The Gospel Observer (March 26, 2017)

Contents:

1) Remembering the Past (David Watson)
2) Futile Figuring (Dan Shipley)
3) News & Notes
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Remembering the Past
David Watson

The past can be a painful reminder.  Everyone has moments in their past that they regret and wish could be forgotten.  Bad decisions, relationships, and mistakes pour bitter memories on our hearts and sometimes leave us with festering wounds that take years, or even a lifetime, to heal.  It is these memories and feelings that, for the average person, force us to spend the rest of our lives trying to avoid the memory of these mistakes.

Yet on a more positive side of things, there are memories that bring us just as much joy as the bad memories bring us pain.  When we think back on these moments we can’t help but smile, and feelings of refreshment — whether they be thankfulness, warmth, comfort, or the like — fill our hearts again, leaving us full and revived.

In spite of the agonizing memory of our spiritual mistakes or the revitalizing nature of our sweetest spiritual moments, there often comes a point in our Christian walk in which we become somewhat comfortable, maybe even passive, in our relationship with Christ.  Over time, we become used to the message of the cross and comfortable with its call and conditions.  This is not far from what the church at Ephesus was experiencing.  Though written after the book of Ephesians, Revelation says this concerning the Ephesian church: “…I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).  A similar appeal is seen by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians when he says, “Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh, were without Christ… having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:11-13).

What is the value of remembering where we have come from?  What is the value of ruminating on the past?  Although at one time Paul did emphasize his efforts to forget his past of devout commitment to Judaism and the law (Phil. 3:13), both Paul and Jesus wanted the Ephesians to remember their past for a reason.  Notice Paul’s appeal to the Ephesians.  In the midst of an effort to motivate these brethren to “walk worthy of the calling” (Eph. 4:1), Paul feels it necessary to remind the Ephesians where they came from.  Their past was nothing short of despair, illustrated by Paul’s identification of them as “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) and “by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (2:3).  This alone didn’t serve as a sufficient reminder, seeing as how Paul continues to remind them that they were “without Christ” and had “no hope” and were “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12) prior to their obedience to Him.

Why would such bitter memories and descriptions of their past be beneficial to the Ephesians in their current state?  Though some would consider this to be counterintuitive, there is wisdom found here.  Consider yourself for a moment – as suggested earlier, have you ever felt comfortable, or passive, in your walk with Christ?  Have you felt as if your drive to obey was weak and your motivation to please Him was lacking or even nonexistent?  Forgetting where we came from in our relationship with Christ is as harmful as not calling to mind everything our parents or mentors did for us in our childhood/formidable years.  To forget our weakness without them is to forget the blessing of having them.  When we call to mind where we once were without Christ — dead, without hope, and without God — there is a sobriety that ought to overwhelm us.  A sobriety brought on by the remembrance of our horrible and sinful past.  Yet this does not leave us empty handed.  As was the case with the Ephesians, these same memories ultimately lead us to a remembrance of the warmth, comfort and thankfulness we ought to feel in Christ.

While observing Paul’s appeal to remember our sins in Ephesians 2 is beneficial for rededication to Christ, Christ’s appeal in Revelation 2:4-5 adds an element to our rededication to Him.  “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (Rev. 2:5).  Though our passivity toward Christ can come from a lack of remembrance of our sinful and desperate state, there is a degree to which when we forget “our first love,” we become lukewarm.  Just as a remembrance of the sweetest moments of our lives overwhelms us with feelings of happiness, so ought our remembrance of His love do the same.  Simply remembering our sinful past does nothing more for us than bring back painful memories, but when coupled with the love of Christ, it can motivate us to “walk worthy” again.  After Paul brought back their memories of their former state, he reminded the Ephesians of what God did for them in spite of it: “even when we were dead in trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6).  Often when we feel passive about Christ, we have forgotten who He is – our first love!  When we call to mind what our first love has done for us in spite of our sins, we ought to be motivated to repentance and rededication to Him —“remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.”

Yes, remembering our past can be a painful thing.  But with Christ, it can be something beautiful and healing.  Take the time to remember where you came from, and if need be, from where you have fallen.  If these memories touch you, then repentance will follow, and all that will be left is a rededication to your first love.

