1) Morale Boosters (R.J. Evans)
2) Casting in the Tree (Jeff May)
3) News & Notes
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thes. 5:14).
There are so many things that may get us discouraged and lower our morale as we live our lives here on this earth. At times, elders, deacons, and preachers get discouraged in dealing with problems and trying to assist others with their difficulties. Young people are being pressured by their peers to do many things that are sinful and worldly. So many families have problems, heartaches, and financial struggles. Those who have health issues, or who are grieving over the loss of a loved one, often become weary and discouraged. Single people may become lonely, and feel like they are always left out. Unfortunately, in some congregations, there are those who work behind the scenes to “put it down” rather than seek to “build it up.” These kind of devious actions to undermine the work of the church lower the morale of a congregation — especially as it relates to those who are young in the faith or weak. And the list could go on and on concerning things that tend to lower our morale.
In dealing with discouragements and low morale, there are several things we all can do. We can try to maintain a good, positive, loving attitude. We can work and labor in the kingdom as hard as possible. The Apostle Paul said: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Please go back and re-read our text in view of putting it into practice.
What else can we do to lift each others’ spirits? We can try to be present for all the assemblies of the church. By doing so, we make ourselves available for our own edification, as well as availing ourselves of the opportunity to edify others (Eph. 4:16). Attending Bible classes and worship services lifts our morale, even when we’re not feeling well. This helps to “recharge our batteries.” It is God’s will that none of us forsake the assemblies of the church (Heb. 10:25). James says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Thus, by attending all the services of the church, not only do we worship God “in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24), we also encourage and boost the morale of one another.
Let’s all try to be like Joses, whose name was changed to “Barnabas” because he was an encourager. He encouraged or boosted the morale of other Christians wherever he went (Acts 4:36-37; 11:23; 15:26-42).
We can also seek to be the kind of Christian who refreshes others. Please consider the following examples: Philemon — “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother” (v. 7); Paul told the Romans — that I “may be refreshed together with you” (Rom. 15:33); Paul wrote of several brethren who — “refreshed my spirit and yours” (1 Cor. 16: 18); The Corinthians had been a joy to Titus — “because his spirit has been refreshed by you all” (2 Cor. 7:14); Paul said of Onesiphorus — he “often refreshed me” (2 Tim. 1:16). Every one of these was a morale booster.
In view of the above, let us each encourage and refresh one another so we will become MORALE BOOSTERS. We close with the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “we…are fellow workers for your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24).
— Via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana
Casting in the Tree
Shortly after Israel escaped the clutches of Egyptian bondage, they came to Marah hoping to find water. But the water was bitter. Moses cried out and “the Lord showed him a tree.” Moses cast it into the waters and the waters were made sweet. Casting in the tree made all the difference (Exodus 15:22-25).
In the days of Elisha, he and his servants were cutting down trees for a new residence (2 Kings 5:1-7). As one was cutting, the iron ax head fell into the water and sank to the bottom. The servant cried out, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed” (vs. 5). No problem. Elisha simply “cut off a stick and threw it in there; and he made the iron float” (vs. 6).
Here are two examples of bad situations made so much better by casting in the tree. So it is with our lives. Problems arise as we strive to serve God faithfully, but God has given us a tree: the tree of Calvary. Cast it in!! See the difference it makes.
Are you needing saving from your sins? Cast in the tree. When you and I sinned the very first time, we came under the death penalty (Rom. 6:23). Our sentence would be eternal separation from God. Worse yet, there was nothing we could do to remedy the problem. But God cast in the tree! Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Because of the tree being cast in, we can obey the gospel and no longer fear death (1 Cor. 15:55-57).
Do you want to get rid of your old sinful self? Cast in the tree. Are you tired of sin? Are you tired of what it is doing to you? Cast in the tree. Not only did Jesus have a cross to die on, you do too. In becoming a Christian, you crucify the old man and rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-7) Say goodbye to the old man!! You can live in a joyful new life and say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Are you tired of churches using gimmicks and recreation for “power” to draw people? Cast in the tree. How ashamed we ought to be if we ever think we need to draw people to Christ with food, recreation and entertainment. There’s enough power in the tree. Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (Jn. 12:32). The man who sees his problem will come to the tree of Calvary for his remedy. He needs nothing else. He wants nothing else. He desires only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
Do you ever feel down? Do you ever feel like quitting? Cast in the tree. Paul said he often was hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down (2 Cor. 4:8-9). How can we hold up under all the discouraging things that come our way in this life? Cast in the tree. That was Paul’s answer. He said he was “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 2:10). When it got hard, he just remembered Jesus. He endured the cross and afterward sat down at God’s right hand in heaven (Heb. 12:2). The world will look at us with bewilderment and wonder what keeps us going. What a great testimony when they see that it is the tree!!
