GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 621 • March 19, 2021
IS IT IMPORTANT, INDIFFERENT, OR IRRELEVANT? HOW CAN WE TELL THE DIFFERENCE?
I saw this illustration, but you can easily visualize it. The teacher had a large glass jar and an assortment of other things on the table. He said he would demonstrate how to fill a jar – of course we could see into it and judge what he was doing. First he placed some large rocks in the jar – some smooth, some with jagged edges – until no more would fit. Has the jar been filled now? Yes, some agreed that it was full. No, not yet. He poured in some coarse gravel and shook the jar so that the gravel settled between the rocks. Full now? Yes. Are you sure? He then poured in some very fine sand, shook it and watched it settle into the space between rocks and gravel until the mass was seemingly solid and immoveable. Is the jar full now? Yes, certainly so – no room even for more sand. He then began to pour water into the jar until everything was wet and the water was at the topmost level of the jar. Now everyone agreed that it was completely filled and full. The teacher then said this was a test – a test of perception. Each student was required to write the lesson learned from the demonstration. What lesson did you learn from this? Continue reading
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But at this statement, the man looked sad and went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. Mark 10.21-21
When we read about the rich young man do we also react as the apostles? They were astonished at the response Jesus had given to the young man. This young man had run to Jesus and fell to his knees. Certainly the attitude shown here was admirable. He had shown Jesus the respect that many denied him. He had wholeheartedly kept the ten commandments doing what he should. But something was lacking or perhaps a better word is, present. Jesus loved him. That is a profound statement. Jesus goes directly to the problem. You cannot depend on all the good things that you have done during your lifetime and expect that to be the answer for inheriting eternal life. He was still lacking. His wealth had become a stumbling block to his salvation. The young man went away sorrowful because he could not turn loose of his wealth. It was more important to him than Jesus. What is it that I lack to inherit eternal life? I need to ask myself this question. Because Jesus will not accept second place in our lives. He will not come after family, wealth, or any other thing that we want to put first. We must put him first and obey him wholeheartedly. When we do that, we love him as he loves the Father. We can go on our way rejoicing!
#risingjoy #Mark #priorities
By Dwight Fuqua — We are all familiar with Matthew 6:33. We’ve heard it. We’re read it. We can quote it. The Master said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” We know that we must put the kingdom “first.”
Strong says that the word “first” (proton) means first “in time, place, order, or importance; before, at the beginning, chiefly, at the first of all.” Continue reading
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics you will find:
- Jesus the Master Teacher (Carl Garner)
- Honor to Whom Honor is Due (Cody Westbrook)
- Implicit Commands (J. Noel Merideth)
- Speaking the Truth in Love (Thomas B. Warren)
- The Church-The Lord’s Bride (Bill Jackson)
- Blaming God (Guy N. Woods)
- Things that Count (Johnny Ramsey)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.
Copyright © 2018 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
What good is it to call oneself a Christian and yet find reasons to not attend the service of the Lord’s church wherein saints gather together to worship the Lord? The many who identify themselves as Christians and fail in this area are Christian in name only, not in heart. They think they will be received by the Lord because of some semblance of attendance and some semblance of “the Lord knows my heart.” Surely, they think, “I am in better position than you might think I am.” Really?
Compare what you think with what the Lord said (as in the Charles B. Williams translation).
“Let us continue so to consider one another as to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Let us stop neglecting our meeting together, as some do, but let us continue to encourage one another, and all the more because you see that the great day is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Those who love the Lord consider one another in their attendance, desiring to stimulate others toward faithful service and good works, glorifying the Lord. Those who love the Lord do not neglect their attendance.
The word “neglect” is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it to mean to give little attention to, to give little respect, to leave undone or unattended. Those who fail to regularly attend the services of the Lord’s church are guilty of exactly this, the words of denial not withstanding!
What good is it to be called a Christian and fail to meet with the saints because the kids have activities “to which I have to get them!”? What good is it?
It is only good in one’s mind, but not certainly the Lord’s mind. Those who love the Lord memorialize Him in the life lived. RT
Did you have a super Sunday, or did you exchange it for an evening sitting in front of the TV?
If your congregation doesn’t have evening services that’s one thing, but if you belong to a congregation with elders who have deemed it fit to have an evening service and you skipped it to watch a game – well, you need to consider your spiritual priorities and obligations.
And by the way, I had a super Sunday…and I was still able to make it home in time to watch the entire second-half of the game.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)
When you hold a Bible in your hands, do you know how much it cost?
I’m not looking for a fiscal answer. The Bible cost more than any financial total that can be tallied.
Long before any red-letter edition was published, pages of the Bible were colored red . That’s because the book we can hold in our hands cost men and women their lives. Some died at the hands of false-Christians and others at the hands of violent unbelievers. Regardless of who took their life, men and women of the past gave their life because they had faith, a desire for the common man to read the word of God, and a love for God’s message.
