Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

The Lord rescues his servants; all who take shelter in him escape punishment. Psalm 34.22

Have you ever been out walking when you were suddenly caught in a downpour? What is the first thing that you try to find? You look for somewhere that you might get away from the rain before you get soaked to the skin.

There is a place of shelter that every man and woman should seek out. It is the shelter provided by the Lord. In the Lord, we have protection from the punishment of being stained with sin. He has provided everything that is needed in Jesus Christ. You only have to meet the conditions of obedience to be able to have the protection from the eternal consequences of your sins. Jesus paid the price for all when he died on the cross. However, not everyone will accept his grace and redemption when it is offered to them. Only by accepting it, can you receive it.

#risingjoy #Psalms #shelter

Oct. 1. Luke’s Account of the Gospel

Luke did not disclose much information about himself. Paul referred to him as, “the beloved physician.” He was the only Gentile writer of the New Testament and he wrote in the Greek language primarily for Gentile readers. Scholars conclude that he was born and reared in Antioch of Syria. The use of the pronouns “we” and “us” in the book of Acts indicates that he spent much time as a traveling companion of Paul.

The writer doesn’t identify himself as the author of the gospel that bears Luke’s name nor does he identify himself as the writer of Acts. As one reads Acts and Paul’s epistles, it becomes evident from the various references to Luke that he indeed wrote Acts. Evidence in the preface to Acts indicates that the same writer was responsible for the Gospel According to Luke.

As with the accounts of Matthew and Mark, the location and date of writing the Gospel According to Luke are unsure, but the time was probably during the early A. D. 60s.

Luke, being a physician was more highly educated than the other gospel writers. This became evident as he referred to various names and events of contemporary history.

The account of the gospel by Luke contains more details about the genealogy, birth and early childhood of Jesus than the other gospels. He related more stories of Jesus’ concern for the outcasts of society than the other writers.

In his gospel, Luke recorded the time prior to the birth of Jesus until His ministry; the Galilean Ministry; last journeys to Jerusalem and the events relating to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven.


Give the seed time

Nearly nine years ago to-the-date I had a Bible study (part of an ongoing series) with two friends. Once the last study concluded, concerning the topic of salvation, one of the friends replied, “It really is easy to understand, isn’t it?” This reply made me excited! And I expected a decision, of a positive nature, to be made in the near future. I had to wait longer than expected.

A couple of weeks ago I received a text from this friend expressing their desire to obey the Gospel. I was happy to help, to say the least. After a 20 minute study the seed that began to be planted nearly a decade ago had finally sprouted! Currently, this good and honest heart is making great progress in additional correspondence courses.

Plant the seed and water it from time-to-time with grace; even if that time takes a decade it will be worth it when you get to rejoice.

“A sower went out to sow his seed: …” (Luke 8:5)

Sep. 30. The Gospel According to Mark

John Mark was the youngest writer of the New Testament. It is thought that he referred to himself as the young man who wrapped himself in a linen cloth and followed Jesus after the apostles had forsaken Him during His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Someone had grabbed him and he ran away naked as they held the cloth that he had left behind.

The mother of Mark was Mary. The apostles spent much time in her home. When an angel released Peter from prison, he went to her house where many were praying. Since he was not an apostle, but a preacher, Mark no doubt learned much of his information about the life of Jesus from those contacts with the apostles.

When Barnabas and Saul (Paul) departed on their first missionary journey from Antioch, Mark accompanied them as far as Perga in Pamphylia, but for some unknown reason, he returned to Jerusalem. Some years later, he was the center of contention between Paul and Barnabas that caused their division as they prepared for their second missionary journey. Paul and Mark reconciled later and he asked Timothy to bring Mark with him when he came to him in prison.

Mark’s story of the gospel is shorter than the other three accounts. Even though he recorded many of the teachings of Jesus, he told more about His actions than about His teaching. Like Matthew’s story of Jesus, the time and location of the writing of Mark’s account are also unknown, but is thought to be about A. D. 60.

The primary purpose of Mark’s writing is thought to be for the benefit of Gentile readers. He explained some of the Jewish customs, such as not eating with defiled or unwashed hands. References to Jewish law, the genealogy of Jesus and His birth and childhood were omitted. Jesus was presented in a way that the Gentiles could understand that He is the Christ, the Son of God and that He came to earth, lived and died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Man’s responsibility to obey the conditions set forth for salvation was explained by each of the four gospel writers.


What can people ‘catch’ from you?

