Thursday, July 31, 2014


by Wayne Rodgers
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4,5 NKJV).
While the Bible is full of commands to be thankful, the Psalmist gives reasons why we should praise God and be thankful.
First, “the Lord is good.” To say that the Lord is good might seem like an understatement. This statement is obviously in direct opposition by those who say that God is evil. Others claim that God is manipulative and cite Job as their test subject, but forget or fail to read the fact that God asked Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:1, 8). These statements imply that this “servant” of God shunned evil and served God.
There are some who claim that because God took away Adam and Eve’s “eternal life,” He committed the first “evil.” This is just not true, because sin is evil and unrighteousness (1 John 3:4; 5:17). As the Psalmist claims, “the Lord is good.” James reminds us that “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13, KJV). He then tells us that sin (a.k.a., evil; unrighteousness) is born in the lusts (desires) of men, not God.
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).
Second, “His mercy is everlasting.” Mercy is defined as (1) leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice; (2) a disposition to be kind and forgiving; (3) the feeling that motivates compassion; something for which to be thankful; (4) Alleviation of distress; (5) showing great kindness toward the distressed [WordWeb]. Because we (mankind) have offended the goodness and righteousness of God through our sins, we stand as condemned. However, because of the compassion, kindness and love of God, those who follow His plan can find leniency in the justice of God. Paul explains in the letter to the Ephesians:
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, emphasis, WR).
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:9-11, emphasis, WR).
All of this is accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Notice the phrases, “…his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7) and “…which he purposed [planned] in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). The Psalmist reminds us this great “mercy is everlasting,” and may we ever praise God for it!
Third, “His truth endures to all generations. God has always given direction to His creation. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Throughout creation’s history, God has given His truth as that direction. The Hebrews’ writer recorded: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2a).
Jesus in His prayer to the Father explained, “thy word is truth” (John 17:17). It is through our obedience to that “truth” that will “direct” us in His “mercy.” Luke records the apostles preaching on the Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40, emphasis, WR).
The apostle Peter spoke of the endurance of God’s Word [a.k.a. “truth”]:
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:18-25, emphasis, WR).

May we ever thank and praise the God of Heaven who loved us so much and has made a way that we might be saved from our sins. The implication from the Psalmist is that because of the goodness of God, His mercy and His truth, we should be motivated to worship Him. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