— Via articles from the Eastside church of Christ, Athens, Alabama
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Futile Figuring
Dan Shipley

“Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21, 22).

There are times when it is best to forget the arithmetic. One such time, as Jesus implies here, is when it involves extending forgiveness. Since God will not forgive the unforgiving (Matt. 6:14,15), any limitations imposed on man’s showing mercy would also limit his receiving it. The parable introduced by Peter’s question makes this very point. Like the unmerciful servant, every Christian has received infinitely more than he could ever pay out in the coin of forgiveness. Why, then, this business of score keeping? Why taint mercy with a spirit of reluctance? Where mercy is needed, counting is criminal. The important thing is not “how many,” but to forgive from a truly merciful heart (Matt. 18:35).

Another time when “How many?” becomes a needless is when it is applied to the number who will be saved. An inquirer apparently had this in mind when asking Jesus, “Lord, are they few that are saved?” (Lk. 13:23). Without involving Himself in the arithmetic of the matter, Jesus shows at once where the concern should be: “Strive to enter…” The important thing is what about ME? — and whether I am striving to enter. The business of saving self (Acts 2:40) deserves priority because that’s where we can do most. Only with a striving ME can we help the few to be many. A similar, but equally fruitless, concern of some involves itself with how many will be in heaven (not the same, with them, as how many will be saved). They wrongly envision a whole host of saved dwelling in an earthly kingdom, but only 144,000 making up the “little flock” of priests and kings in heaven. Again, the important thing is my striving, but for what? — certainly not a glorified earth-bound existence! The only eternal abode of the saved is in heaven. That is where the inheritance of the righteous is reserved (1 Pet. 1:4); that is where our hope is laid up (Col. 1:5); and that is where Jesus has gone (1 Pet. 3:22) to prepare a place in which the redeemed can be with Him (Jn. 14:2,3). Its inhabitants are not limited by a fixed decree of God, but only by a striving by faith to do His will from the heart (Matt. 7:21).

Yet another area of futile figuring concerns the time of Christ’s return. Some have been so bold as to set specific dates, the coming of which did not bring Christ, but only frustration and disappointment. Yet, in spite of such failures, “wiser” ones keep on figuring and letting us in on what the Lord said no man or angel could know (Matt. 24:36). The important thing is that He is coming, not when! What difference should that make to the faithful? Admittedly, our time IS short! — not because we know Christ is coming soon, but because we will be leaving soon! But for now, God’s longsuffering continues. The time is too short for idle pursuits and hindering speculations. We must look carefully to how we live — and be wise, redeeming the time.

— Via Plain Talk, February 1980, Vol. XVI, No. XII, Pg. 3
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News & Notes

The prayers of the saints will be appreciated for the following:

Jim Lively was admitted to the hospital on the 20th and is still there.  Seven of the prescriptions he had been on had each produced dizziness, so Jim is now on some different medications and already noticing an improvement; but it might be a few weeks before it results in a more thorough change to his system!

Misty Thornton completed her testing in Jacksonville last week.  She writes, “I have the all clear with my gastric bypass doctor and all of my numbers look super awesome. With the exception of possible B12 deficiency and potassium deficiency.  So I will start B12 immediately and then potassium in different forms…”

Shirley Arnold (Mary Vandevander’s room mate in the nursing home) has a condition that hinders her from eating.  A recent trial medication for 7 days had good results; but after running out, she has been back to not eating again for the last several days, while awaiting a similar medication.

Let us also remember in prayer: Lexi Crawford,  Kay Byars, Tanya Terrones, Penny Medlock, La Donna Andrews, Charles Crosby, Mary Vandevander, Shirley Davis, Brianna Mackey,  Billy Lowe, and Tom Haney
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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).
——————–

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 (March 19, 2017)

Contents:

1) Reviving Our Zeal (John R. Gibson)
2) Help, Don’t Hinder (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
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Reviving Our Zeal
John R. Gibson

In recent years, Christians concerned about the danger of becoming sluggish (Heb. 6:11-12), losing their first love (Rev. 2:4-5), or falling into lukewarmness (Rev. 3:15-16) have suggested some radical changes to the collective worship of the local church. Books such as Spilt Grape Juice by Mike Root and Radical Restoration by F. LaGard Smith, along with concepts borrowed from various evangelicals and community church leaders, have had a great impact in a number of places.

