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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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WHO WOULDN’T BE ENCOURAGED

A preacher told the story of an old Navajo Indian who became rich when oil was found on his land. He took all the money and put it in a bank. His banker made it his business to became familiar with the habits of this rich old gentleman. Every once in a while the Navajo would show up at the bank and say to the banker, "Grass all gone, sheep all sick, water holes dry." The banker wouldn't say a word. Instead he would just bring the old man inside and seat him in the bank vault. Then he'd bring out several bags of silver and say, "These are all yours." The old man 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." Wow! With all that, who wouldn't be encouraged?! He didn't need more. The source of his encouragement was found in remembering how rich he already was.

This may be a good time for Christians to review our spiritual riches. For months the media powers that be have relentlessly reminded us that we are in the midst of a serious recession. Daily headlines are saturated with talk of buy-outs and bailouts and downturns and layoffs and how wealth is evaporating. Indeed, we are in the midst of a global fmancial & economic shake-up. Some are calling it a "correction" of the greed and corruption that has crept unchecked into our financial habits and practices for years. Now times are getting tougher as money gets tighter. If this deluge of discouragement and bad news is causing you to feel all bad and sad, permit me to invite you into a spiritual vault in the New Testament known as the book of Hebrews! The original recipients of this inspired and profound letter were in a tough situation. Suffering pressures and problems stemming from persecution because of their faith in Christ (10:32-34; 12:4ff), some were growing discouraged, negligent, and even in danger of turning away from Christ (2:1-3; 3:12-14; 6:4-9; 10:25-9, 35-39). For all these reasons, the author of Hebrews invites his readers into the spiritual bank to be reminded of some riches that remain unchanged, no matter what the stock market does. At the cross, Jesus purged our sins (1:3). Jesus tasted death and then rose from it, and in the process destroyed its power and released us from fear of it (2:9-15). As our great High Priest, Jesus offered up Himself as a perfect sacrifice for sins. So powerful and efficacious was that offering that it has "perfected forever those who are being sanctified" (10:10-14). The result for those faithful to Christ is the greatest of rewards — a home forever in the city whose builder and maker is God (where there is never a recession! See Hebrews 10:19-22; 10:35-39; 11:10-16). The key to it all: looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (12:2-3). When you need a bailout from discouragement, remember your spiritual riches.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