The Gospel Observer (April 9, 2017)

Contents:

1) The Chief of Sinners (Frank Himmel)
2) Where is Your Hope? (Stephen Rouse)
3) Distractions on the Road (Greg Gwin)
4) News & Notes
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The Chief of Sinners
Frank Himmel

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, NKJV). Paul considered himself the chief of sinners prior to his conversion. Have you ever thought about the world’s number-one sinner?

The chief of sinners was a religious man. That might surprise some. We would more likely expect him to be an atheist, or at least one who, if he believed in God, couldn’t have cared less about Him. No, Saul (as he was known in those days) was a well-trained Jew (Acts 22:3).

The chief of sinners was a fervent religious man. He wasn’t the half-hearted kind, whose affections are really elsewhere. He wasn’t the hypocritical kind, one who goes to church on Sundays but the rest of the week is arrogant, foul-mouthed, a drunkard, a womanizer, or a scoundrel. No, Saul was a stickler for moral uprightness and more zealous for what he believed than most (Galatians 1:14).

The chief of sinners was ignorant. He later admitted it: “I was formerly a blasphemer and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). That should forever destroy the notion that it doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we are sincere.

The chief of sinners was presumptuous. This often goes hand-in-hand with ignorance. Saul just decided for himself what he ought to do in God’s service instead of following God’s revelation. “So then, I thought I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did…” (Acts 26:9-10). As is often the case, his assumptions proved to be dead wrong.

The chief of sinners was teachable. To Saul’s credit, despite his misguided religious zeal he was not too entrenched or too stubborn to be taught. Jesus’ appearance to him on the road to Damascus made him realize he had been wrong about the Lord. And when Ananias came and instructed him to be baptized in the name of Jesus to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16), he did so immediately (Acts 9:18).

The chief of sinners was saved. This was his point in our opening text. Despite Saul’s atrocities, the Lord’s mercy was sufficient to forgive him once he abandoned his sinful ways. Saul could only think of one reason why: “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16, NKJV). If the Lord could save the chief, He could save anyone!

Whether we profit from studying the chief of sinners depends on whether we respond to the gospel as he did.

— Via Pathlights, December 25, 2016
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“Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13, NASB).
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Where is Your Hope?
Stephen Rouse

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” — David (Psalm 20:7)

We live in an increasingly unstable world. Locally, nationally, internationally — there has been much in the news lately to show us just how quickly our stability can crumble.

When the things that we lean on begin to crumble, we quickly find out where we are really putting our trust, our hope. As David wrote, “some trust in chariots and some in horses…” There are a host of different things we might put our trust in, or hope for:

— Some hope for a place where all people are accepted and treated equally.

— Some hope for protection from outside terror for themselves and their families.

— Some hope for a place to flee when their home becomes a place of hostility.

— Some hope for leaders who will bring justice and peace to their people and the world.

The fact is, if our hope is in any of these things happening in this world, we will often be disappointed, even disillusioned. Jesus Himself said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We should pray for our communities, our families, our nations, and the world (1 Timothy 2:1). We should pray for our leaders, and those who would become our leaders (1 Timothy 2:2). But we should not put our hope in any of these things (Psalm 118:8-9).

The amazing thing is, God offers all of these things that we might hope for, but in a spiritual way:

— In God’s kingdom, all people are accepted and treated equally as they turn from their ways to God’s ways (Isa 2:2-4).

— In God’s kingdom, we find protection from our great enemy, Satan, who seeks to destroy us eternally (John 17:15; 1 Peter 5:8-9).

— In God’s kingdom, we can find refuge when the whole world might turn against us (John 16:33).

— In God’s kingdom, we have the Creator of the Universe as our leader, who will ultimately bring justice and peace to the world (Luke 18:7; Rom 16:20).

Lord, help us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, for in You we have all we need and all we long for. Help us to put our hope completely in You, not in the things of this world, whatever they may be. You alone must be our strength, our shield, and our unshakable hope.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, January 1, 2016
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Distractions on the Road
Greg Gwin

Surely you’ve seen them — those drivers who are so busy talking on their cellular phones that they sit through a green light or ignore some other important traffic situation. The ‘topper’ to this is when you see a driver talking on the cell phone AND eating a sandwich — all while driving a car.

Driving is a serious activity that demands our devoted attention. Things like cell phones and sandwiches tend to distract us, making driving even more dangerous. When two or more such distractions are added together watch out! The likelihood of an accident is significantly multiplied.

Now, make a spiritual application. Living life in this world is a very serious activity. It demands our undivided attention. The problem is that we too often allow ourselves to be distracted by the things of this world. When that happens, a spiritual accident is sure to follow.

And, we’re not just talking about the sinful things that can distract us. Certainly, there are plenty of those. Wickedness abounds in our society, and we are confronted with multiple temptations every day. Constant vigilance is necessary. But, more than this, there is the danger that we will get so busy with our day-to-day affairs that we might forget what our main pursuit is supposed to be. Our jobs, our families, our recreation and a host of other things — not sinful in and of themselves — can crowd God out of our lives.

Add two or three such distractions together and you are simply a spiritual accident looking for a place to happen. Be careful! Stay focused. “Reach forth unto those things which are before” and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, 14).

— Via Bulletin Articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, March 19, 2017
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News & Notes

Don Swain will be having surgery April 17.

We are glad that Jim Lively is now back home from the hospital.

Judy Daugherty (Jim’s sister) will be having heart surgery May 4 to have a mitral valve installed. She also has various other health problems.

It has also been good to see Charles Crosby back with us and doing better, following his knee replacement.

Michelle Rittenhouse continues to be in need of our prayers, due to heart-related problems and other health issues.

Last Friday’s update on Lexi Crawford mentioned that “her pain has gotten terribly worse over just a few days”; so her pain meds have been increased, and prayer has been requested for her comfort and strength.

Others in need of prayer: Kay Byars, Tanya Terrones, Mary Vandevander, La Donna Andrews, 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).
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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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