Has someone hurt you? Are you struggling to forgive? Is your patience with someone really wearing thin? Cast in the tree. Come on now. Have any of us ever been hurt more than Jesus? Can we hear Him saying on the tree, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34). Can’t we do the same (Col. 3:13)? Maybe the “scruples” of someone is testing your patience. Are you tempted to push your way with no regard for their feelings? Cast in the tree (Rom. 15:1-3).
Is some trial or happening in your life causing you to wonder if God loves you? Cast in the tree. Jesus has forever settled that matter. The tree proves His love. Let nothing deter you from serving Him and separating you from His love. The one who did not spare His own Son will reward us well when this life is over (Rom. 8:31- 39).
No matter what comes into our lives, we can always cast in the tree. It changes things. Let us all praise God for the cross of our Lord.
–Via online articles at the Oakland church of Christ website, Athens, Alabama, March 12, 2012
News & Notes
The open heart surgery for Jim Lively went well. He received four bypasses, was sitting up in a chair the next day, and was walking and eating solid foods by the second day. His only pain right now is around the incision. Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember him in prayer as he is now healing.
Some of you have been concerned with helping the brethren in Louisiana who were affected by the recent flooding. R.J. Evans, who is a preacher and elder for the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, sent me the following message: “A number of brethren from all parts of the country have been contacting us, wanting to help the families who have been flooded. Here in Gonzales, LA, the Southside church has over a dozen families who had their houses flooded. While this has not received a great deal of national coverage, it is a historic, record-breaking flood — the weather service down here has been referring to it as a 1,000 year flood. It has ranged from 2 feet to about 6 feet of water in the houses of some of our members. Some of these families did not have flood insurance. All the sheet rock, insulation, flooring will have to be replaced; all furniture and appliances are, for the most part, destroyed. The cost of repairing and replacing will involve many thousands of dollars. Based on the pattern in Acts 11:27-30, the four elders of this church (Harris Lefort, Ken Robertson, Dennis Stutzman, & myself) will distribute these funds, based upon the needs of each family. We will keep close, detailed records of this special fund (names, amounts, etc.). Should we start receiving funds that are not longer needed, we will return them, and notify others. If any receiving this information would like to contribute, please make the check out to the Southside Church of Christ. On the check, you might want to write “elders – for families flooded” – or something similar. Please send to: Southside Church of Christ, P.O. Box 686, Gonzales, LA 70707. Words cannot express how thankful we are for your prayers, care, concern, and willingness to help. May God continue to bless all of you in His service. R.J.E. (Please feel free to forward this to those you believe would like to receive it.)”
I (Tom Edwards) had lived in Denham Springs for about 12 years. For the last four years that I was there, I had also been attending the Wednesday evening services at Southside, since the midweek service I also attended (and later taught) in Baton Rouge was on Tuesdays. I always enjoyed being with the brethren there in Gonzales and know and respect all of these men who are serving as elders there.
Michelle Rittenhouse was back in the hospital for a few days recently for tests and to be put on a new medication for her heart problems. Prior, new medications have had an adverse affect upon her by about the 5th day. Let us pray that this will go better for her.
Others, too, that we have been praying for: Rex Cothren (brain surgery), Camp Tatum (cancer cells of the spine), Kelly Fleeman (receiving treatments for lymphoma), Shirley Davis (back pain), Doyle Rittenhouse (bursitis, arthritis, trouble with hips and back); Joyce Rittenhouse (liver tests), James Medlock (for his health), Penny Medlock (at Saint Simons By-the-Sea), Melontine Davis (pain comes and goes periodically, due to slip disc in neck), Brianna Mackey (will be undergoing therapy for about a year), Mary Vandevander (housebound), and Sue Wooten (nursing home).
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)