WHAT SHOULD OUR FOCUS BE?
Our focus should be on loving and serving God. Our aim should be that of going to heaven when we die. Many are focused on material things. Even in religion the focus is on entertainment, show and fun; instead of on God the Bible, truth and service. God is unimpressed with "the show of religion" which seems so important to man. God is impressed with simple, humble, love and obedience from the heart. He said, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (John 15:14) We should all study our Bible and do what it says. Tradition, elaborate services, complicated organizations and endless ritual consumes the religious thinking of many. God warned, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts." Many Scriptures are violated continually by man's desire for show, ceremony and entertainment. Our focus should be on the simplicity of New Testament Christianity.
We should focus on our need to be saved from sin. Salvation is necessary because of man's "sin problem." What is sin? We sin when we do not follow what is written in God's word. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4) Sin is a matter of choice. Infants do not inherit sin from parents. (Ezekiel 18:20) Satan makes sin so enticing that all have been overcome by its power. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Sin brings pleasure. But, the pleasure of sin lasts only for a short time. Moses chose, "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." (Hebrews 11:25) Sin breaks fellowship with God. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) Sin is often taken too lightly by the world, and also by the church. Sin causes God to turn His face from us. The Bible reveals the seriousness of sin by showing its consequences. Sin causes spiritual death or separation from God. This separation exists in this life, but it will exist in an even greater way in the life to come.
We should focus on God’s plan for our salvation from sin. Faith is the beginning point of all acceptable service to God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Our faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus is the motivation for all our obedience toward God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Repentance is required as well. Repentance is a change of mind or heart that results in a change of life. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Confession of faith in Jesus as Lord likewise plays a part in our salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) A simple confession of one's faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ is a necessary step in conversion. The final step in becoming a Christian is baptism into Christ. Every command of God is important and baptism is a command of God. (Mark 16:16) The New Testament plan of salvation is a simple plan; let us focus, understand and take action!
We should focus on worship that is in spirit and in truth. Those who became Christians in the first century assembled for worship steadfastly or regularly. They understood the commandments of God to worship in spirit and in truth. Those that fail to worship as God commanded will die spiritually. Worship is of such importance that God will punish with vengeance those who willfully neglect it. "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30-31) Communion is part of true worship. Jesus gave His body and blood on the cross to provide remission of sins. If it was not for Jesus' sin offering we could not have fellowship with God. (Matthew 26:26-28) Bible Christians prayed together. Prayer is our communication with God. "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Singing is also a part of worship "in spirit and in truth." "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Hebrews 2:12) The only instrument to be used is our "heart." Original steadfast worship also involved giving. "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." (1 Corinthians 16:2) Give with gladness because you can never out give God. Bible Christians heard gospel preaching. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7)
We should focus on reaching out to help those who are in need. Jesus said, "You have the poor with you always." (Matthew 26:11) Any day that we would chose to do so we can help others. Jesus went about doing good. (Acts 10:38) Let us follow His example. There are people who are in need. Christians should show them the love of God by assisting then to have their needs fulfilled. (Ephesians 4:28) Our focus should be on others. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10) Proverbs 14:21 is a great principle that is still true today. "He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he."
We should focus on evangelism. The life blood of the church is evangelism. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16) Men and women who have committed their lives to the Lord must be motivated by love, to share the gospel with others. "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) Soul winning puts purpose and meaning into Christian living. "Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6) You have learned the truth. Now, go and tell others!
Our focus must be on New Testament Christianity. The practice of Christianity is a pure and simple expression of our love and devotion to God. God is pleased with sincere, simple love and devotion. Will you appreciate Jesus enough that you will receive Him as your Lord and Savior? To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) The new life in Christ is a glorious and hopeful life!
---- Charles Box
News & Notes
1. Prayer List: Georgiana Hospital: Becky Reynolds. In Need of Prayer: LeRoy Boutwell, Dannie Box, Mary Ann Bozeman, Brenda Burkett, Edwina Butts, Terry Claunch, Camren Coleman, Tim Croley, John Curry, Syble Farmer, Marietta Faulkenberry, Dawn Fullington’s cousin Jason, Ann Jackson, Felice Kendrick, Patricia Kennemore, Ed Klash, Peggy Lassiter, Arthur Little, Kathy Mathis, Annie McKee, Jeff Miller, Jane Owen, Candice Parker, Dawson Parker, LeAnn Parker (sister of Vickie Clark), Elizabeth Perdue, Tina Pouncey, Brian Queener, Lydia Ann Raybon, John Reynolds, Billy Rodgers, Rosie Rudolph, Caleb Sam, Ron Seal, Carlos & Nell Shanklin, Nathan Simmons, Liz Singleton Vickie Starkie, Sarah Stidham, Robbie Taylor, Gene Till, John Tindoll, Bobbie Walker, Danny Waller, Leroy Waller, Jimmy Walker, William Ward, and Tom Young. Crowne Health Care: Helen Autrey, Dorothy Buck, Jewel Cauthen, Gladys Childs, Arlene Coletrane, Betty Findley, Davis Hester, Kathy Johnson, Sarah Knight, Nelda Sanders and Annie Ruth Tetter.