by Cliff Goodwin
Christianity revolutionized the world in a number of ways.  First, it changed man’s perception of God from a cold, implacable deity to a loving, heavenly Father.  Second, it changed man’s outlook toward his fellow-man, even his enemies (cf. Matt. 5:44; Luke 10:25-37).  In the third place, and most relevant for this present study, it changed man’s attitude toward himself.
In the Hellenistic society of the first century, humility was generally looked upon as a sign of abject weakness.  In fact, the typical disdain toward humility, or lowliness, in that day and time might well be expressed by the term “pathetic” in modern lingo.  This prevailing attitude was furthered by the Grecian concept of justice, or righteousness:  “to each one, his own” (Vincent 1:69).  In other words, each one looked out for himself.  To the ancient Hellenistic mind, at least, this approach to life represented both the foundation of society and the highest ideal of justice.
Christ, through His example and doctrine, instigated a change in this thinking.  Contrary to the popular mindset of His day, He taught that one should place the needs of others before his own personal interests.  In this way, Jesus Christ made a virtue out of the “vice” of humility (Robertson).  Such would not only revolutionize the way people think, but it would also change the world forever!  This change slowly, but surely, crept over the world of the first century, going wherever the gospel was taken.
Definition Of Humility
Jesus described Himself as being “lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).  Paul told the Ephesian elders that he had served the Lord with all “humility of mind” (Acts 20:19).  What is the meaning of the Greek root translated “lowly” and “humility” in the English text?  It inherently carried the idea of littleness, “not rising far from the ground” (Thayer).  As Jesus used this word family, it involved the correct estimation of one’s own littleness, and therefore, dependence on God.  Such need is only compounded by the reality of sin in every accountable person’s life, except Jesus, of course (Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:23; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).
The basis for this virtuous attitude is connected in part to the physical, human body.  The inspired Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself” (Php. 3:20-21, ASV).  The “body of our humiliation,” of course, refers to the present state in which all human beings exist upon the earth—a physical body of flesh and blood.  Such an existence is certainly “little” in comparison to the transcendent, spiritual existence of the angelic beings and especially of the Godhead (the weakness of the flesh is well documented in Scripture; cf. Matt. 26:41).  Therefore, when Christ was made flesh, He is said to have been made “a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9, 14).  As a human being, Jesus completely entrusted Himself to the Father’s care, fully submitting to the Father’s will (borrowed; original author unknown, CG).  This was the perfect picture of humility!  “His human nature was the pattern of all humility—a constant living on the fullness of the Father’s love” (Trench, quoted by Vincent 1:69).
Further, Trench seems to be the one who first described humility as “creaturely dependence” (Vincent 1:69).  All created beings, including angels, should be humble before the God of creation.  God is the eternal, Sovereign Constant.  He alone is the self-existent, self-sufficient One—the great I AM (cf. Exo. 3:14).  Let no created being, neither angel nor man, vaunt himself before the Creator.  The creature must be cognizant of his own littleness before the Creator, and therefore, he must realize his total and utter dependence on Him.  Such an attitude is humility before God and prompts humility among men.  After all, the whole of humanity shares this same status.
Illustrations Of Humility
Jesus was, of course, the Master Teacher.  Therefore it comes as no surprise that He provided vivid and meaningful illustrations of humility.  First, Jesus illustrated this concept using an unnamed little child (Matt. 18:1-4).  How well do small children exhibit the quality of “creaturely dependence!”  They are unassuming and dependent—truly humble!  Children in no wise question their dependence on others, especially their parents.  They sense their own “littleness” in this world and embrace it.  They are quick to forgive and to reaffirm relationships with others.  Vincent wrote that Christ’s disciples “should willingly become by spiritual process what the child is by nature” (1:103).  How beautiful and pure is the humility of a small child—a virtue, indeed, to be imitated by God-fearing adults!
Second, Jesus also illustrated humility using an unnamed publican (Luke 18:9-14).  As one reads this passage, the pride and self-sufficiency of the Pharisee is contrasted with the lowliness of the publiclan.  The publican was keenly aware of three things:  his littleness, his sinfulness, and his dependence on God.  He was truly humble!  Drawing from Christ’s summary and conclusion of the parable in verse fourteen, it might well be said, “The road to justification is paved with humility” (cf. Jas. 4:6-10).
Applications Of Humility
While the Christian virtue of being “lowly in spirit” finds application in everyday life (Luke 14:7-11), it is especially helpful to brotherly relationships within the kingdom of God.  The church will enjoy her greatest harmony and exert her greatest effectiveness, when her members cultivate humility in their hearts and demonstrate it in their lives.  This great virtue finds application in a number of ways.
One, humility should be manifested in the way Christians address each other or expect to be addressed (Matt. 23:8-12).  Formal, religious titles, as used in the denominational world, are not conducive to humility.  Christ stressed the brotherhood of all true believers—there is nowhere hinted in Scripture the idea of a clergy/laity system.  One must be careful not to use titles in such a way as to elevate one brother over another.
Two, humility is the ground on which both rich and poor meet at the foot of the cross (Jas. 1:9-10).  Though one man may possess much more of this world’s goods than another, both are infinitely “little” before God, and therefore, utterly dependent on Him.  As Robertson noted, “The cross of Christ lifts up the poor and brings down the high.  It is the great leveller [sic] of men.”  For this reason, Christians are admonished to condescend (accustom, familiarize; CG) themselves to “low” men and things (Rom. 12:16; cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-31).  Christianity is intended for all who will humble themselves before God, and such humility can bring together both rich and poor.
Three, humility is the mindset out of which brethren will serve one another (1 Pet. 5:5-6; Gal. 5:13).  Pride says, “It is not my place to serve,” or “Let him serve me instead.”  Humility understands that all men are but servants before God.  It is out of “lowliness of mind” that one seeks the best interest of another, even before himself (Php. 2:3-4).  As a man, Christ indelibly stamped an image of humble service on the apostle Peter’s heart (John 13:4-17)—an image that he must have never forgotten (cf. 1 Pet. 5:5-6).  “Humility is a working virtue employed in ministry” (Vincent 1:668).
Robertson, A.T.  Word Pictures in the New Testament.  Electronic Database:  e-Sword, version 7.7.7, 2000.
Thayer, Joseph H.  Thayer’s Greek Definitions.  Electronic Database:  e-Sword, version 7.7.7, 2000.
Vincent, Marvin R.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Vol. 1.  Peabody:  Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., n.d.

