The Gospel Observer (December 30, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Bible Lands: Philippi (Mike Hardin)
2) Challenges for the New Year (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
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philippi_basilica

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Bible Lands: Philippi
Mike Hardin

The city of Philippi was in the first district of Macedonia, and the immediate destination of Paul and Silas upon reaching Macedonia. In Philippi, Paul and Silas successfully preached the gospel. They met and converted Lydia, “a seller of purple goods”; cast out an evil spirit; were scourged, jailed, and miraculously saved; converted the jailer and his household; and established the Lord’s church in this city.

Philippi received its name from its founder, Philip of Macedonia. In Acts 16:12, Luke refers to it as the leading city of Macedon, and also mentions its status as a Roman Colony. This status was a distinction in which the citizens of such a city took a great deal of pride, and this attitude is indicated by the complaint against Paul and his associates for seeking to introduce customs and  practices contrary to the Roman pattern (Acts 16:21-26).  Philippi was the place where Marcus Antonius and  Octavius defeated Brutus and Cassius (42 B.C.), which defeat overthrew the Roman Oligarchy and Augustus (Octavius) became Emperor. This battle in large measure determined the fate of the Roman Republic, which became the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers settled in Philippi under the orders from Anthony and set aside the territory of Philippi as a Roman colony. The position of Philippi was that of an outpost or fortress whose principal business was to ward off barbarian hordes and to preserve the Roman peace on the edges of the empire. The military atmosphere may have kept away Jewish settlers, thus preventing the establishment of a synagogue.

Geographically, Philippi was an inland town situated about ten miles north of the Aegean seaport of  Neapolis (modern Kavalla), from which it was separated by a continuous range of low lying hills.  Philippi’s maritime interests, entering at Neapolis, were safeguarded by the construction of a Roman highway, a spur of the great Via Egnatia.

The Roman Empire gave civilization two major contributions, peace and a great road system. The Roman-built Via Egnatia was a great military highway. The strategic and commercially viable Via Egnatia ran along the north of Macedonia, connecting Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic Sea with Thessalonica near the Aegean Sea. This was the prime route between Italy and Asia Minor. The Via Egnatia is the most famous road in the Roman Empire, the main artery in southern Italy, and was constructed by the end of the second century B.C. The total length of the Via Egnatia was 535 Roman miles (493 English miles). Thessalonica and Philippi were the principal cities of Macedonia having access to the Via Egnatia. The road was paved and 15 feet across. On a road such as the Via Egnatia a person could travel about 25 Roman miles (1,614.6 yards) per day, depending upon whether he was walking or riding.  The Via Egnatia was a great highway through which all the traders from east and west had to pass. Not only did the Via Egnatia make possible the economic boom that occurred in Paul’s day, but it played an important role in disseminating the gospel throughout Europe.

The Apostle Paul no doubt traveled the Via Egnatia between the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Illyricum. Philippi for Paul was a strategic center for evangelizing Europe. It was well watered, in the midst of a very fertile territory, and close to it were some very rich gold mines.

The church at Philippi was established by Paul on his second Missionary journey, about  A.D. 52. At Troas “a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there was a man of Macedonia standing and beseeching him, and saying, come over into Macedonia and help us; and when he had seen the vision straightway we sought to go further into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:6-10).

They sailed from Troas, and evidently, with a favorable wind, crossed the Aegean Sea in two days to Neapolis, a journey that would ordinarily have taken five days. From Neapolis they went up to Philippi. These circumstances: the vision at Troas, a ship being immediately available, and a favorable wind on his journey indicate that God was guiding Paul to the city of Philippi.

In Philippi, Paul and Silas “went outside the gate to the riverside, where they supposed there was a place of prayer.” One of the women, who heard them speak, was Lydia, “a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.” Lydia was from Thyatira in Asia Minor. Lydia and her household were baptized into Jesus Christ (Acts 16:12-15). The conversion of Lydia represented the establishment of the first church in Europe. One of the possible sites for the baptism of Lydia is the River Krenides near Philippi.

Paul and Silas were cast into prison in Philippi and converted the jailor and his household (Acts 16:16-34). Paul had a great love and appreciation for the children of God at Philippi.

