The Gospel Observer (February 19, 2017)

Contents:

1) Readiness of Mind (L.A. Stauffer)
2) The Best is Yet to Be! (Tommy Thornhill)
3) News & Notes
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Readiness of Mind
L.A. Stauffer

After the apostle Paul departed from the city of Thessalonica, he left behind a few believers, but the Jews in general had closed their minds to the message that “Jesus is the Christ.” These Jews had access in their synagogue to scrolls of Old Testament scriptures. Paul preached from these scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins and arose from the dead to prove He is the Messiah the prophets of their nation had anticipated for centuries. Although a few men of that city believed, a host of rabble rousers closed their minds, refused to countenance such an idea, stirred up persecution against the saints, and forced the apostle to “get out of town” late one night (see Acts 17:1-9).

Paul made his way some 50 miles down the road to the city of Berea. Again, as was his custom, Paul entered a synagogue of the Jews and began the same process over — alleging and demonstrating from the Old Testament scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. The apostle found among these Jews open and receptive hearts — men who honestly and eagerly examined the scriptures Paul read in their midst. Luke tells us that these men of Berea not only received Paul’s teaching, but they daily examined the scriptures to determine “whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

When Luke commends the nobility of these Bereans, he made specific note not only of their study habits but also their “readiness of mind” (Acts 17:11). This attitude was prerequisite and fundamental to their willingness to examine and study the scriptures daily. The word “readiness” combines a preposition “before” and the word “mind” to describe the mindset of the Bereans before their study of the scriptures even began. The “mind” is essential to man’s examination or study of the scriptures, but its “before” condition determines whether that study ever takes place. The mind, as the Greek word suggests, must be “ready.”

The minds of the Jews at Berea, as Jews everywhere, were conditioned by scripture to anticipate at some point in their history the arrival of a Messiah — an anointed savior. Hundreds, even thousands, of years had passed since the first prophecies of the coming Messiah and many Jews had become lethargic and indifferent about its prospects. Others were so misinformed that Jesus didn’t fit the pattern of their thinking and was dismissed as perverse and false.

The Bereans, however, were different. They were both excited about the claim and the scriptures that proved it. When Paul unrolled the scrolls of the Old Testament writings and announced Jesus as the Messiah, their minds were “ready,” “eager,” and “prepared” to examine the prophecies and Paul’s application of them to Jesus.

Would it not be wonderful today if every one of us who claim to be Christians was this eager to grow in Bible knowledge and Christ-like character? If we were, we would daily open our Bibles, examine verses and chapters, and answer a few simple questions that are designed to prepare our hearts for Sunday and Wednesday Bible studies and our lives for eager service in God’s kingdom.

Think, brethren, how much each of us would grow in wisdom and stature with God; think of the knowledge and strength we would gain in preparation for living in an ungodly world of sin; think of the deepened faith we would have in God and in His word; think of the love and care we would begin to show one another; and think of the zeal and enthusiasm we would have to teach sinners.

When Bereans had this kind of mind, God called them “noble” — a word that means of “high rank.” That’s who we’d be in God’s kingdom. Not only an “elect race,” a “holy nation,” a “royal priesthood,” but also “noble citizens” ranking high in the mind of God. How special would that be, brethren?

— Via The Auburn Beacon,  May 22, 2016
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The Best is Yet to Be!
Tommy Thornhill

I don’t know of how you, the readers, look at life, but I always try to look at things with the attitude that THE BEST IS YET TO BE. Being optimistic about the future is certainly better than looking back at the way things were. This view gives me a reason for being happy in a sin-sick world, but not in the way this world thinks of being happy.

Our nation’s founding fathers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that the pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable right” of mankind.  Since then it seems that people have taken it for granted that being happy is their God-given right, regardless of how it is gained. They want to be happy but most never attain true happiness for they don’t know where to find it. They think it is found in the things of this world. But John tells us we are not to “love the world or the things in the world …the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it” (1 John 2:15-17). The word “lust” means desire, and is generally condemned as “inordinate affections.” Even if the things some desire in this world are not sinful, they are at best still temporary. So, in the end those who seek happiness in the things of this world will have to say, like Solomon, “all is vanity, and a striving after wind” (Eccl. 1:14). Those who seek happiness in serving God and doing His will are the truly happy ones. They know there will be a better world to come.

