decision for spiritual surgery. Will you work to remove those things from your life that tempt you and draw you away from God? Those are the things that make you a slave to Satan. Rom 6:16 “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Do you need the spiritual surgery of a “heart transplant” or a renewed mind ? Jesus can give you the power to live as he commands when you are willing to yield your will to His. He is the great physician and has the cure for all our problems if we simply follow His instructions and stay under His care.

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“In” or “Close” ?

Church of Christ Sermon OutlinesOne Sunday a minister was giving a sermon on baptism and in the course of the sermon tried to show that baptism should take place by sprinkling and not by immersion. He tried to justify it this way:

He said that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan, it didn’t really mean “in” the river – it meant close to, or nearby. And that when Philip baptized the eunuch in the river, it didn’t mean “in” – it meant close to, or nearby.

After the service, a man came up to the minister and told him that it was a great sermon, and that it had cleared up a lot of mysteries he had encountered in the Bible. “For instance,” he said “the story about Jonah getting swallowed by the fish has always bothered me. But now I know that Jonah wasn’t really “in” the fish – just close to it, or nearby, swimming in the water.

And that story about the three Hebrew boys who were thrown into the fiery furnace and not being burned up. Now I see that they weren’t really “in” the furnace, just close to or nearby, just keeping warm. And especially the story of Daniel getting thrown into the lion’s den has bothered me.

Now I see that he wasn’t really “in” the lion’s den, just close to or nearby, like being at the zoo. This has been a real comfort to me because I am a wicked, sinful man, but now I see that I won’t really be “in” hell – just close to or nearby . So thanks for the sermon, and next Sunday I won’t be in church – just close to or nearby – because you have put my mind at ease.

This mind provoking devotional provided by: The Arlington Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH


Just a Nail

Church of Christ DevotionalA new church building was completed and everyone was invited to come and see it. All admired its beauty. Up on the roof, a small nail heard the people praising the building. It seemed to him that they praised everything but him. No one even acted as if they knew he was there, and he became angry and jealous. “If I’m so insignificant, then no one will miss me if I quit”, he said to himself. So he released his hold, slid off the roof and fell into the mud.

That night it rained. Soon, the shingle that had no nail blew away, and the roof began to leak. The water streaked the walls of the beautiful building. The plaster began to fall, the carpet was stained, and the Bibles were ruined by the water. All of this because a little nail decided to quit. While holding the shingle, the nail was obscure, but it was very necessary. Buried in the mud, it was also obscure, but now it was useless and would soon be eaten up by rust. You may feel obscure at times. But like the nail, your absence is felt. When you are not present for worship or Bible class, the Body of Christ is hurt. We are ALL part of the church and we each have an important role to play in the work.

Arlington church of Chirst Cincinnati, OH

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Building on the Sand

Church of Christ Scripture Readins, Bible Lessons and Sermons
“Parade magazine’ carried a story about a little village church in Kalinovka, Russia, where attendance picked up when the minister started offering candy to the peasant children who came. One of the most faithful was a pug-nosed, pugnacious boy who recited the assigned scriptures, pocketed his reward, and then fled to the surrounding fields to munch on it.

The minister took a liking to the boy and persuaded him to attend church school. The boy preferred this over doing household chores, so he went. By offering rewards, the teacher got the boy to memorize the entire books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The boy got a special prize for reciting them nonstop. Yet sixty years later, although he still liked to recite scripture, he did so in contexts that would horrify his old teacher. That prize pupil, who memorized the scriptures, was the communist ruler Nikita Khrushchev.

Had he come to understand and appreciate the truths of the scriptures instead of just memorizing them, how different the outcome might have been. All of the effort to memorize was built on sand. It is interesting that some of the very verses that he memorized said:

Matt 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell with a great crash.”

We all recognize the tragedy of a person who knows what the scripture says is necessary to wash their sins away and become a Christian. Acts 22:16 “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” But the person who claims to have obeyed the Lord and then must be begged to be faithful is even worse off than one who knew little or nothing about the truth. (2 Pet 2:20-22, Heb 10: 25-29)

Let us put into practice what we learn from the word of God. Knowing what God says is useless if we do not put it into practice, and will in fact condemn us – James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Is your house built on the rock of obedience or on the sand of disobedience to the word of God?

Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH

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