— Via Truth Magazine, January 2007, Volume LI, Number 1, pp. 27-28
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gal6_9b

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Challenges for the New Year
Greg Gwin

The beginning of a new year provides an excellent opportunity for us to pause, ponder, plan, and prepare for the future. We hope that the New Year will especially cause us all to think about our spiritual service to God and how we can improve in the fulfillment of our duties to Him. Let us challenge you in these specific areas:

–  Spend  more  time  in  prayer.  Don’t  allow  the  day  to begin  or  end  without  spending  time  in prayer  to  God.  Throughout  the  day,  stop  and  petition  Him  for  help  and  strength.  And,  by  all means,  don’t  just  wait  for  a  crisis  to  develop  before  you  think  to  pray. “Pray  without  ceasing”  (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

– Study your Bible more consistently. Use one of the available daily Bible reading schedules, or come up with  your own  plan to read on a regular basis. Don’t just rush through a few verses. Instead, really study the text to learn its meaning. Before you end a reading session, think about how you can make application of what you’ve read in a real and practical way. “Give attendance to reading . . .” (1 Timothy 4:13).

– Attend every Bible study and worship in this New Year. This, of course, is your duty — but it is also a privilege. BE HERE! Make this a high priority. Why would you not want to be present to worship God and study His Word?  “Not  forsaking  the assembling  of  ourselves  together  .  .  .” (Hebrews 10:25).

– Teach the lost. We all have friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members who are lost in sin.  They NEED us to share the gospel with  them.  Make  a  firm commitment  to  reach  at  least one of them with the “good news” this  year. If each Christian  would  bring just one person to the Lord each year, we could soon convert the whole world. Let’s do it! “Go ye therefore and teach all nations . . .  (Matthew 28:19).

– Live a pure, godly life. Nothing else matters if we are not living faithfully for the Lord. Think about this, and let it be manifested  in how  you  talk,  where  you  go,  who  you associate  with, how you  dress,  etc.  Others  are  looking  to  you,  and  evaluating  Christianity  on  the  basis  of  what  they see of it in you. “Ye are the light of the world . . . let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

In a very real sense, having a “Happy New Year” depends on how well you fulfill your spiritual duties to God. Think!

– Via The Beacon, December 30, 2018
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News & Notes

Folks to be remembering in prayer:

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Larry Welch who recently passed away.

Pat Joyner’s surgery went well.  She is now back home and recuperating.

Others to also remember in prayer: James Medlock, A.J. Joyner, Myrna Jordan, Jim Lively, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Rick Cuthbertson, Mary Vandevander, Everleigh and Hazel Greer, Marilyn Roberts, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Mary Aldrich, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Stoval, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday:
2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
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 (December 23, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) The Coming of Jesus (Doy Moyer)
2) It’s Always Needed (Shane Williams)
3) The Tongue (Anonymous)
4) News & Notes
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1john2_28

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The Coming of Jesus
Doy Moyer

It’s not bad that people think about Jesus in December. We wish that people would think about Jesus the whole year around, but we will take what we can get when it comes to opportunities. Regardless of conceptions, misconceptions, information, misinformation, and other ideas, as Jesus’ name is uttered, Christians need to stand up and hold fast the word of life (Phil 2:16).

One of the terms associated with the December time-frame is “advent.” It’s not a bad term either. In fact, we sing about it when preparing for the Lord’s Supper: “with the last advent we unite, until He comes.” “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus and means “arrival” (used in the Latin Vulgate). It corresponds to the Greek parousia, which, in our English versions is often translated as “coming.” Other terms (e.g., erchomai) may also be translated as “come.” The idea of the “advent” or “coming” of Jesus is biblical, whatever else may be associated with it outside the scriptural context. Because it is a biblical idea, we need not shy away from it. In fact, we need to be teaching the truth about it, particularly while people are thinking about it.

The “coming” of Jesus can be spoken of in different ways. For example, there was a “coming of the Son of Man” upon Jerusalem in judgment (Matt 24:27, 29). When God brought judgment upon a city or a nation, it was a time of visitation or coming from God. Jesus warned the church at Ephesus that if they did not repent, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev 2:5). He also promised the church at Pergamum that if they did not repent, He would come to them soon and make war “with the sword of my mouth” (Rev 2:16). This is not how we want Jesus coming to us in time.