A man, lying on his death bed, was surrounded by his family. They were grieving over his impending departure from this life. While waiting for the inevitable, he says to them, “Don’t worry about me, the best is yet to be.” Why could he say this? Because he was a Christian with “a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3-5; Phil 3:20-21). He understood how and why he had lived his life. Like Paul, he had committed his soul to God for safe keeping  (2 Tim. 1:12). He knew his experiences in life, good and bad, were only temporary, so he had used his time to prepare for the better life to come (2 Cor. 4:16-18). He knew the best was yet to come and was looking forward to it with optimism.

One with this view is truly a “blessed man” (Jas. 1:12). Many simply translate the word “blessed” (Gk.   makarious)  as  happy.  They view the word with human understanding.  They think to be blessed means power, wealth, sensual pleasure, etc.  Others see the word “blessed” with a sanctimonious flavor, as a technical word of theology, i.e. such as being blessed by some religious ritual performed by a reverend, rabbi, priest, or maybe the Pope.  Such thinking obscures its deeper meaning.  As used in the NT, one that is blessed has gained the highest happiness a human being can enjoy in this world. It is the state of spiritual and moral prosperity that people share only in Christ.

Jesus used the word nine times in what is referred to as the beatitudes of Matt. 5:3-12, where He describes the truly “blessed” (happy) man. John, in his Revelation letter also records seven beatitudes of the blessed ones, Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14.  The ones who possess spiritual happiness do not depend on the ever-changing conditions in the world. The blessings can only be lost if one chooses to change his mind toward God. The blessed man, knowing the best is yet to be, is an eternal optimist.

So, how does the optimist know the best is yet to be? Because he places his trust in God, who  is  always faithful: 1 Cor. 1:9; Heb. 6:18; 10:23; 1 Pet. 4:19. This faithful God will sustain those who trust Him: Ps. 37:23-40; Phil. 4:11-12.  This belief allows one to be content and satisfied, not in life’s circumstances but in his attitude — that regardless of life’s outcome it will be better later. To such people, peace of mind and joy in life is not dependent on material things. They trust God to make things right in His time. They know the best is yet to be because God said so.

Such optimism will make your life richer. Why? Because the Christian knows things the world do not.

1. The optimistic Christian knows that when this physical body returns to the dust after death, we will be clothed with a better one (Read 2 Cor. 5:1-ff). “For we KNOW that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens…” So, the best is yet to be.

2. The optimistic Christian knows that by trusting God things will work out for good, even though it seems impossible at the time — Rom. 8:28: “And we KNOW that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” So, the best is yet to be.

3. The optimistic Christian has no doubt about the security of his soul (2 Tim. 1:12).  “…I am not ashamed, for I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.”

Yes, the best is yet to be because the one who has been saved in faithful obedience has this promised salvation, promised by God: “…kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

Without an optimistic attitude you will be content with mediocrity, just drifting along with no goal in life. Your life will be one of fear, insecurity and hopelessness. But by being optimistic, thinking the best is yet to be, you will have much better outlook on life. You will have something to believe in. You will have a sense of direction in life providing you with a goal (reason) to live. You will have a spirit of expectancy that it will be better later. This is your anchor for life (Rom 8:24-25; Heb. 6:19).

— Via The Old Hickory Bulletin, February 5, 2017, Volume 37, Number 6
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News & Notes

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

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Evann Michelle Todd who passed away February 12, following a sudden illness.  She was only 25 and the daughter of Michael and Holley Todd of Waycross.

We are glad to report that the biopsy R.J. Evans recently had, concerning something that a CT scan had detected on the right side of his throat and beneath where his removed tonsil had been, turned out to show that he is cancer free!

Doyle Rittenhouse has been having back trouble, and his wife Joyce recently sprained her foot.

Shirley Davis’ eye surgery went well last Thursday.  She will be returning to her doctor in a couple weeks for a checkup.  She is also still waiting to find out more on a knee replacement, which will take care of the pain she has continually been having for months.

We are glad that Melontine Davis is now better from her bout with illness that had lasted several weeks.

