BulletinGold #198
July 2018  
Vol 18 #7 

July 2018                         BG# 198                         Vol. 18 No. 07
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In this issue ...

 You are God By J. Randal Matheny

 It’s Not About You
By Joe Chesser

 What Do You Expect From God?
By Bill Brandstatter

 Free At Last By David Bragg

 Independence Day
By Larry Pasley

 Peace, Perfect Peace
By Edd Sterchi

 Tolerance? By Jeff Arnette

 Let Christ and God Be Seen in Us By Gerald Cowan

 He is Not Here By Rob Albright

 Jesus’ Baptism—And Our's By Ronald Bartanen

 Firm in the Storm By Donna Wittlif

 Study Your Spouse By Travis Robertson

You are God
By J. Randal Matheny

You are God, we are your people.
You are the Lord, we are your servants.
You are the Shepherd, we are your obedient sheep.
You are the Savior, we, the lost, plead for salvation.
You are Father, we are your children.
You are the Creator, we your creatures.
You are Sustainer, we daily need your sustenance.
You are Light, we walk your righteous path.
You are Love, we the beloved.
You are I-AM, we inheritors of the promise.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. When reprinting this
material, please include the following: 
Copyright (c) 2018 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or
attributions.

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It’s Not About You
By Joe Chesser
 
    We live in a society that basically believes, “It’s all about me.” Almost every message that advertisers use promotes “me.” Check them out and see if I’m right. Pamper yourself. Please yourself. Protect yourself.
    No wonder so many marriages are breaking up. No wonder so many people are having a difficult time at work. No wonder there’s so much crime and overcrowded prisons. No wonder there’s so much mud-slinging in politics. No wonder there’s so much road rage. No wonder children are so difficult to control. No wonder there are so many lawsuits. No wonder there are so many people crying that their rights have been violated. No wonder there are so many churches being split.
    One of God’s irrefutable laws says that whatever you sow, you reap. We are seeing the vivid results of sowing the seeds of self-centeredness, and it’s not pretty.
    However, God’s law of sowing and reaping works both ways. If we actively sow seeds of selflessness and service to others we will definitely reap a different harvest. What we see in Jesus, and what actually cost Him is life, is that God is not happy with self-centeredness in any realm of human existence: not in the home, not in the workplace, not in the church. So, Jesus repeatedly taught us that Christianity is not about “me,” it’s about others.
    The greatest command is to love God (not self).  Mark 12:29-30
    The next greatest is to love our neighbors (not self)   Mark 12:31
    We are to die to ourselves Luke 9:23
    We are to bless those who persecute us Romans 12:14
    We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition    Philippians 2:3
    We are to consider others better than ourselves Philippians 2:3
    As much as we are bombarded by advertisers, politicians, educators, and even clergy to “look out for #1,” it will be difficult to believe and practice the teachings of Jesus that it’s “not about you.” But we must.
    Yet, here’s the blessing. When we do things the way Jesus teaches, we learn that putting others first is the best thing we can do for ourselves!
 
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com
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What Do You Expect From God?
By Bill Brandstatter

