Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Refuge from the Storm

By David Sargent

     Some students recall hearing the principal of Plaza Towers Elementary School telling them over the intercom to go to the cafeteria and wait for their parents.  But then the tornado alarm sounded and selfless teachers of this school in Moore, Oklahoma, frantically tried to secure their students’ safety.  The tornado struck the school.  Seven students were killed.  But many were saved due to the heroic efforts of their teachers.
     Rhonda Crosswhite, a sixth grade teacher at Plaza Towers, and several students, sought refuge from the twister in a school bathroom.  As the tornado tore through the building, she shielded three of her students with her own body.
     “It just started coming down so I just laid on top of some of them,” she said on NBC’s Today show.
     One of the students Crosswhite shielded, fourth-grader Damian Britton, said the tornado “sounded like a train coming by.”
     “A teacher covered us — Ms. Crosswhite,” Damian said on the show. “I told her we were fine because we were holding onto something. Then she went over to my friend Antonio and covered him. So she saved our lives.”
     “The whole time I just kept screaming to them, ‘Quit worrying, we’re fine, we’re fine,” she told the Today show hosts, adding that she was unsure if her attempts at reassurance could be heard over the twister.  Yet she kept reassuring them.  “We’re going to be fine, I’m protecting you,” Crosswhite recalled telling the students. “Then I said a few prayers: ‘God, please take care of my kids’ — and we’re fine.”
     The students shielded by Crosswhite were relatively unscathed. One student had a cut on his head. Crosswhite had cuts all over her back and feet — she was wearing sandals.
     Damian’s mom, Brandi Kline, said her home was destroyed — but she was grateful her family was okay.  “Everyone around us lost everything,” the 29-year-old mom said, referring to her devastated neighborhood.  “But we have our kids,” she added, tearfully thanking Crosswhite.
     Thankfully, we also have Someone to shield us from the deadly destruction of sin...
     As sin wrought havoc in the lives of all mankind, God, because of His great love for us, sent Jesus to our rescue.  He "shielded" us from the deadly blows of sin with His own body as He died on the cross for our sins.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  He died for us so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and receive the GIFT of eternal life (Eph 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:10).
     Jesus will save those who seek refuge in Him by: placing their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to shield  THOSE who continue to trust Him enough to follow Him (1 John 1:7).
     Many children are thankful for the heroic efforts of teachers like Rhonda Crosswhite who risked their lives to shield them from the storm.
     And ALL of us can be thankful that Jesus gave Himself for us to shield us from the eternal destruction of sin!
     By His wounds, YOU can be healed IF you will trust and obey Him.
     Won’t YOU?

* Information gleaned for “Oklahoma teachers hailed as heroes for selfless acts that saved kids” by Edgar Sandoval, Corky Siemaszko, and Stephen Rex Brown in the New York Daily News (5/21/13)

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:
http://www.creekwoodcc.org

An Old Farmer's Advice

·         Keep your fences horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
·         Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
·         A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
·         Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled.
·         Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
·         Forgive your enemies.  It messes up their heads.
·         Don’t corner something that would normally run from you.
·         It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
·         You cannot unsay a cruel word.
·         Every path has a few puddles.
·         When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
·         The best sermons are lived, not preached.
·         Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never going to happen anyway.
·         Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
·         Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
·         Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.
·         Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain-dance.
·         Sometimes you get and sometimes you get got.
·         Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
·         Always drink upstream from the herd.
·         Good judgment comes from experience, & a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
·         If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
·         Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply. Speak kindly.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Choosing Your Name

By Alan Smith

    The following article was in the news a few years ago:
HANOI, Vietnam - After nearly two decades of ridicule, a father has agreed to change his son's name from "Fined Six Thousand and Five Hundred" -- the amount he was forced to pay in local currency for ignoring Vietnam's two-child policy.
    Angry he was being fined for having a fifth child, Mai Xuan Can named his son Mai Phat Sau Nghin Ruoi after the amount he was forced to pay -- 6,500 dong (50 cents).  In 1999, local government officials tried to persuade Can to change the name because the boy was constantly being teased by classmates at school. But Can, a former People's Committee official, refused to back down, Thuong said. They appealed to him again recently, and this time it worked.
    "I told him that as his son is growing up, he should have another name -- not that weird name -- and he finally agreed," Thuong said.
    The son, now 19, finally got a new name: Mai Hoang Long, which means golden dragon.
    Choosing a name is an important responsibility.  Those of us who are parents can remember spending hours and hours reading books filled with baby names, discussing this name and that before deciding on just the right name.  Even after much forethought, one of my children was named at birth and re-named a couple of hours later because the first name just didn't seem to fit her.
    Not surprisingly, names in the Bible are regarded as important.  Names that were chosen may tell us something about the child or his birth (Isaac -- "laughter", Benjamin -- "son of the right hand", Esau -- "hairy").  Some names were changed to signal a drastic change in one's life (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul).
    A name is important because it's not just a word -- it's who you are. Your name is your character, the essence of who you are and what you stand for.
    You may not be able to change your given name (at least, not without a lot of expense and trouble), but you can change what people think about when they hear that name.  That's why Solomon wrote:
    "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches." (Prov. 22:1a)
    You are choosing your name by how you live.  Choose wisely.

