Our 56th Year, a Heritage Nobody Understands? Here’s to Good Health Is The Rule “Golden” For You? A Wholesome Tongue Always to Pray… Sweet Hour of Prayer Money - How and How Much? Dwelling on Troubles Resolutions
By Don R. Richards
With this issue of The Banner of Love, we begin our 56th year of publication. For the past 55 years The Banner of Love has attempted to bring to our readers the news of interest along with articles of the gospel on subjects which provide inspiration. We hope the Lord has been our guiding hand in the publication of this newspaper and pray for His guidance with each issue.
The Banner of Loved was established by my grandparents, Elder Hardon G. Richards and Dora Richards. My grandfather had long desired to publish a newspaper in the interests of Primitive Baptists--one that published news and articles—not one to be used for promoting any special interest or with any particular axe to grind. Grandfather did his best to keep peace by publishing articles and news of the Lord’s good works and of inspired writers.
My father, Afton Richards, published The Banner for more than 50 years, first with my grandfather, and then continuing it--in the same vein; that being to promote the writing and publishing's of articles of peace.
As we begin this new year with The Banner of Love, we ask for your prayers that the Lord will guide us so that we can provide to our readers the type of publication which will cause all to praise our Lord and Master. We are not without fault and hope you will overlook our misspellings, typographical errors and mistakes we commit in our haste to get the newspaper to you. We cannot publish this newspaper without (1) the help of the Lord, (2) the help of our writers, and (3) the help of our readers. From the Lord we need His daily guidance and direction. From our writers we pray the Lord will inspire them and continue blessing them with topics of interest and for the reward they receive themselves in studying and organizing their thoughts into messages. Finally, our readers are the reason this newspaper is published. We ask for your suggestions, your prayers and your criticisms. Many of our readers have written in suggesting topics they would like to see written, have suggested excellent changes we should make, and many readers have become excellent writers.
We strongly encourage all our readers to submit articles. Not only do we need. notices of upcoming meetings, we also know other readers would enjoy short articles of personal experiences or brief thoughts or inspirations which are uniquely important to you. We invite you to share yourselves with our other readers.
We look forward to publishing The Banner of Love in 1989. It is a new challenge every month, but with the Lord’s help and continued blessing, we will continue.
I have recently had reason to think about my heritage. Many of you may already know, but Melba and I recently experienced the birth of our first child. It has been a real experience for us. I am sure many of you can relate to the stages of pregnancy and delivery room experience which come with parenting, but we also should relate to the lessons of heritage which we are taught in the Bible.
Previously, one of the most boring and unneeded parts of the Bible for me were the sections on family lineage. Go to Genesis in the 4th Chapter, beginning with the 17th verse. That is the major part where the “begat” clauses begin. in Chapter 5 of Genesis we are told of the generations of Adam and how each generation “begat” another generation—through Methuselah— and down through Noah.
In Genesis the 10th Chapter, we begin the “begats” with Noah’s generations through the 11th Chapter. Abraham’s generations are detailed in the “begats” of the 25th Chapter. The children of Israel are detailed in the 46th verse. More generations are listed in the 26th Chapter of Numbers and again in I Chronicles.
Those passages did not mean a lot to me before, but now I read a lot more into them than I did before. Detailed throughout is our heritage. I have done some work recently on my family’s genealogy to identify my ancestors. Tracing ancestry has been popular in recent years, but it is nothing new—it is detailed throughout the New Testament.
Melba and I decided to pull some of each of our heritage with us with the birth of our child—a son. We named him after his great-great grandfathers. Melba’s great grandfather was James Marion Reid or Reid family heritage. My great grandfather was Wade Hampton (“W. H.”) Richards, whom many will remember as an early writer of articles for The Banner of Love after he has published a similar church newspaper, “The Glad Tidings.” We occasionally publish an article of his in our “Voice from the Past” feature each month.