Number 567 • September 27, 2020

Matthew 13:33 Parable of the “Leaven”

When we use the word ‘contagious’ or ‘infectious’ we usually think in terms of disease. We take steps to guard against being infected: personal cleanliness and hygiene, diet and exercise, vitamins, antibiotics, and vaccinations to develop personal immunity. We take steps to stop the spread of the disease to others. We wear masks and practice social distancing between ourselves and others. In some cases we quarantine infected persons; they are isolated to prevent them from infecting others. Nobody wants to catch a disease and keep it. If you do catch it you want to be cured from it. Surely you don’t want to give it to others – don’t share it. Has anybody caught anything bad from you? Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #influence

Hugh’s News & Views (Factions In The Church)


When I say that I have obeyed the gospel, been saved from my sins, and added to the one church of which we read in the New Testament (Acts 2:47), some of my leftist brethren who are bent on portraying the Lord’s church as a denomination will ask, “Which faction of the Church (sic) of Christ were you added to?”

Before I answer that question, let me hasten to say that when I obeyed the gospel it is for sure that the Lord did not add me to any one of the more than 30 different kinds of Baptist Churches! He did not add me to any of the at least 20 different kinds of Methodist Churches in North America, plus many others in other parts of the world! He did not add me to any of the over 30 different kinds of major Presbyterian Churches or to any of the many smaller Presbyterian bodies! He did not add me to any one of the almost 40 different Lutheran factions in North America, nor to any of the over 20 different kinds of Catholic Churches, all with their own patriarch or prelate and their own rites and rituals! Continue reading



Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” Hebrews 12.4-6

Do you discipline your children? Why do you? Hopefully, it is so they will come to understand that authority is to be obeyed for their good. You teach your children that if they do certain things, there will be consequences which is considered to be discipline.

God disciplines his children. His discipline serves at least two purposes. It is to help our faith to grow. Discipline is not always pleasant, but with the proper attitude, much can be learned from it.

Discipline also serves to teach you perseverance. The writer of Hebrews, in 12.2, tells his readers to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. He is our focal point. He is where all the concentration should be. Only then, can you endure the difficult times. God wants his children to arrive at their destination, which is heaven.

When times become difficult, just remember that, most likely, you have not shed blood due to your struggles or sin. Then, remember that Jesus shed blood, not for his own sin for he had no sin. His blood was shed for you and for your sins.

#risingjoy #Hebrews #discipline

Sep. 29. Matthew Writes His Account of the Gospel

Matthew was a publican (tax collector) for the Roman or Herodian government. The Jews hated publicans because they were associated with Jewish oppression by the Romans and most of them were highly dishonest. They charged more taxes than were due and kept the excess for themselves.

In choosing His apostles, Jesus selected men from a cross-section of that day’s society. This led to criticism by the Pharisees because if Jesus was the Messiah as He had claimed to be, they objected to His association with “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus answered that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The gospel according to Matthew is commonly referred to as Matthew. Its exact time of writing is unknown. Several scholars think that it was probably written from an unknown location about the time that Paul was imprisoned in Rome around AD 60.

Matthew’s writing was directed toward the Jewish population as he introduced Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews and recorded the events of His life, death, burial and resurrection.

Since Matthew was one of Christ’s apostles and had worked very closely with Him for about two years, he was an eyewitness to most of the events mentioned in this writing. He quoted extensively from the Old Testament and showed the Jews how the Law of Moses and the prophecies of the coming Messiah related to Jesus, the Christ, their King. He presented the life of Jesus as it related to the Jews.

Even in the beginning of his account, Matthew traced the genealogy of Jesus directly to Abraham, the fleshly father of the Jewish nation, spiritual father of the faithful and the one to whom God had PROMISED to bless all the nations through his Seed. He showed that the fleshly descent of Jesus came through David and that He was the Christ of prophecy.

The events recorded by Matthew were grouped according to topics instead of by strict chronological order.


Because sometimes you find a…

Because sometimes you find a sentence that just deserves quoting…

“When the war is over, the last battle is fought, the last victories are won, and the cannon is allowed to cool, and the sword is sheathed and hung on the wall, and the muskets are stacked, and the bayonets are allowed to rust, he is honorably discharged and turns his face homeward, ever thinking of the love and peace and rest awaiting him there.”

[Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore, F. D. Srygley, editor, Old Paths Book Club, 1950, p. 56]

Sep. 28. Arrival at Rome; Paul Under House Arrest

Acts 28:11-31

Three months after Paul’s shipwreck and their arrival at Malta, the weather settled enough for ships to sail again. That was probably about the first of February. Another ship from Alexandria had wintered there and everyone from the wrecked ship boarded this vessel and resumed their journey to Rome.