Consider that, and then consider how the church has a hard time getting Christians to show up and study the Bible today. Some congregations don’t even have Bible-study classes. Brothers and sisters – that’s a problem!
The Bible is the best-seller that most Christians aren’t sold on studying. Do you see the irony?
Wake up, get up and show up at Bible-study tomorrow.
“I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” (Psalm 119:15-18)
The seeking of Mt 6.33, of God’s kingdom and righteousness, is no half-hearted search, like a husband looking unsuccessfully for his socks only to appeal quickly to his wife for help. It engages the entire being, to “pursue” (NET) or “strive” (NRSV), exactly as love for God should be with the whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. Less than this is not an effort worthy of God.
Warming a pew for a few minutes on a Sunday morning (or even three times a week) is not the equivalent to this seeking, either. Ritualistic believers who think these minimal requirements will get them under the wire will be spewed out from the Lord’s mouth come judgment day.
Let no one deceive himself. Make no mistake about it.
The Lord Jesus wants disciples of his, followers in his footsteps to carry the cross, not adherents to a religion, nor believers in rote and ritual. The distinction is well made by use of the word “seek.”
One of my elders spoke up with an interesting take on Matthew 6:33 last night.
The verse says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
The comment on the verse, or something very very similar to it, was, “The problem is that people think that God should make them number one on his list instead of us making him number one on our list.”
The comment is true indeed. Often times, perhaps even in our own mirror, it’s not very hard to see people who think that God should “drop everything” for them without the individual having any interest in picking up a single cross for Christ (Matthew 10:37-38).
Seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness is truly a mighty call from the highest points of Heaven that still finds its way into the deepest valleys of the Earth. It’s a call that urges us as followers to find ways to put God and his ways first in our life. It’s a call for priority. And that means it’s a call that distinguishes the difference between what we believe God owes us and what we owe God.
Before I finish my thought I want quickly point out that it is God indeed who has taken the first step in every way that’s needed to secure a right relationship with him (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:19). But to say that no reaction from our side of the relationship is needed misses the point of a relationship…especially when it comes to the Lord and disciple variety (Luke 6:46-49).
On a session of the television series Family Feud the question was asked, who do you turn to to make the most important decisions in life? One hundred people had been interviewed and their answers were first- spouse, second- parents, third – boyfriend/girlfriend, fourth – children, and fifth – God. God came in last. Are you surprised? I’m not. God comes in last in most lives today. God ought to be the first one consulted in making the big decisions of life. It is a matter of priority. The reason many do not consult God first is because God is not first in their lives. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said, Love God first. God should and must come first in our lives. Any other place than first place is the wrong place. This is Just-a-Minute
Sometime ago, Gary Lutes and his two sons were rescued from a West Virginia cave after being lost for five days without food and water. They suffered from dehydration and hallucinations while hop ing for rescuers. They sat quietly quoting scripture and praying for help. Gary later reported, “It sure made things seem insignif¬icant, things I felt were important before. Job, pressure, things like that. I thought to myself if I ever get out of here, what do these things mean?” When we are flat on our back, that is when we look up. Psalm 120 says, “in my distress, I cried to the Lord and he heard me.” Why does it take some kind of tragedy or desperation to get our attention? We need to pause and think, and consider what deserves first place in our lives. This is Just-a-Minute.
“Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both morning and evening sacrifices” Ezra 3:3.
I can think of no better description of what it takes to be a Christian in today’s world. The refined remnant was returning from 70 years of exile. They knew their sin and God’s grace that allowed them to return to Jerusalem that was laid waste. Continue reading
Does God occupy the first place in our lives?
A lesson on this vital question has been added to the Old Paths Archive in English and Dutch, in text and audio.
May the Lord bless you richly.
HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
KEEPING OUR SPIRITUAL FOCUS
Cleon Lyles was one of the great pulpiteers in churches of Christ in the mid-twentieth century. Frequently, brother Lyles would begin a sermon by saying, “Now let’s think about some things before we think about some other things.” This was his way of saying that before we can understand some things there are some other things on which we need to gain some clarity.
As Christians, we know what we need to think about most in life: 1) God, His greatness, goodness, power, love, mercy, grace, care and protection; 2) Christ, His life, teaching, death for our sins, burial, resurrection, ascension, coronation, reign, intercession, and second coming; 3) the church, the privilege of membership in it and our involvement, service, spiritual growth, and worship experienced therein. These are the things that we want to think about and give priority to in our lives. I believe that the vast majority of Christians are sincere in their faith and really do want to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Continue reading
I just can’t find the time to attend the worship services of the church some say. That’s funny, somehow the time is still found to go to work everyday, to go to the movies, to go out to eat, to go and visit with friends and family, to go to the grocery store, to go to the bank, to go and pay the utility bills, to go on vacation, to go outside to cut the grass or work in the garden, to go to the doctor, or to go to the barber or beautician. On and on we could go. So yeah, I guess it’s hard to find something when you’re not looking for it.
“Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 – CEB)
#attendance, #excuses, #priorities, #time, #worship