Kelli Fleeman has been doing well.  Her cancer, which she had received treatments for, has been in remission; and she continues with checkups every three months.

The Hoboken church of Christ, at 5101 W. Main Street, Hoboken, GA, will be having a singing this Saturday (2/25) from 4-6 p.m. and will be using the Hymns for Worship songbook.

There will be a Gospel Meeting at the North Valdosta church of Christ March 5-10 with Danny Roberts as the guest speaker.  Services for Sunday will be at 9,10, & 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. for Monday through Friday.  The church meets at 4313 North Valdosta Road in Valdosta, Georgia.

Let us also continue to remember Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Charles Crosby, Tanya Terrones, Jim Lively, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney, Randall and Linda Hickox, and Ray Richards

We want to thank Myrna Jordan for putting together the new church directory for us!  Thank you, Myrna!
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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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The Gospel Observer (February 12, 2017)

Contents:

1) Biblical Depth and Beauty (Doy Moyer)
2) Find a Storm Shelter! (anonymous)
3) News & Notes
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Biblical Depth and Beauty
Doy Moyer

I have been a Bible student for the greater part of my life. I have been preaching the gospel for nearly 30 years now. I have been teaching courses at a collegiate level for over a dozen of those years. I don’t say any of this to brag, as none of that proves a thing. I say it to make a confession. There are days when, during my Bible study, I think to myself, “Where have I been? Why didn’t I see that before? How could I have been so blind here?” In other words, I feel like I’m just now finally waking up sometimes to the depth and beauty of Scripture. The truth is, I’ve been feeling this way for … well a long time. The more I study, the more I feel it.

There is a depth and beauty to Scripture that can easily be missed, depending on how we are reading it and what our goals are when we read. I’ll be reading along and a line from a well-known movie hits me:

“You’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally!” Yeah, I have a real problem with that.

We might have a tendency to read the Bible in some strict linear fashion. We read from Genesis to Revelation and tell the story, and this is necessary. Yet how often do we read while failing to make connections between passages and concepts? We may see a flat-line story without seeing the layers of connections of ideas that are interwoven throughout. The Bible is not just a linear story. It is an interwoven tapestry filled with layers and webs of beautiful patterns. If a written text can be said to be 3-D, Scripture is that! We need to put our glasses on so we can see its depth leaping off the pages. It’s there if we’ll see it.

Scripture is filled with relationships of concepts. Types and antitypes, shadows and substance, are staples of understanding the importance of connections. For example, “For Christ our passover has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7) is a beautiful statement of pattern and connection. The book of Hebrews is filled with it and cannot be understood without seeing this. The book of Revelation’s connections back to the Old Testament are grand and exploding with meaning. The way that the New Testament quotes the Old Testament adds a depth that we might easily miss (e.g., “Out of Egypt I have called My Son,” Matt 2:15); it is certainly a challenging study. Over and over, we find fulfillment of both prophecy and concept. The biblical story is told many ways and through many images, from the Garden, to the Exodus, the Temple, the holy city of Jerusalem and more, finding masterful fulfillment in Christ. There is a great joy of discovery when we see these connections and begin understanding the depth at which these connections are made. This is one reason why Bible study should never become cold, lifeless, or boring. If we are bored with Bible study, we haven’t turned our minds on yet.

I believe that the beauty and depth of Scripture is part of God’s inspiration. Failing to see some of this depth is part of the reason, I am convinced, that people end up rejecting Scripture. People might take passages, read them flatly, and conclude some kind of contradiction or problem, when, in reality, they are missing the depth of what the passages are teaching because they draw hasty conclusions without putting much thought into it.

For example, many times I see a critic of Scripture, in somewhat of a mocking tone, try to discount the Bible by making some flippant remark how ridiculous it is to follow the Bible when it contains commands about not mixing fabrics together. If they know where the reference is, they seldom know anything about the context of the passage, the covenants, or the greater issues involved. They see a flat-line order that sounds silly on the surface, and they run with that impression.

“You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together” (Lev 19:19).