For our purposes, let’s simplify the concept of the coming of Jesus Christ and think about it in three more primary ways:

1. He Came in the Flesh. The birth of Jesus into this world is a coming of our Lord in order to accomplish salvation. His name would be “Jesus,” for He would save the people from their sins, and “Immanuel,” for God is with us (Matt 1:21-23). When Jesus was brought to the temple after His birth, Simeon had been waiting. The Holy Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he had seen “the Lord’s Christ.” When he took Jesus up in his arms, he praised God “for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, has come into the world for salvation (John 1:14). As Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:68-69). This looked past John to Jesus Himself, for whom John would be the forerunner.

2. He Abides with us Now. When we enter into that redeemed relationship with God, there is a sense in which He visits or comes to us. We, of course, are to “come to him” also (1 Pet 2:4-5). James promises, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8). The term used here has that sense of coming, approaching, or being at hand. God draws near to us, abides with us and in us, as we trust in Him. This is God’s presence among us. “Abide in Me, and I in you,” Jesus told His disciples (John 15:4). We have God’s promise that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5). So must we not forsake Him.

3. He’s Coming Again. Scripture tells us, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9:27-28). Jesus is coming again. After the resurrection and at the ascension, angels promised the disciples, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This is the time of the final resurrection in which all will hear His voice and come forth, “those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). This visitation will be for all, good and bad, and for final judgment (2 Cor 5:10). Such a day has been appointed and proof given through the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:30-31).

Jesus came in the flesh; He will come again. In the meantime He is with us, abiding with us and drawing near as we draw near to Him. Let us ever be mindful of the presence of our Lord in our lives. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

— via blog.moyerpress.com,  December 19, 2018
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bible 2

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It’s Always Needed
Shane Williams

I heard a story of a man in the mid 1950’s entering school to study engineering. A professor told the entering freshmen class to buy the best slide rule they could afford. The reason: “You will be dependent on it all your ‘professional’  life.”  Well,  of course, it wasn’t too long before the slide rule was replaced by the calculator.

We’ve seen those same sorts of things in fairly recent years: 8  tracks, cassette tapes (almost), & even VHS tapes!

Things that today we consider essential may quickly become obsolete. Tomorrow they may be discarded as antiques that cannot provide the help we need.

At least one thing from the past, however, will always be needed and never become obsolete. It is the Bible, God’s Holy Word. No matter how much technological change and progress takes place, the Book will remain the one sure means for getting the right answers to the complicated questions: our origin, our purpose, our needs, and our final destination.

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever.”

I  Peter  1:23, “For  you  have been  born again  not  of seed  which  is  perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.”

Make sure you keep your Bible around and use it! You’ll always need it.

— Via articles of the Collegevue church of Christ, December 16, 2018
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gossip

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The Tongue

“I’ve gossiped about my neighbor,” said the woman to her minister. “One day I saw her stagger across the yard, so I told a few friends that she had been drunk. Now I find that her staggering was caused by a leg injury. How can I undo this gossip I started?”

The minister excused himself for a moment, returned with a pillow, and asked the woman to follow him to a side porch. He took a knife, cut a hole in the pillow, and emptied the feathers over the railing. A small breeze soon scattered tiny feathers all about the yard, among shrubs, flowers, even up in the trees. A few feathers floated across the street heading for unknown destinations. The minister turned to the woman and said, “Will you go out now and gather every one of the feathers?”

The woman looked stunned, and said, “Why, that would be impossible.” “Exactly,” replied, the minister sorrowfully, “and so it is with your gossip.”

— Anonymous, via The Elon Challenger, November 2018, Volume 16, Number 3
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Anita Young’s recent surgery went well, and she is now in the healing process.

Doyle Rittenhouse will be having a procedure January 14 to remove a melanoma.

Pat Joyner has been re-scheduled to have a heart valve replacement January 15.

Larry Welch has not been doing well, following his recent cancer surgery.