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com

Consequences of Sin

By Alan Smith

    In 1992, there was a high-school teacher outside of Chicago who found an unusual way to punish students when they did something wrong.  They had to stay after school for detention, but not just your normal detention.  That didn't seem to have much effect.  No, the guilty students were being forced to stay after in the Frank Sinatra Detention Club.  There, for 30 minutes, they had to sit utterly still – no talking, no homework, no snoozing – and listen to Frank Sinatra sing old songs.
    I think it's brilliant – here was a teacher who found a way to make detention more fun for him, but less so for the kids.  One senior said, "It got to where I couldn't stand it.  It was so boring."  Now, please understand, this teacher wasn't totally heartless.  He let the students sing along if they wanted to, but nobody ever did.
    And the students learned that if they do something wrong, there is a consequence -- a very negative consequence.
    It is especially important for young people to learn at an early age that choices have consequences.  In terms of their later success, it is one of the most important lessons they will ever learn.  All too often we make decisions without seriously thinking about the long-range consequences.
    Someone once said, "Most of our big mistakes are due to lack of forethought rather than intentional misdoings."  In other words, most of the time that we do something wrong, it's because we haven't given enough thought about what will happen as a direct result of our actions.
    Which of us isn't able to look back at something we've done in our lives, something really stupid?  And we can see what's happened in our lives over the years because of that stupid action.  If we had only realized how it would affect our lives and our family and our friends and the church, and how destructive it would be, then we never would have done it.  And we would do anything to erase the damage, but we can't, because we committed the act and like it or not, we have had to suffer the consequences that resulted.
    "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:7-8)
    May we seek to make decisions that will bless our lives for years to come.
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com

Courage in the Dentist Office

    One day a couple of young boys went into a dentist's office. One of them told the receptionist that he wanted to have tooth pulled but didn't want to have any Novocain, gas, or any other medication. They were in a hurry and couldn't afford expensive medication.
    The dentist agreed. He turned to the little boy and asked, "OK, which tooth is it that is bothering you?"
    At that the little boy turned to his younger companion and order, "Open your mouth, Billy, and show the doc which tooth hurts!"

Source:

Unknown


Death Is Checking Out of a Temporary Hotel

The Roman Cicero, who lived before Christ, was a very respected orator and politician. Without the insight of Christ's revelation, he said something very important concerning life and death: "I am sure that my friends who died before me did not cease to live. In reality, only their present state can be called life. I believe this because I am duty bound to do so by my logic and because of my respect for the greatest philosopher of the past. I consider this world as a place which was never meant to be our abode forever. I never considered my departure form this world as being chased out of my permanent residence, but rather as a checking out from a temporary abode such as a hotel or an ill."

Source:
Pulpit Helps, date unknown.


Do You Like To Share?

By C. Bruce White

    A physician was vacationing in the Cumberland Mountains and while hiking, stopped at a mountain home for a drink of water. A little girl gave him a glass of milk. The physician drank it and offered to pay her for it. "On, no," said the girl, "we like to share."
    A year or so later the girl was taken to John Hopkins to have serious surgery. The parents, very poor, worried over the bill. When the recovery was completed and the family was given the bill, it was marked, "Paid in full by a glass of gold milk - we like to share too."
    We realize that every case of sharing does not bring such a connected or obvious blessing, but each case of giving has it's blessing. It is with the belief that God blesses those who give, that we offer the opportunity on such a regular basis. It is, indeed, more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

Source:
The Challenger, the weekly bulletin of the Church of Christ, Carbondale, IL, date unknown.


Freedom is not Actually "Free"

    In 1776 Thomas Paine, an American Revolution patriot and writer, noted the price of freedom: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly."
    Today, each Fourth of July is a time to remember those who not only framed our Constitution, but realize the price they paid as individuals. Five of the men were captured by the British, charged as traitors, tortured and executed. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two of them lost sons in the Revolutionary War. Two more had sons captured. Five of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence fought and died in that war.
    One of the signers, Carlton Braxton, was a wealthy planter and trader. He saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He had to sell his home and all his possessions to pay off his debts. He died in poverty. The British also descended on the home of John Hart. All of his property was destroyed and his invalid wife was killed. Even though he was 70 years old he joined Washington's army and soon died of physical and emotional exhaustion.
    Lewis Morris was about to sign the Declaration when he received word that the British were at the gates of his home. He was told his property would be spared if he would withhold his signature. He thought only a moment before he said, "There are many homes, but there is only one country." His pen went quickly to the page.
    It is true, the freedom we celebrate was not actually free. It came with a price.

Source:
Friendly Visitor, weekly bulletin of the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, AL. Date unknown.


How Far Can You See?

By Alan Smith

    Sam, an old man, was a witness in a burglary case.  The defense lawyer asked Sam, "Did you see my client commit this burglary?"
    "Yes," said Sam , "I saw him plainly take the goods."
    The lawyer asked Sam again, "Sam, this happened at night.  Are you sure you saw my client commit this crime?"
    "Yes" said Sam, "I saw him do it."
    Then the lawyer asked Sam, "Sam listen, you are 80 years old and your eyesight probably is bad.  Just how far can you see at night?"
    Sam said, "I can see the moon, how far is that?"
    Now I'm not prepared to discuss the validity of such a statement in court.  But this story does serve as a reminder that some people are content to be concerned with what they can see up close and forget what they can see from afar.  For example, it is a common sight to see someone walking along with their eyes focused only on the ground a few feet in front of them.  They end up seeing all sorts of things -- coins, buttons, pieces of trash.  But they miss out on all the beauty of the world around them.
    And yet we all tend to do the same thing spiritually.  We keep our eyes on television ads, store displays and our next door neighbors and focus on all the "things" we think we need, and fail to see the spiritual things that really matter.  I challenge you to walk through a shopping mall and look not in the store windows, but at the number of souls you pass by who need Jesus.  I challenge you to drive through a busy part of town without focusing on the Lexuses in front of you and behind you, but on the physical and spiritual needs of the people to your right and your left.  I challenge you to look beyond the things of this world to those things on a higher plane.
    "Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above -- where Christ holds the highest position.  Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things." (Colossians 3:1-2)
    How far can YOU see?
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com

How'd He Get Here?