Reading it flatly, and without further consideration, one can think how senseless this sounds. If we even read Leviticus, how often would we skim over a passage like this and just think, “That’s weird, but, oh well, that’s part of the Law”? We must think deeper. One of the points that is easily missed is that God was teaching an overall culture of holiness and pure-minded devotion. One of the ways that He got people to think about that was through physical and visible reminders, even in their daily, mundane activities. Through engaging in actions that forced their minds toward the ideas of cleanness, holiness, not mixing with the unholy, pagan people of the land, they would be more inclined to remember how important it was to remain faithful always. Not mixing materials was a daily reminder, even in the way they constructed and wore their clothes, to stay pure, unmixed with sin, and faithful to God. It would be like our putting Bible sticky notes on mirrors and refrigerators as reminders that no matter where we are or what we are doing, we are to be holy and pure. Being a child of God encompasses all areas of life, including how business is conducted, how work is done, and how we do our mundane activities. There may even be more, but the point is that a passage like this, flatly read, is boring and silly. Seen in its greater context and message, it is brilliantly reminding God’s people how overarching holiness was to be in their lives. It wasn’t so much about the fabric as much as it was about the lesson derived from the process and the action. I even find it intriguing that this comes on the heels of the second-greatest commandment.

Of course, there are cautions. We don’t want to overdo it. I’m not saying that one has to be some super intellect to study and understand. Nor am I arguing that we should try to see phantom connections or start allegorizing everything. Not at all. Scripture makes the connections, shows the contexts, and leads us to draw the conclusions. Our task is to see them, not to invent things for the sake of novelty.

Bible study is to be a careful undertaking, not a hasty effort that requires little thought or sound exegesis. Such hasty efforts lead not only to poor understanding and bad interpretation, they can lead to rejection of Scripture altogether. Flat-line Bible reading contributes to flat-line spirituality. If people are bored with Scripture, they’ll be bored with their “religion.”

Let’s open our eyes and see the beauty and the depth of God’s word, and prepare to be amazed!

— Via Mind Your Faith, December 23, 2014
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Find a Storm Shelter!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Into each life some rain must fall.”

Rain may fall gently at times; however, it also falls furiously in times of storm. In our lives, there are many types of storms — physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc. — and they all vary in size and intensity. Storms are the common lot of all. Where can we turn when the storms of life rage?

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Into every life, sooner or later, the rains descend, the floods come, and the winds blow and beat. For one man the “house” of his life falls in ruins, while for another it stands secure. The difference lies, not in the intensity of the storm, but in the power to withstand its fury. The power to withstand the storms of life depends upon the foundation of one’s life.

In Jesus’ teaching, the house of the wise man withstood the storm because his house was built upon the rock. And who is the wise man? The wise man is one who hears the words of Jesus and does them (v. 24). Jesus assures us that no matter what storms may arise, obedience to Him is the only sure foundation on which to build our lives – lives that will withstand the test of time AND the Judgment to follow.

One begins building upon the Rock through faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Acts 17:30-31), and immersion into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Then, one must continue to build his “house” — his life — on the Rock by continuing to hear and to obey the words of Jesus and His inspired apostles.

In the words of the beloved hymn, “There Stands a Rock”:

“Some build their hopes on the ever-drifting sand,
Some on their fame or their treasure or their land;
Mine’s on the Rock that forever shall stand,
Jesus, the Rock of Ages.”

— Via Bulletin Fodder
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News & Notes

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

Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Makenli Christine Martin who passed away just one week prior to her 5th birthday.  She is the daughter of Hunter and Vanessa Martin, and what a remarkable little girl she had been!  Her obituary says that “She came into this world under strained conditions, involving a very high-risk pregnancy. But, she did not let that slow her down at all. Makenli walked early, talked early, and began singing at the same time. She had perfect pitch and an incredible memory. Makenli could quote nearly the entire Disney movie Frozen at two years of age, songs and script. … Bible Class was one of her favorite times of the week. She loved talking about God and had lots of questions about Him. Now, she has all the answers. She contracted a rare strain of E. coli and fought valiantly against it until God rescued her and took her to be with him, surrounded by her loving family.”

Malakai Martin (Makenli’s brother), who is now sick, can also use the prayers of the saints.

We also extend our condolences to the family and friends of Earnest Lee Medlock (James’ brother of Albany, Georgia) who passed away recently at the age of 82.  He had been the father of 11 children.

