Give Thanks – Really!

It is not uncommon to hear small children confuse “Thank you” and “You are welcome” — sometimes asking which is which — and I suppose it is to be expected that beginners in public service will also get confused. But it seems that after a few years of practice grown men should be able to “Thank God” for the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus “took bread, and blessed it,…And he took the cup, and gave thanks” (Mat. 26:26-27, Mark.14:22-23); “And he took bread and gave thanks… Likewise also the cup” (Luke 22:19-20) “Took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it….After the same manner also he took the cup” (1Cor. 11:24-25).  Is there any lack of clarity in this information and instruction? The “blessing” and the “giving thanks” amount to the same thing, as seen by a comparison of all passages. In any event, if Christ “blessed” in any efficacious sense, we could do no more than give Him thanks for it. Are we not united in the knowledge that we should “give thanks” for the bread and for the fruit of the vine?

Then why do so many fail to do it?

Listen carefully to the wording of prayers at the Lord’s table. We ask God to “make us worthy” or “aware of the significance” or “help us partake in a worthy manner” or even “forgive us of our sins as we partake” (and some may attach an unscriptural significance regarding forgiveness) but more and more frequently I listen in vain for “Thank you for this bread”.

The problem is not lack of knowledge, but lapse of attention — and that is why this article is on the front page. We urge you to enter into worship with a prepared mind and to sing, pray, etc., purposefully. How else can our worship be sincere? How else, indeed, can it be worship?

This is not a plea for a particular “formula” or memorized prayer. We do suggest that before you pick up that plate you say to yourself, “I was helplessly lost in sin, but Jesus died for me”. Then look at that bread and fruit of the vine as the body and blood of your Savior, a memorial of His sacrifice, and I think you will have no difficulty in praying, “Oh, thank you Lord, thank you”.

–Robert Turner

Plain Talk, August 1973

Instrumental Music – Swallowing Camels

Faithful disciples in every generation are on a quest for continuity with their heritage. It is not a heritage to be discovered in tracing their faith through our physical descendants (or family traditions), much less the “rattling of a chain through the ages” to prove its right to exist. To the contrary, much in every way, it is a spiritual continuity which they seek. They seek only to identify faithfully with the teaching and practice of the inspired apostles of the First Century.

For us today, removed only by time and geography, our quest is identical to those in the second century. They stood in that noble tradition of seeking a continuity for their faith and practice with the “new creation” established in Christ Jesus and revealed by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Those disciples in the second century who desired to be faithful to God did so only through careful study and application of the apostolic teaching contained in the primary source documents of the First Century. Those have been preserved for us today in the same New Testament.

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The Appearance of Evil–Stand Fast in the Lord

I don’t know of another passage of scripture any more misused than I Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I have even heard it used to condemn eating at a restaurant that serves alcohol. Never mind the fact the individual who misused the passage shopped at a grocery store that sold liquor. It is a catch-all verse for condemning playing cards (after all they gamble with cards and we don’t want to give the appearance of evil), going to the movies, going to the beach, and on and on ad nauseam. If someone wants to condemn something they just quote the verse and “shazam” it’s a sin! If one dares to challenge an individual’s understanding then that individual can always play the conscience card— “it offends my conscience.”

The passage in I Thessalonians 5:22 is one of those passages, as I began preaching, that helped me to understand that lexicons (dictionaries) are not the source by which we define the meaning of a word. It is true they provide us with several definitions of a word but the actual meaning of the word must be determined by the context! The King James Version translates the passage, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Newer translations (e.g. American Standard Version, etc.) have better translated the meaning of the words in the passage to read, “abstain from every form of evil.” The New International Version translates the passage, “avoid every kind of evil.”

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The God Who Speaks

“Indeed these are mere edges

of His ways,

And how small a whisper

we hear of Him!

But the thunder of His power

who can understand?”

Job 26:14

God searches Job as Job searches for Him. The supreme desire of both is for the truth to be told and known by all men. God challenges Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?”(Job 1:8; 2:3). Satan expresses no desire for the truth to be known. He is sure of what the truth is for him namely, “Job does not serve God for naught!”  (Job 1:9).

If we approached the book of Job for the first time, with our faith in God intact, we could probably read the first twelve verses of chapter one and conclude that Job’s faith would prevail and God would be vindicated. In other words, if we reduced it down to a question of which one we are going to believe, God or the Satan, we would choose God.

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Welcome To Our Visitors

Have you ever wondered if our modern culture knows anything of a religion outside of an environment of big business? Is it possible to find a group of people who exist, as a church, for some other purpose than recreational, social or political ends?

Wouldn’t it be great to be part of a group of people who are truly committed, not just in words, but in practice and life, to the principles and teachings of the Bible? How could it get any better than to work with a group of people, whose primary interest was in learning and applying to themselves, as they seek to share with others, what the Bible teaches? This is the purpose and goal of our worship and work here at the Gardendale church of Christ. What we hope you find in your worship experience with us is that. . .

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A Note From The Elders

(The following article is written by Bill Robinson at the behest of the elders. We (the elders) have each read the article prior to publication and it expresses our goal for our corporate worship).