Rick Cuthbertson had a CAT scan recently that showed several nodules in his lungs. A PET scan confirmed they are malignant, but still in an infant state.  He has now begun chemo treatments and went through the first 2 without any adverse reactions.

John Stobal was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.

James Medlock had become unresponsive Saturday (for the longest time yet) and was taken to the hospital. X-rays and a CT scan were done.

Myrna Jordan has not been feeling well lately.

Shirley Davis’s surgery went well last Friday. The infection on her knee was taken care of, and she is now back home.

Others to remember in prayer: A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Melotine Davis, Joyce Rittenhouse, Mary Vandevander,  Everleigh and Hazel Greer, Marilyn Roberts, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Mary Aldrich, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
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 (December 16, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) “Lest You Become Weary and Discouraged in Your Souls” (R.J. Evans)
2) The Conversion of the Ethiopian (Mike Johnson)
3) News & Notes
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heb12_1-2

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“..Lest You Become Weary and Discouraged in Your Souls”
R.J. Evans

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged”  (Heb. 12:3).

The devil uses various cunning and deceptive means to lure a child of God back into sin.  One of the strongest and most pervasive is discouragement, to which many Christians succumb.  The Apostle Paul said, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).

Trying to cope with the present, while worrying about the future causes people to become discouraged.  Someone once said, “God gives us strength to bear our present burdens, but He never calculates for us to carry over yesterday’s grief and borrow on tomorrow’s worry.”  We must, with God’s help, bear today’s burdens, and let tomorrow take care of itself.  Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34).

Allowing others to “get us down” can also be a cause of discouragement.  For example, we invite someone to worship services, and with their assurance that they will definitely be there, we excitedly await their coming.  But suppose they don’t show up.  What do we do?  While that is disappointing, we should not allow it to get us to the point of deciding not to ever invite anyone else to services.  Disinterest on the part of some is disheartening and sad, but there are others who are just as lost and would love to hear and obey the gospel.  We must keep on working until we find those who are desirous of truth and spiritual matters.  Yes, men often let us down, but may we ever be mindful of the Lord’s promise: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

Sometimes we become discouraged by the small number of Christians who make up the local church where we worship.  But rest assured, if we are worshiping God “in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24), the Lord will be with us when we meet— “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

Sometimes when our sins are rebuked by the preacher or the elders, we get discouraged (as well as offended) and become unfaithful.  However, we should appreciate their efforts and their interest in our salvation.  Preachers have been given the charge to “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).  Concerning the elders, Christians are told to “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

It is true, we all may succumb to discouragement at times.  No doubt, Satan uses discouragement to lure Christians back into his domain.  But we must resist the devil (Jas. 4:7).  We must therefore resist becoming discouraged.  We have too much for which to be thankful here in this life, as well as the glorious hope and promise of everlasting life in heaven.  The Apostle Paul admonished, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).  Consider further the inspired words of the Hebrew writer “looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15).  Again, let us look and labor diligently…“lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls”  (Heb. 12:3).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, October 7, 2018
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acts8_36

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The Conversion of the Ethiopian
Mike Johnson

The conversion case of the eunuch from Ethiopia is one of the more familiar conversion cases in the Bible.  We know the facts are accurate because they come from the inspired Word of God (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Acts 8 is where the conversion is recorded.  The account takes a natural division.  First, verses 26-29 tell us about the bringing together of the preacher and the sinner.  Next, verses 30-35 reveal Philip “preaching Jesus” to the Ethiopian, and then verses 36-39 tell of the response of the eunuch.  Consider some important lessons to be learned from the conversion case.

We see the importance of the individual. Philip, according to Acts 8:5-25, had been preaching in the area of Samaria.  This was a populated area and was a place where Philip had much success.  Yet, an angel of God spoke to Philip and told him to go to the road between Jerusalem and Gaza.  There he met the eunuch and preached to him.  Thus, Philip was sent from a populated area to preach to one person.  This shows us that God views each individual as important.  He wants salvation for everyone (II Pet. 3:9).

A religious man needed to be saved.   The eunuch was a religious man.  He had been to Jerusalem to worship God (v. 27).  Nevertheless, he still needed to hear the truth and obey Christ so that he might be saved.  Such was also the case with Cornelius who was a God-fearing man (Acts 10:2, 22) but was an unsaved man (Acts 11:14).  It takes more than being a religious person to be saved.