By David A. Sargent

    The Omni William Penn Hotel is one of Pittsburgh’s swankiest hotels.  Imagine the surprise when some hotel guests checked into the Presidential Suite and found a homeless man sleeping on the couch!
    When hotel security officers arrived on the scene, they woke him up, took him to their office, and called the police.  Jeffrey Lennon Watson, 48, told police he was from Los Angeles and was passing through the city to return to California.  He informed them that he had been in Pittsburgh for over a month and “sleeps wherever he can locate somewhere comfortable to rest his head.”
    According to the Associated Press, there aren't too many places more comfortable than Watson's chosen location. The 16th-floor suite features a 1,300-square-foot parlor plus three bedrooms, and includes crystal chandeliers, a dining room, grand piano, a full kitchenette, and sitting room, according to the hotel's website. The site doesn't state how much the room costs.
    So how did he get in there?  Police don't know how long Watson had been in the suite or how he got in.  Hotel general manager Eric DeStefano offered the following explanation:
    The parlor area of the Presidential suite is "a general-use area for receptions and small events. The door had been programmed to remain unlocked for an event earlier that day. As soon as the occupant was discovered, he was escorted off the property," DeStefano said.
    Police took Watson to the Allegheny County Jail, where he remained Wednesday unable to post $15,000 bond. He faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 19 on charges of criminal trespass and theft of services, according to online court records. *
    God has promised that those who follow Him will live forever with Him in heaven (see 1 Peter 1:3-5).  Contemplating the splendor of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9) and the pristine holiness of God, one may feel as “out of place” as a homeless man in a ritzy hotel!
    Imagine one angel saying to another concerning you or me: “How’d HE get in here?”
    And the answer is: Jesus!
    Although our SIN separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and can keep us out of heaven and destined for the second death (cf. Revelation 21:8), God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we can be saved and live eternally with Him in heaven (Hebrews 10:19-20)!
    Jesus will save and give eternal life to those who accept His offer on His terms: place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continually cleanse the sins of those who continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:7).
    And one day when, by the grace of God, we are in heaven and we’re asked, “How’d YOU get in here?”  We can answer with loving adoration and endless praise: “Jesus!”
    Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6
    Won’t YOU accept Jesus’ offer on His terms?

* Information gleaned from Joe Mandak of the Associated Press

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:
http://www.creekwoodcc.org

Just A Step Away

By Kippy Myers

    My wife's grandparents had obtained tickets for a steamboat ride. It was going to be a little "getaway" for them. But when they got to the dock and were ready to board, the grandmother decided that she did not want to go. The husband tried to persuade her to get on the steamboat since they were all prepared, had their luggage with them, etc., but she said that she had a bad feeling about it and was afraid that the boat would sink. Oddly enough, some friends of theirs approached them. They had tried to purchase tickets for the boat ride but the tickets were all sold out and thus, they could not go. The grandparents explained why they were not going and gave their tickets to the friends who were happy to receive them. Sadly, they boat sank, taking the friends with it.
    Country singer, Waylon Jennings, was playing a concert trip with several other musicians. Rather than take the tour bus to the next town, however, one of the artists was able to rent a private airplane and pilot to take him there. There was room for one more to ride, so Waylon and Buddy Holly flipped a coin to see who would go. Buddy won and happily climbed on board. Waylon lost ... he thought. The plane crashed, killing all on board.
    A young preacher sat on a streetcar in San Fransisco when some thugs boarded and sat beside him. He carried a Bible which drew their attention. One "tough guy" stood and began to ridicule the preacher. The young preacher sat in silence until the boy asked him, "Hey, Preacher. I guess you know everything, huh?" Well, tell us this - how far is it to eternity?" The other boys laughed, but the preacher responded, "Just a step."
    Eternity is only a heartbeat, a breath, a car trip, a street crossing, etc., away. STAY ready and you'll BE ready" ... for in an hour that ye think not, the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44).

Source:
Kippy Myers, Illustrations that Illustrate, The World Evangelist, Feb. 1996.



Satan's Seeds

    An old legend tells how a man once stumbled upon a great red barn after wondering for days in a dark, overgrown forest. Seeking refuge from the howling winds of a storm that seemed to rage perpetually in the forest, he let his eyes grow accustomed to the dark and then, to his astonishment, he discovered that this was the barn where Satan kept his storehouse of seeds to be sown into human hearts. More curious than fearful, he lit a match and began to explore the piles and bins of seeds around him. He couldn't help but notice that the containers labeled "seeds of discouragement" far outnumbered any other type of seed.
    Just as the man had drawn this conclusion, one of Satan's foremost demons arrived to pick up a fresh supply of seed. The man asked him why the great abundance of discouragement sees. The demons laughed, "Because they are so effective and they take root so quickly!" The man then asked, "Do they grow everywhere?" At this the demon became sullen. He glared at the man and admitted in disgust, "No. They never seem to thrive in the heart of a grateful person."
    Be thankful for what you have, today. And trust the Lord to take car of what you don't have.