Cliff's Bio: Cliff Goodwin is a native of the Anniston, Alabama, area.  He is married to the former Beth Williams of Talladega, Alabama. They are blessed with one son, Cade, and two daughters: Kinley and Lakelyn. Cliff is a 1995 graduate of Memphis School of Preaching and a 1997 graduate of Faulkner University.
Cliff has worked locally with the Ironaton church of Christ in Talladega, Alabama, since November of 1996. Each week he hosts two television programs that are aired locally and on the Gospel Broadcasting Network, Thy Word is Truth and Searching the Scriptures. Cliff speaks often on various lectureships and holds several Gospel Meetings each year.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


by Glenn I. Hitchcock

      The woman was divorced for three years. The marriage lasted for over a quarter of a century. One day the husband returned home, announced to his wife that he did not love her any more. The husband sued for divorce and promptly departed. It took all of less than fifteen minutes - barely half a minute for each year they had been married.
      In so many cases the key reason [excuse] given for ending a marriage is “I don’t love you anymore.” Or “I don’t have any feeling for you.” This excuse is regarded by many as adequate for a divorce court! Some of these marital tragedies occur in families that are already troubled. But a surprising number come in homes where the relationship between spouses was very favorable to happiness and longevity. But when “I don’t love you anymore” surfaces, the relationship often heads for a downward and selfish ending.
      It is extremely difficult to adequately express the tragedy of the “I don’t love you anymore” attitude.  When a spouse seeks to undo that which God has joined, it is viewed by God, regardless of society’s view, as a sinful tragedy (Mal. 2:16). Recall the words of the Lord Jesus “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).
What Is Love?
Difficulty often results from a distorted definition of the word love. If we have a faulty understanding of the kind of love that makes a marriage we will end marriages for wrong and misunderstood reasons. There are several kinds of love. 
First, there is friendship. Hopefully, mates are rooted in friendship. Friendship should be a part of the drawing power that established the male and female.  But few marriages are made just because of friendship. And one can be certain that “I don’t love you anymore” does not mean “I am not your friend anymore.”
Affection is another form of love. As with friendship, affection was probably part of the reason a couple married and may remain part of the relationship. But affection is not the basic love which produces successful marriages.  “I don’t love you anymore” does not connote “I have no more affection for you.”
A third kind of love is “eros,” it is the root of the more familiar “erotic” love.  This concept includes romantic love. It is that attraction between man and woman which is sexual, in the largest sense of the term. Eros includes, but is not limited to, physical expressions of lovemaking. In our culture, with its emphasis on the romantic and the idea that “falling in love” is what begins a marriage.  It is a dangerous matter when the romantic process [physical attraction only] of falling in love is made the basic reason for marrying and staying married. This view creates an impossible task to the maturing majesty of marriage. It is this sort of love which is nearly always meant when one states “I don’t love you anymore.” Your spouse’s physical attraction apart from mutual intimacy and spiritual oneness often leads to the immature ending of “I do love you anymore.”
The Bible view of love is exciting and pleasurable over an entire life span. “Agape” love is the highest form of love because it is sacrificial (I Cor. 13: 1-8). It is ascribed in marriage in Ephesians 5: 20-33, and must be applied by the Christian to all mankind in Gal. 6:10; I Peter 2:17.  Try loving with the highest love. It is God’s way and it works!

Glenn’s bio: Glenn preaches and also serves as one of the elders for the Warner Robins church of Christ in Warner Robins, GA.  Glenn also serves as a staff member of the Georgia School of Preaching & Biblical Studies Middle GA campus at Warner Robins.


