The Gospel Observer (January 29, 2017)

Contents:

1) What Matters Most? (W. Frank Walton)
2) “Integrity” (Louie Taylor)
3) Trends (The Beacon)
4) News & Notes
——————–

philippians3_13-14d

-1-

What Matters Most?
W. Frank Walton

“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

From The Biblical Illustrator I saw this illustration about discerning what really matters. In the Jules Verne’s novel, The Mysterious Island, he tells of five men who escaped a Civil War prison by hijacking a hot air balloon. As they rise into the air, they realize the wind is carrying them over the ocean, and they are powerless to stop it. Watching their homeland disappear on the horizon, they wonder how much longer the balloon can stay aloft.

The hours pass and the surface of the ocean draws gradually closer. Since they had no way to heat the air for it to rise in the balloon, the men decide they must cast some weight overboard. Shoes, overcoats and weapons that they worked so hard to collect for the escape are reluctantly discarded. The anxious aviators feel their balloon rise. Yet, it is only temporary. They slowly descend again and draw dangerously close to the waves. Then, they had to toss their food. They realize it is better to be high and hungry than to drown on a full belly!

Unfortunately, lightening their load helps only for a short time. The craft again floats downward and threatens to crash into the sea. One man has an idea: they can tie the ropes that hold the passenger car to themselves. Then, they could cut away the basket beneath them. As they sever the very thing they had been standing on, it drops into the ocean and the balloon rises again.

In the nick of time, they spot land! When they drift close enough to the island, the five men jump into the water and swim to safety on the island.

They had lived, when they otherwise might have perished, because they were able to discern the difference between what really was needed and what was not. The necessities they once thought they couldn’t live without, in that critical situation, were really the very weights that almost cost them their lives.

Christians must learn to not let the “trivial many crowd out the vital few.” In fact, the only thing that any of us will carry from this life is our character we have developed, in following Christ, by the thoughts we think, the attitudes we harbor, the words we say and the deeds we do. Every physical thing — our homes, our cars, our clothes, our furniture, our bank, our workplace, etc. “will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10-13)! We won’t even take any pictures of them as souvenirs to show each other in heaven! Our physical blessings can become our curse if we are consumed with them and “choke out” our primary relationship with our Creator (Mark 4:18-19). It is God’s eternal purpose to train and transform our character into the image of Jesus Christ, so we’re fitted for eternal glory (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 2:4-10, Titus 2:11-14). This pursuit is what matters most in this life.

So, in our journey to eternity, we must know what to ignore, what sins to shun, what to hold lightly, when to let go, and how to always keep our eyes focused foremost on our Lord, who ever beckons us onward and upward to Himself in our heavenly home (Phil. 3:13-14, Matt. 6:33, Luke 10:41-42). Jesus our example gained nothing great this world offers, yet He gained everything God offers (Phil. 2:5-11). So, when we’re frustrated and stressed out, we must ask ourselves, “What difference will this make in eternity?” In the end, preparing ourselves by faith for that inevitable interview with our Creator is the true purpose of life. Everything else in this world is ultimately like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

— Via The Old Hickory Bulletin, April 10, 2016, Volume 36, #15
——————–

proverbs28_6

-2-

“Integrity”
Louie Taylor

Proverbs 10:9 states, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” Vine’s dictionary defines “integrity” as “moral and ethical soundness.” A person who lives his life according to the dictates of integrity walks a straight and even path of righteousness, and he never has to worry about being tripped up over a lie that he has told in the past. The dishonest person walks in a zigzag path of deception, and his deceitfulness will always be found out eventually, no matter how diligently he tries to cover his tracks.

Dishonesty just has a way of making itself known, and when that happens, relationships are always injured. Psalm 15:1-3 demonstrates the power of integrity in the building of strong relationships: “O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.” A lack of integrity will always bring harm to every relationship that we have — with ourselves, with our loved ones, and with our God.

Verse 2 says the person of integrity speaks truth in his own heart. As long as we choose to deceive ourselves, we will never have the peace of mind that God wants us to have in Christ. People often live in denial of the fact that they have problems with drugs, alcohol, pornography, immorality, stealing, cheating, lying, cursing, etc. Until a person is honest with himself and admits there are issues to be dealt with, he will always undermine his relationship with self, and sabotage his own physical, mental, and spiritual health.

