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



Biblical unity is based upon common teaching and practice (1 Corinthians 1:10). Common teaching and practice comes about by following a common standard (John 12:48). The common standard is complete allegiance to God's Word—all of it.

Obeying God involves doing the "sum" of what He said rather than "some" of what He said. The Psalmist declared, "The sum of thy word is truth; and everyone of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever" (Psalm 119:160, American Standard Version). The New King James Version says, "The entirety of your word is truth..." Some who claim belief in the Bible as completely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) adopt a "cafeteria-style" approach to it in which they pick the parts they like and put them on their theological food trays, while rejecting other portions that fail to —tickle their fancy.

Jehoiakim had this attitude. He listened to Jehudi read the Word of God as recorded by Jeremiah, and upon hearing the prophecy of Babylonian captivity, took the scroll, cut it with his penknife and cast it into the fire (Jeremiah 36:23). Jehoiakim wanted only some of God's Word, instead of the sum of God's Word.

Obedience is doing all that God said (Matthew 28:20). One of the most dangerous words in the English language is "partial." After a big snowstorm, for instance, the news may report that streets have been partially cleared. Those few patches of snow and ice are still treacherous. In fact, the cleared spots can cause us to be too confident about our ability to navigate.

To partially obey God is to disobey Him. In First Samuel 15, Saul tells God he has obeyed Him—well, almost. God had commanded that everything from the Amalekites be destroyed, but Saul spared the life of King Agag and some of the animals. Saul blamed his soldiers but the problem was Saul's own pride. He had only partially obeyed God. God was displeased; He took the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David.

Jesus' mother once gave some good advice that we should still follow today: "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it" (John 2:5). Paul told the Ephesian elders that he had not shunned to declare the "whole counsel of God" unto them (Acts 20:27). Preachers today, too, must preach God's whole counsel, not just the parts that may be popular in the current generation (read 2 Timothy 4:2-4).

A small church just getting started couldn't afford a sign to go in front of their building. The furniture store in town got a new sign about that time and gave the church their old one. It even lit up at night! They painted over it and put it out front. After some years, though, the paint began to peel. It said, The church of Christ meets here. And where the paint had peeled off it read (underneath): Easy Terms. We must never make easier terms than Jesus gave ! He said, "Take up the cross, and follow me" (Mark 10:21).

"Sum" is much better than "some."You are not going to teach second grade with-out teaching reading! One story my class and I read is called, "The Legend of the bluebonnet." In this story, the Comanche Indians are suffering through a terrible drought. The main character is named "She-Who-Is-Alone." She is alone because her parents died during the drought.

The people are quite desperate for help. They are told the way for rain to come upon the land is for the "most valuable possession" to be sacrificed in a fire. Though the people want help, there are still those whose selfishness keeps them from sacrificing to save the land. This little girl has a doll that was made by her late mother. It means the world to her, but she sacrifices the doll for her people. Rain comes, and the land is saved!  Sounds familiar, doesn't it? When we as a people were most desperate, God "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). God gave His most prized possession—an "unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). He sacrificed Jesus to give us life and hope. Peter wrote, "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 with-out spot" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). Paul added, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Thank you, Father.