We named our son Reid Hampton Richards. He has the same great heritage that the Lord has given each of us – you and me. Go back and read the “Begats”. They are our heritage. There is a reason the Bible’s inspired writers kept track of the generations beginning from Adam. It tells us where we all came from – and let’s us know where we will be going.
May the Lord Bless you in 1989.
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By Don R. Richards
One of the meat important things each of us wants is to be understood. We want people to understand us; to know why we take the positions on issues that we do.
As teenagers we want our parents to understand us, our need for freedom, our desires and our goals. As parents, we want our children to understand why we feel their discipline is so important and why we sat the goals we do for our children.
How many times have we felt that our employers simply did not understand us or they would realize the problem we are facing. For our working ministers, nothing is so important as an “understanding” employer. Nothing is so important to an employer than for his employees to understand the financial and stressful pressures of the daily operation of a business.
How many times have we said to ourselves: ‘if only he could see what is happening from my side of the story, then he would understand.”
Our legal system presently stays busy with a large number of divorces - many of them based on the allegations that one spouse simply does not understand the other any more. The classic age-old line a person says to their secret love affair is that “my husband/wife just doesn’t understand me.”
As a husband, do you ever feel your wife does not understand the pressure you have of trying to work and provide and care for your family? As a wife, do you ever feel your husband does not understand the pressures you feel trying to raise a family by yourself or the pressures you have of trying to be one of today’s “supermoms” who tries to both work and take care of the home and children.
As a church, does our pastor not understand the problems we are facing or the real needs of the church? As a pastor, do the members of the congregation not understand the problems and burdens placed on one individual to be spiritual leader, minister of the elderly, teacher of the young, while having time to study in order to be prepared for church service, and always be available on moment’s notice?
Every one of us, in our individual, married, employed or church capacity has a need to be “understood.” Regardless of the final decision made, each of us would feel more “at ease” if we at least knew that all the other people making the decisions really “understood” us.
Do we not have anyone who understands us; who knows our needs, our thoughts, our reason for doing things as we do? That is almost asking an impossibility - to have someone who at all times and in every situation really understands our motives and our intentions. Is it impossible to have someone upon whom we can be sure really will not misunderstand what we are doing or trying to accomplish? Someone who is better than a “best friend” who really knows us and understands us and can comfort us in times when absolutely no one else can. Someone we can talk to and explain on problems to. Someone who will “understand.”
David recognized this problem when he wrote the 119th Psalm. David knew there is someone who really understood him and his problems, motives, intentions and thoughts.
O Lord, thou hath searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassed path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.”
David tells us that the Lord is someone who really knows us, who knows all our thoughts and our personalities. David tells us whether we can get beyond the knowledge of the Lord - if perhaps we can fly off to some foreign spot and hide in some corner and completely get beyond the Lord’s knowledge of us: Go to verse7:
Whither shall I go from they spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand Lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
David explains that if he attempt to hide by night, the Lord’s light will encompass him. He tells us that the Lord knows us from time before we are born of our mothers, and He will continue to know and understand us past our deaths.
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By Don R. Richards
I am not a medical doctor. I do not pretend to be a doctor, and do not want to be a doctor, even if I had the talent or ability.
I am not a faith healer; and do not want to be a faith healer—even if I thought I could be, or it was possible to be.
However, I want to discuss good health and how to have it. We all want it whether we are five years old—or 85. I want to be healthy. I know I do not practice the things that I should to achieve good health. I have lots of room for improvement and I am telling this as much to myself as for anyone.
We all know the basics to good health. We need to eat and drink right, not smoke, get exercise and practice good personal hygiene.
Those are the things we learn in basic health courses in school and see in the five-minute health announcements of the morning news television shows. Many special diet programs can get complicated. and my interest is lost in a hurry. I am generally too busy to get involved in detailed exercise programs.
What I want to discuss is three basic concepts for better health. Three things to use as daily reminders of ways we can better enjoy healthy lives.