The ship sailed about eighty miles and landed at Syracuse on the island of Sicily and stayed there three days. After battling the wind again, the ship reached Rhegium. From there it sailed to its port of destination, Puteoli on the mainland of Italy and the principal port for Alexandrian and Italian trade.

Paul met with some of the Christians at Puteoli and they asked that he stay seven days. That period of time would allow them to worship together on the next Lord’s Day.

Since Puteoli was the end of the line for the ship, the centurion with his soldiers and prisoners probably walked the remaining distance from there to Rome. As they reached Appii Forum and Three Inns, they met other Christians from Rome who had been informed of Paul’s journey by those of Puteoli. That was very encouraging to him and he thanked God for their presence.

When they reached Rome the centurion turned the prisoners over to the captain of the guard. Paul’s conduct on the voyage from Caesarea earned him favors that other prisoners could not enjoy. He was permitted to live in his own rented house—but always chained to a guard.

Paul had finally reached Rome about two and one-half years after writing the letter to them telling of his intentions. He was with some of his friends from earlier years and had begun to make new friends.

After only three days, Paul called a meeting of the chief Jews of Rome and explained his case to them. They stated that they had neither received letters (charges) nor had heard anything evil about him. However, they said that they wanted to hear what he thought because, “Concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

When the set time arrived, many of the Jews met at Paul’s house and he preached Christ. He started with the Law of Moses, related the prophecies of Christ’s coming and preached the complete gospel of Christ. The Jews were divided after hearing Paul’s teaching. Some believed, but probably most closed their ears and eyes and refused to accept his explanation of the gospel.

As was Paul’s custom, he had preached to the Jews first and after their refusal to believe, he quoted from Isaiah and told them that he would turn to the Gentiles. When the meeting ended, the Jews left and had a great dispute among themselves.

Paul lived the next two years as a prisoner in his own rented house. He had the freedom to write and to receive, “All who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”

As we complete the book of Acts, we also end the study of most of Paul’s travels. He spent most of the remainder of his life in confinement, teaching and writing to various churches and individuals. The works of the other New Testament writers and other letters of Paul follow in chronological order.



Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. 1 Thessalonians 5.11

How do you live your life? Do you ever look to the sky and ask if Christ will return today? Or do you get so caught up in the daily tasks that you have, that the thought never crosses your mind?

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to be alert and sober. The Christian is to be watchful and clear-headed, able to see the dangers that are put in your path. Peter likens the devil to a roaring lion who seeks to devour those who are weak, 1 Peter 5.8. God will provide a way out when you are tempted, 1 Corinthians 10.13.

It is not known when Christ will return to welcome Christians home. Only the Father has that information. Therefore, it is important that Christians make the time to encourage one another. You are not alone. You have to finish the race to be able to receive the reward. Let’s all finish together!

#risingjoy #1-Thessalonians #second-coming

Sep. 27. Paul Ministers to Malta Natives

Acts 28:1-10

After the crew and passengers reached the land, they learned that they had reached Malta. It was a small island about sixty-five or seventy miles south of Sicily.

The natives of Malta were very kind to the shipwrecked strangers. They immediately welcomed them with a fire to warm and dry themselves.

As Paul gathered wood to put on the fire, a very poisonous snake bit him on the hand. The Maltans suspected that he was a murderer who had escaped the sea, but was now getting his justice from the snakebite. When he did not swell up and die immediately, but was unharmed, they then concluded that he was a god.

Many times, adversity provides an opportunity for doing good deeds. The father of Publius, the chief resident or ruler of the island was very sick. When Paul learned of his illness, he went in and prayed and laid his hands on him and healed him. The rest of the sick people on the island came to him and he healed them. As he healed those natives, he was presented with opportunities to teach them about Christ. There is no doubt that many people believed and obeyed the gospel. They also honored Paul’s companions and supplied them with many necessities.


One-line or one-sentence prayers

You can probably think of some prayers in the Bible that were only one sentence, can’t you? Add your favorite one in the comments, if you like. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught not to make long prayers in public in order to call attention to ourselves. Prayers can be short, and they can be effective prayers.

Have you made some one-line prayers? If so, what are some? Like Nehemiah (oops, I gave one away), in the heat of the moment, we can send up quick, lightning prayers.