Source:
The weekly bulletin of the Macon Ave. Church of Christ, Memphis, TN; date unknown.


Think Nobody's Watching?

By Alan Smith

    A family was rushing to get to the movies. The parents told the children they had to leave "right now" at which point their teenage daughter headed for the bathroom to apply makeup.  Her father yelled for her to get in the car immediately, and headed to the garage grumbling.
    On the way to the theater, the father glanced in the rearview mirror and saw his daughter applying lipstick and blush, which produced the predictable lecture. "Look at your mom," he said.  "She didn't put on any makeup just to go sit in a dark movie theater."
    The daughter's response was, "Yeah, but Mom doesn't need makeup."
    The mother's heart was swelling with the compliment, and she turned back to thank this sweet, wonderful daughter just as she continued, "Nobody looks at her."
    I'm sure there have been times when your choice of clothing or the way you got yourself ready in the morning was determined by whether anybody would see you or not.  If you're just going to be around the house where no one can see you, you may dress one way.  If you're planning to be out in public, you'll likely dress another way.
    Sometimes, though, we make the mistake of determining our actions in the same way.  If we think someone is watching, we're careful to do what's right.  But if we think no one is paying attention, we tend not to be quite as careful.  We think, "Nobody's looking at me anyway!"
    The truth is, though, you constantly being watched (and not just by God!).  If you have children, you can be sure they see and hear everything you say and do!  When you're in line at the grocery store, others are watching.  When you work in your office, others are watching.  When you go out to eat at a restaurant, others are watching.  When you go to the Post Office, others are watching.
    That shouldn't make us nervous or bothered.  Rather, it reminds us that everywhere we go, we have an opportunity to live in a way that honors and glorifies God!  Always be conscious of that opportunity.
    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16).
    Somebody's watching!
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.comAlan Smith, Thought For The Day (Sept. 12, 2013)



Turtle On a Fencepost

By David A. Sargent

     The late Alex Haley, who wrote Roots, had a unique picture on his office wall of a turtle sitting on top of a fence post. Whenever someone asked about it, Haley would say, "If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know that he had some help. Any time I start thinking, 'Wow, isn't this marvelous what I've done?' I look at that picture and remember how this turtle, me, got up on that post." *
     Great point!  But, Ken Stegall helps us to realize a great truth: “That’s not really true. [The turtle] didn’t have HELP; someone PUT  it there!
     Receiving HELP to accomplish something implies that you accomplished PART of the task yourself, but lacked the ability to finish the job.  A turtle can’t climb an upright fencepost. Not even a little bit. If it were to try, all its efforts would equal absolute failure.” **
     The point is: We CANNOT save ourselves!  We could never be personally “righteous” enough to merit salvation from sin and “earn” our way to heaven.
     Consider the words of the Apostle Paul: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).
     We “accept” Christ’s offer of salvation and life and are found “in Him” by submitting our lives to His Will through our trusting obedience: placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) INTO CHRIST for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
     This we do, NOT to EARN our salvation, but to RECEIVE it.  Then, as we continue to place our hope in Christ and focus our lives on following Him, the blood of Jesus will continue to wash away our sins (1 John 1:7).
     A turtle CAN'T get on top of a fence post unless a hand picks it up and places it there.  You and I can’t “climb our way” to heaven either.
     We must ALLOW Christ to save us!
     It is ONLY His blood that was shed on the cross for our sins that can wash away our sins (Ephesians 1:7) and cause us to be declared righteous and be given the GIFT of eternal life.
     Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?

* Philip Barry Osborne in The Handbook of Magazine Article Writing as qtd. In http://bible.org/illustration/alex-haley

**  Ken Stegall, Woodland Oaks Church of Christ, The Woodlands, TX, in “How Did He Get Up There?” via Dan Williams’ PREACHER STUFF RESOURCE EXCHANGE (1/31/13)
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:
http://www.creekwoodcc.org

Working For the County

By Alan Smith

    A fellow stopped at a rural gas station and, after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. As he stood by his car, drinking his Pepsi, he noticed a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was about 25 feet behind filling in the old.
    The men worked right past the fellow with the Pepsi and went on down the road. "I can't stand this," said the man, heading down the road toward the men. "Hold it, hold it," he said to the men. "Can you tell me what's going on here with this digging?"
    "Well, we work for the county," one of the men said.
    "But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You're not accomplishing anything. Aren't you wasting the county's money?"
    "You don't understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there's three of us - me, Rodney and Mike. I dig the hole, Rodney sticks in the tree and Mike here puts the dirt back. Now just because Rodney's sick, that don't mean that Mike and me can't work."

