English: Homeless person in Tallinn, Estonia.

Homeless person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

(James 2: 14-18)

It happens so often. Someone approaches you with a request for “spare change.” This sets up a conflict with many of us. On the one hand, they may very well be “frauds,” seeking out some cash to buy booze or drugs. They may not even be “homeless” or down on their luck at all!

But on the other hand, they may very well be in earnest; homeless, broke, and in great despair. Maybe they haven’t eaten a good clean meal in some time. Perhaps they do have a wife or baby who is starving. You just can’t be certain.

Some people use the “food instead” rule. They offer to buy the person a drink or meal, and if they say “no thanks,” then you feel better about refusing them altogether.

But what if that person is just too embarrassed to be seen with someone who is buying them a meal. After all, their situation isn’t exactly their proudest moment! Think how you might feel if you were in their shoes…(if they have shoes to wear!) It’s almost impossible to know any facts with any certainty.

So, having contemplated this through the guidance of scripture, why not do what you feel is right in the eyes of the Lord. Give such a person the benefit of the doubt and hand him some change. If he or she takes the money and spends it on alcohol, that’s “on them,” not you. You gave from your heart, they just made an unwise choice with your gift. But you tried to practice charity just as Jesus may well have.

Finally, sometimes you really don’t have any spare change to give. In which case you don’t have a way to help with their immediate need. It just happens, and in that case, don’t feel bad. Just remember the spirit of the scripture and, when you can do so, let that guide your decisions in all matters of generosity…

~Central Church of Christ

Image  —  Posted: June 25, 2013 in Bible Studies, Religious Studies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Official seal of Oklahoma City

Official seal of Oklahoma City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dearest Lord God and Father of all…

We stand in awe of the complete and total glory and majesty which shows throughout your world and your universe. All that is seen and unseen belongs to you, and we cannot possibly understand what kind of planning and creativity has gone into your handiwork.

Lord, we do not know all of your purposes for the things which happen in this world. Why we have such natural disasters as the one yesterday in Oklahoma City is unknown to us. We cannot know why it is that so many people and so much property were laid waste at the hands of the  horrific tornado.

All we can do is bow down before you and ask that you look after all of the families and friends and others who experienced a great loss in this disaster. Be with the needy and grieving souls who shuffle aimlessly through piles of rubble looking for survivors; looking for what may be left of their own lives.

Please hear our collective prayers on behalf of all people in houses of worship everywhere. Comfort and guide the beaten and confused souls who are in so much pain. Lord, you are a mighty God, capable of great power as we have seen put on display in this storm. But you are also a loving and eternally knowing God who stands ready to provide for the people’s needs before they even ask it of you.

Therefore, please attend to the sick, hurt, and misery ridden souls who are in the most need of your attention. May your will be done in all things, as we end this prayer in the name of Christ the Son…AMEN!

Image  —  Posted: May 21, 2013 in Religious Studies, Special Prayers
Tags: , , , , , ,

English: Scroll of the Book of Proverbs

Scroll of the Book of Proverbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a number of topics covered in the Proverbs. No doubt, these tiny passages deliver a mighty punch, and give us insight into so many of God’s precepts for humanity. They also give us instruction on how to live more honorably and with greater success in this world…

Some people believe the bible is so old that it is outdated. They say it’s words are “tired,” and have no place in this more sophisticated, “enlightened” society.

Nothing can be further from the truth!

The inspired words of the Lord, from Genesis to Revelation, are certainly ageless, and timeless, but they are never worthless.

The following is a random selection of passages from Proverbs. Read them, drink them in, ponder them. Then, apply them to the current state of society and see what you think. If you do this, you will be doing something that so many of our government leaders and lawmakers have gotten away from, much to Satan’s delight!

So, read and learn more about the mind of our Lord God Almighty. The principles can help you like no other “wisdom” of any earthly type can provide you. Benefit from God’s guidance by knowing and integrating His intelligence into your life!

(Proverbs 16):

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for his own ends–even the wicked for a day of disaster. The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear (respect) of the Lord a man avoids evil.  ~(V3-6)~

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit, and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. ~(V8-9, 18-20)~

From just this handful of verses we learn much. The Lord God is at the center of all things. For those of us who put Him at the center of our lives, we have the greatest of allies and a most powerful friend!