    I was talking to a Christian a few years ago about his commitment to God. He said he didn’t go to worship services much because God had “touched him.” He stated that he takes his granddaughter to services, but he had not been in three weeks. He was raised in the church; however, church wasn’t what he expected? I then asked him what did he expect? What do you expect from God?
    Some expect God to put a stamp of approval on their lifestyle and accept them without any change on their part. Perhaps this group would say everyone is going to heaven, just by different routes. Yet, God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30, 31). Some get upset when someone tells them what they must do to be saved. Others object if they are asked to prove anything about the religion they profess. Yet the Bible tells us we should give an answer for what we believe (1 Pet. 3:15). So, again, the question is: What do they expect from God?
    Perhaps some men think too little about God’s perspective and too much about their own. Remember, God doesn’t think like man does (Is. 55:8, 9). Man lives in a physical world. Often what he expects in the physical, he expects in the spiritual. When excitement, entertainment, and pleasure are the name of the game in the physical, some expect some of these in the spiritual realm as well. They may think that any church that doesn’t provide one of those is not meeting their expectations.
    Sometimes man thinks God’s ways are unfair (Ezek. 18:25). Yet, who is it that sets the standard of fairness? Is it not God? Therefore, whatever God does is fair and just; it is man’s way that is not fair (Ezek. 33:17).
    Some may expect God to do what man is supposed to do. God cannot save a person who does not want to be saved. God cannot change His law of pardon to save someone who has not obeyed Him. We must obey from the heart the doctrine of God (Rom. 6:17).
    When the rich man was in torment in Luke 16, he wanted someone to go to his brothers on earth. The answer given to him was “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:30). Those who would be saved had to do what God wanted. They had to follow the revealed Will of God written by Moses and the prophets. Anything else was not acceptable. Today, we must follow what Christ says (Jn. 12:48).
    We cannot expect God to do for us what we must do. We have to work at obtaining the knowledge we need. It takes study on our part (Acts 17:11). We must receive it and make it part of us (James 1:12). We must obey the gospel that God has given us and heaven will be home one day (Rom. 10:16,17; 2 Thess. 1:8) The revealed Will of God for salvation has been given to us (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16,17). We can know what God expects of us. Let us strive to do what God expects and always have a good conscience toward Him (Acts 24:16).

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
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Free At Last
By David Bragg

     On July 3, 1776 John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, “Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”” Mr. Adams would later become the second president of these great United States of America. Ours is a nation built on freedom.
     Although highly prized, and rightly so, the freedom we experience is incomplete at best. Laws, statues and the rights of others limit our freedoms. As citizens we possess the right to run after “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but no guarantees of acquiring these baubles of democracy.
     True freedom can only be found in Jesus Christ. In Him we find rights and privileges of which we cannot be deprived. We find peace and hope that cannot be stripped from us. In Jesus we find salvation that will last forever. From the haven of Christ the true believer can truly celebrate, “Free at Last!”

- David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/ or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/
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Independence Day
By Larry Pasley

    Have you declared your independence from sin? You can truly be free from the burden of sin, the guilt of sin, and the penalty of sin.
    Sin is a burden. - Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
    Sin brings guilt and shame. - Romans 6:20-22  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
    Sin brings the penalty of death. - Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    After you have believe in Christ and confessed your faith in Him, and have been baptized for the remission of your sins, to wash them away, you are free from sin and declare your independence from its burden, guilt and penalty.
  • Acts 2:38  Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 22:16  And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
May we all declare our independence from sin and its effects.

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com
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Peace, Perfect Peace
By Edd Sterchi

    On the night of His betrayal, Jesus made the following statement: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Those beautiful words of comfort to Jesus’ apostles should hold great meaning for us today, as well.
    The world claims to give men some peace. As a result, over the centuries, men have tried many things in and of themselves to find internal peace – transcendental meditation, yoga, philosophy, pleasure, and hot tea, just to name a few. But none of those can give true, lasting satisfaction, comfort, and peace of soul and mind.
    The peace that the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) gives is real and enduring (Ezek. 37:26). It meets all the needs of our souls. And He left this peace with us in the form of the Gospel (Eph. 6:15). The word of God will never let us down. Reading it should continually soothe us and bring great tranquility to our lives.
    As we read more of God’s will, more “peace of mind” should come. As we righteously live what we have learned, we can be assured that we can continually “keep the peace” that Christ desires us to have in our lives (Jas. 3:18). As we tell others about the truth of the gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15), we help to spread the good news about the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
    Jesus left His peace with us. Let’s not let it go to waste. Let’s claim our piece of Jesus’ peace and be “at peace” forevermore. “Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Pet. 5:14)

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/
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Tolerance?
By Jeff Arnette