A person who lacks integrity will also never develop healthy relationships with other people. Verse 3 says the person of integrity does no evil to his neighbor. Deception is hurtful and evil, and when people find out that we have done them wrong, they have a hard time trusting us in the future. Vibrant relationships are based on trust. So if we speak the truth in love we strengthen the bonds of unity (Ephesians 4:15), but if we are untrustworthy we always fracture our friendships.

Integrity is also required for a spiritual relationship with God. Verse 1 says that only the person of integrity can dwell in the tabernacle of the Lord and live on His holy hill. For us that simply means that if we want to dwell securely in the church of Jesus Christ where all access to the Father is found, we must live upright, godly, and truthful lives. That requires integrity in our worship as well, since all worship must be offered in spirit and in truth to the Lord (John 4:24).

I really think verse 4 of Psalm 15 best captures the essence of integrity. The psalmist writes that the person of integrity, “swears to his own hurt, and does not change.” When he takes a vow or makes a commitment, he follows through with it even if he has to suffer in the process. That means he’s determined to do the right thing no matter what, and no matter how badly other people might be misbehaving. It’s not always easy to walk with integrity but it is always best — and it’s the only way to walk securely with our Creator on the path that leads to heaven.

— Via Online Articles from the Manslick Road church of Christ, March 2, 2014
——————–

“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You” (Psalm 25:21).
——————–

down_arrow

-3-

Trends…

Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who claim they never pray reached an all-time high in 2014, up five-fold since the 1980s. Over the same time period, belief in God and interest in spirituality appears to have similarly declined, especially among young adults. In 2014, the number of 18 to 22-year-olds who reported no religious affiliation rose from 11% in the 1970s to 36%; the percentage who said they never pray rose from 4% to 28%. Belief in God and attendance at religious services declined by half while self-reported spirituality declined five-fold (via Vocativ.com).

Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

— Via The Beacon, Greg Gwin, March 29, 2016
——————–

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1, NASB).
——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Let those of us who can pray be remembering the following people in prayer:

Tanya Terrones has been having some terrible sciatic pain for the last couple weeks. Though somewhat better in the mornings, it has her cringing every day by the afternoon. She has found a little relief with ice, and will be seeing a doctor this Tuesday.

Let us also continue to remember the family and friends of those who recently lost the following loved ones: Brian Keith Corbitt, Campbell Jude “Camp” Tatum, KeAnuenue Hayashi, Gary White, Janice Members, and Cheryl Thomas.

Jim Lively is now doing a new kind of cardio therapy. Plus continuing his previous therapy as well.

Shirley Davis will be seeing her doctor in Valdosta this Tuesday to determine if she is now ready for her knee replacement.

Also to keep in prayer: Lexi Crawford, Charles Crosby, the Medlocks, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Kelli Fleeman, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, and Ray Richards
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

Advertisements

The Gospel Observer (January 22, 2017)

Contents:

1) “You Shall Understand Hereafter” (John 14:4-7) (Jon W. Quinn)
2) Lest We Forget the Goal (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
——————–

matthew20_26-28
-1-

“You Shall Understand Hereafter”
John 14:4-7

Jon W. Quinn

The Lord’s apostle John wrote his gospel sometime after Matthew, Mark and Luke had written theirs. He also recorded a number of things which the others had not included. He devotes far more space than the others to the events of the evening prior to the crucifixion. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John gives his own eye-witness testimony of that evening. In this article, we shall focus on one of those events. After eating the final Passover meal with His apostles, and ordaining the keeping of the memorial supper by His disciples after His departure, Jesus does a startling thing; He gets up from the table, lays aside His outer garment, girds Himself with a towel, pours water into a basin, and then proceeds to use the water and towel to wash the feet of His apostles. What was the meaning of this very humble, and somewhat disturbing act of our Lord? As Jesus told His apostles, “You’ll understand later.”

The Custom of Feet Washing

“(Jesus)… rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and wipe them with a towel with which He was girded” (John 13:4-5).

Customs usually develop in societies to answer certain needs of that particular culture. The main mode of transportation in Jesus’ day was walking, footwear consisted of sandals, and the environment was often hot and dusty. Because of this, a custom developed where, in behalf of the comfort of one’s guests, basins of water would be provided so they could wash their feet after a long journey. If the hosts were wealthy, the household servants would perform the task, washing the guests’ feet. It was a sign of courtesy and hospitality.