In his influential book in which he pushed for radical change, Smith utilized manufactured quotes such as “Not Ritual, but spiritual” and “Not Rules, but righteousness” and attributed them to Jesus (Radical Restoration, p. 22). Some have lampooned their fellow-saints with somewhat humorous statements such as, “Though we sing about ‘standing on the promises,’ we’re really just ‘sitting on the premises.’”  When you add to this the legitimate concerns about complacency among Christians, in many locales a climate necessary to introduce significant change has been established.

What kind of changes are we speaking of? Instead of sitting in rows that face the front, we are urged to turn and face one another in a circle as we sing. It may be suggested that “the mausoleum-like meetinghouse” is holding us back, so we should seek a park in which, in the presence of God’s glorious creation, we may be revived. To make the Lord’s Supper more relevant and meaningful we may be urged to dim the lights or increase the portion sizes of the bread and fruit of the vine. Some have suggested that we would be helped in our observance of the Lord’s Supper by turning to our neighbors and sharing with them our testimony about what the death of Jesus has meant in our lives.

While we should be genuinely concerned about sluggishness and complacency, is the solution really found in these things? Will these genuinely revive our zeal? The truth is that Smith was absolutely correct when he warned that we must not be “quick-fix artists who deal only with the symptoms of our malaise, not the root causes” (Radical Restoration, p. 39). I believe he was also right to say that we must “plunge ourselves with abandon into truly being his people” (Radical Restoration, p. 108)! However, what Smith has ended up doing and what is being proposed by an increasing number of brethren is exactly what Smith warned against doing. When problems of sluggishness and complacency do exist, these are problems of the heart, while the answers being proposed are simply quick-fix, external “solutions” to internal issues.

Read Eph. 5:18-19 and Col. 3:16 carefully and take note of what is said about the externals such as seating, direction we look, etc. Instead of these things which are not mentioned at all, what did the Holy Spirit emphasize? Acceptable worship results from allowing the word to dwell richly in one and making a melody in the thankful heart. While there is nothing inherently wrong with being in a circle, how does that fix the problem if the word of Christ is not dwelling richly in a person? Does looking at other people really instill the necessary grace or thankfulness (ESV and NASB) toward God in our hearts?

While God can be worshiped in a park (John 4:21-24), if the only times we can fully appreciate the greatness and goodness of God are when we are outside enjoying His creation, have we not lost focus? In reality, have we not become focused on self and the things we enjoy rather than on the Almighty who is to be served?

If we read the accounts of Jesus establishing the Lord’s Supper in Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and 1 Cor. 11, what do we learn about the size of the portions to be consumed? Obviously, the answer is nothing, since not a single word is said about it. The amounts of bread and grape juice to be consumed are incidental or we would have been given some instruction in this matter. So, instead of external incidentals, the focus is on our mindset — “in remembrance …. let a man examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:23-29). If we reach the point that it takes dimmed lights and soft music in the background for us to remember the crucifixion of our Lord, it is time to seriously examine ourselves.

But what of the idea that while we are eating the Lord’s Supper, instead of quietly reflecting on the death of Jesus, we need to share with others what that death has meant to us? First, if we read the instructions found in Scripture we find nothing even remotely suggesting the practice. Second, would not my church neighbor be better off considering the inspired testimony of New Testament writers instead of hearing about my subjective experiences? Third, do we not see the potential for confusion when people all over the building (or park) are talking at the same time, even if they are trying to keep their voices down? Wasn’t this addressed in 1 Cor. 14:26-33? Fourth, by what Scriptural authority would women speak during the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 14:34-35)?

Anyone who sees anything in this article as a defense of complacency or lukewarmness will have completely missed the point, for there is no excuse for that. But nowhere in Scripture do we find even a hint that one involved in heartfelt singing with others; quietly reflecting on the Lord’s death; studying God’s word by listening to a teacher; listening so as to be able to say amen to a prayer; et al is being a passive spectator who is merely sitting on the premises. It may not be exciting and exhilarating to some, but it’s what the Bible calls worship.

