Volume 1, Number 18 – February, 2022
“No News is Good News”
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”
“No news is good news.” I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this phrase is used “to make someone feel less worried when they have not received information about someone or something, because if something bad had happened, they would have been told about it.” This phrase is often used when a person becomes very seriously ill. Those who love and care about the ill person, in hopes of calming their worries and fears, may say this phrase because if the doctor, nurses, etc. bring news, it likely will not be positive. Thus, if no news occurs, then nothing bad has happened to their loved one. While this phrase may be of comfort when it comes to the state of our earthly bodies, it is not at all accurate when it comes to our souls.
Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Paul proclaims, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ ” (Romans 10:13-15). Christians carry the responsibility of being news-givers to the world. We must be diligent in spreading the “good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” in hopes of bringing others to faith and obedience to God (Acts 8:12).
“No news is good news.” Is this true? Certainly not when it comes to our souls. Let us, as believers, heed the words of a hymn we often sing and fulfill the command that God has given us to bring the Good News of Salvation to the world!
“I love to tell the story of unseen things above: of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true. It satisfies my longings as nothing else could do . . . I love to tell the story. ’Tis pleasant to repeat what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own holy word.”
I Love to Tell the Story (Kate Hankey )
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Life can be hard sometimes, no doubt about it. There is much in this life that can get us down. Sickness, persecution, loneliness, losing loved ones. The list goes on. But just as easily as life can get us down, so easily should the thought of the prize before us lift us up during times of trouble. Never let the troubles of this life cloud your vision of what God has promised His faithful children.
Dolls in Heaven
A little girl once showed her cherished doll to her mother. “Mama,” she asked, “will I be able to have my doll in heaven?” The mother replied, “Don’t worry dear. I’m sure God will make sure you have everything you need in heaven.” Satisfied, the girl went away while the mother began to do some serious thinking. She began to wonder whether or not she considered heaven in the same immature way. So many times she heard fellow Christians say childish things about what they expect to enjoy in heaven.
On another occasion she overheard some ladies talking after a moving congregational singing. “Oh how I love to sing! Wasn’t the singing beautiful tonight? Did you hear the wonderful harmony?” The conversation then moved on to how they couldn’t wait to be in heaven where they would be able to sing all the time. Hearing their own melodious voices was what they truly looked forward to. A moment of serious introspection came upon this mother. What had she always anxiously anticipated in heaven? The promise of eternal rest was very appealing (Rev. 14:13), as was the end of all disease, war, sin, and sorrow (Rev. 21:4). She wasn’t quite sure, but the possibility that she could be reunited with all her loved ones was the only thing that kept her going sometimes. Most importantly, she would never worry about dying anymore.
Talk about eternal bliss! But was she still only motivated by her own selfish desires? She carefully read through the last two chapters in Revelation to find the answer. Yes, she found that it was right to look forward to rest and the end of all evil – God promises us those things for that very reason. But what she found is that she was being a little self-centered, for she left out the most important part of being in heaven: GOD.
The mother came to this conclusion: heaven will not be about me, but all about God. Sometimes we are no better than the little girl. Always remember that in heaven we will join the innumerable host and eternally praise our Creator, Lord, and Savior (Rev. 7:9-10).
I Can’t died last week. He had long been a member of the church, but was never faithful. Brother Compromise was the only one available to direct the service. Services were held in the parlor of Maybe Tomorrow Funeral Home. Attending as pallbearers were Neglect, Indifference, Never Try, and Get Somebody Else, all close relatives of the deceased. The body was buried in the Never Done Cemetery.
Staying On Course
If you were to venture far out on the ocean, you need to know some important details to be successful: your location, destination, and course. By referring to a map and using a compass, you can end up where you want to go. However, difficulties can arise creating conditions that can be confusing for navigation. Bad weather, strong wind, high waves, swift tides or limited visibility can throw one off course very easily.
How does a follower of Christ stay on course and avoid a spiritual shipwreck? Paul wrote something of importance on this subject: He said: “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:18-20). He places emphasis on holding on to “faith and a good conscience.” Rejecting these and not fighting the good fight will cause one to shipwreck their faith.
How can we be successful and stay on course? We can do that by carefully reading and following the directions in God’s Word, conforming our will to the Will of God (Rom. 12:2). “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). We know the destination we seek (heaven). How are you doing? Are you on course or in danger of shipwreck? Determine right now to live in faith and holiness, staying on course until you are safely home.
- Prejudice is a great time-saver, enabling us to form opinions without bothering to get the facts.
- Bad habits are like a comfortable bed; easy to get into, but hard to get out of.
- When success turns a man’s head, it often leaves him looking in the wrong direction.