It had been a busy day of travel for Jesus and the apostles. There was no servant, at least in the usual sense of the word. The apostles had been bickering earlier about which of them was the greatest. This same poor attitude had effected them throughout the ministry of Jesus, in spite of His teaching time and again about how greatness in God’s kingdom is measured in the amount of service one renders unto others, and not the other way around (Luke 22:24-27; 9:46-48; Mark 9:33-37;50; Matthew 20:20-28).

What Jesus intends to do is to leave them with an impression they will find impossible to ignore. They had not allowed His words to sink in. But now they would have a vivid memory of the humility of their Lord. They would never forget it!

Peter’s Protest

“And so He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do to you you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall you wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed need only to wash his feet; and you are clean…” (John 13:6-10a)

Peter voices the same feelings that most certainly all the apostles were feeling. Stunned and embarrassed, Peter puts his feelings into words of protest. It had been Peter who had identified Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Now, to have the Son of God bow down and wash his feet seemed so out of place that Peter could not contain himself. “Never shall you wash my feet!”

But, of course, if Peter is not willing to submit to Jesus in everything, then Jesus cannot use him. If Jesus is to be Peter’s Lord, then he must be willing to do the things Jesus says (Luke 6:46). By the way, it was not the last time people who claim to have faith in Jesus and yet would push His words aside. It would not work for Peter, and it will not work for others. Faith in Jesus means yielding ourselves to His will in everything. If Jesus says washing Peter’s feet is a necessary part of being His apostle, then it is. If He says being baptized in water is necessary to wash away sins, then it is (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16).

Jesus Explains

“And so when He washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-17).

Jesus asked if they understood what He had done to them. The answer, for now, is “no.” Jesus had earlier said that they did not yet understand (verse 7). Of course they understood He had washed their feet, but that was not the point, nor the significance of the act.

Jesus proceeds to drive the point home. It was not about foot washing, but rather about service. The proper thing in His kingdom is to seek for opportunity to serve others and not to be served by others. There is no place for arrogance in Jesus’ kingdom, but rather for brotherly consideration and love. This is the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:3-5).

This was not a command to make the washing of feet a formal activity in the public assembly. That misses the point. It was simply an example to follow: Jesus served others, if He is Lord and Teacher, then so should we (Galatians 5:13-15). Those who are high-minded and too good to humbly serve others are too good to be Jesus’ disciples.

— Via the Expository Files 21.7; July 2014
——————–

lest_we_forget_the_goal_henry
-2-

Lest We Forget the Goal
Gary Henry

“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

AMID THE WELTER OF OUR SPIRITUAL THOUGHTS AND WORDS AND DEEDS, THE MAIN THING THAT SHOULD BE PRODUCED BY ALL OF THIS ACTIVITY MAY END UP BEING NEGLECTED. Paul wrote that the purpose (in other words, the “goal” or “end”) of the commandment is love. This is the object in view — it is the thing that is supposed to be produced by instruction in God’s word. If we profess to be those who seek God, we need to be aware that one of the truest tests of our seeking is the test of love. If we are missing love, then we’ve missed the “purpose of the commandment.”

The word “love,” of course, means many things to many people, and the kind of love that God desires is no ordinary love. According to Paul, it comes “from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” A “pure heart” is clean and wholly devoted to God, a “good conscience” is carefully protected and consistently obeyed, and a “sincere faith” is genuine and without pretense. When these qualities combine, they produce a love that is remarkable. It is certainly distinct from the emotional feeling that is called “love” in the world, but it is also different from the intellectual orthodoxy that is called “love” by many Christians. The love that distinguishes the people of Christ is nothing less than the love that Christ had: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35).

When we think about it, the reason for love’s importance is obvious. If God is love, how could we possibly draw near Him without growing in love? But what if we’re seeking God and love is not increasing in our lives? We may not like to hear it, but one of two things must be true: either our “seeking” is not a serious seeking or our “God” is not the real God. If we truly seek and it is the true God whom we seek, then real love must result. John’s words are clear and to the point: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). If we lose sight of this fact, then we’ve somehow gotten off the road that leads to God.

“With the knowledge of God comes love” (Catherine of Siena).

— Via WordPoints.com, November 4, 2016
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

For those who can pray, let us be including the following in our prayers:

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Campbell Jude “Camp” Tatum who passed away on the 19th, just two months short of his third birthday, after many months of struggling with cancer.