Certainly there are times when complacency sets in and spiritual renewal is necessary, but the need in such times is for greater internal reflection and not more external manipulation. In such times we need to thoughtfully consider what God has done for us and then obey from the heart. The instructions to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) are to be obeyed and can be obeyed no matter the seating arrangements or the size of the container for the fruit of the vine. When with the rational mind we more deeply appreciate what it means to be in Christ and living with the hope of heaven, then all the externals that some seem so determined to change, even at the cost of dividing brethren, will seem insignificant.

If we have become lukewarm, we don’t need to go to the park; instead we need to “be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

(All quotes from the New King James Version, copyright 1995, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Inc.)

— Via Articles from the Jones Road church of Christ, Athens, Alabama, January 31, 2017
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Help, Don’t Hinder
Greg Gwin

What do you do when you see a fellow Christian make a mistake?  It may be a simple error of judgment, or it could be a more serious blunder – a sin that can potentially send his soul into eternal hell.  What will you do?

Actually there are several options open to you. You could ignore the situation totally. Or you might, in your own mind, ridicule his foolishness.  If you’re a little bolder, you could gossip with others about his error — belittling him as  you do so.  You see, there are a number of things you could do.

But, of course, there is only one thing you should do — there is only one God-ordained course of action.  “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

The fact is that we all need the help, encouragement and strengthening that comes from our brethren.  Sadly, too often we do things that hinder rather than help our brother when he is down.

The next time you are confronted with such a situation, remember that — if you want to please God — your choice is already made. If your brother has made a mistake, there can be no ignoring of the problem, no backbiting gossip, no thoughts of ridicule or humiliation. Go to your brother with the help he needs.  Don’t forget that you are certain to need this kind of help in the future, too!

— Via bulletin articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, September 4, 2016
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News & Notes

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

Lexi Crawford, who is only 16, was diagnosed June 2015 with  RMS (Rhabdomyosarcoma).  Last January, it has again metastasized into her bones.

After being in the hospital since last Monday, Misty Thornton returned home Friday; but she will be having further testing this week.

Though still on oral chemo, Kay Byars’ recent checkup led to some concern.  So she will soon be having a scan performed to better diagnose her condition.

Tanya Terrones had served for 23 years with the military police in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Panama, and had also been to Italy, Egypt, and Thailand.  In the last several years of that time, she had also specialized in domestic violence cases in Washington state.  Migraines for her began in 1998, two weeks after having been inoculated with an anthrax vaccine.  Then in 2004, while serving in Iraq, she was involved in two explosions caused by their vehicle running over an IED, during her war-time tours.  One of those explosions led to a traumatic brain injury.  Since then, her migraines have increased to about 3 to 5 per week.  Due to one of those frequent migraines, she had to cancel both her medical appointments last week that would have involved an MRI and a brain scan.  Rescheduling was made for both.

Penny Medlock had not been doing well, which required seeing her doctor about a change or increase in her medication.

Also to keep in prayer: La Donna Andrews, Charles Crosby, Mary Vandevander, Shirley Davis, Jim Lively, Joyce Rittenhouse, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney, Kelli Fleeman, 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).
——————–

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 (March 12, 2017)

Contents:

1) The Value of Bible Study (Frank Himmel)
2) That You May Not Sin (Heath Rogers)
3) Are You Getting Better? (Greg Gwin)
4) News & Notes
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The Value of Bible Study
Frank Himmel

Years ago I heard someone observe that we too often set aside what is actually more important for what seems more urgent. A ringing telephone illustrates the principle. To be sure, some folks have mastered ignoring telephone rings…to the point that it is hard to get hold of them! But for many, that ring (or notification) demands immediate attention. We will stop whatever we are doing (maybe even worship!) to see who is contacting us.

Is this perhaps one of the reasons we might let an entire day go by without opening a Bible? We know it’s important, but there is so much else going on that calls for our attention. The morning routine is already rushed, days are full of work, evenings bring more work at home or activities elsewhere, and before we know it the day is done.

Take a moment to reflect on the value of Bible study. Surely you will agree it needs to be a part of your day.

