The shallow nature, conscious of its weakness and insufficiency, is always trying to advertise itself and make sure of its being appreciated. The strong nature, conscious of its strength, is willing to wait and let its work be made manifest in due time. Indeed, the truest natures are so free from all self-consciousness and self-consideration that their object is not to be appreciated, understood or recompensed but to accomplish their true mission and fulfill the real work of life.A.B. Bruce
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Memorial Day started as Decoration Day for the graves of those who died in the War Between The States. It became a federal holiday in 1971. Remembering the war dead each year should remind us how precious is our national Freedom. Have you noticed, there is no “memorial day” for enemies? David reminded Israel, “O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; Even their memory has perished” (Psalm 9:6 NKJV). It has become devoted to baseball games, racing, grilling, and traveling. For Christians, the Lord’s Supper is to “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NKJV) every “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7 NKJV), which keeps it fresh! We don’t decorate Christ’s grave, we celebrate His victory, and ours: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible”1 Corinthians 9:19.
In the Old Testament, God provided instructions for the slave who wanted to serve his master for life. He was to go to the doorway and allow his master to pierce his ear with an awl. (More …)
In yesterday’s e-bulletin, I mentioned the choice that Joshua made to lead his family in service to the Lord (Joshua 24:15). In truth, every person faces the choice every day of whom they will serve. God made us creatures with choice. In making us creatures of choice, he also made us creatures of responsibility. That is, only humans, out of all of God’s creations, are accountable for their actions.
Our slogan, ‘Everyone must do his own work,’ is based on the idea that I alone am responsible for my actions. 2 Cor. 5:10 and John 5:28-29 are personally responsible for the outcome of our life and the location where we spend eternity.
Joshua gave the people of his day a choice: the gods their fathers had served or the gods of the land in which they dwelled or the God of heaven.
Our choices today are also heavily weighted, by sheer number, on Satan’s side. We can serve ourselves through pleasure, comfort, money, convenience, recreation and a host of such matters. Jesus described those who serve these things as rocky and thorny soil. The gospel is received with joy, but worldly desire and comfort soon create a path back to self-serving living.
I believe that some folks get the idea that because God gives us the ability to choose, it means that he gives us the freedom to choose as we want. If that were the case, no responsibility would attach itself to our choices.
Brothers and sisters, our ability to choose sin does not give us freedom to choose sin. As a matter of fact, “the wages of sin is death.” Each of us will give personal account of our own work. So, no matter what others may be doing, I pray that you will always choose to do right.
Everyone must independently do his/her own work.
An American patriotic hymn’s final verse is a prayer:
“Our father’s God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.”
When we sing this prayer, written in 1832 by Samuel Smith, we remember passages that talk about Christ’s concern for freedom. When Jesus preached in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). He chastised religious leaders who attempted to go beyond the word of God in binding additional requirements on God’s people. He modeled how freedom works best when exercised with discipline and respect for others. Jesus could converse with people whom others disdained because of their lifestyle because he could see their potential for being God’s people. He could forgive people who tried to hurt him and even people who had committed adultery, but express anguish over others who tried to deny help to suffering individuals because of religious laws. Jesus understood, as they did not, that submission means giving up my desires and wants to serve another, not making another into a clone of myself. Freedom does not mean doing whatever one wants. The same biblical chapter that begins, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” also warns that those who engage in the acts of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God, and concludes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:1, 19-21, 26). Freedom is messy. Sometimes I am bothered by something I observe in a congregation, but when I search the Scriptures, pray, and perhaps check out the history there, I realize they are merely exercising their freedom in Christ. That sometimes is hard for me to admit, because I thought initially that they were wrong and needed to be corrected. On the other hand, some times what people do or tolerate is wrong and should be corrected (Note Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, whom the apostle corrected on several issues. Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3) also emphasize that there are limits to individual and congregational freedom in Christ. What helps me is to imitate what Barnabas did at Antioch and look for the grace of God at work (Acts 11). Freedom, whether in our nation or in the church, may make us uncomfortable, but so long as it is in harmony with the word of God, we rejoice because we too are free in Christ.
We celebrate the beginnings of our nation’s independence and its continuing quest for freedom for its citizens. We moan because someone else’s freedom conflicts with our own. We worry when our freedoms (both as citizens and Christians) seem to be threatened. Let’s keep singing and praying that God will protect us and our nations (for those who live elsewhere), that he will use us to bring liberating light into the lives of our neighbors and our enemies, that we will grow in love and in disciplined use of the freedoms God has given us.
