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GOD WAS IN THE DARKNESS
There are many strange and unusual expressions in our Bible. None is stranger or more unusual than a statement we read in Exodus 20:21. Moses had led the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. They had crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. Their journey then brought them to Mount Sinai. It was there that God gave the 10 Commandments and other laws to the Jews. What an awesome time it must have been when God called those Jews to that mountain. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.” (Exodus 19:16-19) When God called the people to the mountain, “There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount.” The people were frightened when God spoke from that mountain. They were in such awe of the Almighty Creator that they asked that Moses be allowed to relay God’s message to them, instead of God speaking directly. The people “said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Moses was allowed to go up on the mountain. In one of the strangest statements in the Bible we read, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:20-21) God was in the thick darkness! God is in the thick darkness of our life and He wants to help and guide us out of that darkness. Observe carefully, God will help you and He is able to help you because He is in the darkness, but the darkness is not in Him. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
God is in the darkness of your anger; He is there to bring you out to and to give calmness and peace. Those who are outside of Christ are often violent and they are angry at everyone. Our Bible says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Ephesians 4:26) We need God to help us out of the darkness of anger and wrath. Paul wrote to the Colossians and said, “For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:6-9) We need God’s help to get out of the darkness of anger and enjoy the calmness and peace that can only be had by Christians. Jesus, the Prince of peace, can deliver men out of the dark world of anger, violence and turmoil. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) Observe carefully, God will help you overcome your anger and He is able to help you because He is in the darkness, but the darkness is not in Him. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
God is in the darkness of your irresponsibility; He is there to bring you out to the light of personal responsibility. God wants you to accept responsibility in your life. Many men need to accept the personal responsibility of providing for their family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8) As a Christian fulfills his or her responsibility toward God they must maintain the right relationship with other people. “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15) God calls His people from all walks of life. No matter the nature or extent of our past sins, God forgives us when we obey the gospel. To please God, however, we must continue to listen to and follow His instructions concerning what is acceptable behavior. We must live unto God. “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luke 20:38) As we live this life responsibility is seen everywhere. We see (1) Responsibility toward government (Romans 13:1) (2) Responsibility toward parents (Ephesians 6:1), and (3) Responsibility toward elders in the church (Hebrews 13:17) Observe carefully, God will help you overcome your irresponsibility and He is able to help you because He is in the darkness, but the darkness is not in Him. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
God is in the darkness of religious error; He is there to bring you out to the light of truth. It should be obvious to everyone that not everything that is taught in religion is true. It just could not be! I have always believed that it takes two things to go to heaven. It takes a heart that is honest and a Bible that is open. The fog of religious confusion and division makes finding true Christianity difficult in our day. The Bible speaks of unity. (Ephesians 4:4-6) We did not want nor cause the denominational division of our day; we were just born into a world of religious confusion. In less than a 10 minute walk from where the Walnut Street Church of Christ meets, you could physically touch at least six or seven church buildings. At each place, different things are believed, taught and practiced. The Bible says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) Jesus promised that He would build His church. He also promised that nothing would prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18-19) He kept both promises. His church is in the world today. Let us study our Bible carefully with an honest heart, so that we can know the truth. Everything that we hear religiously cannot be right; so let’s start saying, “Show me in the Bible.” What I say or what you say is not important, but what God says is everything. Observe carefully, God will help you out of religious error and He is able to help you because He is in the darkness, but the darkness is not in Him. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
What a blessing it is to know that God will help us out of darkness! If you are not a Christian you should obey the gospel today. To be saved from sin hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), confess Jesus as Lord (Matthew 10:32), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) After baptism, walk in the light of God’s will.
---- Charles Box
News & Notes
1. Prayer List: In Need of Prayer: Douglas Butts, Terry Claunch, Johnny Cole, Camren Coleman, Lisa Cook, Tim Croley, John Curry, Nell Daughtry, Nelson Daughtry, Richard Harrell, Michael Hartin, Devin Hawkins, Austin Herring, Sue Hunt, Allan Jackson, Ann Jackson, Charlie Jones, Barley Newton, Ruby Norman, Alice Padgett, Bill Perry, William Pierce, Linda Reynolds, Peggy Scribner, Johnny Sims, Evelyn Smith, David Stallings, Andy Taylor, Dusty Taylor, Mary Lou Terrell, Jay Thomas, Alice Thompson, Leroy Waller, Barbara Woods, and Betty & Wayne Young. Crowne Health Care: Dorothy Buck, Jewel Cauthen, Gladys Childs, Arlene Coletrane, Ruth Davis, Betty Findley, Davis & Ruth Hester, Kathy Johnson, Sarah Knight, and Annie Ruth Tetter. Pine Needle: Lydia Ann Raybon and Elizabeth Perdue
2. Requesting Our Prayers: Sandra Roberson said that she wanted to be sure her life was focused on God and was right with Him. She asked for the prayers of God’s people. Please remember her in your personal, private prayers.
3. Anniversaries: Celebrating an anniversary this week: March 30th Mike and Lora Gail Bagents, March 31st Don and Becky Reynolds, and April 5th David and Deborah Stallings.
4. Birthdays: Celebrating a birthday this week: March 30th Mike Bagents and Mitch Bozeman, March 31st Deborah Owens, April 3rd Arlene Coltrane and Ashley Pierce, April 4th Sam Cauthen, and April 5th Stacey Black.
5. Reorder of “Muscle & a Shovel”: The Muscle and a Shovel books are here. The price per book is $12.82. Pay when you receive your books. See Deborah Stallings to receive your order.
6. Prom Alternative: April 4th & 5th – “Prom Alternative.” If you would like to help in some way please see Ann Cauthen, Barbara Walker or Darrell Powell.
