When Trouble Comes

Few of us need to be reminded that our commitment to Christ doesn’t exempt us from the difficulties and hardships we encounter in life. When Jesus spoke about building a life upon a solid rock (Matthew 7.24), He indicated there was another choice: sand. We could build on sand, too, but what terrible consequences when the storms come.

Our spiritual relationship with God is like a child and a father. Problems such as illness, death, discouragement, even natural disasters, are but a few of the storms of life. They are no respecter of persons, attacking Christians and non-Christians alike. It is not uncommon to hear someone who has suffered a loss ask, “Why – why does God allow such things to happen?”

Becoming a Christian does not grant us immunity from the problems of this world. But one thing we are granted that those outside of Christ can never have is the assurance of an ever-present God. Assurance that He knows our troubles and our anxieties and asks us to cast them all on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5.7).

Our Heavenly Father sees and understands our predicaments. He comes to us, enfolding us in His gracious arms to grant us solace and safety (Psalm 46.1-3):

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
 Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Selah.

 – grace to you all and peace, Bill

 

The Back Page 4-15-2018

In Our Prayers

Continue to remember Harold Brunswick in the nursing home in Benkelman….Bill Lewis’s brother Arnold passed away recently in Montana. Memorial services will be at a later date.

Note from Bill: With the hiring of Ryan Brown as the new minister for the Westside church I see no reason to prolong our departure any longer than necessary.

With the men’s approval I have submitted a new resignation date effective Sunday, May 27, 2018. Depending on how soon we can get packed and loaded, I would expect our departure would be no later than Wednesday, May 30 or Thursday, May 31.

On the Calendar

Thursday, April 19. Women’s Bible study at 10:45 at the Sunset Apartments, finish Lesson 6 in the James study guide, begin Lesson 7.

April 29: 5th Sunday Singing in North Platte, 3311 S. Oak Street, 3:30 Central time, followed by light supper and devotional. Phone Ned at 308-660-4272 for more information.

 

A Question of Value

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about a lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7), a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and two lost sons (Luke 15:11-32).

In the first two stories, He points out the natural value people place on their possessions. A shepherd loses one sheep out of a hundred; nevertheless he goes out and scours the countryside until he finds it. Likewise, a woman loses one coin out of ten, yet she tears her house apart searching until she finds the missing coin.

However in the third story, the loss is a rebellious son – not unlike the tax collectors and sinners listening to Jesus tell these stories. Sinners. They’re so disgusting. They’ve chosen to be what they are; they should know better. But in this story Jesus shows us a loving father who anxiously awaits the return of his rebellious son and thus a forgiving God who mercifully embraces even the vilest of sinners.

But there’s another lost son in the story, the faithful son who never left. He’s lost in his father’s house. He’s lost because his self-righteousness has led him to believe he’s earned his place of favor – it’s his right, he deserves it. He has no room for mercy or forgiveness, even for a wayward brother. Such is the danger of arrogant piety.

These parables teach us that God views every sinner with compassion, not merely as a possession to be found and reclaimed, but as a precious individual – as a lost but loved son. He lovingly longs for each one to return to Him.

 – grace and peace to you all … Bill

 

“For God So Loved…”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That’s probably the first Bible verse you ever remember hearing or the first verse you ever learned. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know John 3.16.

It speaks of God’s unqualified love – He loves the world – every human being who ever lived or would live, the good and the bad, the kind and the merciless, He loves us all.

The word for love in this verse is agapaō, “to value, to esteem, to be faithful toward.” It’s not an emotional feeling but rather an intentional determination that seeks the very best for the other person regardless of the cost to oneself. Jesus used the same word in John 15.13 when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

It speaks of God’s incomprehensible gift. I wanted to say, “God’s greatest gift,” but those words are so insufficient. How do you comprehend such a gift – He gave His only begotten Son? He didn’t give Him just to teach us or to lead us – He gave Him to die! He gave Him to be a sacrifice in order to redeem us.

It speaks of God’s ultimate hope for each of us – it’s His desire that none perish. Perish here means spiritual death, to be separated eternally from His presence; that’s what He hoped to prevent by giving His only begotten Son. Everlasting life is the opposite of perish. It’s the promise of a new and eternal life with Him. But it’s given only to whosoever believeth in Him, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son.

– grace to you all, and peace, Bill

 

The Back Page 04-01-2018

In Our Prayers

Continue to remember Harold Brunswick in the nursing home in Benkelman.

On the Calendar

Thursday, April 5. Women’s Bible study at 10:45 at the Sunset Apartments, Lesson 5 in the James study guide.