Jesus, the Righteous Judge
In John 18:28-40, we see Christ before Pilot, who judged our savior against the false accusations thrown at him. Unfortunately, we see in John 19:1-16 how earthly judges like Pilot do not always judge according to God’s word. Pilot said he “found no fault” in Christ three times (John 18:38; 19:4; 19:6) , yet, seemingly overcome by fear of the mob (John 19:8-16), he handed our Lord over to the Jews for crucifixion although he knew Christ was innocent.
In this situation, Pilot asked Jesus, “Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” (John 19:10). Pilot had great authority over the land at that time. His judgments were final. We are not unlike Christ in this situation. The time will come when all will appear before a judge, but our judge will be much different from Pilot. Our judge will be Christ himself (Matt. 25:31-46) – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). Much more so than Pilot, Christ’s judgments will be final.
Jesus will judge all peoples according to all of that we have done, both good and bad. Which judgment would you rather hear: “Come, you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) or “Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41)? I would much prefer to hear the former.
Do You Take God’s Name in Vain?
Mark W. White
God has always been serious about His name. When He punished Israel for bringing idols out of Egypt, God explained His actions by saying, “I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt” (Ezekiel 20:9, NASB). In His commandments given to Moses, who in turn gave them to Israel, God declared, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
One of the most obvious symptoms of a seriously sick society is irreverence. Observe the national news today and you will hear reports showing that Americans are acting like undisciplined adolescents. Our people laugh at Biblical values and crudely trample upon righteous principles established by God and validated by His Son. Our sense of awe is gone. We call “awesome” those things which are not, never have been and never will be. We use the word “awesome” without knowing its meaning. God’s awesome name is no longer revered by the majority. Significantly, even among Christians the awe has been lost pertaining to the things of God and toward His name in particular.
When we think of taking God’s name in vain, it may be that our mind immediately goes to the prohibition of cursing and profanity. However, taking God’s name in vain involves far more than cursing and adding “God” to it. “Vain” means “empty,” “lifeless,” or “lacking a sense of urgency.” Taking God’s name in vain suggests that a sense of urgency about God has been lost. The greatest sin against the name of God does not occur on bar stools where drunks spout profanities with “God” in the mix. Churches can be places where God’s name is meaningless and void too.
Do the words of our songs, prayers and sermons mean anything to us? We take God’s name in vain when we claim to be people of faith but never show any real excitement for things pertaining to God. We call ourselves Christians, but could we care less if our neighbor is lost without knowing God – much less His holy name? If we call God, “Lord,” but we withhold our hearts from full devotion to Him, then our speech betrays us. We take God’s name in vain when our confession does not match our daily lives. Let us make certain that we call upon God’s name, not in vain, but in reverence and sincerity of Truth.
Volume 1, Number 19 – February, 2022
- We don’t change God’s message. His message changes us.
- Exercise daily. Walk with the Lord.
- Wisdom has two parts. Having a lot to say, and not saying it.
- Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.
How Do We Handle Correction?
In light of the fact that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), there is an incessant need for correction so that we do not continue in sin. This correction may come from our own study of God’s Word, or it may come from another person who is concerned about us. In either case, the Word of God should be used to show us the right way to live. Paul, in writing to Timothy, states: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Yes, Scripture is profitable for correction.
How do you handle correction? We are told in Prov. 3:11-12, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the Lord loveth He correcteth even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Many other Proverbs convey the same idea. For instance: “Whosoever loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (Prov. 12:1). “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction; but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way; and he that hateth reproof shall die” (Prov. 15:5,10). Correction is not always pleasant, but when given from the Bible, we are wise to accept it, without question.
When given correction, the truth of the instruction given and the fact that anything from God’s Word is for our good always. In Hab. 1:12 we find the Lord established the Chaldeans for the correction of Judah. The Chaldeans were an idolatrous people, yet God used them to correct His people, Judah. We must learn to constructively apply criticism even if it is not constructively given by our friends. Of course, if we are the giver of rebuke it must be done in love. The Scriptures are profitable for the salvation of our souls. If correction is needed, may we accept it unto repentance as David accepted the rebuke of Nathan regarding his sin (2 Sam. 12).
The Seriousness of Perverting the Scriptures
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” – (Colossians 2:8).
In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul warns against perversion, or distortion, of the one true gospel of Christ: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Peter echoed Paul’s words in 2 Peter 3:15-16, by asserting, “people twist [the words of Paul] to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” When we pervert the scriptures, we twist, add to, or take away from the perfect law of liberty that God has given us, which is a sin that leads to our eternal destruction (Revelation 22:18-19). Likewise, when we pervert the scriptures, we make ourselves liars, and we learn the fate of all liars in Revelation 21:8. Here, it is written, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Perversion of the Gospel, then, is a serious offense that we must beware and guard against to not succumb to its temptation.