The sacred writings are able to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). That is a wisdom that comes from no other source, and it is the best kind of wisdom to have. Being knowledgeable about money or sports or movies or fishing or any other worldly matter won’t be worth a thing on judgment day!

The Scriptures make us complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Moses told ancient Israel, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Without God’s word we are woefully incomplete and ill-equipped for life.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). In our daily interaction with the world we encounter many influences that seek to undermine our faith. We must fortify it, and hearing God’s word is the primary means of doing so.

Treasuring God’s word in our hearts helps us not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). It enables us to know what is and is not sinful. It helps us see through temptation. It reminds us how short-lived sin’s pleasure is and how far-reaching its consequences are.

The things written are for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4). All of us face discouragement from time to time.  Bible study cheers us. It reminds us of our hope. It comforts us with accounts of God’s people of old, seeing the struggles they faced and the outcome of their faith. It puts things back in perspective.

Not knowing the Scriptures results in erroneous thinking (Matthew 22:29). God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. We dare not assume that because we see something a certain way, He sees it that way. Men devise all sort of error. God’s word is truth (John 17:17), the truth that makes us free (John 8:21-32).

The word of God lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:22-25). Men’s judgments and philosophies are constantly changing. Yesterday’s wisdom is today’s folly. This simply proves how little we really know, how foolish we are apart from God. His word, in contrast, is constant. His plan works in all times and places. His way is best. Those who want to adapt the Bible to modern thinking have it just backwards; we must conform our thinking to His timeless revelation.

The words of Jesus will judge us at the last day (John 12:48). In school, we always wanted to know what would be on the final exam; what do we have to know to pass? To successfully pass through the judgment, we must know God’s will, His plan for our salvation, His requirements for our lives. The only place we can learn those things is the Bible. In the end, God’s approval, not man’s, is what matters.

Won’t you make a place for at least a little Bible study each day?

— Via Pathlights, January 17, 2016
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That You May Not Sin
Heath Rogers

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

This passage presents some great truths regarding the blessings that we have in Jesus. For one thing, Jesus is our Advocate with the Father. When we sin, Jesus speaks on our behalf before God as we seek forgiveness. He is a merciful and faithful High Priest, sympathizing with the weaknesses which have resulted in our sin (Heb. 2:17-18, 4:15).

Second, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. A “propitiation” is that which appeases or satisfies. God’s law states that the penalty for sin is death. When Jesus died on the cross, He made a way for God’s righteous law to be satisfied without us having to personally pay the penalty for our own sin (Rom. 3:25-26).

While these are great blessings, I want us to notice the instruction which was given prior to these blessings — “that you may not sin.”

God has made a way for Christians to receive forgiveness for the sins that they commit, but His will is that we not sin. I wonder, how many of us are careless about sin and temptation, feeling as if we are “covered” if we do sin? God’s grace should never be viewed as a license to sin (Rom. 6:1-2,15).  Instead, God’s grace calls us to a higher standard of living (Titus 2:11-12).

Brethren, let us “awake to righteousness, and do not sin…” (1 Cor. 15:34).

— via Articles from the Happy Hill church of Christ
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Are You Getting Better?
Greg Gwin

Here’s a challenge for you: Try to find a single place in the Scriptures where the Lord ever encountered a person and encouraged him to stay as he was. You can’t do it, can you? The Lord always encouraged people to change; to become better than they previously were.

We know, of course, that some were already morally purer than others. For instance, Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God … gave alms liberally … and prayed constantly” (Acts 10:2). But then there were folks like the Corinthians who  had been immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

But, regardless of their existing condition, they had to change. Why? Paul answered that question for us: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

There are too many people who call themselves Christians who have never gotten serious about making changes and improvements in their lives. They still want to act like they used to act, dress like they used to dress, talk like they used to talk, etc.  The heart of the problem may be that we have failed to see ourselves as real sinners.  After all, it is reasoned, we aren’t nearly as bad as many others in our society.

We need to stop deceiving ourselves by such useless comparisons (2 Cor. 10:12).  Unless the stats have changed, it still remains true —  “there is none righteous, no, not one.”  That being the case, we need to be changing — improving — for the Lord.