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com

You Are Dead

By David A. Sargent

     Donald Miller Jr. was declared legally dead in 1994.  He had vanished from his home eight years earlier.  Miller, 61, told Hancock County Probate Court Judge Allan Davis, that he disappeared in the 1980s because he had lost his job and he was an alcoholic. His ex-wife claims that he vanished because he owed $26,000 in overdue child support payments.  Miller lived in Florida and Georgia before returning to Ohio around 2005.
     He said his parents told him about his "death" when he came back to the state.
     Miller went to court this week to ask the Probate Judge to reverse the 1994 ruling that declared him legally dead.  He wants to obtain a driver’s license and reinstate his Social Security number.
     But Judge Davis, admitting that this is a “strange, strange situation,” turned down his request, citing a three-year limit for changing a death ruling. "I don't know where that leaves you, but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned," the judge said. *
Consider...
     Because of our sins, YOU and I are dead!  The Apostle Paul diagnosed the condition of those in Ephesus before God saved them:  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
     Even so, WE are dead in our transgressions and sins – separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), under the condemnation of death (Romans 6:23), and completely unable to resurrect ourselves!
     Despite our sins, however, God loves us and has provided the Way for us to have eternal life.
     To those who were dead in their transgressions and sins, the Apostle Paul wrote: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us ALIVE with Christ even when we were DEAD in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
     Because of His great love for us, God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).  Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
     He suffered the “death penalty,” so that you and I can have eternal life!   “He died for us so that... we may live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:10).
     God has promised to raise those who are dead in their transgressions and sins when they place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
     The Apostle Paul explained to Christians in Rome how God had raised them up:
“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
     We are dead in our transgressions and sins but God provides eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son.
     Won’t YOU submit to the Savior so that He can give you new life?

* Information from: The Findlay (OH) Courier, http://www.thecourier.com
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

Monday, November 25, 2013

That Better Place


    The following fable portrays how we might feel if we could see into heaven for an instant:
A boy had a sister who was dying. He heard that if he could secure a leaf from the tree of life in heaven, she would be healed. So he approached the gate of glory and made his desire known to an angel. The celestial being suggested to the boy that even if his sister would be healed he could not guarantee she would never again be sick, suffer disappointment, or go through trials. Just then the angel deliberately opened the gate a little wider so the youngster could see inside. He could scarcely believe his eyes! Everything was wonderful and beautiful beyond description. After thinking for a moment, eh exclaimed, "Forget the leaf! May I come in with her?"
     I would not have you grieve for me today

Source:
Jackson Church of Christ, Jackson, MO, date unknown.


Next Bus

By Royce Clay

    One cold rainy night while I was waiting at a bus stop, an elderly woman got off a bus and walked slowly over to where I stood.
    "Could you tell me when the next bus is due?" she asked. I asked where she was going. Upon hearing her reply I exclaimed, "But you just got off a bus going to your destination."
    "Well," she stammered shyly, "there was a terribly crippled young man on that bus and nobody offered hem a seat. I knew he'd be embarrassed if an old lady like me got up for him, so I pretended it was time for me to get off so he could have my seat. He wasn't embarrassed, and I -- well, there's always another bus.
    We need, as a congregation, to manifest a little more of that little lady's attitude.

Source:
Meadowbrook Church of Christ, Anderson, IN, Jan. 15, 1995.


The Last Day of Your Life

By Alan Smith

   The following quotes are reported to come from an actual newspaper contest where entrants ages 4 to 15 were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey":
      Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. --Age 13
      It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the president's birthday, like they do for the queen's. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3 or December 26, just for the long weekends. --Age 8
      Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote. --Age 10
      For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. --Age 6
      As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you'll have a couple of days saved up. --Age 7
      Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. --Age 15
      The only stupid question is the one that is never asked, except maybe "Don't you think it is about time you audited my return?" or "Isn't it morally wrong to give me a warning when, in fact, I was speeding?" --Age 15
      If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started. --Age 15
      I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life? --Age 15

   Who can argue with that last statement? But it raises an interesting question. If you knew (with full certainty) that this would be your last day on this earth, how would you live it? Would you spend the day in Bible study and prayer? Talking with people about Christ? Relaxing with your family? Or would you spend it washing clothes, cleaning the house, going to work and doing all the "mundane" things that you do every day?
   We are told to "watch" at all times, knowing that the second coming of Christ will be as unexpected as a "thief in the night" (I Thess 5:1-6). It could be within the next few hours! And since none of us are promised a certain number of years, this may well be our last day of life on this earth. So how should that affect the way we live?
   If we really believed that, it would cause us to rearrange our priorities. It would cause us to ask ourselves, "Is what I am doing important from an eternal viewpoint?" Mundane tasks such as washing our clothes remain necessary, but we all find ourselves spending much of our time doing things that seem to be important at the moment (from an earthly perspective), but which have no eternal significance.
   "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober......For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thess. 5:6,9-11)

Source:
http://www.tftd-online.com/content.asp?CID=14479

The Dog and the Rabbit

By Gary Payne

    Once upon a time there was a family who owned a beautiful German Shepherd. It was a good dog, except for one thing -- it always gave the neighbor's pet rabbit the evil eye.
    Then, one day the inevitable happened. Looking across the fence they say their dog with its teeth clamped around the lifeless body of their bunny, shaking it back and forth for all its' worth.
    It just so happened that the neighbors were gone for vacation. So, the owners of the German Shepherd devised a plan. They took the rabbit and gave it a bath. They washed all the blood and dirt of its white coat. For the finishing touch they blow-dried its fur. Then, they stuck it back in the cage.
    The next day the rabbit's owner and dog's owner  were out in their yards. The rabbit's owner said to the other, "You know, the strangest thing happened to our rabbit." "Oh?" came the reply. "Yeah. Our rabbit died before we left. We buried him. And for the life of us we can't figure out how he got back in his cage."
    We are taught to make every effort to add the grace of virtue. [II Peter 1:5]. Virtue means moral courage. It involves honesty and integrity, especially when it would be easier to tell a white lie or make excuses.
    The Christian life demands such character. God is seeking to build better people out of us. Wouldn't be great if everyone had such character?

