Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Refreshing the Spirits of the Brethren

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One of the fundamental responsibilities of a Christian is to love his brethren. “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:10-11). It is an imperative, and as Christians we should be mindful of obeying it.

One of the most effective ways to show your love for the brethren is through the practice of hospitality. It is one of an impressive list of characteristics which indicate a faithful child of God. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Romans 12:10-13).

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Lessons Learned from the Remnant

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The book of Ezra records a remnant of Judah returning to the homeland after 70 years spent in Babylonian captivity. The reason they had been conquered by the Babylonians was their rejection of God. As Jeremiah put it, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32).

However, after 70 years (prophesied in Jeremiah 29:10), God stirred up the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to their homeland (cf. Ezra 1:1). Not all were interested in leaving the place where they had lived for two generations. But, a remnant was moved by God (1:5), and returned to the land. Here the Jews reestablished their worship to God, and ultimately rebuilt the temple.

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The Good Shepherd

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In the gospel of John, Jesus identified himself as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11). The work of the shepherd in New Testament times was challenging. He would train the sheep or goats to obey his commands, feed and water them, and protect them from harm. The young David is an good example, as he saved his sheep from both a lion and a bear (cf. 1 Samuel 17:34). Obviously, if the sheep belonged to the shepherd himself, the investment was a precious one. This explains Jesus’ words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (11). In contrast, “The hireling flees [when he sees the wolf] because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (13). Jesus used this imagery to describe His sin sacrifice, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (15).

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God is Our Protector!

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King David was not a perfect man. Some time after taking the throne of Israel as God’s king, he sinned grievously against Him. Sins of adultery and murder are not trivial, and yet it is acknowledged that David was a man after God’s “own heart, who will do all My will” (cf. Acts 13:22). The second book of Samuel notes of David’s reign, “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people” (8:15).

Despite the documented failings of David, he can rightly be described as a righteous man. As such, he enjoyed God’s favor and protection, even as he was compassed about by his enemies. We are familiar with examples of the providential care shown Him by Jehovah.

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Depending Upon the Word of God

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There are consequences to men who do not understand their place in relation to God. Too often men seek their own counsel, and pay no respect to the One who made them. “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; they say, ‘Who sees us?’ and, ‘Who knows us?’ Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah, 29:15-16).

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God’s Provision

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After leaving Egypt, the Israelites found themselves trapped on the shore of the Red Sea. With the sea at their backs, and Pharaoh’s army rapidly approaching, the people complained to Moses, saying that it would have been better for them to remain slaves “than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12). Moses responded, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (13). Since God was with them, victory was assured. The Egyptians were wiped out.

In contrast, Joshua and the people were routed by the weak and small denizens of Ai, as recorded in Joshua 7. Why? Sin was in the camp, and God said to Joshua, “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you” (12). Since God was against them, they were defeated.

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The Importance of Assembling

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When God created man, he made him to be a social being. Throughout history, men have typically gathered together in communities. In fact, the institution of marriage was established by God as He determined “It is not good that man should be alone.” So, God said, “I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:28).

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An Anchor of the Soul

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David, as the anointed King of Israel, had many enemies. Among them was Saul, who remained enthroned as King. Saul was jealous of David, and sought his life. However, scripture reveals that God providentially protected David. In 2 Samuel 22, David acknowledged that help:

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence” (2-3).

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God Hears, and Answers!

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People generally recognize the positive impact of prayer. What is not always understood is why prayer is such a positive thing. Our national leaders during tragic times call for and express thanks for prayers offered. Many of those same leaders do not believe in God, or have no faith that God intercedes in men’s affairs. For many, prayer is simply a way of saying, “I’m thinking about you.” It is an expression of sympathy, and is appreciated for that reason alone. Caregivers may go so far as to suggest that prayers offered can have a placebo effect; a bit like chicken soup, it can’t hurt.

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“I Will Certainly Be With You”

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In Exodus 3 we read of God’s conversation with Moses, from the midst of the burning bush. Moses was understandably hesitant to take on the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. He asked “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (11). In response, God did not seek to stroke the ego of Moses. Such was not needed. It was enough for God to say, “I will certainly be with you” (12). It didn’t matter who Moses was, with God’s help he would be successful in his task.

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Wait On Your God

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“So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually” (Hosea 12:6).

It is hard to be patient. This is especially so when you perceive injustice. While you are striving to be good and righteous, the ungodly prosper. The Psalmist knew this, and counseled:

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Making Good Choices

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Our lives consist of a series of choices. The choices we make determine the path that our life will take. Wrong turns can have tragic consequences, but good choices can make for a joyous and fulfilling tenure here on earth. Of course, our choices can also impact our eternal standing with God. The mansion prepared for us by the Lord (cf. John 14:1-2) hangs in the balance, dependent upon the decisions we make.

The life of Moses serves as a wonderful example in this regard. His life was first influenced by the decision made by his mother. “So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2). When she could hide him no longer, her desperate act to save her son resulted in Moses being raised by the daughter of Pharaoh.

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Superconquerors!

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The most potent weapon Christians have in combating life’s difficulties and the despair that accompanies them is the realization that our ultimate victory has already been secured through the work of our Lord. Paul acknowledged this reality in 1 Corinthians 15 as he wrote of the significance of Christ’s resurrection.

If Christ has not been raised from the dead after dying for our sins, Paul noted, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (17-18). But, because Christ has gained victory over death, the reality is far different! “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (19). Our confidence lies in the fact of Christ’s accomplishment. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the faithful will be as well, as He promised! Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (57).

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Abraham – A Committed Faith

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Abraham is a wonderful example of a man who had a total commitment of faith toward God. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

The obstacles he encountered during his pilgrimage were formidable. His response of faith necessitated his remaining life be spent as a nomad in a land that was not his own. He suffered through famine, and danger because He believed the threefold promise God had made to him. God had promised that land where he dwelt in tents would be given to his descendants. He had promised that those descendants, (from Isaac, the son of promise), would become a great nation (Israel). Finally, God promised that through Abraham’s seed a Savior of all nations would come (cf. Genesis 12:1-3).

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The Path to Joy

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The wise man of Ecclesiastes had it right in despairing of a contemplated life without God’s presence. “‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Life only has meaning if God is in the picture. Otherwise, it is without any lasting value or purpose. Men everywhere live out their short existence on earth without hope beyond the grave. Such an existence is truly vain. “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever” (1:4).

Many of the problems we have with sorrow and despair come from this flawed perspective on life. Above all other things, we must recognize our purpose on earth is to serve God. If we do, we can with that realization have a happy and productive life, and after, a sure hope of eternal bliss. As the wise man concluded in his contemplation of life, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12:13-14).

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