— via bulletin articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, January 29, 2017
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News & Notes

Let those of us who can pray be praying for the following:

There will be a gospel meeting at the Hoboken church of Christ March 16-19. Services will begin Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m, and Sunday services will begin at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 5:00 p.m.  The guest speaker will be John Gibson from Athens, Alabama. The church meets at 5101 Main Street, Hoboken, Georgia.

Also to keep in prayer: Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Tanya Terrones, Shirley Davis, Charles Crosby, Jim Lively, Misty Thornton, Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse, Lawrence Anthony Montero, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney, Kelli Fleeman, Randall and Linda Hickox, 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)

The Gospel Observer (March 5, 2017)

Contents:

1) “Unless the Lord Watches Over the City…” (Adam Litmar)
2) Arise, Let Us Be Going (Carl McMurray)
3) Drifting Away From the Truth (James Hahn)
4) News & Notes
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“Unless the Lord Watches Over the City”
Adam Litmar

Nahum’s prophetic work is short yet fascinating. He prophesied  about Assyria and specifically its capital city, Nineveh. The book is a sort of “sequel” to Jonah. About a hundred years before Nahum, Nineveh had repented through that prophet’s reluctant preaching. By the time of Nahum, things in Nineveh had gotten so bad that God had determined it was time for them to suffer one of the terrible “days of the Lord.”

A wicked nation suffering God’s vengeful judgment (Nahum 1:2) is certainly not unique to Nahum. We can read of the prophets delivering God’s message of judgment to Edom, Philistia, Moab, Babylon, Egypt, and many others. In the case of Nahum’s prophesy, God seems to take special care to point out that it was when Assyria was at her strongest that He would see her humbled. Nahum 1:12-13 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds apart.”

Truly Assyria was as strong as they were only because God permitted it. Though Assyria had destroyed Israel and provided a constant threat to Judah, God wanted His people to know that He was using the wicked Assyrians as a chastening rod. When Assyrian iniquity became complete, God broke their yoke from off Judah’s neck and burst their bonds apart. The point I want us to get is this: there was nothing Assyria could do about it.

Take a moment to read Nahum 2 (only 13 verses). Did you see all the things Nineveh trusted in? Their walls were strong, their soldiers were mighty, their chariots were many, their officers were skilled, and their wealth was immense. They were described as lions! Yet verse 13 makes the one statement that rendered all of Assyria’s assets useless — “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts.”

When God is against a nation there is no such thing as national security. Nineveh’s wall could have stood a mile high, all of her soldiers could have stood as tall as Goliath, gold and precious metals could have filled the streets for lack of space to store such them, all of her allies could have stood at the gates, her chariots could have numbered in the millions with the most skillful charioteers to man them, all of her horses could have been of the finest stock, and every nation could have trembled in terror beholding her. Yet the simple fact that she made God her enemy doomed her, and all she trusted in for her security was as useless as a miniscule whisper of wind against a mighty oak. Because Nineveh’s security was not based upon God, Nineveh was not secure at all.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Friends, where is your security? Upon what do you base your trust? Jehovah prompted Nineveh to keep her trust where it had been and see the result. In Nahum 3:14 He says, “Draw water for the siege; strengthen your forts; go into the clay; tread the mortar; take hold of the brick mold!”

She had always trusted in her provisions and the strength of her city. Jehovah urged her to keep it up. Grab some water,  gather the material to make bricks, and just keep strengthening that wall. Surely no one could breach it! Surely no one could reach them on the other side! Verse 15 says, “There will the fire devour you; the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like the locust.”

Nineveh’s national security was an illusion, nothing more. She rejected true security and was destroyed because of it. Her destruction was so thorough, so complete, that the location of that once majestic city was not discovered until 1842. Such is the “security” of those who reject God.

— Via University Heights Messenger, February 19, 2017, Volume 9, Number 8
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John15_14
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Arise, Let Us Be Going
Carl McMurray

In Matthew 26:37-46 Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemene preparing Himself for the emotional and physical struggle of the cross. Choosing His three closest disciples and friends, He goes aside to pray and requests that they wait and watch with Him. Jesus is “grieved and distressed to the point of death.” He knows that He is being betrayed and will be put to death in the next 18 hours, and He needs the encouragement of His friends to stand by Him. When He finishes His prayer, He returns to find them sleeping.  After waking them and making request for their watchfulness again, He returns to praying. When finished, once more He finds them asleep. Finally, the third time He comes and finds them sleeping He awakens them with the instruction, “Arise, let us be going…” It appears the time for help and support was now past. I wonder if the disciples ever thought back to these early morning hours and regretted that they had been a disappointment, at least at this time, to one who needed them so badly.