    We live in a world where it is an unforgivable sin to be intolerant of others. Those same people who are quick to point out that someone is “intolerant” are themselves incredibly intolerant of others. They seem to be tolerant of almost anything except Christian values. As soon as someone says they are a Christian or they attend church, there instantly labeled as intolerant.
    I think we need to define this word "tolerance." The worldly definition of tolerance seems to be “accepting all views as true.” [1] Whereas, Oxford’s dictionary says “showing tolerance (of a plant, animal, or machine), able to endure specified conditions or treatment.” [2]
    Is tolerance really about just accepting their views as correct? Does God really expect me to just accept someone’s view as true, just because it’s someone’s view? Truthfully, I can hold to all kinds of ideas about all kinds of things, but just because they are my views does not make them right. Obviously if I hold a certain view I believe it to be right, but am I really correct?
    I think this gets to the real problem most have with tolerance. We live in a world that does not want anyone to tell them they are wrong. Friends, the Bible I read says that I cannot just accept everything as true. God expects His followers to question all things (1 Thess. 5:21) and hold to the good. The very words good and bad imply that something’s are right and others wrong. To make matters worse, the world’s use of tolerance violates a simple law of logic. The law states that if we have two contradictory statements there are only three viable options. One is right and the other is wrong or both statements are wrong. We cannot have all contradictory views being correct. If Jesus is not the only way to heaven (John 14:6) then what is the right way?
    So are you intolerant of another's belief simply because they differ from yours? Excuse me but I thought we lived in a country where having an opinion was OK or even desirable. The Bible is very clear on this. I must differentiate between what is good and what is bad. But in the process I cannot forget that the same Bible tells me to treat people fairly, to love them, and to try to help them find the truth about God and salvation.
    True tolerance does not require you to be ignorant and blind to the truth.

Footnotes:
[1] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen, Paul
Copan, J.P. Moreland and Doug Powell, The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight
Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN:
Holman Bible Publishers, 2007). 1882.
[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
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Let Christ and God Be Seen in Us
By Gerald Cowan

No perfect mirror now exists
To show the Savior’s mind and heart
Or picture perfectly the God
Who, in him,  from the very start
Showed us Himself in word and deed.
Then, by the Holy Spirit’s art
A sacrifice was offered that
Grace and salvation did impart.

In Jesus Christ we can see God;
In him we see our Father’s face.
In him we see the God of love, 
Of mercy, joy, and peace and grace
Who knows and meets our ev’ry need.
Our ev’ry loss He will replace.
In him we see what we should be; 
Our human lot he did embrace.

There is no doubt, no doubt at all
That God our Father wants to see
His Christ in us, His Son our Lord.
Redeemed and sanctified and free,
With all entanglements of sin
Removed from us, secure to be
And anchored by a perfect hope
That stretches to eternity.

There also is no doubt that those
Who know from Christ we take our name
Should never see or hear in us
What may bring Him reproach or shame.
Do not misrepresent the Lord,
Lest for our sins He get the blame.  
Instead make sure all see in us
The good that will enhance His fame.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
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He is Not Here
By Rob Albright

    When the women came to the tomb of Jesus, an angel met them and said “He is not here” (Mt. 28:6). Jesus was not in the tomb. It was empty. Even though a large stone was blocking the entrance and even though the tomb was guarded, the fact is, the tomb was empty.
     So, what happened? Luke states the truth in Acts 2:24 when he said, God raised Him. That message of Jesus’ resurrection must be preached. The resurrection verifies Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. This truth was confirmed when Jesus appeared to His disciples (John 20). Paul said that Jesus even appeared to over 500 people and most were alive in 56 AD (1 Cor. 15:6)
     The resurrection benefits us. It gives us a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) and if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, burial, and resurrections, we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:1-5).

- Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/ Rob also serves on the board of directors of the Carolina Messenger. Please visit their website at: https://carolinamessenger.wordpress.com/
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Jesus’ Baptism—And Our's
By Ronald Bartanen
 