Our modern society revels in its individualism (the “what’s-in-it-for- me” philosophy). The sad truth is the local church in many places suffers from a crippling individualism that is both selfish and presumptuous. A sincere concern for the community (local church) has disappeared from the mind and heart of many Christians because they have compartmentalized their lives (separated their religious life from other parts of their lives) and/or refused to give up their self-interests for the good of the church.

Sadly, some Christians have become ruthless in their pursuit of pleasure and desire to be satisfied. They justify it on the basis they are not being immoral (committing adultery, engaging in drunkenness, or battling some addiction — be it drugs or pornography). There is a tendency to grossly underestimate their struggle with individualism because they are too busy promoting themselves (i.e. personal likes and/or dislikes) in the local congregation. The local church as God intended it to be is a family – a team. Brethren, remember “individualism” is NOT a team sport!

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Some Rules For Bible Study

1. Read it as a book that can be understood.  Eph. 3:1-4, 2 Tim 2:15 (Bob Waldron suggests that a passage to read at least three times–once to see what it says, once to see what it means, and once to see how it relates to the overall theme of the Bible.)

2. Have a love for the truth.  2 Thess. 2:10; Psa. 119:97-104

3. Determine who is speaking in each passage and to whom the words are directed or intended.  Enemies of truth are quoted sometimes and not all scripture applies to everyone in all ages.  (See No. 5 below)

4. Be sure to determine the context, setting, or circumstances of every scripture being considered.  Be sure you understand the proper application of the passage.

5. Recognize and make the proper distinction of historical divisions the scriptures have -The Law to the Jews, Gospel to all in this last dispensation (Christian).

6. Study and consider all the scriptures on a subject and do not take only a part of the teaching on any subject.

7. Determine the exact meaning of each word that may be under study so as to give the true sense of a verse.

8. Be careful to accept figurative language as such and do not make a literal interpretation where the passage does not mean such.

9. Where there is a doubtful meaning, never accept a contradictory interpretation, but look for a meaning that will harmonize with other teachings, for God does not contradict himself.

Daniel’s God

NT Christians are familiar with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image with the head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze and legs and feet of iron and clay recorded in Daniel 2:21-48. The image represented the successive world empires of the Babylonians, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman. The image crushed by a fifth kingdom – represented by a stone cut out of the mountains without hands – is the kingdom of God (2:44-45). It is an interesting and powerful prophecy vividly portraying the Sovereignty of God.

One of the minor but very significant details of the account in Daniel 2 is the reply of the wise men to King Nebuchadnezzar’s. He had commanded them not only to interpret his dream but to recall it. They “answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter…and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” (Dan. 2:10-11). Clearly, they did not know Daniel’s God.

Daniel brought before the King, as one who could recollect and interpret the King’s dream, acknowledged his inability as mere mortal to meet the King’s command but declared to him, “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (v. 28). Here is a wonderful insight about Daniel’s God, which all the wise men in Babylon could not conceive, namely, a God who “dwells with flesh” – that is, One who cares about the earthly affairs of mere mortals and who can recall dreams and give interpretations.

Who is Jesus? Is He not God, the eternal Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)? Yes indeed but much more than that! He is the recollection and interpretation of all of mankind’s deepest longings for fulfillment, which neither mortal tongue nor mind could express. No wonder the apostle Paul declared of Him, “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full …” This Jesus is Daniel’s God – the longing of all mankind who is not only the dream come true but He the certain true One who loves and redeems. Do you know Daniel’s God?

–Bill Robinson

The First And Great Command

Jesus declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37). When we speak of something as being “first” it could have reference to something sequential in order, or in respect to time. In another context, it may reference to importance, or priority, as in this aforementioned passage.

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Presenting The Truth To Our Culture

Our age ridicules people as bigots, who fail to be accepting of the errors found in our multi-culturalism. Tolerance has become the god to which we are expected to genuflect, as a sign of being open minded and sophisticated. It was G. K. Chesterton who once commented to the effect that an open mind, like an open mouth, should only be open when it has something solid to bite down. Can there be anything solid (substantive) about a worldview that refuses to recognize a moral authority or imperative for the actions of any individual in society?

The moral authority for those in Jesus’ day, especially among the religious, was not much better. In fact, the similarities are striking on one level. Today the prevailing postmodern view is all about power or control. Accordingly, not only is there no objective standard of right or wrong; truth is merely the construct of human thought and experience derived from the culture in which one lives (in other words, we are products of our environment and whatever environment we were brought up in is truth for us – there is no right or wrong). Even lawyers and judges in our legal system evince the same view as manifested in their disregard for the “rule of law.” For many of them, law is not objective, much less neutral (impartial). The law is only a tool of those in power and is used to accomplish their agenda. We see the same similarities in the power bases at work in the Jewish culture of Jesus day as it relates to the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees. In their respective cultures and beliefs, they arbitrarily added, denied, made void and/or subtracted from the “rule of law” established in the Old Covenant (Matthew 22:29; John 5:39; Mark 7:1-13).  Furthermore, we might add that Pilate’s response to Jesus, “what is truth?” (John 18:38), is loosely the equivalent of “whatever” as the response we hear so much today when one is questioned about their choice and/or behavior.

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