And while I’m reading this passage and considering the thoughtlessness of these “friends” of our Lord, it occurs to me to wonder how often has Jesus needed me, and I ask myself, was I sleeping? When that new person moved into the neighborhood and Jesus needed me to go over and welcome them and invite them to worship, was I sleeping? When my co-worker’s marriage came apart and they were emotionally “grieved and distressed” and needing a sharing heart, was I sleeping? When that last visitor showed up at services with that nervous look of not knowing anyone, did I cross the room to welcome them and invite them to sit with me or was I sleeping?

We might deal harshly with those three disciples because, after all, weren’t they blessed richly by Jesus’ friendship? And I suppose Peter might turn and ask you or me the same thing. Haven’t we been blessed by the Lord? Haven’t our prayers been answered by a friend who is always listening? Haven’t we turned to Jesus time and time again for His help and forgiveness? And how many times has He really needed us … to be there for Him? … to be His friend?

Let’s be determined to be true friends of Jesus. Let us not be overcome by the flesh or by our own weariness. Let’s not wait till it’s past time to hear those words of Christ, to look around and listen to him say, “Arise, let us be going…
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“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1,2, NASB).
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lone sailboat in sunset sea
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Drifting Away From the Truth
James Hahn

The Hebrew writer declared, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them” (ASV – Hebrews 2:1). It is interesting to note that the writer speaks of “drifting” away. The idea of drifting suggests a gradual departure over time. Apostasy usually starts with what many see as a “little” thing that really doesn’t seem to be any “big deal.”  Then another step is taken, and another, until one’s position doesn’t even resemble where he originally started.

Not only have those who do this departed from the truth, but they are ready to oppose teachers of truth who seek their return to truth. When Amos was sent to speak against the idolatry of Israel, Amaziah, a priest of Bethel and friend of king Jeroboam, told Amos, “But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:13).  Rather than heed the truth spoken by Amos, he attacked Amos. Such happens today and reminds me of a quote by George Orwell. He said, “The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

— via Bulletin Articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, February 12, 2017
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“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NASB).
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News & Notes

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

Lawrence Anthony Montero (Bud’s brother) was recently in the hospital, due to a TIA (mini stroke), and had been experiencing some numbness, along with high blood pressure.  Tests were run.  He was given medication, is now doing better, was released, and will be seeing his doctor in a few days.

It was good to recently hear that the spot removed from the side of Jim Lively’s face was non-malignant.

Charles Crosby was back in the hospital Tuesday, due to a hematoma in his knee that was increasing scare tissue around his knee replacement.  Surgery was performed to eliminate the problem.  He returned home Thursday, is doing better, and continuing in his physical therapy locally and at home.

Misty Thornton will be returning to Mayo for various tests to help toward regaining her health.  Her heart is not functioning as well as it had been, and she has also been having some trouble with her blood pressure and dizzy spells.

Also: Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Tanya Terrones, Shirley Davis, Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney, Kelli Fleeman, 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 26, 2017)

Contents:

1) The Cost of Influence and Reputation (Bill Hall)
2) The Greater Love (via Brief Exhortation)
3) News & Notes
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proverbs22_1
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The Cost of Influence and Reputation
Bill Hall

There are people in this world who are possessed with natural ability to lead and command respect of others. Call it charm, charisma, magnetism, or whatever; such people wield a powerful influence on those who look up to them as the embodiment of all they would like to become themselves. Peter apparently possessed such qualities among the apostles. There were David, Deborah, Nehemiah, and others. We have known such people in our day and have been influenced by them. Each reader can probably think of some “hero” of faith that he or she has looked up to through the years.