Next Sunday, April 8. Potluck with men’s business meeting to follow.

Saturday, May 19. Doors of Opportunity and Bible Teacher’s Workshop, hosted by York College. See York.edu/btw for more details.

New Preacher. Ryan Brown of Clyde, Texas has accepted the invitation extended to him by the men of the congregation to become the new preacher for Westside. Ryan is married to Sarah and they have two children, Grace, age 3, and Isaiah, age 1.

Ryan is a graduate of the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas, as well as Sunset’s AIM (Adventures in Missions) Program. The Browns will be moving to Imperial this summer. Please be praying for them and each other as this church moves through this period of transition.

 

Praise ye the LORD.

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto Thy holy name, and to triumph in Thy praise. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.   Psalm 106.47-48

Words of praise and thankfulness unto God have always typified His people. He is our Maker, the Source of our existence, the Benefactor of our blessings, the Savior of our souls. It is deserving that He should be remembered with reverence and thanksgiving.

Paul told the Colossian brethren that one of the characteristics of walking in Christ is to be abundant in thanksgiving (2.6-7). Likewise, to the Ephesians he said, “Giving thanks always for all things to God…” (5.20).

The Bible tells us the crowning achievement of God’s creation was mankind. Everything that was made was made for us. With our unique and divinely-ordained intellect, the earth and all that is in it was given into our care and subjection (Genesis 1.28).

For the Christian there are just no words quite adequate to describe the thrilling experience of life. Yea, even those moments fraught with pain, disappointment, sorrow, and tears are beneficial and necessary for us. They make us complete, enabling us to be happy and joyful through all the uncertainties attendant to this life. So with the psalmist we may say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

– grace to you all and peace, Bill

 

Back Page 3-25-2018

In Our Prayers

Gene Vinson’s brother Charles passed away last week. Gene and Patty will be traveling this week to Lubbock for the memorial service.

Continue to remember Harold Brunswick in the nursing home in Benkelman.

On the Calendar

Today: Welcome Ryan, Sarah, Grace, and Isaiah Brown from Clyde, Texas. Ryan will preach this morning. After worship, there will be a potluck and men’s meeting to follow.

Thursday, March 29. Women’s Bible study at 10:45 at the Sunset Apartments, Lesson 4, No. 10, in the James study guide.

Saturday, May 19. Doors of Opportunity and Bible Teacher’s Workshop, hosted by York College. See York.edu/btw for more details.

 

Book, Chapter, Verse

I grew up hearing sermons filled with Scripture, the preachers giving book, chapter, and verse. I was taught to be a preacher by preachers who believed the only basis for preaching was book, chapter, and verse.

Preaching is simply the proclamation of a message. Gospel preachers have been given a message. It is not our message; it is God’s. For some reason, in His infinite wisdom, he chose preaching as the means of extending His salvation to the world, “…it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1.21).

We preachers have had no part in the preparing, providing, and revealing of the message. That was all God’s work. Preachers are merely messengers, relaying faithfully and accurately the words of One to others. They are not our words – they are His words.

Therefore, to assure the faithfulness of the message, the messenger must provide book, chapter, and verse. And likewise, that they might accurately receive the message, the hearers must always expect the messenger to give book, chapter, and verse.

My dear friends, let us constantly remember “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5.7) and that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10.17). That requires book, chapter, and verse.

 – Bill

 

The Back Page 3-18-2018

In Our Prayers

Gene Vinson’s brother Charles passed away early yesterday morning in Lubbock, Texas.

Continue to remember Harold Brunswick in the nursing home in Benkelman.

On the Calendar

Thursday, March 22. Women’s Bible study at 10:45 at the Sunset Apartments, Lesson 4 in the James study guide.

Next Sunday, March 25. Ryan Brown and his family will be visiting to interview for the preaching position here.

Saturday, May 19. Doors of Opportunity and Bible Teacher’s Workshop, hosted by York College. See York.edu/btw for more details.

 

Sentence Sermons

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous. ~Blaise Pascal

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. ~G. K. Chesterton

Faith refers to Christ. Holiness depends on faith. Heaven depends on holiness.  ~Alexander MacLaren

True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God has said it.  ~A. W. Tozer

Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition. ~A. A. Hodge

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. ~C. S. Lewis

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~Jim Elliot

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~Soren Kierkegaard

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life. ~Moses

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11.1

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~Jesus of Nazareth

 

Westside Church of Christ Imperial, Nebraska

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