Source:
Meadowbrook Church of Christ, Anderson, IN, Feb. 24, 1991.


Bird Dog

    An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him. He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, the eternal pessimist who refused to be impressed with anything. This, surely, would impress him. He invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.
    As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. they fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. This continued all day long; each time a duck fell, the dog walked across the surface of the water to retrieve it.
    The pessimist watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.
    On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, "Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?"
    "I sure did," responded the pessimist. "He can't swim."

Source:
Alan Smith, Thought For The Day, date unknown.
   

Backing Out

    Have you ever walked away form an incredible offer?
    Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton was imprisoned shortly after signing the historic document in 1776. If you know by heart all those who signed, you are probably wondering how Stockton was.
    Stockton represented New Jersey in the signing ceremony. But before the ink could dry, he was seized by the British and imprisoned as a common criminal. The intimidation worked. He quickly swore allegiance to King George III; and recanted his signature on America's immortal document.
    In another arena, there are others who renege. Jesus, while visiting our planet, presented a parable to his followers about a sower. The planted seeds of the sower represent the claims of God's Word. Jesus said, "(Seeds that fall) on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while but in time of testing they fall away." (Luke 8:13). Incredibly, even some who witnessed Christ and His miracles "turned back and no longer followed Him" (John 6:66), so take stock of your life to see if you've backed out on your commitment to Jesus.
    Remember: If you are "backing out," you may be "backing into" eternal disaster.

Source:
Pulpit Helps.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet As Honey

By Alan Smith

     This morning's thought is based on a story that appeared on the Reuters news several years ago:
     "TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian bridegroom bit off more than he could chew when, according to custom, he licked honey from his bride's finger during their marriage ceremony and choked to death on one of her false nails.  The Jam-e Jam newspaper said on Wednesday the 28-year-old groom died on the spot in the northwestern city of Qazvin while the bride was rushed to hospital after fainting from shock.  Iranian couples lick honey from each other's fingers when they get married so that their life together starts sweetly."
     While this groom's death is a tragedy, my first reaction was that this is a beautiful wedding custom.  Isn't it a great idea to start your wedding life out sweetly?  But, as I thought about it, I realized that the honey might be better saved for a later point in the marriage.  After all, virtually every marriage begins sweetly.  The trick is to maintain that sweetness after years and years of being together.   Starting sweetly is not nearly as important as continuing sweetly.
     Those of you who are married may do well to ask if the sweetness is still there.  Husbands and wives, do you treat each other just as sweetly as you did those first few days of wedded bliss?
     How about in your other relationships?  Do you communicate with others in a way that can honestly be categorized as "sweet"?  Listen to these words of Solomon:
     "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." (Prov. 16:24)
     May your life be filled with sweetness, and may you be blessed to be surrounded by sweet people.
     Have a great day!

Source:
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com

The Storms of Life

By Alan Smith

     The following quote comes from Kim Sherer:
     "One night while my young son, Ryan, was sleeping, a storm began brewing outside.  After a loud clap of thunder, I heard him wake up so I headed toward his room to comfort him.  He asked me to stay with him until he fell asleep.  As I lay there I realized he hadn't asked me to make the storm go away, but to stay with him.  How many times, I wondered, have I asked God to take away the storms of life, when instead I need to ask him to stay with me and help me weather them more peacefully?"
     What a beautiful thought!
     "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2Corinthians 1:3-4).
     Father, we do indeed pray for your comforting presence in the storms of our lives.  As much as we might desire for the storms to go away, it is much important to us that you remain with us and see us through the storms.  Thank you for your assurance that you will do that for us.  In Jesus' name, amen.
Have a great day!

Source:
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


Self is Deceptive

    Around the end of the fourth century and toward the beginning of the third century B.C., there was a very famous architect by the name of Sostratos. The king of Egypt engaged Sostratos to build a famous lighthouse in order that ships might be guided safely to the port. When Sostratos finished building the lighthouse he chiseled his own name upon a stone that he used in construction. He did not allow that stone to be seen but covered it with mud. As soon as the mud dried, he carved the king's name on it and painted it in gold in order to flatter him. Sostratos knew that sooner or later one of the waves would wash the mud away and the name of the king would disappear while his own name carved in stone would remain.
    Watch those people who, on the surface show a great deal of interest in you and flatter you. It may be just superficial. They may be just writing your name on mud while underneath all the nice words and flattery is their own name carved in stone.