1. Good diet. We all know our own ways to eat better. More fresh vegetables, less sugar and lean meats, etc. Follow meals with a walk or your own method to exercise and properly digest foods.
2. Take better physical care of your body. Don’t smoke, don’t let yourself get dependant on chemical substances whether it is alcohol, prescribed nerve relaxant or drugs.
These first two are very basic guidelines and ones with which you already are familiar. It is the third “basic” which I want to discuss now and it is not one I invented. It is one which has been around a long time, but one which I feel we forget about just as much as we do good diets and exercise.
This “good health” tip was given to us by Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. It is just as important, if not more, than the other basics of good health.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.
“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13.
“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15.
We all know what a strong mind and spirit can mean to good health. We have seen many of our “Strong” family and friends simply fight off death or disease because they had strong “merry hearts.” It is something that should not be underestimated.
We should practice a “merry heart” just like we try to eat properly. The results of not having a “merry heart” are evident and each of you have seen them.
How many times have our worries and depression led to ulcers, both of the mouth and stomach? Once we see many of our brethren and sisters lose their merry heart, their physical health also deteriorates; but those with strong “merry hearts” seem to miraculously fight off death and disease. It is no miracle. It is a basic that Solomon gave us more than 20 centuries ago.
We know how to eat better. We know how to get better exercise and take better care of our bodies.
But how do we have a merry heart? We already know that too, if we just think about it. First, trust the Lord and pray- to Him. Ask Him for His help and guidance for those problems you have been worried about. Do not envy your neighbor. Galatians 5:21; Romans 13:v. 9. Hold that temper in check. If you get mad, take it to the Lord and ask him for guidance. Vengeance is the Lord’s not ours. Romans 12:19. If we spend our time with judgment and vengeance in our hearts, then we will not enjoy the “merry heart” so important to good health.
Too many times we put our trust, faith and confidence in another person or a family member to relieve our problems. When they are unable to solve our problems it only makes us worse. We should put our trust and confidence in the Lord. Psalms 118:8.
All the basic dieting ideas, exercise, etc. are important to good health. A “merry heart” is just as important.
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By Don R. Richards
One of the first, basic rules we are taught as small children Is “The Golden Rule.” There has not been a parent who has not, at some point recited The Golden Rule to a child during their early years
Today, you could stop people on the street and ask them, “What is the Golden Rule,” and it would be my guess that everyone would know it. For every 1000 people you asked, at least 999 could give you the correct answer. As you read this, you have probably already stopped to recite to yourself The Golden Rule. If not, stop now and say to yourself The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Even through each of us can recite it from memory, do we know from where it originates? Do we really stop and think about its real meaning? Do we apply it? How important is it really? Is not it just another of those old Mother’s sayings from some book titled “Things Your Mother Always Told You But You Did Not Really Want To Hear”?
Let’s think about it for a minute. Where does The Golden Rule come from and what does it really mean - and what context was it first used?
Let’s look to Matthew 7:12. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
The verse is from the teachings of Christ. It is not just an old cliché passed down over the years. And Christ indicated it was not just an old saying which we ought to think about now and then. He stated that “For this is the law.”
The Golden Rule originated with Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. It is something we should not take so lightly. If you are like me, it is something I had rather not think about because there are many times I do not want to treat others as I want to be treated. Not all others anyway. Maybe there are a few people I enjoy treating like I want to be treated. But I know of others that I am not sure I have treated in the past, or will treat in the future, like I myself would like to be treated.
After all, it ought to be okay if I want to treat my family and friends one way, and my enemies another. One problem I have already is that I am not sure I always treat my family and friends the way I want to be treated. But, let us assume we are able to treat our family and friends by The Golden Rule, surely Jesus did not mean to imply everyone, did He?
Let us look to St. Luke 6, going first to verse 31 where The Golden Rule is repeated. But back up to verse 27-30. First Jesus tells us to love our enemies, “do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” We are told that when someone slaps our cheek, we are to offer up the other cheek. If someone steals our cloke, allow them to take your coat also.