2. Developing Strong Families: Jeff Grimes will present three lessons at the Walnut Street Church of Christ on April 21st to help us develop stronger Christian families. We will have a meal following morning worship on that day. The bread and beverage committee have clean up duty.
3. Anniversary: Celebrating an Anniversary this week: April 20th Jimmy and Barbara Walker.
4. Birthdays: Celebrating a Birthday this week: April 14th Donna Hoffman HHHoand Sean Smith, and April 20th Hannah Owens.
5. Thank You Note: Dear Walnut Street Family, Thank you so very much for the visits, calls and cards, but most of all for your prayers. May God bless all of you. In Christian Love, Jimmy Walker
6. Note of Appreciation: Thank you sincerely for your thoughtful kindness at a time when it was deeply appreciated by the family of Peggy Rice. The plant was beautiful. Thank you so much for your love and concern for our family! In Christian Love, Sherry, John, Tim, Janice & Family
7. Sign-Up Sheets for Vacation Bible School: June 23rd – 27th -- Let’s get an early start by signing up to help now.
8. Carl Sessions Camp Fund: Please contribute to the “Carl Sessions Camp Fund.” This makes it possible for all Walnut Street Children to attend Bible camp. Make checks to Walnut Street Church of Christ and mark them “Carl Sessions Camp Fund.”
9. Be a Daily Bible Reader: It takes about seventy-two hours to read the Bible completely through at an average reading speed. Fill your heart with the word of God daily.
10. Teach A Friend the Gospel: Please put forth an honest effort to teach a friend the gospel. Be excited about helping someone go to heaven.
11. Bring a Visitor: Set your goal to make an honest effort to bring a visitor to the services of the church. There is someone that we can all influence to go to heaven. Let us all join together and win souls for Jesus. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)
12. Area Events: (a) April 14th – Homecoming – Wetumpka Church of Christ – Speaker Kenneth Randolph – Time Bible Class 9:00, Morning Worship 10:00, and Evening Worship 1:00, (b) April 14th – 17th – Gospel Meeting – Century Church of Christ – Speaker Jimmy Holland – Theme “A Reverent Life” – Time Sunday night 6:00 and week night 7:00, (c) April 20th – Ladies Day – Rock Hill Church of Christ – 9:30 a.m. – Speaker Judy Dixon – Theme: A Soul Makeover. (d) Backwoods Christian Camp -- July 7th-12th. Counselors and Campers are needed. Contact Darrell Powell or Charles Box at 334-382-3001.
Why Wouldn’t A Person Seek God’s Forgiveness?
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Lk 2:10-11) The greatest news any ear ever will hear is the message of hope that arrived with the birth of our Lord, and culminated with his death, burial, and resurrection. When one learns that everyone sins (Rom 3:23), and that for those sins all are owed the penalty of death (Rom 6:23), it is natural to be grateful for the provisions God has made for sinners to be forgiven. However, it is often the case that those who learn of this forgiveness do not take hold of it. Let’s examine a few of the things that might hinder a person from accepting God’s gift.
Some are ashamed to ask for God’s forgiveness. James wrote “You do not have because you do not ask.” (Jas 4:2) Some simply choose not to ask for God’s forgiveness, even though they are aware of its necessity, because they feel unworthy. Most people can probably relate to this. But the Bible teaches that a Christian who confesses his/her sins can be cleansed of “all unrighteousness.” (I Jn 1:9) God would not have offered this if he didn’t want us to be forgiven.
Others are not willing to make things right and seek forgiveness because of the earthly consequences that they would have to face. For instance, those who commit crimes that are punishable by law may be afraid to repent and face the consequences. Or a man/woman who has been living in adultery may be afraid to repent and stop living a life of lies. But the glory of forgiveness and the wonder of heaven outweigh any of these fears. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mk 8:36) Those earthly consequences will be the farthest thing from your mind when you find yourself 100’s or 1,000’s of years into your eternal reward.
Sadly, most people will never even take the proper steps to get into Christ where forgiveness and the reward of heaven reside. Faith (Heb 11:6), repentance (Lk 13:3), confession (Rom 10:9-10), and baptism (Mk 16:16) are all that are necessary to become a New Testament Christian. Then, live a faithful life, and prepare to meet God. What is your reason for not seeking God’s forgiveness?
- - - - Darrell Powell
Walnut Street Church of Christ
P.O. Box 551
Greenville, AL 36037-0551