7. Fifth Sunday Meal: Please enjoy the meal together after services this morning. Vegetable Committee has clean-up.
8. Religious Debate: The University of North Alabama Christian Student Center is hosting a religious debate April 4th at 6 PM. Bart Ehrman will affirm the proposition, “The pain and suffering in the world indicates that the Christian God does not exist.” Kyle Butt will deny. For details visit www.unacsc.com.
9. Vacation Bible School: Happly Ever After…The Salvation Story is the theme of this years’ VBS. We hope that you will see its potential and join with us in our excitement. We need your help; there are jobs for everyone! See the bulletin board in the foyer.
10. Thank You: This past Thursday afternoon Nell and I returned home from our visit to the Norman Parathyroid Center in Tampa, Florida. Her diagnosis proved correct and the surgeons removed two diseased parathyroid glands and examined and tested the other two. They were healthy and functioned properly. Almost immediately I saw signs of recovery that afternoon after her surgery, I heard her laughter for the first time in at least four months. We want to thank each one of you for your prayers for her and for your deep concern for the both of us, which you have expressed in so many ways. It is a great blessing and a comfort to know that we have a support of such a large and loving family as you. Again we thank you. Nell and Nelson Daughtry
11. Younger Youth Activities: (a) On April 10th there will be an after school special activity for children from K4-5th Grade. Bring your homework and be prepared to enjoy some activities and refreshments. (b) On April 19th there will be an Easter Egg Hunt at the home of Marty and Alicia Sexton at 2:00 p.m. This fun event is for children of all ages and anyone else who would like to attend. Please bring finger foods to the egg hunt.
12. Area Events: April 6th–8th – Gospel Meeting – North Lowndes Church of Christ – Speaker Brent Missildine – Time weeknights 7:00 p.m.
An Atheist's View On Life
I will live my life according to these beliefs
God does not exist
It is just foolish to think
That there is a God with a cosmic plan
That an all-powerful God brings redemption
is a comforting thought however
Is only wishful thinking
I can do as I please without consequences
The idea that
I am deserving of Hell
Because of sin
Is a lie meant to enslave me to those in power
"The more you have, the happier you will be"
Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose
In a world with no God
There is freedom to be who I want to be
But with God
Everything is fine
It is ridiculous to think
I am lost and in need of saving.
A Christian's View On Life
(read the above from bottom to top)
So many times, issues in life are answered by taking a step back and changing our perspective. Many who live godless lives have just never stepped back to take an honest look at the world around them. God has proven himself, and those who deny Him will be “without excuse” in Judgment.
Throw the window of your soul wide open to the light 0f God’s Word!
THE DEVIL IS DOING IT AGAIN
The Devil is not eternal like God, but he is just as real. The Bible says that Satan is the deceiver of the entire world. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9) The Devil is busy seeking man’s spiritual destruction. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:6-9) The Devil caused sin to be in the world. (Genesis 3) Sickness, death, disappointment and discouragement are all the working of Satan. Man is tempted to sin, but he is not tempted by God. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) The Devil perverts the word of God. He perverted God’s truth and lead Eve astray. God said, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) The Devil was able to pervert what God said with one word. He told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) He deceived Eve. God said “Eat and you will die!” The Devil said “Eat and you will not die!” The Devil deceived Eve by adding “Not” to what God said and he is doing the same thing again today.
God says the Bible does contain all things that pertain unto life and godliness; the Devil says the Bible does not contain all things that pertain unto life and godliness, instead we need additional revelation. We read, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3) Humanity has truly been blessed by God with this great gift, the Bible. If we appreciate having the Bible we should study it daily. The people of Berea demonstrated the attitude that we should have toward the Bible. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11) Our personal Bible study should produce a sincere desire for obedience from the heart. (Romans 1:5)
God says baptism is essential to salvation; the Devil says baptism is not essential to salvation. Baptism is a very important and often misunderstood subject. Baptism is important because it is commanded by Christ. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16) Baptism is to be done by the authority of Jesus with its purpose being remissions of sins. (Acts 2:38) The blood of Jesus was shed in His death. "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." (John 19:34) Baptism is important because it brings one into contact with the death and blood of Jesus. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)
God says the one church of the Bible is necessary, the Devil says the one church of the Bible is not necessary. The church in the Bible was paid for by the blood of Christ. "...feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) God's church is those "people" that were purchased with Christ's blood. The church was never a physical building nor was it a denomination. Christ died to purchase and cleanse the church. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) Christ is the Savior of the church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) If a person is saved he is a member of the blood bought church of Christ. Salvation and membership in Christ's church is the same thing. God adds the saved, and only the saved, to the church. "...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) Are you a member of the church you can read about in the New Testament? Salvation and membership in the church of Christ is the same thing. You are not saved outside of the church.
God says division or denominationalism is wrong, the Devil says division or denominationalism is not wrong. When the word "church" is used, many people think of the building in which the church meets. The Bible never speaks of the church as a physical building. The church in the Bible is always saved people. According to Acts 11:22 the church has ears. Many view the "church" as a group made up of all denominations. A denomination is a religious group separated from others by a particular name or doctrine. Denominationalism is opposed to the will of God. "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10) In Ephesians 4:4-6 the Bible teaches that there is one church or one body. This one church is the body of Christ. "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23) In the Bible there is one body or one church. Today, however, there are hundreds of "churches" in the world.
All who comply from the heart with the conditions set forth in the Bible become Christians; they are members of the Lord's church. (Acts 2:47) To become a Christian, you must believe (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:27) Are you a part of the blood bought church of Christ?
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551,
Greenville, Alabama. 36037 USA