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
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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
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“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
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“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You” (Psalm 25:21).
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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
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“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1, NASB).
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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
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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).
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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)

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