Just a minute ago were not we discussing the thought that it might be okay just to love our family and our friends knowing they would probably love us back. Why would Jesus tell us to do the same with our enemies? Why should we apply The Golden Rule to those who despise us and use us? Jesus tells us why in verses 32-36.
He tells us that if we love only those that love us, what have we really gained? What thanks do we really have? If we are good only to those who are good to us, what have we really accomplished? If we loan or give money only to our friends of whom we expect repayment, what reward is there really? Jesus tells us that sinners, thieves, etc. do that much for themselves. We have all heard of “honor among thieves” in which they take care of themselves, in the same manner as we take care of our friends expecting return for it at some point.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
Jesus tells us we get our reward, and a great one at that, for treating all others as we would treat ourselves. Not just our family, not just our friends; but sinners, thieves and our enemies.
Are we applying The Golden Rule like Jesus tells us to? Is it really that important that we do? Go back to Matthew 7:12 where Jesus tells us it is the law, and decide why Jesus told us it was the law, instead of just “loose guidelines.” Go also to Matthew 22 beginning with verse 35 where Jesus was asked, out of all the Commandments, which is the greatest? Jesus answered by giving two Commandments: First: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The Rule that we apply in our lives, is it really Gold, or gold-plated. If we apply The Golden Rule, as Jesus tells us to, our reward is great. Jesus did not mean it lightly, we should not treat it lightly.
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By Don R. Richards
My mouth gets me into a lot of trouble.
Sometimes I say the wrong things. Sometimes I use the wrong words. Sometimes I criticize or judge the wrong persons. Sometimes I use words I should not use at all. Sometimes my tongue accelerates before my mind is in gear.
Growing up, my parents taught me well not to use wrongful words and disciplined me when my mouth was out of line. I find out that even today still I need discipline for my tongue.
We all know better than to swear. But it seems that today’s society tolerates, and sometimes even encourages swearing and the use of four-letter words. Such language is prevalent in most popular movies and its use the has grown considerably on television.
Young children are exposed earlier today to language which was at one time reserved for adults. My mother would have washed my mouth out for use of some of the “slang” terminology that is taken for granted today.
I am no prude about the use of slang or ill-chosen words, because we all must deal with a certain amount of it daily from those with whom we work, wait on, buy from or sell to.
However, I find that I have a tremendous amount of respect for those persons who can still conduct regular conversations in all occasions without the use of words which might be offensive in some places.
Our tongues get us into more trouble than just through our poor choice of words. Our tongues get us in trouble when we speak before we have carefully thought about what we want, or intend , to say. I know I have sometimes hurt my family and friends because I spoke or criticized before 1 stopped to realize the meaning or perception my comments would have.
We are taught in the Bible the tremendous importance of keeping our tongues under control -both through our choice of words and in our choice of speaking at all. Many times, simple silence would be better than unfounded gossip or criticism.
He that “Backbiteth not” with his tongue shall abide in the Lord’s Tabernacle and dwell in the Lord’s holy will. Psalms 15: 1-3.
As for swearing, we have been given dear guidance through One of the Commandments: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forsware thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool; neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of The great King.
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black: Matthew 5: 33-36 where Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount. He tells us not to use swearing as a simple emphasis to our remarks. It is sufficient to say “Yes” or “No” without emphasizing by adding swear words. Matthew 5:37. James 5:12.
We do not need specific examples of ways which our tongue engages in Unnecessary speech. We usually know ourselves at the time we are talking. We simply need to think ahead of controlling our tongues: For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Psalm 34:13
“Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” Proverbs 19:1.
“he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Proverbs 11:19.
