The Encourager

The Encourager

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7 Things That Will Help You Grow Spiritually by Grover Stevens

Sunday, July 05, 2015

 

1. LIVE and WORK to reach others each day as if you knew the world was going to come to an end next Sunday night. Think of that feeling of urgency and priority! (Read 2 Peter 3:1-12)

2. BE AS ENTHUSIASTIC about the church and its services as you would be if there were an overflowing crowd each time. Think of the interest, anticipation, and excitement of an overflow crowd!

3. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. Make a list of the things you are thankful to God for and thank Him for them one by one as you pray in your closet. This will help you to be grateful (Philippians 4:6). It will also help you to realize your dependence on God (Acts 17:24-25,28; John 15:5).

4. MAKE & MAINTAIN A LIST OF YOUR FAULTS. And pray for forgiveness and help to overcome them as you truly strive to overcome them. This will help us see that we are really not as good as we think we are and how very much we really do need Christ for Savior. It will also help you to sympathize with the faults of others (James 5:16; Galatians 6:1).

5. KEEP A QUIET TIME. Set aside 30 minutes every day to spend with God in prayer, Bible study, and meditation. If you really love someone or a game you want to spend some time with them. Just so, if you truly love God you want to spend some time alone with Him. (Psalm 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1). First century Christians kept an "hour of prayer" (Acts 13:1).

6. VISIT SOMEONE FOR CHRIST EACH WEEK. Visit some member you do not know very well; or a sick person; or a visitor to our services; or a weak member who needs encouragement; or someone who needs to become a Christian.

7. REACH ANOTHER PERSON. Conduct a Bible class in your home once a month and invite your relatives, friends and neighbors to attend. The preacher or elders will assist you if you want them to. Matthew 5:12-15; James 5:20; Daniel 12:3. There are 168 hours in a week. If you were to attend Bible Study, morning and evening worship on Sundays, Bible study on Wednesday, 30 minutes 6 days a week in Bible reading, prayer, and meditation, and conduct an hour long study once a month, you would be giving God less than 10 hours a week, leaving you 158.

 

"Love Wins" by Mike Richardson

Sunday, June 28, 2015

 

Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision that legalizes same sex marriage in the United States. This decision goes contrary to God’s will for marriage and violates what God’s word says about sexual relationships. As I was reading comments on social media, I kept seeing a particular phrase from those who approved of the court’s decision and approve of same-sex marriage. The phrase was #love wins. I wrote the following in response to this phrase.

I have seen the phrase wins in support of gay marriage. The question is love for who or what? No doubt someone may say "love for another individual" but, isn't it really more than that? Isn't there also a love for one's self and one's desires over what our Creator has stated in His eternal Word? I know one thing, it is not love for God. Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Just because the law of the land changes does not change God's word for it abides forever. (I Pet.1:20). I realize what tempts one may not tempt another, but we all have temptations in life. WHATEVER our temptations may be, we also have a choice to either obey God or disregard His word and violate His will. To decide to live contrary to God's word shows one is a “lover of SELF” and a "lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God." (2 Tim.3:2,4) Jesus said to follow Him one must, "Deny SELF" take up their cross and follow Him. (Mt.16:24) To disregard His word NO MATTER WHAT THE SIN, is to say we love ourselves, this world, and others more than we do our Creator. It is to say that we love the passing pleasure of sin more than we do the One who died on the cross to redeem us from sin. It is to continue in the very thing He came to save us from. John tells us in I John 4:8 that "God is love." So ultimately love will win if we are talking about the right kind of love. If we are talking about God (I Cor.15:54-57; I Jno.5:4). But let us not be deceived, friendship with the world is enmity with God and "Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (Jas.4:4; I Jno.2:15-17; Rom.8:7). Let us love Him who first loved us. That is the love that will truly win.

Could the Church Be Wrong? Robert Turner

Could "the church" be wrong? Is it possible that a portion—or even all of the members of a congregation (including their elders) could be in error with respect to doctrine and/or practice? Could several congregations be wrong? Could a majority of congregations be wrong?

One of the most basic fallacies of Roman Catholicism is its conception of the "infallible" church. But someone says, "The church of the New Testament could not be wrong!" WHICH ONE will you use as your example? The one at Corinth? Ephesus? Laodicea? But you say "I'm referring to the 'whole' church, the body of Christ." And I remind you that this organism, this relation of individuals to Christ, does not exist as a functional organization. The characteristics of the perfect church must be gleaned piece by piece from the divine records. By command, example, and necessary inference we learn what Christ would have us be and do as a local church. The divine purpose and intent alone is without fault. In all functional churches—and here the N.T. allows us to speak only of individual congregations—the human element is present, and we are forbidden to use such a church as a pattern (2 Cor.10:12).

The New Testament, the covenant or law of Christ, is that which was set up on the first Pentecost after the resurrection (Isa. 2:1-2; Joel 2; Acts 2) and the body of people who accepted this law, and by a practice of its instructions brought into being the Jerusalem congregation, were the product—not the makers of a divine standard. The same principle continues to this good day, and both the First and Twentieth Century churches could and do err. (See Rev. 2-3).

In every century, in every generation, each congregation must prove its right to the name "church of Christ" by showing identity with the divinely approved church characteristics found in the New Testament. We must pay more than lipservice to this principle. When we begin to think a thing is right because a "Church of Christ"—or a majority of the "Churches of Christ"—or ALL of the "Churches of Christ" do or teach it, we have become sectarian in our conception of the church, and need to revise our thinking.

God's word is the pattern by which a true church must be cut. Did you ever cut 2x4s to frame a wall, or pickets for a fence? If you obtained a pattern, cut the first by that pattern, then threw the pattern aside and cut the second by the first—and so on—you learned the fallacy of identity by succession. Any slight difference in the second was passed to the third—and the slight difference of the third was added to the error of the first, and passed on. To cut a true wall, or fence, we must measure each cut by the original pattern. This is no less true with reference to the church.

A crying need of our time is a firm resolve to determine right by an appeal to God's truth, rather than to "a well defined and clear-shown majority of the Churches of Christ in Texas." Cancellations will be received with as much grace as we can muster.

 

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