Category Archives: Bulletin Articles

Words of wisdom from our weekly bulletin

LEPROSY

LEPROSY 

Every year as I approach the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament while doing my daily Bible study, I am less than enthusiastic. I try, but usually fail, to see any relevance for New Testament Christians in all the rules and regulations. This year I was prepared to once again get bored and bogged down by the priestly duties, including checking out the colors of people’s skin and hair for possible victims of leprosy.  So many details to determine if the spots were clean or unclean—7 days quarantines, washings of clothes and body, sacrificing animals, shaving and burning of hair and clothes, cedar wood, scarlet, hyssop, running water, etc, etc.

About that time, as I read a footnote, I had my epiphany.  “ Traditionally leprosy; the Hebrew word was used for various diseases afflicting the skin…”  Did that also mean skin CANCER?  Suddenly these chapters became very relevant!  If I had lived back then, instead of the nitrogen freezes, the surgery, and the Fluorouracil cream which all helped me, I would’ve surely listened to and heeded God’s instructions given through the priests.  I would have been grateful like the commander Naaman in 2 Kings 5 to hear the Prophet Elisha’s message from God for his cure.  He only had to dip 7 times in the muddy Jordan river.

God inspires scriptures that one might read many times and not think they apply to oneself until… This is true whether it applies to one’s health, ( Deu 24: 8)  one’s conduct, ( Deu 4:9) one’s pride, ( 1 Cor 10: 12) or one’s salvation. ( Heb 2; 10)  (Heb 3: 12)

 

  Jim Bailey

“The Decommissioned Church”

The church at Ephesus was a hardworking, doctrinally-sound, uncompromising body.  However, it was the only church which Jesus threatened to decommission or disown (Rev 2:1-5).  In chapter one, he said that the lampstands were the churches (v.20).  In threatening to remove their candlestick, he was saying that they would no longer be his church. They might continue to exist and perhaps even flourish outwardly; however, they would not be a Spirit indwelt church, but a hollow shell, a worshipping society.

If the church at Ephesus was a hardworking, doctrinally-sound, uncompromising body, why threaten to remove their candlestick?  They had left their first love (2:4).  Some have identified their first love as evangelism.  It is certainly true that many churches of Christ have been sidetracked from taking the gospel to the world to in-fighting and self-service, but is this what Jesus means?

When Paul wrote to this same church.  He told them to speak the truth in love (4:15) and to walk in love (5:1-2).  A church can hold and preach the right doctrine without love either for the one who commissioned them or for the ones to whom they preach.

We still have not answered the question “What was their first love?”  The church is the bride of Christ for whom he died.  A bride’s first love is her husband.  We may strongly avow our love for Christ, but what is the acid test?  A wife may perform her expected role with great skill—have the cleanest house, serve the best meals, have exemplary children, and yet freeze her husband to death.  She loves her role, but not her husband.  Every church loudly proclaims its love for Christ, especially in sermon and song, but John would ask, “How can you love Christ if you do not love those whom he loves?”

Here is what he said:  “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 4:20-5:1, ESV).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every individual and every group of individuals claiming to be a church of Christ were known as “those people who love Jesus, one another, and all for whom he died”

Written by Don Campbell

ATTITUDE

An attitude can be a feeling, tendency or an orientation of the mind or a position of the body appropriate to or expressive of an emotion.  As a teacher of adolescents for 35 years, I could almost always guess their attitude by their body language without hearing a word spoken.  A smile could be a positive clue, but just as often a stare or the rolling of eyes would indicate a negative attitude.  Nowadays when someone describes a person as having “ an attitude” it usually infers that the person is spoiling for an argument.  However, a New Testament Christian should always display an attitude of gratitude.

That starts with an adjustment of the mind.  ( Eph 4:23)  We need to be made new in the attitude of our minds and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ( Eph 4: 23-24)  Our new attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. ( Php 2: 5)  We are to “arm ourselves with his attitude…as a result we do not live the rest of our earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  ( I Pet 4: 1-2)  The word of God…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ( Heb 4: 12)  Since everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account… ( Heb 4:13) we cannot hide thanklessness, ingratitude, ungratefulness, or lack of appreciation or masquerade as an angel of light as Satan does.

Contrast that attitude with that of Christ Jesus who “ made himself nothing” “he humbled Himself” and “ became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”  ( Php 2: 5-8)  Surely an attitude of ingratitude is one of the worst insults  to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  However, because we live in a sinful world with many temptations, nearly all of us will sin this sin through selfishness and forgetfulness.  God will forgive even this if we humble ourselves, pray and adjust our attitude.

Jim Bailey

OLD VERSUS NEW

It seems as if every product these days must be new and improved to be acceptable to the consumer.  Is it possible for a product or a person to be completely new?  New Coke must retain the essence or formula of the old product or we may be creating Pepsi.

When the Apostle Paul speaks about a new self and old self, a new and old attitude, a new and old creation, ( Eph 4: 22-24) he refers to the former way of life versus the new way. When John talks about a new commandment he means a Christ-like love rather than a self-love. ( Jo 13: 34)  Nicodemus, a teacher and Pharisee, had to learn the meaning of a new life from Jesus. ( Jo 3: 3)

Christ Jesus will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body ( Phil 3: 21) ( 1 Jo 3:2)  Paul explains this further by comparing our natural body and our spiritual body to the changing of a seed to a full-grown plant. ( I Cor 15: 35-38)   What we will become appears to be very different from who we are, our soul, which will still maintain the image with which God created us. ( Gen 1: 26-27)

When the Old Testament was replaced by the New Testament, ( 2 Cor 3:6) ( Lk 12:20) ( Gal 4:24) ( Heb 9: 15) both still contained the moral teachings that God expects as well as his mercy, love and grace.  The Old Testament was not  discarded for lack of usefulness, rather it served as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ until all was fulfilled. ( Gal 3: 24-25)

Therefore old is not always bad nor new always good.  A very interesting and wise proverb says, “ Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” ( Google it?)

Jim Bailey

THORNS

Here is an interesting enigma. Did God create the rose bush without thorns or add them after the sin of Adam and Eve? He said that the ground would produce thorns and thistles and that Adam would have burdensome toil to get food. (Gen 3:17-18) However, isn’t it so like our heavenly Father to still leave grace even in the midst of judgment and consequences? Thorns are hard and sharp and metaphorically represent irritation, trouble and discomfort. Whereas roses represent beauty and aroma which God in His grace left for mankind to enjoy. (I am still searching for something good to say about thistles.)

The Apostle Paul struggled mightily with his “thorn in the flesh,” and pleaded three times for the Lord to take it away from him. (2 Cor 12:7) Instead God answered, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” The scriptures are not totally clear on what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but many scholars believe it was his eyes. (Col. 4:18P (Gal 6:11) He wrote the Galatians that “even thought my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.” (Gal. 4:13-14) I wonder if Paul thought often of the crown of thorns that Jesus was made to wear in addition to his many other tortures? (Jo 19:2, 5) (Mt 27:29) (Mk 15:17)

Jesus warned future disciples that we would also have trouble and persecution because of the word. (Mt 13:21) (Jo 16:33) However, we sometimes have our own “thorn in the flesh” outside of contending for the faith. (Jude 3) I had not even considered this until my recent thorn of skin cancer. Like Paul, I am grateful that the wonderful brethren here have continued to love and not scorn me because of my “unsightly” appearance. I pray that the Lord’s power will be made perfect through my weakness.

Jim Bailey