If we could keep, as David said in Psalms, a “bridle” in our mouths to help us heed our ways, as would be much better off (Psalms 39:1.) Keeping a bridle on our tongues is not easy—especially when we are mad at someone whether it be an employee who has made a serious mistake or a child who has made a serious mistake or a child who has disobeyed an instruction. But we know, and should follow the teaching of the Bible in our speech—whether that be in training our own family, or working with our colleagues under circumstances that may not be the best. Controlling our tongues is the best course – always. As we are told in the 15th Proverb:
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright; but the mouth of the fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: But perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
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By Don R. Richards
We are all aware of the three basic ways in which we are taught to worship the Lord--through singing, preaching and: praying.
I wish I could sing better. I am an excellent singer with perfect pitch and beat when I am alone in my car driving along singing to myself. So long as I am the only listener I sound pretty good.
The same goes for preaching. I can preach to myself pretty good. I know what I feel, I know what I want to say and I can generally give myself a pretty good lecture and sermon. However, put me in front of a crowd and I have trouble conveying in words the exact meaning I want to convey. I know how I feel, but the right words and exactly how to say them fails me.
The Lord gives us the avenue of prayer under a little difference conditions than in preaching and singing. We may not have the blessing to sing beautifully in public and we may not everyone be blessed with liberty of the tongue to preach the sweet gospel of Christ. But God has given to each of us a direct hotline to his throne through the avenue of prayer.
We do not have to have a beautiful singing voice to pray a sincere prayer in an appeal to the Lord. We do not have to have great speaking ability or even a great knowledge of language. All we need is an humble desire to seek the Lord’s assistance.
There is no question in my mind that some of the meet sincere, and. powerful, payers have been made by those of little physical stature or political power.
We are given numerous examples in the Bible of the importance of prayer, how to pray and when to pray. The 6th chapter of Matthew tells us where to pray and how to pray.
Jesus teaches us through parables in his ministry and one such set of parables begins with the 18th chapter of Luke. These two Parables tell us how often we should pray and what our attitude should be during prayer.
First, Christ gives us the example of the woman who constantly troubles an unjust judge to give her relief from an adversary. The judge is said to not fear God nor regard man. But he finally gives in to the woman to keep her from continually bothering him.
The lesson is that God is not like the unjust judge. And if the unjust judge will finally give relief to those continually seek his assistance, why should we not believe that our God will also take care of his own chosen people when they continually appeal to Him through prayer.
The second example is of the Pharisee and the publican who went into the temple to pray. The Pharisee had an attitude problem and prayed by thanking the Lord because the Pharisee was a better man than the publican. Meanwhile, the publican acknowledged he was a sinner, undeserving of the Lord’s mercy, and humbly sought his appeal through prayer.’ The publican went away justified rather than the Pharisee.
We should be humble when we pray, (Luke 18:14) and men ought always to pray. [Luke 18:1.1 When Christ returns he should find us consistent, continual and humble prayers without faint. (Luke 18:8.)
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By Don R. Richards
It seems like the Lord has not answered my prayers as fast as I would like for him to. In fact, there are some things I have asked for and about, and have received not answer. There have been several things happen around me lately that I do not understand, even though I have prayed for an explanation. I need to know now.
Prayer is important to all of us. Prayer is difficult to define, but easy to learn to do. The Lord has blessed each of us with our little “hotline” of prayer and he has promised he will hear our prayers. What is the holdup in us getting our prayers answered?
Perhaps we should view the avenue of prayer as a method of each of us having communion with the Lord. Someone to talk to. Someone who will listen without interruption; and someone who will understand.
Also it is important to remember what is important about prayer and what Jesus has taught us about how to pray. We are to use prayer in the spirit of thanksgiving as much as we are when we are in distress and sorrow.
In the simple prayer Jesus gives us at Matthew 6:943, one of the most important clauses is in versed 10: “Thy will be done...”
We need to remember that we should approach prayer thanking the Lord for His many blessings, not asking the Lord for things.
The Lord’s wisdom is complete. His mercy is great and His understanding of each of us is better than our own understanding of ourselves. We can always count on Him to do the just thing.