Source:
Pulpit Helps, date unknown


Searching and Finding

By David A. Sargent

     Kim Spink was shopping at Wal-Mart in Joplin, Missouri, when a massive tornado struck the city last Sunday, May 22.  Her husband, Greg, and their three children waited out the storm in their basement at home.
     As soon as the storm was over, Greg and the children began searching for Kim.  They made their way to the Wal-Mart only to find it in shambles; only one wall was left standing.  Amidst the incredible rubble in the Wal-Mart parking lot, they found Kim’s SUV overturned and smashed having apparently been picked up by the tornado and thrown several feet.  Her family looked to see if she was in the vehicle; she wasn’t.
     Greg and the children continued to look for Kim, not knowing if they would find her alive or lifeless among the destruction left by the storm.  After three long, agonizing hours, they found her.  She was walking toward their home, unsure if it or her family had survived the storm.
     “We had a reunion in the middle of the street,” Greg Spink said.  What an incredibly joyous and tear-filled reunion that must have been!
     How did Kim survive when the tornado ripped through the Wal-Mart?  She was behind the one wall that was left standing. *
     As our hearts are filled with compassion for the people of Joplin whose lives have been torn apart by the storm (see the links below for some ways to help), we are reminded of the preciousness of our families, the pain of loss, but in some cases like the Spink family – the joy of reunion.
     The Spinks’ ordeal reminds us of another search and rescue mission…
     Amidst the devastation that SIN has brought into the world and into our lives, many are searching for God.  It is God’s design and desire that “men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
     When one turns to the Scriptures in his search for God, he soon discovers that God has already been “searching” for him – and has made provision for his eternal salvation!
     Because of His great love for us, God sent His Son into the world to experience firsthand the trials and temptations of life.  “In all things [Jesus] had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
     This same merciful and faithful High Priest offered the ONE sacrifice – Himself – on the cross to pay the price for our redemption and give eternal life to those who accept His offer.  Through His atoning death, one finds life and the promise of living eternally in a place where “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, [nor] pain” and all the other things that are associated with the devastating storms of this life (Rev. 21:4).
     Jesus will save those who: place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess His name before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are UNITED with Him in baptism (immersion) for the forgiveness of sins(Acts 2:38).  Those who remain faithful to Him can look forward to a wonderful RE-UNION when He comes to take His family home to heaven (see John 14:1-6).
     Continue searching for GOD and you will discover that He has been searching for YOU!
     Accept His offer of salvation from sin and from the storms of life.
     Won’t YOU?

Source:
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

** Several disaster relief agencies associated with the church of Christ are reaching out to the victims of recent storms including the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team (www.churchesofchristdrt.org), Churches of Christ Disaster Assistance (www.disasterassistancecoc.com), and the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort (www.disasterreliefeffort.org).  See the websites for ways to help.

Saving Your Life

By David A. Sargent

     Kathleen Murphy claims that golf saved her life....
     Here’s her story in her own words:  “Six years ago, when I was 58, I was playing in the Tuesday-morning women's league at Exmoor Country Club just south of Lake Forest, Ill. … On the long par-4 16th we all hit our drives to the same area in the fairway. I was first to hit. I smacked my dependable 3-wood pin-high but 15 yards right of the green, and the ball disappeared as it settled into the rough. Anticipating that looking for my ball might delay play, I sidestepped to the rough and began walking forward to get a head start. The group's next shot, struck by Lois Burns (with whom I was playing for the first time), was a shanked 3-wood that flew sideways and hit me directly in the back of the head. I can still remember how the sound exploded in my ears.”
     Immediately Murphy’s teammates loaded her into the golf cart and carried her to the Emergency Room at the nearby Highland Park Hospital.  A CAT scan and an MRI confirmed that her skull was not fractured, but the doctor began asking Murphy some questions: “Have you been experiencing headaches, bouts of dizziness, etc.”  Murphy said no.
     The doctor was asking her these questions because the scans had revealed an apple-sized tumor that occupied nearly the entire right side of her brain.  The doctors estimated that the tumor had been growing there for perhaps 15 years.  More tests revealed related problems and immediate threats to her health, so surgery was performed.
     Murphy reports: “The surgery and my recovery were successful. Six weeks later I walked down the aisle [at her son’s wedding], my hair styled ably to hide the scar, and was followed by a glowing bride.” *
     Kathleen Murphy claims that golf saved her life, because it was only after being hit in the head with a golf ball that tests were performed that led to the discovery of the life-threatening tumor.
     What will it take for YOU to consult the Word of God?  Curiosity?  Encouragement from a friend?  A tragedy in your life?
     Whatever it takes, it needs to happen because God’s Word reveals our true TERMINAL condition: we are all sinners, desperately in need of spiritual “surgery,” because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
     But the Word of God also reveals that the Great Physician – Jesus Christ, God’s Son – has provided the means for our life-saving surgery.  He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross in our place (Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Then He made new life – and eternal life! – possible for us by being raised from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-4).
     The Great Physician removes the “tumor” of sin from our lives and gives us new life (and eternal life!) when we: place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31) confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38).
     DON'T WAIT... for an errant golf ball to strike YOU on the head before you go to the Word of God and learn of your true condition as well as the Savior’s remedy.  Allow Him to perform the life-saving surgery that you need TODAY.  He will save your life, eternally.
     Won’t YOU?

Source:
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* Kathleen Murphy, “Golf Saved My Life” in Golf Digest – www.golfdigest.com.  10/8/12.  Many thanks to Gary Davis of Lavonia, GA, for sharing this article with us!


Right or Wrong?