Our sympathies also go out to the family and friends of Gary White who passed away at only 40 years of age; and Janice Members who also passed away on the 19th, not many days after the passing of her sister Cheryl Thomas.

Andi Head had been in ICU with a fever of 106.1 and an unknown sickness.  Since then his temperature has dropped, and it has been determined that he has an enlarged spleen. More tests will be run.

Ginger Head (Andi’s mother), who had neck surgery 2 weeks ago, has also been sick.

Billy Lowe has been in the hospital with pneumonia in one lung.  He is now doing better, but still not completely over it.  He is also in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Shirley Davis will be seeing her knee doctor later this month.  She has two more weeks of therapy to strengthen her leg muscles before having a knee replacement.  Her knee slips out and in at times.  She will also be seeing a doctor in February about a cornea problem in her right eye that might require a transplant.

Charles Crosby is doing better from his knee replacement.  Pain is much less; but it is still too early for him to be able to bend his knee well.  He is having therapy 3 times a week.

Also: Lexi Crawford, the Corbitts, Jim Lively, the Medlocks, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Kelli Fleeman, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Ray Richards, and Mary Vandevander
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (January 15, 2017)

Contents:

1) Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (Warren E. Berkley)
2) News & Notes
——————–

2chron1_11-12
-1-

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom
Warren E. Berkley

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?’

“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.’

“And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.” – 1 Kings 3:5-15

If you read only of Solomon’s failures, you might be surprised to read this prayer or perhaps you doubt the sincerity of it. But biblical history is clear, there were times when this man held to great sincerity of interests and affection for the Lord, though his consistency and follow-through was obviously failed. This prayer is an example of a good time, and instructs us in several good ways.

“The kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon,” according to the last verse of the previous chapter (though after some struggle & violence), and now – he must be serious about the challenges soon to be encountered; the choices soon to be made; the leadership to be provided through him to God’s people and his own personal salvation. His succession to the throne had not been easy. Now the task ahead would be obtained only with God’s help. So he prayed. What can we discover from this?

(1) Imperfect People Need To Pray. “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places” (v. 3). The “high places” were locations where idolatry was practiced. This is evidence of his imperfection. Good intentions were not fully carried out, thus he was imperfect in his efforts. Let us consider that imperfection is reason to pray, never a reason to neglect speaking to God. It may be argued, in fact, the more we struggle; the less perfect we are, the more we need to speak to God and ask for His help and make good commitments to Him. Here is a man with enough love for the Lord to respond to God and make requests in prayer, at least at this point in his life. What he says is rooted in his trust in the good and faithful God his father taught him to serve.

(2) What If God Asked You What You Wanted? What would your answer be? Money? Worldly Success? Celebrity Status? That new truck? Our first response might not be our best. Solomon had enough love for the Lord to know what he needed. He needed to receive wisdom from the highest source. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” He wasn’t perfect before God, but humble before God to ask for something valuable, not temporal. We need this humble sense of our weakness and need. And we need to take those weaknesses and needs to the Lord in sincere prayer. While we are not assigned the leadership of a nation, the navigation of our personal lives requires wisdom and discretion. We learn from others, from experience and by reading God’s Word. But all such efforts ought to be accompanied by prayer to the Father through Jesus, that we might be wise. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (Jas. 1:5). I don’t know of anyone among my acquaintances who has mastered wisdom, who doesn’t need more, or who doesn’t need to offer up this prayer. Ask God for wisdom now; don’t wait! (Read the first three chapters of 1 Kings! Perhaps you will conclude Solomon should have offered up this prayer earlier.)

3) Always Acknowledge Past Blessings Received In Your Family. In Solomon’s prayer, he acknowledged past blessings received: “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day” (v. 6). It is always commendable and necessary to remember what God has done for your family, that brought you to where you are now in life. How soon we may forget how God has providentially nurtured us and blessed us through our families. Do not let such memories and gratefulness slip from your mind. Tell God how you appreciate it.

(4) Always Confess Your Ignorance (v. 7). The new king said, “I do not know how to go out or come in.” It was like someone today saying, “I don’t know if I’m going or coming.” Such humble confessions of ignorance ought to be stated to God, when we ask for His help. We ought to be willing to say to the Father: “I don’t know what to do, but I know You do. Help me learn and grow and do right.” We do not boast of our ignorance, but we must confess it. Implied in such confessions, our need for God’s help and our responsibility to listen to His Word with obedient intent.