How many times have we been plagued with a problem and we have asked the Lord to remove the problem. That is not always how the Lord chooses to respond. For instance, the Apostle Paul noted in II Cor. 12:7-9 that he had been given a thorn in the flesh. Have you ever felt you had your own thorn in the flesh? The Apostle Paul did the same thing I would do in prayer to the Lord: he asked three times for the Lord to remove the thorn. How did the Lord answer? Did He remove Paul’s thorn? No, as we can read in the 9th verse. But he responded: “My grace is sufficient.” The Lord gave Paul His grace to handle the problem.
Many times the Lord responds to us in the same way. He does not give us specifically what we ask for, but gives us His grace to handle the problem. Whether we know what to ask for or not, the Lord responds with what we need. His grace is sufficient.
That’s why it is important to remember that His will be done, not ours.
Think about that when you pray. Remember that the Lord knows best how you are to handle your problems. He will not do for us the things we are capable of doing ourselves, but He will respond to our needs. We should thank Him for His blessings, and beg for His guidance and for His will to be done.
All things work together for those that love the Lord. That’s not “some” things, or “most” things—that is all things.
Thank the Lord for giving us prayer. It is our last resource.
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By Don R. Richards
I do not give enough to help provide for the financial needs of the church. I am not proud of it. But I acknowledge it.
It is difficult to determine in the Primitive Baptist Church just exactly how much financial support we should be providing. There are no written rules or guide lines on the subject. I do not receive a bill from, the church. My pastor or fellow deacons do not call me or tell me how much I should give this Sunday or how much I should have given last week, or ask me to “pledge” a certain amount in the future.
How are we supposed to know how much financial support we should be providing for the church, the maintenance, the pastor?
I mentioned that the church has not provided any rules or written guidelines; but I did not say that there absolutely were no guidelines. There are guidelines the Lord has provided to us. If I am not providing the appropriate financial support for me then I am not following what the Lord and His apostles have told me.
Recently I was watching a television evangelist on a half-hour religious program. Of the half hour, at least 20 minutes was devoted to the speaker’s plea for money from the television audience. If each of us listeners could just send in $50.00 a piece, or $100.00, or $10.00 or pledge that much, then the show could continue and several missions of the religious show could continue. Otherwise, the consequences would be “severe” in that the show might go off the air or some of its programs ended or severely cut back.
Just this past week another well-known television evangelist got headlines across the country after his conviction and sentencing for defrauding his television audiences out of funds which he was alleged to have used in part for his own personal benefit.
Raising money for the church and church activities has been much in the public’s eye because of the television funding crusades. Many private churches require their members to “pledge” money up front and then regularly send bills to their members to collect on the pledges. Primitive Baptists are not known for this type of practice of providing financially for the church. But how do we know how to provide? Let’s take a quick review briefly at a couple of verses in the Bible to see if we can get some guidance.
Our church does, not have “assessments” or “pledges.” We do not have a regular weekly Sunday morning passing of the plate to collect funds for a special project or mission. Deacons are not sent around to the members asking for money. The pastors do not preach that every, member should “tithe” as was the example of the Old Testament. At most you will notice that the pastor or deacon will make an announcement or acknowledgement that there is some special need or problem. Rarely is the announcement coupled with a special request for money. It generally just lets the members be aware of certain situations. After that, the Lord provides us the guidance that is all we need to care for the financial matters of the church.
The Apostle Paul addresses each of us individually at 1st Corinthians 16:2 when he tells us: Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Again, Paul addresses it again at 2nd Corinthians 9:7 when he states: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
That is all the basic guidelines we should need to determine the appropriate level we should give.
First, we should set aside “at the first of the week” a certain amount depending on how the Lord has prospered us. Then when it comes time for us to provide, the fund is ready and there is no need for a last minute gathering that the Apostle Paul warned us about. We are to “set aside” early the amount we plan to provide to the church according to how the Lord has prospered us. Each of us can figure that out easily enough. We all will not give in equal amounts each week, or perhaps ever, but according to how the Lord has provided to us each week.
