The Wednesday night auditorium class has been using a study guide titled, “The Love Of Christ,” written by Richard Rogers and Bill Yasko for the Sunset International Bible Institute. The fourteen lessons cover basic Christian doctrines, particularly focusing on the worship, work and structure of the church. One lesson dealt with The Organizational Structure Of The Church. That lesson included the work of elders, and within that section church discipline was discussed.
In the last edition of this publication I wrote an article titled, “Pray For A Soul.” The theme came from an encouragement and challenge that I put before the congregation a number of weeks ago. As we finished a year long study on evangelism, I encouraged and challenged each member of the class to pray that God would send someone into their life to whom they could reach out with the gospel. I have continued to encourage the class and the congregation to pray that prayer. A number of individuals have shared with me that they have, indeed, been praying that prayer.
Prayer is one of the greatest blessings with which God has blessed us as Christians. The apostle Paul exhorted, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Eph. 6:18), and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer should be a continual feature of our daily lives.
Truth is an elusive quality today. Everybody talks about the truth. Everybody claims to want the truth and to place a high value upon the truth. The truth is, though, we are great abusers of truth. We really want truth to conform to our desires as to what we want the truth to be, and we have become quite skillful at reshaping and redefining truth in order that it will conform. With many people truth is no longer a set of observable, rational, objective facts. Rather, it has become “the truth according to me...” In many cases we are no longer left with the real truth, but instead a distortion thereof. What is even worse is that many people accept distorted truth as the real thing, if the case has been made persuasively enough.
Mother’s day! We love our mothers, and rightfully so. Much has been written about the special, nurturing love of a mother. It’s not that a mother’s love is better or more important than that of a father. It’s just different, unique. I believe we can see God’s handiwork when we observe how He designed the family. A child needs both the special love of a mother and the different but equally special love of a father. Both are needed for the full nurturing, molding and development of a child in the home.
“Can I trust you?” is not a casual question. It’s a credit to a person’s trustworthiness to not even have to have the question asked of him. It’s simply known that he can be trusted. Trust is a precious thing, not something to take lightly. Marriages stand or fall on the ability of spouses to trust one another. Careers are made or broken, depending upon how trustworthy a person is. A person’s word is taken or rejected according to how much trust can be placed in what he says. Sometimes, lives are placed in the trust of one person or another.
Is the United States a “Christian” nation? A few years ago our President declared that we are no longer a “Christian” nation. His comment generated a rather spirited discussion in the media, with many commentators taking exception to his assessment. A survey was subsequently published indicating the percentage of people in this nation who claim to be “Christian” has dropped significantly, though they are still in the majority. The same survey also showed a significant increase in people who claim no belief in God.
The lives of many people demonstrate little respect or appreciation for “the church.” Most of those who fall into this group are not atheists. Some claim affiliation with a church, but in reality it’s only token affiliation. For many, though they believe in God, seldom do they even think about the church. It’s not that they feel any hostility toward the church, the church simply holds no place in their mind. A prime reason for a lack of respect and appreciation for the church is a lack of understanding of what is the church.
This world is an uncertain place, and life herein is equally uncertain. History is filled with examples of such uncertainty. Many people would take security in the supposed sovereignty of their country. But the geographic landscape of this world is always in a state of continual flux. In its day the Assyrian empire was mighty, but it no longer exists. Egypt was once a powerful, conquering nation but ceased to be so many hundreds of years ago. The Babylonian empire was sweeping in its conquests, but its reign of power was comparatively brief. The Persian empire was even more impressive in its might, but its empire status ceased long ago. The Greek empire under Alexander was like no other before it. Long since gone. The Roman empire far surpassed all of those previous to it, including that of the Greeks. It crumbled well over one thousand years ago.
The greatest gift ever given is salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of this gift in his letter to the Romans. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). In his letter to the Ephesians Paul stated, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8). The Hebrews letter calls it “the heavenly gift” (Heb. 6:4).
Gary L. Hutchens