(5) The Value Of Discernment. “…that I may discern between good and evil” (v. 9). No matter where you are in history, geography, culture, or position – you need this skill: Discernment. It is the capacity to see issues, recognize temptations, and know what is right and wrong, based on divine truth. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, single people – all need this skill. Children need to learn it; preachers need to preach it; teachers need to illustrate it; sinners need to embrace it, and Christians need to use it from now on. Discerning between right and wrong is a critical life skill. Pray God to help you acquire it, and accompany all such praying with your diligent study of His Word, His Standard!

(6) Governing Others Requires Discernment. “…for who is able to govern this your great people?” (v. 9). Our influence on others is directly related to our capacity to see what is right and wrong. While we are not charged to lead a nation, we are charged to let our lights shine and exert a good influence on others. That serious charge cannot be well done if we are unclear about right and wrong.

An unknown civil war soldier wrote this eloquent testimony:

“I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

“I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

“I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

“I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

“I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things.  I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.

“Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”

So the Bible says that “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.”

— Via Expository Files 20.8; August 2013
——————–

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother shall rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’  She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world’” (John 11:23-27, NASB).
——————–

-2-

News & Notes

For those who can pray, let us be remembering the family and friends of KeAnuenue Hayashi who passed away at just 35 years of age.  He had been a band instructor at Waianae Intermediate, Ilima Intermediate and Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.  He has been described as one who “was loving, compassionate, funny and always generous with his time. He would never turn away a friend in need and was sensitive to the needs of those around him. He will be missed by all who knew him” (Music Center of Hawaii, Inc.).

Andi Head is in ICU with an unknown sickness.  As of earlier today (1/19), he had a fever of 106.1.  Ginger, his mother, who had neck surgery two weeks ago, has also been sick with possibly the same unknown illness.

Janice Members is in the hospital.  Her heart had stopped, but is now beating again.

We also extend our condolences to the family and friends of Cheryl Thomas (Janice Members’ sister) who recently passed away.

And our sympathy also goes out to the family and friends of Gary White who passed away at only 40 years of age.

Billy Lowe is in the hospital with pneumonia in one lung.  He is now doing somewhat better, but still not completely over it.  He is also in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Charles Crosby’s knee-replacement surgery went well January 9.  He was later walking that same day!  It will be about three weeks before his knee is feeling back to normal, but it is now getting better each day.

Camp Tatum, who is only 2 years old and with cancer, is now back home receiving hospice care.  Let us continue to remember him and his family.

Remember, too, Lexi Crawford in her battle with cancer.  She was given the option of starting intense chemo again, which would lead to her feeling deathly ill and other complications, and with no guarantee of working; so she has chosen not to.  She will, however, be trying an oral medicine.

Also: the Corbitt family, Shirley Davis, Jim Lively, the Medlocks (Bennie, Deborah, Penny, and James), Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Kelli Fleeman, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Ray Richards, and Mary Vandevander
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (January 8, 2017)

Contents:

1) Five Reasons Why I Don’t Play the Lottery (Ken Weliever)
2) The Anti-Gospel (Doy Moyer)
3) News & Notes
——————–

luke12_15

-1-

Five Reasons Why I Don’t Play the Lottery
Ken Weliever

“With all of the current hoopla about the Powerball, I’m curious on your take scripturally on the lottery,” wrote Heidi, one of our regular readers.

Heidi adds her thoughts saying, “I know many Christians who don’t see anything wrong with it. I wouldn’t want to risk my soul on getting rich quick. I sure could use the money but even $450 million is not worth losing my soul over.”

Like many things, the Bible doesn’t specifically mention gambling. So we must consider scriptural principles to decide whether it is a good thing or not. I realize that some people consider playing the lottery and other forms of gambling as entertainment. It may be so for some. But I believe it is a risky form of amusement.

Here are 5 considerations that guide my decision not to gamble, including playing the lottery.

(1) It violates the laws of legitimate economy.

The Bible recognizes 3 legitimate means of transferring property to others — the law of labor, the law of exchange, and the law of giving and receiving.

We are commanded to work in order to provide for our needs and support our families (Eph 4:25; I Tim. 5:8). The Bible speaks of earning interest on money (Matt 25:27) or making a profit on selling a possession, or investing in real estate (Matt 13:44-45). In addition, both giving and receiving are the result of our work and/or profits from investments (Eph. 4:28; Acts 2:45).