To ensure what we believe and teach is not a lie or perversion of the gospel, thus ensuring we do not condemn ourselves to eternal punishment, we must constantly challenge (and allow others to challenge) our doctrine to confirm what we say is Truth – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we present anything from God’s word that is not in perfect harmony with what is written, we must be willing to accept reproof, correction, and instruction because 2 Timothy 3:16 shows that the Truth can withstand these examinations. Perversions of the Truth, however, will not withstand such tests. The only thing that perversion of the Gospel will do is bring eternal punishment.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” – (2 Peter 2:1-3).
What Do Christians Look Like?
According to Romans 12:1, a Christian is to present his body as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” To present ourselves as a sacrifice, we must “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” (James 1:21). Christians should be identified by how we interact with those around us. For example, Paul says that Christians are to be “kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” and should “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:10, 18). Christians will not be partaking in “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:4).
If someone has never seen a Christian before, could they recognize us as Christians by using the previous verses as their guide?
Pardon My Intrusion
Please pardon my intrusion into your life. I cannot honestly regard it as an intrusion at all, but that you so consider it is painfully obvious. My object is not to waste your time, or rob your pleasures, or thwart your plans, or interrupt your schedule or interfere with your life – as you think – BUT TO SAVE YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL. And you do have a soul – an inward man, a spirit made in God’s image, never ending, destined to spend eternity in hell or heaven.
Your life tells me that you have time for other matters – your job, your family, your body, your pleasures – but none for your soul. Your schedule tells me that you are interested in other realms – business, family, education, civic, social – but not in the spiritual. Then when I try to visit with you to talk about God, Christ, the Bible, and your salvation, when I try to get you interested in your own soul, you seek to make me feel like I am imposing.
Your conduct and your attitude speak clearly: “Leave me alone. Stop bothering me. I wish you wouldn’t come to my house. Get out of my life and get off my back.” But I can’t do that until I have exhausted all efforts and am convinced that it’s hopeless. If your soul isn’t on your conscience, it is on mine. God wants me to care – and to try.
Age of Accountability
Morris D. Newman
It has long been a question as to what age our young people ought to become Christians. Should it be as they enter their teens and begin at that early age in their service to Christ, or should they wait until they know a little more and can be more dependable, say their late teens or even early 20s? It would take a wise man to give a precise answer. Perhaps some biblical pictures would help us along this line.
Joseph was about 17 when he was torn from home ties and taken into Egypt as a slave. Was he accountable to God at this age? He thought so. When tempted by Potiphar’s wife he said he could not do this wickedness and sin against Jehovah. It is true that this temptation came after he had been in Egypt long enough to have advanced in Potiphar’s house but in these years, “The Lord was with him” and “he was a goodly person.” By the time he left home his patterns of righteousness were set.
Josiah was 8 years old when he became king of Judah. At the age of 16 “While he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father” (II Chronicles 34:3). Then, by the time he was 20 he began to rid the land of idol worship. By age 26, he was repairing the house of God that had been in disrepair. From age 8 it was said, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left” (II Chronicles 34:2).
Jesus went up to Jerusalem with His parents for the first time at the age of 12. He was lost from His parents for three days. When they found Him He was in the temple conversing with the doctors. All who heard were astonished at His understanding and answers. When asked concerning His whereabouts while lost He said, “Know ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48). From then on He advanced in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man. But some would say that Jesus was divine. True! But he was also human, and we are to exemplify what He did in the flesh, even when He was younger.
Sometimes we sell our young people short by not expecting of them what they are capable of completing, especially in regard to their service to God.
You, Me, and the Bible
You may understand the Bible and I may misunderstand it. I may understand it and you may misunderstand it. We may both misunderstand it, but differently. We may misunderstand it alike. However, we cannot both understand it, but differently. What kind of book would the Bible be if it said something to you that it didn’t say to me?
How Do They Do That?
Every congregation has them. The ones who simply never miss an assembly. The ones who are always there when something needs done or someone needs help. These folks are the ‘backbone’ of the church, and they are primarily responsible for accomplishing the essential work of the congregation. You’ve seen them when you know they’re feeling just awful; when their jobs and various responsibilities have them completely ‘covered up’; when they could easily be overwhelmed by personal grief or pain; when circumstances have them totally ‘swamped’; but they still manage to make time for the Lord. They push through their illness, they ‘keep on keeping on.’ And you wonder: How do they do it?
While the individuals we’re describing here each have their own unique characteristics, it is clear that they all share this in common: their love and devotion for the Lord supersedes everything else in their lives. He is more important to them than their jobs, families, and hobbies. For them, minor aches and pains pale in comparison to the joy of doing His will. God is quite simply THE most important thing in their lives.
One sister in her 90s explained it in these plain terms: “If I can get up, get dressed, and get to the doctor – and I’ve been doing a lot of that these days – then I can also get up, get dressed, and get to church services.” Now, THAT’S what we’re talking about. THAT’S how it gets done! We’re thankful for all our brothers and sisters who set such wonderful examples for the rest of us. May their tribe increase!