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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Remembering Our Riches

More than thirty years ago I heard the late black evangelist/preacher G. P. Holt preach a sermon on why the Bible is still relevant to man. I distinctly remember Brother Holt's powerful and succinct words as he discussed where the Bible came from and its enduring nature and powerful effect on the world — "The devil wouldn't write the Bible, man couldn't write the Bible, and so God is its author." Many reject that explanation, but no one can disprove the logic and force of those words. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God " is still the best and most reasonable explanation for the source and success of the amazing book we call the Holy Bible (2 Timothy 3:16a). Now consider the church Jesus built. The New Testament church is loved by some and loathed by others. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, "I will build My church," and since her birth 2,000 years ago she has faced forces and foes seeking to silence, diminish and even destroy her. She has been analyzed, scrutinized, marginalized, criticized, and pulverized. Even inside the church there are those who stay more focused on the flaws and failings of those who sit in the pews than they do on the divine design and nature and purpose of the church. The church is always made up of flawed, imperfect people, but you still ought to get and stay in her. Why? Her members are the richest people on earth! Those riches are summed up in Ephesians 3:8 as "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8). No bank can hold the riches bequeathed to those who are faithful members of Christ's church. Ephesians 1:3 states we are blessed with "every spiritual blessing. ..in Christ." We get into Christ by being baptized (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). That same action puts us in the "one body"(1 Corinthians 12:13), and that body is clearly His church (Ephesians 1:22-23)! Criticize the church all you want, insist she is irrelevant – but Scripture says she is rich. We ought to remember that when we are discouraged and tempted to devalue the church and doubt whether she is really all she is cracked up to be.

There is a story about an old Navaho Indian who became rich when oil was discovered on his land. He took all the money and put it in a bank. His banker made it his business to become familiar with the habits of this rich old Indian gentleman. Every now and then, the Navaho would show up at the bank and say to the banker, "Grass all gone, sheep all sick, water holes dry." The banker normally wouldn't say a word. Instead he would just bring the old man inside the bank vault and give him a seat. Then he would bring out several bags of silver and gold and say, "These are all your's." Next he would bring out a pile of stocks and bonds and certificates and show them to him and say, "These, too, all belong to you." The old Indian would spend about an hour in the vault looking at his money, stacking up the dollars, counting and recounting them. Finally, he'd come out and say, "Grass all green, sheep all well, water holes all full." That old Indian didn't need to be any richer — He just needed to remember how rich he already was. There are times when we do, too. When was the last time you sat down and took stock of your spiritual portfolio and how fabulously rich you already are in Jesus Christ? Start with Ephesians 1:1-14.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