Gambling does not quality as a legitimate area of economy in any of those three ways. Thus, I choose not to play the lottery.

(2) It appeals to greed and materialism.

Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk 12:15). The Bible says that greed is “improper for God’s holy people” (Eph 5:3). In fact, Paul calls covetousness a form of idolatry (Col 3:5).

(3) It undermines faithful stewardship.

Christians are to be good managers of their time, talents and treasure. This is taught in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-29). The Old Testament book of Proverbs is filled with exhortations to the wise use of money.

According to yesterday’s Today show, your chances of winning the Powerball lottery are 1 in 292,201,338. Not very good odds I would say. In fact, the News Anchor said you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, becoming President of the United States, being bitten by a shark, or dying from an asteroid than winning the lottery!

(4) It sabotages self-control.

Admittedly, not all gamblers are out of control. But it is a serious enough problem that even some lottery ads issue warnings and provide information on gambling hotlines.

The Mayo clinic website warns, “Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives.” These professional experts explain “Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you’re prone to compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.”

God’s people are to be self-disciplined, with their passions and desires under His control (1 Cor. 6:12; 9:27; Gal. 5:23).

(5) It potentially ruins lives.

Lotteries often tend to victimize the most vulnerable with the lure of instant wealth to those who can least afford to lose money gambling. But even the winners’ lives are often ruined with the problems that come with unearned riches.

The tales of the unintended consequences of winning the lottery are so numerous that a simple google search will provide many sad stories of ruined lives after winning the lottery.

Many go bankrupt. Lose friends. Attract scam artists. Create friction in their families. Become addicted to other vices. And generally find that money does not buy happiness, peace of mind, or personal fulfillment.

I could list other reasons. But these are sufficient. If you think winning a big jackpot would improve your life and put you on easy street, don’t bet on it.

— Via Search for Truth, Volume VIII, Number 1, August 7, 2016
——————–

mark1_15

-2-

The Anti-Gospel
Doy Moyer

The gospel is rooted in the fact that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23). Mankind, left to himself, is lost, without hope, and unforgiven. There is no grace without Christ, and no path to God without the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The gospel message is that we can receive forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus and be born again to that living hope, reserved in heaven, through the resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

The gospel is also inseparable from this primary message: “repent!” Jesus said, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This is a clear kingdom mandate:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

God wants all to “come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). He wants the gospel taught to grant “repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25), for godly repentance leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).

Sadly, this message has been rejected in favor of one much more palatable and easily accepted by a world indoctrinated with moral relativism and forced tolerance.

The anti-gospel is the message of non-repentance. This message tells people that repentance is not necessary, that it is good to embrace your own version of self, that those who say otherwise are the haters, the bigots, the ones who need to be shunned and shamed. God made us the way we are, so there is no need to do anything but affirm our own feelings. Modern culture deems that the more enlightened embrace the anti-gospel, for modern understanding is superior to the ancients; and since Scripture is a product of the ancient world, we can see the need to move beyond it as a relic of the past.

The anti-gospel turns the grace of God into a license to sin (Jude 4), allowing for all to continue in sin while affirming this twisted version of grace (Rom. 6:1-2). The anti-gospel preachers proclaim that love wins, that the Spirit is with them, that God understands. In the process, a new idolatry has emerged. God has been reshaped to look just like the anti-gospel message. This god no longer requires repentance and despises those who preach it. This god bends to the whims and desires of those who have shaped the anti-gospel. The standard of the anti-gospel is self-will, not Scripture, though once in a while some passage will be trotted out as support of what has already been decided. Those Scriptures that do not support the predetermined conclusions are summarily dismissed and relegated to the shelf of antiquities, appealed to only as evidence of a world that everyone now knows was backwards.

This message is anti-gospel because it teaches people to affirm their sinfulness, to be proud of their sinful behavior, to march in lock-step with flags unfurled to show solidarity. Grace is perverted and the real gospel is veiled as the minds of the anti-gospel advocates are unable to “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4), while they preach themselves rather than “Christ Jesus as Lord” (vs. 5).

The anti-gospel shuns the Lordship of Jesus. It mocks those who embrace God’s authority as revealed in Scripture. It manifests the works of the flesh while parading in disguise as the fruit of the Spirit. Because the anti-gospel denies true repentance, it also denies the kingdom of Christ. There is no grace of living waters in the anti-gospel, but only a poison that may momentarily taste of pleasure. In the end, it will become bitter, and it will kill those who drink of it.