Preaching Jesus meant preaching baptism.  Verse 35 says that Philip “…preached unto him Jesus.”  After hearing “Jesus preached,” they came to a certain water, and the eunuch said, “See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”  This helps us to see that preaching Jesus involves preaching baptism.  The Bible tells us that baptism is necessary for salvation (Acts 2:38).  Many claim to “preach Jesus,” and yet they hardly ever mention the subject of baptism.

The proper mode of baptism is seen.  The Bible teaches that baptism is a  burial” (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12).  The word translated baptism means  “immersion.”  The case of the eunuch (Acts 8) is in perfect accord with the rest of the Bible’s teaching that baptism is a burial or immersion.  They came “unto a certain water” (v. 36), they “went down both into the water” (v. 38), and they “came up out of the water” (v. 39).  The language is quite clear if immersion is being described.  However, it is difficult to understand if sprinkling or pouring water is under consideration.  Sprinkling or pouring water on a person’s head is not baptism at all.  The Bible teaches that baptism is immersion or burial.

He confessed Christ.  The eunuch was not required to confess and memorize various articles of faith or to pledge allegiance to a denomination before his baptism.  No, he simply confessed Christ (Rom. 10:10).  Many are guilty of adding conditions before baptism that the Lord does not require.

He was baptized immediately.  The eunuch did not have to wait for the church to vote on him before his baptism.  He did not have to wait for others to decide to be baptized so that they could have a big baptizing day.  He did not have to tell his experience.  He simply responded to God’s Word and became a Christian.  He was baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4, Gal. 3:27).  Have you ever read in the Bible where one had to be “voted on” before he could be baptized?

The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch serves as a pattern for us today.  Each individual is important to God and worthy of our teaching.  Our teaching must center on Christ and baptism cannot be ignored in salvation.  Most important, we must follow God’s will explicitly and not take it upon ourselves to change His will for our convenience.

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume 16, Number 4, December 2018
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News & Notes

Shirley Davis is feeling better.  Though the hurt on the side of her leg since the surgery became more of a pain yesterday, she sounds in good spirits and has been thankful for the food brought to her by some of the brethren and for their visits with her.

We are glad that Melotine Davis’ gall bladder surgery went well.

Joyce Rittenhouse is now almost 90% healed of her Bell’s palsy as she continues to improve, but is still having vision trouble with  one of her eyes.

Others to remember in prayer: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Judy Daugherty, Everleigh and Hazel Greer, Marilyn Roberts, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Mary Aldrich, Rick Cuthbertson, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin
——————–

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 services9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday:
2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: 
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
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 (December 9, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Not Worth the Worry (Harold Hancock)
2) “Everything Happens for a Reason” (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
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Matt6_33b

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Not Worth the Worry
Harold Hancock

My two-year-old daughter loves The Lion King, especially the song “Hakuna Matata,” which means “no worries.” Even though that song was at one time very popular, we still live in what is called the “Age of Anxiety.” Apparently, the problem of worry is not unique to our generation or Jesus never would have devoted a large section to this issue in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:25-34). And in the Parable of the Sower, He identified “the worries of the world” (Mk. 4:19) as thorns that choke out the life of the Word of God.

That’s where we get our word worry. It comes from an Old English term that means “to strangle.” The Greek word paints a picture of a mind torn in two directions, one that is divided and distracted. It seems logical that Jesus would address His concerns for worry after saying that “no man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). If you’re occupied with worrying, how can you be working for the Master? Before we are too quick to sympathize with Jesus’ audience, notice that the things we worry about are completely different than what they were worrying about. “Do not worry, then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’” These people were anxious about whether they would be able to put food on their tables or clothes on their backs. In other words, what they worried about make our concerns pale into insignificance. And if Jesus had to get on them for worrying about the necessities of life, what do you think He would say to us about the things that distract, and divide our minds?