If you were a prisoner of war, would you rather be eliminated by your enemy, or forced to do his bidding? It seems that if you are going to be killed anyway there would be less pain and anxiety in death than there would be in the torture that would come before it. Perhaps you are thinking that if you were alive, there might at least be some hope of release or escape.
When Paul wrote to Timothy concerning his ministry to the church, while he was giving him tips on how to be a gentle servant in the kingdom he included these verses – “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
Pay special attention to the phrase, “having been taken captive by him to do his will.” The original language of this text expresses the fact that Satan is taking live prisoners! Many people think that the battle between God and the devil is being played out just between the two of them. They think that whatever influence the devil may have is only going to be seen in judgment.
But the devil is not waiting for judgment! He already knows he loses on that day. The devil’s work is in lives that exist today. Paul is saying that most people don’t realize that they are the devil’s live prisoners. But Satan has them and they are doing what he wants them to do. The only way they can “come to their senses” or “escape” from their terrible situation is through the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ which will bring them to repentance.
Satan is deceptive! He wants you to think that you are free when you are really his slave. He wants you to think that your life is really going fine when in actuality the life that you are living is full of problems which if not dealt with will eventually lead you to hell. The devil means business. Don’t be foolish. He is working on you. He won’t just kill you when he gets a hold of you. He has no interest in that. He wants to keep you alive so that you can serve him.
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18)
—Jeremiah Tatum, Willow Avenue church, Cookville TN
Christian Post columnist, Dr. Tony Beam, reports that “the Federal Government sees business in America as a target rich environment ripe for takeover.”
If it succeeds, the State could stop the preaching of the gospel and force private church-run schools to abandon Christian principles in hiring, plus change the way these schools hold students accountable to Scriptural principles.
Brethren, if this happens, our freedom of religion, i.e., to worship as the New Testament directs, will be in grave danger.
The greatest freedom is the freedom to be a servant of Jesus.
Governments, try as they may, can’t take this one away.
On this 4th of July I feel compelled to say something about our country. I love to hear the stirring words of our Declaration of Independence. I marvel at the insight of mere men to construct the document we call the Constitution. No surprise, the contributors were heavily influenced by the Bible as can be seen in both writings. Yet as I write these words the powerful concepts of both the Declaration and Constitution are undermined at every turn. Our leaders seem to have developed an allergic reaction to anything based on Christian principles including these works of the founding fathers.
As a result our country is cascading into every kind of moral depravity. I lament the Sodom and Gomorrah style fall of this previously great nation. Our only solution is the same one offered to the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2. “Remember the height from which (we) have fallen. “Repent and do the things (we) did at first.”
Can I broach a touchy subject? Do we really want to remain free? Let me be blunt. In the last election it didn’t seem like it. Part of the electorate was disillusioned, the rest appeared to be under a delusion. Christians, in this next round of elections let’s not behave like little children. What I mean by that is to not take our unused vote and go home. If this last election has taught us anything, it has taught of the necessity of voting for the lesser of two evils. I’m sure some people, even friends, disagree with this, but I needed to get it off my chest.
No matter how you feel this last thought, disconnecting ourselves from the process is not the answer. To all citizens of the United States, I implore you. Get involved. Let’s steer our country back to the ideals that made it great.
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We are working our way through the New Testament book by book. Presently, we are studying Romans. Today we started and finished chapter 7. A whole chapter in one class session doesn’t happen very often, but it was a short chapter.
So far in Romans we have discussed freedom from wrath, sin, the law and will next delve into freedom from death. We struggle to understand these big concepts, but it is worth the effort.
What a great God we serve! He has taken our punishment. He has destroyed the power of sin and law to dominate our every thought and strangle our service to him. He has set us free to fully dedicate our lives to Him now and throughout eternity!
What spiritual freedoms?
The truth makes us free (John 8:32):
1) Free from sin (Romans 6:17-18).
2) Free gift of righteousness (grace) leading to our justification (Romans 5:15-19).
3) Free from the law of Moses (Romans 7:1-4; Gal. 5:1-4).
4) Free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:19-22).
5) Free to be Christ’s servant (1 Corinthians 7:21-22).
6) Free to preach the gospel without charge (1 Corinthians 9:18-19).
On this American Independence Day when citizens celebrate political freedom, let me ask you what spiritual freedoms we enjoy? “Name them one by one.”
My uncle, Raymond Holt, and my mom’s brother-in-law, died yesterday. The funeral will be tomorrow. Please pray for the family.
Are the churches doing anything in your area? Anything? Tell us!
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.Abraham Lincoln