Second, we should give accordingly as we purpose in our heart. Again, that is a guideline no one can respond to except you. No administrative board, pastor or fellow member can decide this for you. No one knows your finances or exactly how you have purpose in your own heart. That is your decision.
Next, we should not give grudgingly, or of necessity. Many ‘times’ I feel I have been coerced in my business and civic life to give to certain causes or charities. Many times I do so because I feel the coercion or because of some feeling of “necessity”. That is not the guideline we are told to use. Many of the charities and causes are excellent and professional fund raises are employed to gather contributions to support those causes. But that is not how the Apostle Paul tells us to insure the financial well being of the church. If we are “required” to tithe, make pledges, commitments or assessments, then we may be giving grudgingly or of necessity each week or, month. If you love money and material things more than you should, then you also may be parting with your money grudgingly.
If you follow the Apostle Paul’s simple guideline, you will be a “cheerful” giver. Also, I notice that I never seem to “miss” the money I provide to the church. I always seem to realize I have not really sacrificed for the church, but actually could have provided more.
How do the financial matters of the church and other business matters get handled? Well, in the 6th chapter of Acts we are told how the Apostles told the people to look among themselves and find men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. The people selected such men and the apostles “laid their bands on them” charging them with this duty. They quietly are to collect the gifts and ‘handle the church’ affairs.
No one should be embarrassed because they feel the amount they can give is small, and no one should boast because the amount they give is “great” as compared to others. We should not judge others for what we believe to be their gifts as opposed to what we believe is their ability to give.
We each should lay aside at the first of the week the amount as the Lord has prospered us and as we purpose in our hearts, not grudgingly or of necessity, but cheerfully, quietly and sincerely. The Lord will handle the rest.
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By Don R. Richards
Let me tell you about my troubles.
I have lots of troubles that I need to talk about, relate, remember, dwell on and repeat.
I have lots of missed opportunities and failures which I would like to recall so I could do them differently the next time around. Many of my troubles are errors on my part that I do not necessarily want to tell because I am ashamed of them—but I dwell on them. I worry that my health is declining, that my youth is slipping away.
There is simply a lot of things wrong. A lot of things wrong in my life a lot of things wrong with the world.
Have you ever made a mistake that you thought about too long or too much? So much that it got in your way of other things you need to do.
Have you ever done something good for which you are very proud of yourself. So proud in fact that you dwell over and over again on it and relive it. Sometimes I know I have done something so good that I can relive on it a long time and therefore it is not as important that I do as good for a while. In other words, my good deed or accomplishment was so good that I can “coast” for a while.
Jesus tells us that we are going to constantly have problems in this world. Crisis is something that happens to us all. Our problem is knowing how to accept it and recognize it for what it is. My problem is that I too many times fail to put my troubles, and my accomplishments into their proper perspective.
We should not let our problems of the past overcome our vision of what God is doing for us today and what he has promised us for the future. We should not let our problems of the past become so great in our eyes that we forget that we have immediate peace in someone who can overcome the problems of the world.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
Are you spending too much time on past troubles or coasting on past accomplishments?
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider things of old.”
“Behold, I will do a new thing now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19.
Look for the new things God is doing. Look for the blessings He provides to us, and the great promises He has for us in the future. We should not let ourselves get caught up dwelling on past problems ... or coasting on past accomplishments. God provides a way in the wilderness and water in our deserts.
ENJOYED VISIT TO GOLDEN GATE CHURCH NEAR SAN FRANCISCO
We recently had the opportunity to visit at the Golden Gate Church in the San Francisco area of California.
My wife, Melba, and son Reid, were in San Francisco, CA., on a business trip, and drove out the first Sunday in November to just east of Fremont, a suburb of the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area, for Sunday morning services. Elder Mike Ivey, who has written articles for The Banner of Love, is pastor of the church.
