Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           March 19, 2005                           NO. 9

Lord, Forgive Me For Lying

    Oh Lord, I didn't really mean to lie, but I realize that I have not only lied to man but to Thee. In searching for an excuse to justify my indifference, I lied. I lied about being sick on Sunday morning, for I went visiting and joy riding on Sunday afternoon. I lied about my work keeping me tied down, for I go to everything else I want to go to except church services. I lied about not being able to leave my sick family, for I leave them for hours each day to work and many other times to do needless and unimportant things. I lied about my contribution, for I spend ten times as much for pleasure as I give to Thee. I also spend for other things which are downright foolish.

    I lied when I said I couldn't leave home on Wednesday night Lord, for I attended a civic meeting on Thursday night. I lied when I said "no one would speak to me at church" for I spoke to no one, and I left the building just as fast as I could. I lied when I said that I didn't have good enough clothing to come to church, for I go to much larger public gatherings. I lied when I blamed my absence on my children; for they do not keep me from attending anything else I desire.

    Oh Lord, I lied: forgive me for the sin of lying; for I know that all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, Rev. 21:8. I know that I lied when I used other excuses and that I just did not want to go to worship. If I had really wanted to go, I would have been there.

---via, Weekly Messenger

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Going Through The Motions

    One of the difficult things that all Christians, especially when worshiping, face is "going through the motions." It is amazing how often you hear that complaint from brethren. What they mean is that they just can't get their hearts into being a Christian. They find no joy in it; in fact, they see it as a drudgery. But what they really want to know is -- how can I get past this and "feel" what I'm doing?

    Try answering that to a brother or sister. It is tough. The difficulty lies in the fact that God is not going to overwhelm them with "feelings" and passion for worship and service. Christians can wait from now until the judgment and it will never swoop down on them from above. That feeling and joy must come from within the soul of God's servants.

    Now this is not to say that nothing comes into the heart from outside. Indeed, something must invade the spirit and fill the vast reservoir of the soul that God designed in his own image. This is the essence of Christianity -- that the word of God must enter man's mind and transform him into the beautiful image of God's Son. But this is where it gets tough.

    The word can only enter the heart that opens up to truth and responds to God's message. It's, as Jesus said, like sowing seed in soil; when the soil is good the seed takes root, grows, and produces fruit. So it is with the gospel. Men must study the word, must receive its truth, and then activate it into growth. The result is that it produces an appreciation for God and Christ, for grace, for love, for forgiveness, and for hope. Out of that the fruit of faith, love, joy, peace are generated -- qualities that excite us about worship, prayer, service, and faithfulness.

    When these things fill our hearts we look forward to the opportunities to worship, to sing praises to God, to pray for our needs, and, upon the first day of the week, to meditate on the death of the One who has brought salvation. It, thus, is no longer a going through the motions of worship; it is heartfelt devotion to right and goodness and steadfastness in the Lord.

    Those who never feel these things simply have an empty heart -- one that has never genuinely received these spiritual qualities. Slothful or dull minds remain at the first principle level, are babes in Christ, and never experience the fulness of growth in the Lord (see Heb. 5:11-14). Because they receive not the word with readiness of mind they never experience the excitement that true worshipers feel. The disciples at Jerusalem felt this because the message of the gospel cut them to the heart and won their allegiance. They thus continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine (see Acts 2:37-42).

    While this explains to those who go through the motions how to receive this experience, it cannot do it for them. Only they themselves can energize their souls by an open, genuine reception of the living and active word of God that can save the soul (see Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:21).

---L.A. Stauffer

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"He Quit The Church!"

    We have, unfortunately, heard too often about church members who get upset about something, develop a bitter attitude, and finally announce that they do not intend to return. Someone will inevitably report that "he quit the church." We think that this terminology fails to fully describe what has actually happened.

    In reality, he has decided to forsake the Lord. It is hard to imagine how someone could fail to honor the One who suffered so much and died such an agonizing death in his behalf. No matter what one's circumstances may be, it would never justify abandoning Him who gave His all. Anyone who contemplates "quitting the church" should stop to consider that doing so will "crucify afresh the Son of God and put him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:6).

    Furthermore, the quitter is turning his back on his faithful brethren. These are the very people who care deeply for his spiritual well being. They have likely made great efforts to encourage him, support him, and help him. Prayers have been made for and about him, and various acts of kindness and concern have been directed his way. There are no truer or more devoted friends than these, but the embittered church member is determined to walk away from these relationships.

    Of course, the deserter is also abandoning the responsibilities that he assumed when he became a Christian. He refuses to "take up his cross" (Matt. 16:24) and shows that he intends to permanently neglect all of his duties.

    In reality, the one who abandons his spiritual commitments is enlisting in the devil's ranks. He is throwing his support to the evil one who endlessly fights against the kingdom of God. In effect, he is saying that the church doors should be closed and permanently locked. If it were up to him this would be the outcome.

    So, this church quitter has denied the Lord, turned his back on his brethren, forsaken his duties, and joined the army of Satan. To say that he merely "quit the church" certainly does a poor job of describing the full impact of his foolish decision. Think!

---Greg Gwin

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      "Know Your Bible", e-mail edition, is sent weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. This bulletin is the same as the bulletin which is handed out following services each Sunday morning. For this reason, the articles are primarily intended for Christians. The e-mail bulletin nearest to the middle of the month is the same as the mail-out bulletin which is mailed through the U.S.P.S. into nearly a thousand homes in thirty-two states. The mail-out bulletin contains articles primarily intended for those who have not obeyed the gospel. If you would like to be included on that mailing list, either subscribe through the church's web site or email: wisechurch@adelphia.net and indicate you would like to receive the monthly mail-out bulletin via the U.S. Postal Service.
--- E.R. Hall, Jr.

 
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