The opportunities for good that such people possess are tremendous, but so are the responsibilities. It is true that sin is sin, whoever commits it — that sin will separate one person from God just as quickly as it will another. But the adverse consequences of one’s sins increase dramatically with the increase of the influence and reputation he enjoys among others. The confidence of others is a trust that must be carefully protected. Once that trust is in place, the person to whom it is committed has responsibilities that others of more normal influence and reputation do not have. And the more people involved in the trust, the greater the responsibility.

Those of reputation must be prepared for greater public scandal when they sin. Nathan told David that because of his adultery he had “given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14). Others had committed adultery in Israel, and their adultery had gone unnoticed by the enemies of God. But this was David! It was inevitable that the sin of this one man of influence and reputation would result in greater scandal than the sins of a multitude of people of lesser influence and reputation.

Those of reputation must be prepared for sterner rebuke when they sin than those of lesser reputation. Paul speaks of withstanding Peter “to his face” when Peter withdrew from eating with the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-13). Paul’s rebuke of Peter was “before them all.” Peter was hardly the first Jewish Christian to refuse to eat with Gentile Christians, but Paul obviously recognized the seriousness of Peter’s actions because of his greater reputation and influence. Others were following his lead on this occasion, including Barnabas. Peter could not enjoy the luxury of a private meeting with Paul; Peter had to face the sting of immediate and open rebuke. Peter had betrayed a trust. Nothing less than open rebuke could counteract the harm that was resulting. Sterner rebuke is simply a cost — an inevitable cost — of influence and reputation.

Those of reputation must live more cautiously than others if they would maintain their influence and good name. Every Christian is warned not to place a stumbling block in his brother’s way (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9), but one who is known and admired by thousands of brethren in many places obviously will have to be more cautious than one who is known and admired by only a few brethren locally. Paul would have to give up far more to be “all things to all men” than would some Christian who had never been outside his home community. That’s just the cost of influence and reputation. If one is not willing to pay that cost, if he is determined to be unbending in his conduct “no matter what others might think,” he needs to come to a greater appreciation of the value of a good name (Proverbs 22:1).

Those of reputation must be especially careful to build upon Jesus Christ, the true foundation, rather than upon themselves. The words, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord,” must become their motto (2 Corinthians 4:5). Those who place their loyalty in men of name and reputation are in error. Their faith is not what it ought to be. But those who deliberately use charisma and flattery to attract a following are also in error (1 Thessalonians 2:1-13). The more natural charisma one is blessed with, the more cautious he must be.

When “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a star Chicago White Sox outfielder, was involved in the “Black Sox” scandal of the 1920’s and was on his way to trial, a small boy, hurt, disappointed, with tears in his eyes, was heard to cry, “Say it ain’t so, Joe; say it ain’t so.”

Each reader is likely somebody’s hero. Other readers are men and women of widespread influence. Let each one, when he is tempted, and before he yields, look ahead to the tears and hurt and disillusionment that he is about to bring to those who look up to him. Let him hear their potential cries of “Say it ain’t so, Joe” and, motivated by their confidence and his own love for the Lord, let him “resist the devil.” If he betrays the trust that has been committed to him, he can be saved eternally through repentance and forgiveness, but he likely will never recover the confidence he has lost. Right or wrong, that’s reality. It is the cost — the inevitable cost — of influence and reputation.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, April 17, 2016, Volume 7, Issue 31
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ephesians5_2
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The Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In his book, “Written in Blood,” Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor had explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to your sister Mary?” the doctor asked. Little Johnny hesitated, his lower lip started to tremble, and then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room–Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when they met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.

With the ordeal almost over, his voice slightly shaky, broke the silence. “Doctor, when do I die?” Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he’d agreed to donate his blood. He’d thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. Though, in reality, it was not necessary, he was willing to give his life for his sister. In that brief moment, his love for his sister, caused him to make his great decision.

Let us remember that there was one who laid down His life for us.

— via Brief Exhortations
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News & Notes

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

Lawrence Anthony Montero (Bud’s brother) was recently in the hospital, due to a TIA (mini stroke), and had been experiencing some numbness, along with high blood pressure.  He was released and is to see his doctor in a few days.

Also: Lexi Crawford, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Mary Vandevander, Charles Crosby, Tanya Terrones, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse, Brianna Mackey, James “Buddy” Gornto, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney, Kelli Fleeman, Randall and Linda Hickox, 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)