When we consider God’s will in our daily plans, we have the greatest chance of success. For those who seek shameful or unjust gain, we know they will be eternally punished. When we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul, and treat others as we want to be treated, we have the love and mercy of God to forgive our sins.

If we understand that this earth is not our final “home,” and if we learn to be content with what we gain here, we become the blessed of God. If we allow the Almighty to lead us on earth, He will surely reward us in heaven. All we need to do is to put our life and trust in His hands.

Outdated thinking? Certainly not. Irrelevant and empty platitudes? Hardley so. Eternal wisdom which goes well beyond the shameless, shifting wisdom of this world? Absolutely!

Learn God’s mind, apply His pattern to our daily lives, commit yourself unto Him and reap the harvest that His wisdom provides…

-Central Church of Christ

Image  —  Posted: February 20, 2013 in Favorite Readings..., Religious Studies
Tags: , , , , , ,

Glorious Sunrise

Glorious Sunrise (Photo credit: atmtx)

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to let God speak for Himself. Afterall, which of us can match the One who is perfect? Who can deliver a Godly message better than God Himself? Here he does so through the writings of this Psalmist. 

Here are some excerpts from (Psalm 49):

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me–those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him–the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough–

For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed upon them.

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Regrettably, so many in this world will not hear this message. Or even more disturbing, they will hear but not heed these words of wealth through devine wisdom. These are the true riches which endure forever…those which come through having the right relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

Do you hear God’s message? Will you apply it in your life? He wants you to do so, as do the members who rest in the grace which the Lord God provides…

-Central Church of Christ

Image  —  Posted: February 6, 2013 in Favorite Readings..., Religious Studies
Tags: , , , ,

Prayer

Humble ourselves in prayer before God. (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

This much is true of a great many people:

They want a “Savior,” but not a “Master!”

The world teaches us that we must watch out for ourselves, because no one else will do so. The prevailing attitude seems to be one which states: “The one who dies with the most stuff, wins.”

This is so sad, because it is just not true. And any who propagate and/or follows such thinking will be disappointed in the end, eternally so…

Many times, these are the very same people who suffer setbacks and trials in life and wonder…”why me?” They do not have a way to cope with troublesome things when they encounter them, and without a doubt, such things will be visited upon every living soul!

However, for the one who has given his life to God through Christ, things are very different. The child of God has the most powerful way to deal with adversity; he has the one true God of Heaven who will provide guidance and comfort through EVERY problematic situations of life!

To borrow a remark from one of our sermons…”For so many, this world is as ‘good’ as things get. But for the person of God, this world is as ‘bad’ as things get!” That’s because for the ones who give their lives first and foremost to God, and serve Him at His pleasure, the best is yet to come…an eternal life of happiness in heaven’s courts!

“But wait,” some will say; “am I not supposed to be motivated to pursue happiness and a portion of gain in my earthly life? Is God so demanding that he can’t allow us to be somewhat comfortable and happy as we live in the here and now?”

Actually, God is teaching us that we have a choice. We can have a life of some “prosperity,” or we can choose an everlasting life of great “prosperity” by way of the proper “priority.” Here’s what I mean.

For those who are “self-seeking” above all else, they may or may not reach their wealth and prosperity goals in this life. But whatever they get before they pass away is ALL they have coming. Sadly, there is nothing more awaiting them in death except sorrow and emptiness. Even those things which they gained in life are lost in death.

But for those who seek first the things of God, they can achieve many blessings in this world, PLUS they can look forward to a home in heaven with the Lord and Savior. And that is a measure of “wealth” which surpasses anything this world can offer! And it is greater than any degree of abundance one can find in this world.