Monday, July 28, 2014


by Neil Richey
I’ve been absolutely amazed by the number of Christians, who have destroyed their lives and the lives of those they love because of sexual sins. Things like pornography, sexual immorality, adultery, and all forms of sexual sin are plaguing our society and even the church.
We need to learn to guard our hearts, and despite what some folks may say, yes the “sexy stuff” does impact our hearts and can cause us to sin. 
Guarding our heart . . .
. . . IS A TOUGH JOB (Proverbs 4:23).
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" 
The "heart" is the mind. Every action that we engage in, good or bad, begins with the mind. It stands to reason then, that we train our mind carefully--a task that takes great effort. It's a tough job.
The world doesn't share the same moral/sexual values that we do. Tragically, some of our fellow Christians are equally negligent it keeping their hearts pure from sexual sin. It’s no wonder, given the sex driven society in which we live. Want to sell something today? Place it next to a “sexy woman” and it will enhance your profit margin.
You and I are living in a Dancing with the Stars, American "Idolatry," and American "Porn" Star, and The Next Top Model kind of world. Sadly, our Christian friends are becoming consumed with this very ideology.  
Christians dress like folks in the world. Christians vacation like folks in the world. Christians participate in recreational behaviors like folks in the world. Christians watch movies and television programs like folks in the world. Christians go to inappropriate websites like folks in the world. Christians are challenged by the “sexy stuff” just as much as anyone in the world is. The mind is affected by what we see. Want an interesting read? Take a moment to read the article found at
Now, having discussed the challenge of guarding our hearts, let's turn our attention to some specific ways in which we can guard our hearts.
"Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee."
Your words are used to paint a picture. In English, we learn that an adjective is a descriptive word. Our speech relative to sexual behavior paints a picture that can affect our hearts. So, we should "be careful little mouth what we say," and "be careful little ears what we hear."
Sexual activity never begins in a parked car, on a living room sofa, or in a bedroom. It always begins in the mind. Sometimes, our speech is one of the senses that helps get the process of sexual activity rolling. 
"We are influenced by what we hear, because our thoughts are created, at least partially, by what our ears give our hearts."
"Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee." 
It was a time of kings, queens, princes, and peasants. It was a time of epic battles. During this time period, the king would often ride on horseback into battle with his army. However, on this occasion, the second Monarch of Israel chose to stay behind. It was one of the biggest mistakes of his career. 2 Samuel 11 tells us the story of his monumental sin with Bathsheba. Take a moment to turn there and refresh your memory of that event.
Sometimes there is such great pleasure taken in with our eyes that the emotions that our vision stirs makes it incredibly difficult to say one of the hardest words that there is to say--NO! (cf. Gen. 39).
Our Bibles warn us of the danger of improperly using our eyes. Consider the following passages:
"I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job. 31:1).
"Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids" (Pro. 6:25).
"Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:" (2 Pt. 2:14). In other words--wayward eyes cause wayward thoughts.
"Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."
Let me start with the hands first. Consider what a touch does: 
. . . it can incite intense feelings. A slap in the face arouses anger, while a warm handshake communicates friendliness. A hug can convey compassion or desire, depending on its context and manner. Two teenagers in a passionate embrace an engaged in sensual kissing will think certain things . . . . 
I don't care what you say, kissing and hugging always creates thoughts. Add to that, passionate kissing and hugging never, ever, never stops there. It leads to touching, which leads to a sofa, parked car, or bedroom. [Parenthetical note: if God spoke of the carefulness of our dress as it incites desires through the sense of sight. Doesn't it stand to reason that we recognize the borders of the garment and not touch within those lines for the sense of touch also incites those same desires?]
Now, to the path of our feet. Remember when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife? How did he respond to her temptation in Genesis 39? He pondered the path of his feet. Now, Potiphar's wife wanted him badly. If there was ever an opportunity for sex, this was it. The husband was away. The woman was the instigator. Joseph could have made a number of excuses: 
"I'm far from home, and no one will know . . . ." 
"I think I really lover her . . . ." 
"God wants me to be happy, and this would make me really happy . . . ." 
"After all, she's my master's wife, so I must obey her wishes . . . ." 
Reasonable excuses? Perhaps. Righteous? NO! When Joseph said NO, consider what he recognized:
He had a strong sense of his individual responsibility (Gen. 39:8-9).
He had a strong sense of right and wrong (Gen. 39:9).
He had a love for God and a sense of God's ever abiding presence (Gen. 39:9).
It’s tough to guard our hearts. To do so, it means we’ll be mindful with our speech and ears; be careful with our eyes; and we’ll be watchful of the path of our feet and our hands. We do so, because the “sexy stuff” does have an affect on our mind. 

* Gleaned from several sources.

Neil’s bioNeil Richey is a native of Tennessee. He has preached full-time in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, where he now preaches for the Piedmont Road church of Christ in Marietta, GA.

In 1995 Neil met Emily (Martin) and in 1997 they were married while attending Freed-Hardeman University. They have two children: a son named Peyton, and a little girl named Rebekah. 

Neil's formal education includes a B.S. in Communication with an Emphasis in Broadcasting. He holds a M.A. in Church Growth and a D.Min. in New Testament Theology. 

He has been blessed to preach in several states and in a number of other countries including Brazil, New Zealand, and Tanzania, where he has taught multiple short courses for the Andrew Connally School of Preaching. He holds numerous Gospel Meetings and speaks on lectureships and youth rallies each year and makes annual mission trips outside of the United States.

In addition to his full-time work with the Piedmont Road church of Christ, Neil is one of the instructors for the Georgia School of Preaching and Biblical Studies. Also, Neil is the President of the Board of Directors at West Cobb Christian Academy. He is a regular writer for journals, periodicals, blogs, and he hosts multiple video devotionals on-line. He writes a short devotional sent out via email every Monday - Friday called, Neil's Daily Devotional Nugget which can be subscribed to at

Neil has authored and edited books including Growing the Church God Loves, Thinking Out Loud, and What Wilt Thou Have Me To Do. All of these are available at

When asked, Neil wants people to know that, "I'm a husband, father of two, and most of all, a Christian that's been saved by grace through faith. I'm trying everyday to live life with purpose for Him."