Jim Lively had a spot about the size of a half dollar removed Thursday from the side of his face and is now waiting on the pathology report.

Melontine Davis has been sick with the flu.

Doyle Rittenhouse is having trouble with his back.  It has been a reoccurring problem for him over the years.

R.J. Evans recently had a CT scan that detected something on the right side of his throat and beneath where his removed tonsil had been.  Both his doctor and oncologist have advised him to have a biopsy to determine whether there is a malignancy and the best method of treatment.  R.J. writes, “Your continued prayers are appreciated.”

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Kelli Fleeman, Charles Crosby, Tanya Terrones, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Randall and Linda Hickox, 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)





The Gospel Observer (February 5, 2017)

Contents:

1) The Christian is a Spiritual Optimist (W. Frank Walton)
2) News & Notes
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The Christian is a Spiritual Optimist
W. Frank Walton

Do you consider your basic outlook in life as an optimist or a pessimist?

Optimism is defined as: “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome” or “the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary). Pessimism is defined: “the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcome, results, conditions, problems, etc.” and also “the belief that the evil and pain in the world are not compensated for by goodness and happiness” (ibid).

A pessimist will try to justify their pessimism by saying, “I’m just a realist.” I counter this by an optimist is a “constructive realist,” who doesn’t ignore problems but always sees good potential or possibilities. A pessimist sees more limiting problems than opportunities. I believe the Bible teaches that you cannot be a strong believer in God and be a spiritual pessimist.

The 10 spies that discouraged the Israelites from entering Canaan were spiritual pessimists! They saw obstacles (strong and giant Canaanites with heavily fortified cities) instead of opportunities of faith to trust God’s power to take the land (Num 13:28-33). They said, “We are not able…they are too strong for us!” Their pessimistic outlook caused them to negatively exaggerate reality and see themselves as tiny, weak grasshoppers. Such negativity bred pessimistic grumbling and a defeatist attitude among the people (Num 14:2-4). They wanted to “play it safe” and regress, instead of make progress.

Yet, Caleb and Joshua were spiritual optimists! They lifted their outlook to take Almighty God into account! “We shall surely overcome it….If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us….Do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us” (Num 13:30; 14:8,9). Spiritual optimism thinks, “The odds don’t count if God is on our side! God is greater than any obstacle we face.”

Although we may have different personality types and innate dispositions, our personality traits are molded and uplifted by Biblical faith, hope and love.

1. Optimistic Faith in God. In 1 Samuel 17, young David had optimistic faith in God. He confidently believed he could defeat Goliath, the Philistines’ giant champion who dared one Israelite to fight him. “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God” (1 Sam 17:36). Yet, King Saul’s army was filled with spiritual pessimists in facing Goliath’s challenge. They were “dismayed” and “afraid” to take him on (1 Sam 17:10-11,24). This pall of negativity had Saul telling David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him” (1 Sam 17:33). Their pessimism thought Goliath was too big to hit, while David’s optimistic faith believed he was too big to miss. Remember, “can’t” never accomplished anything.

Yet, we’re thrilled to hear of David’s optimistic faith in the face of a threatening giant: “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam 17:46-47). The faith of David, who “became mighty in battle” (Heb 11:32,34), is enshrined in faith’s hall of fame to help motivate us to grow in optimistic faith. David believed the odds don’t count if God is on your side.

A spiritual optimist will believe and rely on the Scriptures that encourage us to have unlimited confidence in the power and promises of God. “With God, all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). The believer can do great things through God: “All things are possible to him who believes…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Mk 9:23; Phil 4:13). We serve the true and living God who has infinite power: “Nothing shall be impossible with God” (Lk 1:3). Although there are a multitude of many more such scriptures that would choke the most stubborn pessimist, we can raise our belief level by looking away from our limitations and looking up to Almighty God in optimistic faith!

We all have menacing giants to face, like worldly temptation, religious false doctrine, stubborn problems and discouraging obstacles. Yet, optimistic faith in God confidently believes they can be defeated! We believe God’s message of saving souls by preaching the everlasting gospel can work today just as it did in the first century. We believe if Jesus can change our lives for the better, that He can do the same for others. We believe God’s plan of reaching the world through autonomous churches of Christ can work. God’s plan will work if we will work God’s plan.