When faced with this question, the following inquiries will be helpful:
Am I commanded not to do it? (James 4:17)
Am I commanded to do it? (Eccl. 12:13)
Can I do it for God's glory? (1 Cor. 10:31)
Can I do it in the name of the Lord? (Col. 3:17)
Would Jesus do it? (1 Pet. 2:21)
Can I do it and be an example of a believer? (1 Tim. 4:12)
Will it cause someone to stumble? (1 Cor. 8:9)
Would I encourage those I love to do it? (Prov. 22:16)
Would I want to be doing it when Jesus comes? (Matt. 16:27)
Is there any doubt in my mind about doing it? (Rom. 14:23)

Source:
Pulpit Helps, date unknown


The One Who Died for Me

By Charles Curtis

    Alexander the Great, with his arm, captured a small village. The citizens of the village were brought before Alexander at which time their future was determined.
    There appeared before him a young man, his bride and his bride's mother. As they stood before Alexander, the young man was asked, "What would you give for your life?" upon which he replied, "I would give all my gold and silver, Sir."
    Then Alexander asked, "What would you give for the life of your wife?" upon which he replied, "I would give my life, Sir." Alexander said, "Let them go free."
    As they left, the mother asked the daughter, "Did you see the golden coat Alexander had on?" "No," replied the daughter, "I could only see the one who said, 'I would die for her.'"
    As we run the Christian race, we must keep our eyes on the one who died for us.

Source:
Pulpit Helps, date unknown


Of That Day and Hour

By Alan Smith

     We're still here!  Despite the prophesies of Harold Camping, we made it through 2011 without seeing the return of Jesus Christ.  Camping, you will recall, is the one who predicted that Christ would return on May 21, 2011, and when that didn't happen, he revised his predicted date to October 21, 2011.
     I am hard pressed to explain the motives of people who try to predict the date of the second coming of Christ, and even more, to explain the gullibility of those who continue to believe them in the face of Jesus’ own words: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32).
     Do I believe Jesus is going to return personally, visibly, and bodily?  Absolutely yes.  Do I believe that his return will bring time as we know it to an end ? Yes.  Do I believe his return will result in a separation of the saved and the lost for all eternity?  Yes.  Then why am I not interested in trying to figure out when that return will be?  As Rubel Shelly has put it, for the same reason that I have never needed anybody to stand guard and tell me when my wife was pulling up in the driveway or coming into the room.  I am her husband when we are together and when we are apart, and I will be faithful to her in either setting.
     I think God knew that if he gave us the precise time of Christ’s return that the natural tendency of folks would be to put off following Christ till the last minute.  That’s only natural.  Parents and teens have experienced this first hand.  If the parents leave the house in the morning and say, “We’ll be back at 5:00 this afternoon.  We expect for the kitchen to be clean when we get back”, what happens?  You know exactly what happens.  The teens watch TV, play on the computer, read their books until 4:30.  And then it’s a mad rush to get it finished before Mom and Dad walk through the door!
     But suppose the parents leave in the morning and they say, “We’ll be back after a while.  We expect for the kitchen to be clean when we return”, now what happens?  A precise time hasn’t been given.  So the teens go through a thought process something like this -- “I can probably get away with waiting until noon until I get started -- but no, they could come home earlier than that -- the only safe thing to do is clean it now and keep it clean till they get back”
     When you don’t know the exact time that someone is coming, it changes your whole outlook on getting ready.  That’s why Jesus said, “It could be in a few years, it could be in a few decades, it could be in a few centuries, it could be in a few millennia.  It doesn’t matter that you know when it is, it only matters that you know that it’s going to happen, that you get yourself ready now, and that you stay ready.”
     I love the story that’s told about Colonel Davenport, a former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.  On May 19th, 1780 the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand.  They started calling for an immediate adjournment, but Davenport rose up and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
     I like his thinking.  If Jesus Christ is coming in the next few minutes, I want him to find me doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  Bring on the candles!
     “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42).
     Have a great day!

Source:
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


Nothing Ever Dies

By Helen Steiner Rice

Nothing ever dies
that is not born anew -
The miracles of nature
all tell us this is true ...
The flowers sleeping peacefully
beneath the winter's snow
Awaken to the sunshine's warmth
when spring winds start to blow,
And all around on every side
new life and joy appear
To tell us nothing ever dies
and we should have no fear,
For death is just a detour
along life's wending way
That leads God's chosen children
to a bright and glorious day.

Source:
Macon Road Church of Christ bulletin, date unknown


Not the First

By David A. Sargent

      A young employee secretly misappropriated several hundred dollars of his business firm’s money. When this action was discovered, the young man was told to report to the office of the senior partner of the firm. As he walked up the stairs toward the administrative office, the young employee was heavy-hearted. He knew without a doubt he would lose his position with the firm. He also feared the possibility of legal action taken against him. Seemingly his whole world had collapsed.
      Upon his arrival in the office of the senior executive the young man was questioned about the whole affair. He was asked if the allegations were true, and he answered in the affirmative. Then the executive surprisingly asked this question: “If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?”
      The young worker brightened up and said, “Yes, sir, you surely can. I’ve learned my lesson.”
      The executive responded, “I’m not going to press charges, and you can continue in your present responsibility.”
      The employer concluded the conversation with his younger employee by saying, “I think you ought to know, however, that you are the second man in this firm who succumbed to temptation and was shown leniency. I was the first!  What you have done, I did. The mercy you are receiving, I received.  It is only the grace of God that can keep us both.” *
      None of us is “the first” to make some terrible mistake, “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  That fact does not excuse us from our misdeeds, but it does reveal the NEED that each of us has for mercy.  Due to our sin, each of us deserves the penalty for sin: DEATH (Romans 6:23).
     “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4), provided the Solution to our dilemma.  He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
     God will save those who: place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), who turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), who confess Christ before men (Romans 10:9-10), and who are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
     Won’t YOU accept His mercy and grace by trusting and obeying Him today?
     Then, won’t you extend the same mercy to others?
     “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Source:
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* From SermonCentral.com