However, to attain this level of greatest achievement, we need to act with wisdom which is greater than any on earth. We must understand that the greater victory is won by sincerely humbling ourselves before the Lord, seeking to do His will before our own. Read now the words which come from Christ Jesus Himself in this passage of scripture:

(Luke 9: 23-25)

Then he (Christ) said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Another verse of scripture which goes very well with this one, is found in the book of Matthew. These too are the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

(Matthew 6: 31-34)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans (self-serving people) run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

You see, each of us has a free-will choice to make: We can “go it alone,” and strive for what  earthly prizes we can get, or we can “go it with Christ” and gain His favor both now and forever! It can be “silver and gold” in a world which is passing away, or a life of comfort, happiness, and bliss which will never end!

The choice really becomes quite simple to make in light of God’s teachings…

 

 

~Central Church of Christ

 

 

 

Centurion

Centurion (Photo credit: bomvu)

One of the most intriguing stories I find in the bible is that of the “Faith of the Centurion.” Here is a man, who obviously has charge of a number of soldiers in the Roman army. He also has servants who do his bidding. By all accounts, this centurion is powerful and well-respected, even by the Jewish community, despite having no express affiliation with them.

And yet, this man also has a compassionate and caring side to his nature. He understands something else as well; something which is far more significant and powerful than his military credentials or social position in life.

This warrior recognizes the power of a true Lord, who reigns over all men, and even with his earthly status, he doesn’t feel worthy to approach this King in person. He knows he must humble himself before Christ Jesus by sending others to make a request of him. Let’s read this story, which unfolds in the gospel of Luke, and take a lesson in the power of humility!

(Luke 7:1-10) says: 

When Jesus had finished saying all this, (his Sermon on the Mount), in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.

When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, ‘ This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue. ‘ So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

God has chosen to share this story with us because it makes a very important point. Any person, even one who has some degree of position and power in this life, can attain even more in God through Christ Jesus when he sincerely humbles himself before the Lord!

We then can understand from such a story as this that faith, combined with humbleness before God, can gain us spiritual favor in His eyes. And this is more valuable than anything this world has to offer. Even more, such an attitude can set a good example before others, which is also good in the sight of our Heavenly Father.

So, consider what power can come from simply presenting ourselves modestly before the glorious power of a loving and gracious Lord! The benefits are limitless and last for an eternity…

-Central Church of Christ-

English: David praying the Lord. A Georgian mi...

David praying the Lord. A Georgian miniature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With all of the evil which is displayed in the world, we need someone to turn to. However, our solace should not be sought in the things of this world, for they are passing away along with everything else which is temporal…

We need to train our hearts and minds to seek God in everything. In good times and bad, He is the one we can count on to provide the full range of physical and emotional needs. No one else is like Him, in any way. And, despite what happens in this world, He is always in control.

People often ask “where is this God” when all sorts of horrible things happen. The answer is simply this: we can never know for what reason either the good or bad things of this world take place. But what we are told is that everything takes place for a Godly purpose.

In (Isaiah 55: 8-9) God tells us plainly that there are things at work in the heavens and on earth which we don’t know about. Here the scripture says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

To many people, this statement may “put them off.” They find it demeaning that God would tell us such a thing. But to the one maturing in the Lord, and who understands humility and respect in the sight of God, it is a comfort. Our Lord is completely honest and forthcoming with all people. And it is true…which one of us can apply knowledge and justice better than the one who created these concepts?

Those who accept the Lord as our guide in this life are stronger and wiser for doing so. We can grasp the concept that the Lord IS Lord! He has a plan in mind for every single person, and He will always love and care for those who trust in Him wholeheartedly!

So it is better that we walk the path of the righteous, leaving the things of this world in the hands of God, knowing that He will lift us up! Take the attitude found in the words of (Psalm 25) as a part of our “core belief system” in life and be all the better for it.

(Psalm 25: 1-5):

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 

Think of the Lord first, go to Him in prayer, in both happiness and in sorrow. For He rejoices with us in our joys, and is able to help and care for us in pain and despair. Everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, will experience good and bad in this life. We live in a fallen and sinful place and the whole of “life’s events” will come upon us.

But when we have learned to cling to our Father in heaven, we have a Friend which others do not. And He will provide in ways which others cannot, and He never fails us!

May the Lord of all keep you and guide you in your walk with Him…  

-Central Church of Christ-

 

English: The Psalmes of King David. Translated...