    As John the baptizer was preaching a message of repentance and the kingdom of God, and baptizing in the Jordan River, many came to him to be baptized, “confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:6). We are then informed, “Then cometh Jesus…to be baptized” (Matt. 3:13). Jesus had lined up with the “publicans and harlots” (Matt. 21:31-32), though in no need of repentance and baptism “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4), being the sinless Son of God. We can learn much about the significance of baptism from the example of Jesus.
    The baptism of Jesus was a decisive act. He was not brought as an infant, but came in a personal response to the will of the Father, or, as He explained to John, “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Righteousness is defined in Psa. 119:172: “All thy commandments are righteousness.” Baptism continues to be a command of God (Acts 10:48). Jesus made this commitment, knowing the path He was choosing would lead to the cross, His burial and resurrection, as prefigured in baptism. He was trading a life of personal security and privacy in Nazareth for a baptism of suffering. Baptism for us as well must be a personal decision of commitment to do the Father’s will regardless of inconvenience or sacrifice.
   Jesus’ baptism was an act of humility. John recognized that Jesus had no need for baptism because He had no need for repentance. Standing with sinners, “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Yet there are those who refuse baptism on the grounds of their morality. Baptism is a humbling act for the believer who, in baptism, is “buried with Christ…into death” and is raised to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
   Jesus’ baptism was an act of separation, His private life behind Him and His public ministry before Him. To those baptized, “Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 3:17-18).
   Jesus’ baptism was a prayerful act, as declared in Luke 3:21: “Jesus also being baptized and praying….” In baptism, prayerful hearts commit themselves to God. The “sinner’s prayer” is not independent of baptism. It was in baptism that Saul (Paul) was told, “Arise and be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). While such a prayer need not be vocal, in baptism one is to seek from God the “remission of sins” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38-39).
   Jesus’ baptism was a divinely approved act. As Jesus arose from the watery grave, the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and the voice of the Father acknowledged Him: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16-17). We are acknowledged as children of God in Christ, as Paul wrote, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
   Those who refused the baptism of John “rejected the council of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Lk. 7:30). Men would do well to heed the principle set forth in Hebrews 12:24: “If they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.”

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/
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Firm in the Storm
By Donna Wittlif

“For we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
    Red Rocks is a beautiful natural open-air amphitheater near Morrison, Colorado, just a short drive from Denver. Huge peaks of red and mostly barren rocks surround the stadium and soar high above it. Hundreds of famous bands and singers have performed there.
    Every performance finds nearly ten thousand people screaming and clapping their approval of the artists. However, one performance is far above the rest. High above the amphitheater, clinging precariously to the side of a rocky peak, a small tree hangs on. It has withstood howling winds, blizzards, and torrents of rain. Its roots must go deep into the rock to give it such tenacity. Yet few notice it or think anything about it.
    Followers of Christ usually get no attention when they remain true to God in our culture. No one sees the struggles inside us as we overcome Satan and his darts. Not many understand the despair and disappointment we feel when our efforts to lead others to Christ seem to fail. Nobody knows our discouragement and heartache when our loved ones turn away from God.
    Jesus knows and understands. Sometimes we forget that we don’t have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling or our infirmities; but one that  has been in all points tempted like we are (Hebrews 4:15). The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which you showed toward his name in that you ministered unto the saints, and still do minister” (6:10).
    Christian, hang in there, just like that little tree. Keep on believing and trusting God’s promises, just like Jesus did, even when it meant His cruel death for you. God remembers and will reward you.

- Donna Wittlif writes Christian fiction for young adults and adults. Her website is www.donnarwittlif.com.
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Study Your Spouse
By Travis Robertson

    I can’t tell you how many couples I have heard of in just the last 2 months that are separated or in the process of getting a divorce. Some of these couples have been mentors to me and some of them are dear friends. It tells me that Satan is still alive and working. I believe one of Satan’s biggest achievements has been the deterioration of the family over the last 50 years.
    Maybe you have found your own marriage beginning to decline. You have found yourself doing your thing while your spouse is doing their thing, and very little time is spent together doing things together. This doesn’t have to mean the end of a marriage. It doesn’t mean that you have to find the 12-step book that makes it all better.
    I want to encourage you to try just one thing, study your spouse. When you were dating you took the time to find out what they like and what they like to do. Then you would surprise them with a gift or take them to a place they always wanted to go. Why do we stop doing that? Our lives get busy, we get caught up in work, we have children, and life changes. What your husband or wife likes now may have changed. We need to be continually learning about one another as we grow together.
    This may not be the one thing that fixes it all, but it is a great start. I want to encourage you to read the Song of Solomon and notice how much Solomon and his bride care for one another and know about each other. Start studying your spouse like it is the first time you met and let the adventures begin!

 - Travis Robertson preachers for the Lake Norman Church of Christ in Huntersville, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://lakenormancoc.org/
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Editor: David Bragg