“Repent and believe in the gospel.” Only in Christ will true salvation be found. Preach the gospel. Let the foolishness of the cross become the power of the saved (1 Cor. 1:18). Now is not the time to compromise; now is the time to embrace the real gospel with even more intensity. It’s not about politics; it’s about truth.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, Vol. 7, Issue 51, 9/4/16
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

For those who can pray…

Let us continue to remember in prayer the family and friends of Brian Keith Corbitt (with whom Cheryl had been married for 31 years).

As mentioned last week, Camp Tatum’s condition has grown worse with “new tumors everywhere that the spinal fluid flows. … They are surrounding his brain, in the fluid-filled spaces in his brain and along his spine.” His pain and headaches have also been getting worse.  As I’m sure you can imagine, it is also a very difficult time for his family.

Jim Lively has been under the weather for the last couple weeks and is still dealing with congestion.   His therapy sessions are about over, but he will then soon begin a new kind.

My doctor, whom I (Tom Edwards) saw Friday, is scheduling me for a CT Scan that I’ll soon be having to better determine the hernia problem.

Also for our prayers: Shirley Davis, the Medlocks (Bennie, Deborah, Penny, and James), Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Kelli Fleeman, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Ray Richards, and Mary Vandevander
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (January 1, 2017)

1) Political Correctness and the Christian (Doy Moyer)
2) Counting the Cost (Carey Scott)
3) News & Notes
——————–

romans12_18

-1-

Political Correctness and the Christian
Doy Moyer

Christians increasingly must deal with political correctness (PC). This is the idea, according to the online dictionary (.com), of “avoiding vocabulary that is considered offensive, discriminatory, or judgmental.” They even add that PC is tied to “demonstrating progressive ideals,” and particularly involves “race and gender.” PC is quite pervasive these days, and at times it feels like we are walking on egg shells just to avoid offending anyone. How ought Christians to look at this issue?

Look at it through a biblical lens, not merely a political or social lens. It’s easy to fall prey to political propaganda today, but this issue must not be decided politically. We must see matters through the lens of Scripture and let that be what determines what we do. Understand the biblical principles by which we operate. There are several, so let’s be reminded of a few:

First, be dedicated to spiritual truth. Our salvation depends on it (1 Tim. 2:4; John 8:31-32), and this dedication is bigger than whatever winds of change happen in culture.

Second, and no less than the first, be dedicated to loving both God and others (the two greatest commandments, Matt. 22:36-40). “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8).

Ephesians 4:15 puts truth and love together. “Speaking the truth in love” helps us mature in both doctrine and attitude. One without the other is futile. Where political correctness violates either of these, then we must avoid it.

Third, we should, as Paul, strive to become all things to all people (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Paul’s purpose for doing this was “so that I might win” others, “for the sake of the gospel,” to Christ.

Fourth, understand the limitations. We are to discern right from wrong (Heb. 5:12-14), which also means discerning what is morally or spiritually necessary from that which is not so.

Fifth, approach the world with wisdom. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:5-6). This should be a major factor in how we consider our reaction to PC.

Correlating to the above, then, here is what we can gather for practical application:

1. If speaking politically correct involves compromising God’s truth (e.g., by refusing to talk about sin), then it must be avoided. Truth is more important than anyone’s agenda, and truth will often be offensive to those who don’t want to hear it. This is what Jesus faced: “Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?’” (Matt. 15:12). Paul faced it, also: “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16). If speaking truth means the world is offended, we must never give up the truth to placate the world.

2. If our actions that involve political correctness (to whatever degree we practice it) are not motivated by love, then we are not doing anyone any good (1 Cor. 13:1-3). If we purposively speak politically incorrect, not from teaching the gospel of truth, but in order to push buttons and irritate those with whom we disagree, then we are being divisive and acting in a way that will likely drive people away from Christ.

3. Becoming all things to all men means that we try to understand our times, understand where others are coming from, and purposively act in a way that points them to Christ. There may be matters of PC that we personally dislike, but if it is not sinful, and if it helps to provide more opportunities for teaching about Jesus, then we should, in such cases, act lovingly and speak without trying to offend. The gospel makes people Christians, not Americans, so if our motivation is just to act like patriotic Americans, and in that process become unnecessarily offensive, we have missed the point that we are citizens of a much greater kingdom that takes precedence (Phil. 3:20-21).