The Psalmes of King David. Translated by King James. An exhibit in the National Museum of Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a number of people who don’t realize that the beautiful book of Psalms is actually believed to be an ancient collection of songs, which were likely sung in worship services to the Lord…

According to “The New International Bible, copyright 1995, page 772,” the names “Psalms” and “Psalter” come from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT), where they originally referred to stringed instruments, i.e. harps, lyre, and the lute, and then to songs sung with their accompaniment.

But, because of the beautiful nature of the words, they can very easily be imagined as praise to the Lord, perhaps in a prayer format. With that said, let me share another passage of scripture from this comforting and soothing book we call…The Psalms!

These are the words of (Psalm 24: 1-5) which is credited to King David as the author. Here we read:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God the Savior.

 

Certainly we can see from these words that the Lord God is the Creator of all things, and as such, is the greatest Being in all of existence! When we come to believe that fact, there is nothing else which can stand against Him…He IS all good; He IS all powerful!

And, because God is that pure and holy, only those of us who have the most genuine kind of love and humble respect, in both heart and mind, for Him, as Father of all things, can call on Him. We are not consumed with the things of this world, (idols), but rather have an eye toward gaining the grace and goodness which comes from the Lord alone.

And, because we have that kind of hope, trust, and love for God, He will bless us in great measure. He will deliver us from the evil which steals the souls of so many who refuse to accept God, through Jesus Christ, into their lives…

 

If you would like more information on the Psalms, or wish information on how to have a greater relationship with the Lord your God, please write or call us! The contact information is in the left sidebar of this article page…

May God bless you in your walk with Him.  

-Central Church of Christ-

 

English: Isaiah; illustration from a Bible car...

Isaiah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At times during our lives, we can believe that our problems are bigger than us. We can feel overwhelmed in the flood of dissipation and concern. Worry besets us and can make us feel so small and helpless…

That is unless you have faith in God. If you can trust in the Lord as being bigger than all things in every corner of creation, than you can begin to feel easier that your Lord and Father in heaven is able to handle any size problem or number of problems which come against us.

 

 

Consider the words of (Isaiah 40: 10, 12-14, 18):

 

See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense is with him. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and hills in a balance?

Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?

To whom, then, will you compare God?

 

If these words don’t sum up the awesome power of our God, I can’t imagine any which can! In the context of this passage, trials and tribulations which seem so unmanageable as they are unfolding can be put into prospective very quickly.

Nothing in existence is as great as the Lord, and His abilities to control situations for those who turn to Him for help is boundless! He made everything, He controls everything, and at no time are we left alone and without help. For “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you…” is his promise to us…(Hebrews 13:5).

So relax and know the peace which passes all understanding in your God, through faith in Christ Jesus our Savior!

 

-Central Church of Christ-

Cross

Cross (Photo credit: davidflanders)

 

It seems to be the dream of so many people. We feel that if we can gain the riches of this world, we will be happy and comfortable, not wanting for anything. And, no doubt, having financial security can provide a certain kind of inner peace…

But the wealth of this world is transitory, it cannot provide the far-reaching goal of eternal happiness. No amount of money in the world can buy you what God has to offer. Consider what these verses say and take strength and knowledge from them.

 

 

(Psalm 49: 1-3, 5-8, 10,15)

 

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding…Why should I fear evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me–those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?

No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him–the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough…For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself…

 

 

To place one’s hope and trust in the riches of this life is to fool himself. Life is so much more than having great amounts of money and other possessions. We can have all the money in the world and it still does not alter his eventual outcome…death!

That is why the wiser among us will make the best investment of all, giving our hearts and lives to God, and to live according to His plan for us. There is no greater thing which we can do for ourselves, and no greater example we can set for others.

Therefore, in this coming year, may we gain the wealth which does not pass away with our mortal bodies. Instead, let us find the never-ending treasure trove which comes with obediance and trust in the gospel of our Savior Christ Jesus!

Would you like to have more life affirming information about God and His Son? Please feel free to contact us. The phone and email address are listed in the left margin. May the Lord bless you in your walk with Him!

 

-Central Church of Christ-