The church is located east of Fremont, CA., on Highway 84 in Niles Canyon. The church is located on a beautiful hillside in Niles Canyon in a peaceful setting which is very conducive for. its worship purposes.
Elder Ivey spoke to the church in connection with the recent earthquake which had stricken that area of California, explaining and providing gospel background as to how these types of natural occurrences fit with God’s plan. Elder Ivey specifically addresses the “provinces” of God, including God’s “general” province, His “Divine” province, and God’s “Special” Province. He related these to the events of the earthquake.
Elder Ivey explained that God’s general province provides us daily with the necessities for living, such as air, water and food to save us in a natural sense. God’s divine province provides eternal salvation for His chosen people that they might be saved in a spiritual way. He then explained and gave examples which occurred during the earthquake of God’s special province whereby God provided special protection or guidance to persons’ during the natural disaster, much in the order of miracles in special circumstances..
After services the church invited us to sit with them in conference, during which time they agreed to provide relief to some church members whose homes had suffered damage in the earthquake as well as relief to general earthquake victim, relief funds. Following services we enjoyed a covered dish luncheon in the church’s adjacent dining room.
The church is located in a beautiful setting in Niles Canyon on a hillside. The decking around the church provides a beautiful view of a portion of the canyon.
The church, the service and the fellowship of its members provided a special blessing to us visiting it.
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By Don R. Richards
From Thanksgiving through Jan. 1 is the traditional period we refer to as the “holidays.” It is generally thought of as a time for fun, reunion, good eating, laughter, thanksgiving, sharing and rejoicing--as it should be. We all have much to be thankful for, to be proud of, and to rejoice in. It is a time for remembering those of our family and friends who we enjoyed past holidays with, but who are no longer with us. It is a time for a little relaxation and catch-up before we begin anew with a new year. Some of us even try to catch a little time in front of the television for the onslaught of football games that fill the airwaves during the holidays.
Somehow, though, during this time period for fun and relaxation and rejoicing, we many times find ourselves suffering with deep depression and worry, and maybe a little fear. The experts tell us what we already know from our daily experiences— that the holiday period is also a “high” time for family and domestic disturbances and such problems as child abuse, homicide and suicide.
I know the thoughts I have, especially following the holidays as I reflect upon the past year and think about an approach to the upcoming year. I worry that I have not properly provided for my family and friends’ Christmas as I should have; or, in a vain attempt to do so I have over extended myself and, now must find a way to “double up” and catch up early in the next year.
I believe that it is these pressures that started society into making New Year’s resolutions. Commitments to ourselves to do better in the upcoming year than we have done in the past. Attempts to “prop” ourselves up and approach the new year with a more positive attitude.
A good suggestion for a new year’s resolution is just a few minutes reading from a simple and time-tested source. It is hard to find better resolutions than what you will see in the Book of Psalms. Especially if you find yourself, as I do, with instances of the holiday blues or depression.
There is a good lesson for us all in David’s poems as we go through the holidays and begin the New Year. The 37th Psalm is one of the best resolution lists, you will ever be able to find. Make the 37th Psalm your resolution and you will have a positive attitude entering the new year. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” Psalm 37:3.
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” 37:7-8.
The entire 37th Psalm is worthy of your time as I am skipping over large portions of it here.
It is difficult to pick out one psalm over the others for recommended reading over the holidays. It is easy to see from reading them that David had the same thoughts and prayers that effect the Lord’s people today during the depression and fear that hits so many at year’s end.
“Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Psalms 51:10-12.
If you near the year’s end worried about tomorrow, or yourself, or your family, or those year-end bills you know will arrive, or are just afraid of growing another year older as the world grows bigger with its sin and corruption—turn to the words of the prophet Isaiah and read his description of the incomparableness of God to the world and all its problems. Read the 40th chapter of Isaiah.
“Hast thou not known? Has thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
“Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shal1 utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31.
Finish your readings for the new year with Romans 8:31 wherein the Apostle Paul tells us all we really need to know by asking a simple question: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
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