A good idea might be to have a one-line prayer to think of during each day. Something to come back to, to look over, to review, to repeat. It’s never wrong to repeat a prayer, in sincerity and perseverance.

Sometimes the one-line prayer might reflect a phrase or verse in Scripture. These might even be the best ones.

Here’s one from Galatians 4.9:

Lord, I want to know you and to be known by you, so help me put my whole life in your hands and to love you with all my being. Amen.

Prayers and their forms can be varied, according to need and the moment, while always respecting the parameters of Scripture. Let us pray!


Spirited singing may not always be spiritual


Number 566 • September 25, 2020


Apostle Paul said, “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). I’m sure I would have enjoyed singing with Paul – I would be happy to let him lead, and I would try to match him in the spirit and the understanding too. I’m sure Paul would know and appreciate the difference between spirited and spiritual singing. A catchy tune with a thumping, bumping, herky-jerky rhythm and a bouncy boogie beat may have you swinging and swaying and tapping your toes or snapping your fingers while you sing — it may be ‘spirited,’ it may give you a physical and emotional workout and may even qualify as ‘joyful noise,’ and yet not be acceptable to God as worship.

Have you given much thought to what it takes to make singing an activity of worship? The song itself must be appropriate for worship and it must be sung in a worshipful way. Take a few minutes with me here for a little lesson about worship in song. I’m going to mention a few things that are not important – may actually be irrelevant – to God (you may be surprised). I’m also going to explain the one thing required for worshipping God in singing, one thing without which singing cannot be acceptable worship, one thing which, if present, will compensate for many technical and mechanical deficiencies. Actually, in some ways it is a complex thing of two parts, two sides, or two aspects. But we can bring it all together in one comprehensive statement.

Please do not leave the discussion yet. We want to end up singing to please God (Hebrews 13:15, 21), not just to please ourselves. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #singing, #worship

Sep. 26. Voyage to Rome Begins; Storm at Sea

Acts 27:1-44

When the time came for Paul to leave for Rome, he and other prisoners were put under the control of Julius, a centurion and they boarded a ship sailing as far as Myra of Lycia. Luke and Aristarchus also accompanied Paul.

The ship made various stops along the way to load and unload cargo. Sidon was the first stop and Julius allowed Paul freedom to visit his friends there and to receive needed care. They stayed near the coast as they sailed from Sidon to Myra because the wind was a problem.

Paul’s company changed ships at Myra and boarded a large vessel carrying grain from Alexandria, Egypt to Italy. After many days of difficult sailing due to the wind, the ship finally reached Fair Havens, a harbor on the southern coast of Crete.

The season for smooth sailing was coming to a close, but the ship’s crew did not want to spend the winter at Fair Havens because the harbor was not suitable. Paul either by inspiration or by his own experience warned against going back out to sea because of the perilous conditions that would meet them.

Phoenix, a harbor about forty miles west of Fair Havens was more suitable and the owner of the ship and his officers ignored Paul’s advice and moved out. Soon after leaving, the winds became so tempestuous, that the ship was blown off course away from Crete and out into the sea.

The storm was so severe that the ship went many days without the benefit of the sun nor stars for navigation. During this time, they had relieved the ship of much of its weight and everyone thought that they would surely be destroyed.

In answer to Paul’s prayers, an angel appeared to him and informed him that he must be brought before Caesar. All who were with him would be saved from the storm, but the ship would run aground on a certain island. Even though a prisoner, his faith encouraged the men.

After sensing that they were nearing land, the sailors attempted to secure the ship by dropping anchors. They also schemed to take the lifeboat and leave the ship. Paul alertly informed the centurion of their actions and warned that they would be lost if they did not stay with the ship. The soldiers cut the lifeboat away from the ship and the escape attempt ended.

Because it had been fourteen days since they had eaten, Paul encouraged everyone to eat in order to regain their strength to endure the shipwreck that was to occur soon. After he had given thanks to God for the food, he began to eat and the others began to eat also.

When the two hundred seventy-six persons on the ship had eaten enough, they threw the wheat into the sea and lightened the ship further by removing everything that was unnecessary for its operation.

As daylight came after a sleepless night, those on the ship saw an unidentified land with a bay and beach. They released the anchors into the sea and determined to get as near the land as possible before running the ship aground. The ship soon reached a point where two seas met and there it broke apart.

Paul, the prisoner, was now in charge of the evacuation from the shipwreck. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the centurion wanting to save Paul prevented this action. Those who could swim went first and were followed by the rest on boards and parts of the ship. They all escaped safely to land.