4. If the PC issue is not a matter of moral or spiritual necessity, then what is our purpose for being stubborn about particular terminology? If someone is offended by being called a certain term, for example, and it really boils down to a preference, then why would we purposively keep speaking offensively? That is just being obnoxious, not spiritual.

5. We should always consider the wisdom of speaking in a manner that is not offensive to others, given the other caveats above. We are told to speak with grace, to act with wisdom, to respond appropriately to each person. If we know something is offensive and yet doesn’t violate the above principles, then wisdom tells us to be gracious about it. Give up what is offensive if possible. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

The goal, as always, is to glorify God. Seek the wisdom of His word, and let the biblical principles guide us in how we act toward the world.

— via Bulletin Articles of the Vestavia church of Christ, September 11, 2016
——————–

architect

-2-

Counting the Costs
Carey Scott

Anything that is of value will cost something. It will be money or time or some sort of effort on our part. An education will take time and money and lots of effort. A marriage will be successful with the same ingredients along with love, devotion, and understanding. Operating a successful business requires the same ingredients. Most people understand this and willingly apply these things to whatever they choose to do. But we want to consider what salvation and Christianity will cost us in simple terms, and we will encourage you to make the right choice.

Becoming a Christian may cost us something in our human relationships. Jesus must come first and be more important than even our family and closest relationships. While those relationships are important, we cannot allow those ties to keep us from serving God. Obedience to the gospel can cause a strain on a relationship, because the elements of such relationship have changed. While one may be desiring to serve God, a loved one may not choose to do so. If you want your loved one saved, you may have to put a lot of effort to bring them to Christ, and we know that many people are not interested in spiritual matters, and they may choose a different path. Some people have been shunned by their entire families, and in some cultures, have been killed for leaving their former belief system.

It could cost us financially to become a Christian. There are many ways to make money, and it seems like the most lucrative professions are also the most sinful ones as well. Many people are not willing to become paupers for the cause of Christ. They enjoy their luxury and their excess. Christians are giving people, and that does not limit their giving to the contribution plate passed on Sunday. The Bible tells us anytime we see a need, we should help with whatever ability or resources or money we have. We should give as we have been prospered, because we are concerned for the work of the church in the local area. We should want to participate and support activities that could help others get to heaven.

It may cost us something as Christians to stand firm for the truth. There have been times when the truth was preached, that the preacher lost his life. Stephen’s preaching of the gospel angered the Jews, and they stoned him. The early church suffered persecution (even death) at the hands of those who had been given the word of God, but failed to recognize the grace of God of the gospel. Today, it is not much different. Many people hate it when a preacher points out their sins. And you don’t have to be a preacher to tell someone they are wrong in something, they will still despise you for saying so.

Following Christ will cost us our own selfish will. We are to become new creatures with new desires and new goals. We learn that we are not as important as we think we are, and that we should treat others as more important than ourselves. One might look at all the vices that are offered in this world and think that they have to miss out on all the fun. Well, the reality is that the moments’ pleasures usually have consequences that are often hard to bear. To party in excess usually ends up in hangovers and throwing up, and feeling bad all day, not to mention realizing some of the stupid things one did, and who they might have hurt or killed in their drunken stupor. One might think that using foul, vulgar language makes one popular, but only with a group that chooses that kind of language. In all, the cost of discipleship is very high, but extremely worth it.

— Via The Elon Challenger, January 2017, Volume 14, Number 5
——————–

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesian 3:20,21, NASB).
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

We were sorry to hear of the sudden passing of Brian Keith Corbitt (with whom Cheryl had been married for 31 years). He was only 53 years old. Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember all his family and friends in prayer.

An update on Camp Tatum made Friday says that “Yesterday’s scans were the worst news we’ve gotten so far. … Camp’s MRI was showing so much disease in his brain and spine that they didn’t even do the lumbar puncture. … What we saw on the scans was new tumors everywhere that the spinal fluid flows. They are surrounding his brain, in the fluid-filled spaces in his brain and along his spine.” Pain and headaches have been getting worse for him. Let us also continue to pray for this young child and his family.

I (Tom Edwards) saw a doctor recently about a hernia problem that had started getting worse these last few months, and will soon be having a CT Scan to better determine the condition.

Also for prayers: Shirley Davis, the Medlocks (Bennie, Deborah, Penny, and James), Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Kelli Fleeman, Jim Lively, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Ray Richards, and Mary Vandevander
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)