2. Optimistic Love for Others. We learn the power of love from our amazing, loving God (1 Jn 4:7-8). Love for others is sacrificial goodwill, to always act in another’s best interest. A spiritual optimist will believe that love is the most powerful force in the world. It can change bitter relations into better ones. “Love…believes all things, bears all things, hopes all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:7-8). Love for others will believe the best, not the worst. Love will not grow cynical or bitter, but will endure others’ faults to achieve, in love, a higher good for them.

When Jesus died on the cross, his costly sacrifice seemed to be mostly unappreciated. Yet, His loving sacrifice has drawn sinful men to God through the years, just as He predicted (Jn 12:32). His example will motivate us to act with such optimistic love (1 Jn 3:16-18). Christ-like love can heal relationships. Love can encourage others to do better. Love can turn conflict into a constructive learning experience.

3. Optimistic Hope for the Future. People often commit suicide because they feel, based on current circumstances, that life isn’t worth living. In despair, they want to escape overwhelming burdens and the discouraging futility of “hopeless” situations. The optimistic Christian, despite the current outlook in the valley of depression, will hang on to God’s vision of hope.

Hope is confident expectation in the future promises of God. Through the gospel of Christ, we are assured that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18). The hope of forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice tells us God has invested a fortune to bring us safely to His eternal home. Hence, “we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19). Hope lifts our outlook past the storms of life with our current problems. Whatever pain or perplexity we face, they will one day pass away in the clear, unclouded day of eternity. Hope anchors us to an eternal perspective. As C. S. Lewis observed, “All that is not connected to eternity is eternally out of date.”

— Via the Auburn Beacon, August 15, 2010, Volume 1, Issue 42
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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
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News & Notes

Let those of us who can pray include the following in our prayers:

Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Makenli Christine Martin who passed away just one week prior to her 5th birthday.  She is the daughter of Hunter and Vanessa Martin, and what a remarkable little girl she had been!  Her obituary says that “She came into this world under strained conditions, involving a very high-risk pregnancy. But, she did not let that slow her down at all. Makenli walked early, talked early, and began singing at the same time. She had perfect pitch and an incredible memory. Makenli could quote nearly the entire Disney movie Frozen at two years of age, songs and script. … Bible Class was one of her favorite times of the week. She loved talking about God and had lots of questions about Him. Now, she has all the answers. She contracted a rare strain of E. coli and fought valiantly against it until God rescued her and took her to be with him, surrounded by her loving family.”

Malakai Martin (Makenli’s brother), who is now sick, can also use the prayers of the saints.

Penny Medlock was taken to the ER Friday, due to terrible pain in her right inner ear.  She had also been suffering with an infection in the side of her face, sinuses, and throat and has been put on a stronger dose of antibiotics, along with steroids and pain medicine. She will be seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist Monday.

Shirley Davis was told by her doctor last Tuesday that he wants her to wait two more months before having the knee surgery, to be sure.  Her knee keeps slipping out and in; and she is concerned about falling, which could lead to even more serious damage.  Her diabetes also puts her at more risk.  Later this month, she will be having eye surgery, due to a cornea problem.

Melotine Davis has not been well the last couple weeks.

Cheryl Crews, a former member where I preached in Baton Rouge, is back in the hospital with pneumonia and was immediately put on antibiotics.  It was just last December when she was in the hospital in critical condition, in which it was needful to keep her sedated in an unconscious state, while having her on a breathing ventilator and giving her dialysis.

Charles Crosby is still having some pain, following his recent knee replacement, but making some improvement.

Tanya Terrones saw her doctor last Tuesday for the sciatic pain she has been having.  The treatment gave her some relief, but has not eliminated all the pain.

Andy Head is now back home.  The cause for his infectious disease has not yet been determined.

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.

Randall Hickox has asked to be on our prayer list.  He had surgery a while back to remove his prostate that had 75% cancer.  Also, his wife Linda has been having pain in her feet, due to some type of benign tumors, that limit her walking. 

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Kelli Fleeman, Brianna Mackey, Jim Lively, 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)