I offer these suggestions as to why worry is, in fact, not worth the worry:

Worry Sets Our Minds on the World, Not on the Kingdom

That’s why so much attention is given to the subject in Scripture.  Jesus introduces this topic in a section on materialism — serving God vs. serving mammon. This makes an easy transition to talk about worry, because the devil doesn’t care whether your heart is carried away by riches or by anxiety, just so long as it is carried away from God. When Martha was upset about Mary’s listening to Jesus instead of helping her serve, Jesus told her, “you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary” (Lk. 10:38-42). Worry distracts us from the one thing we ought to be doing. In all the opinions that seem to be available in life, there are actually only two. Which will you choose?

“Do not be anxious…but seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:25,33,34). If you want assurance of provision, you don’t seek things, you seek God. And upon securing your relationship with Him, making spiritual sustenance your priority, He will provide the daily bread. Upon making the decision to improve that area of your life, to make the righteousness of God your own, improvement in every area of life is the inevitable result. Don’t get that backwards.

Worry Demonstrates a Lack of Faith in God

Worrying about food, drink, and clothing are things that the “Gentiles eagerly seek” (Matt. 6:32). Jesus calls them “men of little faith,” because they were acting like the Lord didn’t know or care that they were hungry, thirsty, and in need of clothes. They were in covenant relationship with God but were demonstrating less faith than those who didn’t know Him at all.

Consider the sparrows, five of which were sold for two cents. “And yet not one of them is forgotten before God” (Lk. 12:6). If the smallest and humblest of God’s creatures are given such rich provision, what then, for the pinnacle of His creation, for those who have been made in His image and have become His children through the blood of His Son? And what about the lilies of the field, generally used for kindling? If the God of heaven has tended to the flowers whose life is but a breath and a sigh, will He not clothe with righteousness those whose destiny is eternal life? Surely a God who has given Jesus to satisfy our spiritual needs has sought out ways to provide for our physical ones as well. If He can solve our most basic problem, salvation from sin, we ought to trust Him with any other difficulty that comes our way.

Worry is Worthless

Having worried and worried and worried about something, what good does it accomplish? What does it change? It is a useless endeavor. “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life” (Matt. 6:27)? In fact, worry doesn’t lengthen life, it tends to shorten it. Not just in the sense of “worrying yourself sick.” But all too often, life is what happens while we’re worrying that something else will happen. Our time here is short enough as it is, a “vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14). How much more is that vapor abbreviated when what little time we do have is wasted away with fretful, anxious care?

These passages on worry do not promote idleness, a spirit that says we can just sit back in the recliner and let God take care of everything for us. Other scriptures tell us that we must “labor, performing with our hands that which is good” (Eph. 4:28) and that we ought to provide for our own and for our household (1 Tim. 5:8). We need to do what we can. But we do so with the understanding that “God will take care of what we cannot” (Paul Earnhart).

Worrying about tomorrow gives no respect for the troubles of today. And even those really aren’t worth the worry.

— Via Articles from the Timberland Drive church of Christ, Lufkin, Texas
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Deut30_19

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“Everything Happens for a Reason”
Greg Gwin

We often hear people use the expression: “Everything happens for a reason.” This saying is the modern, New Age version of the old religious saying: “It’s God’s will.” Is this true? Is there a reason for everything? Does God’s will regulate all things?

First, some things happen because the Lord has placed certain ‘natural’ laws in place that cannot be violated without predictable results. For example: a man broke his leg. Why? What was the reason? He stepped off of a ladder and the ‘law of gravity’ prevailed. In this sense, we can understand and acknowledge that this ‘happened for a reason,’ though we doubt that this is what the New Age crowd means when they use that expression.

But, we must essentially protest the claim that God has totally predestined our lives, or that His ‘will’ controls every aspect of our existence. The Scriptures make it clear that God gives man choice. Joshua’s famous statement makes this abundantly clear: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). We know that the invitation for salvation is open to all, but each one must decide: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). So, obviously, God has not predestined everything, else these statements about our freedom to choose would be senseless.

Further, we know that some things do, in fact, happen as a consequence of the choices God allows us to make. Good choices typically bring good outcomes, and bad choices produce bad ones. Many are suffering the ill effects of things they chose to do or not do, while others are enjoying the benefits of wise selections. Moses advised the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). To put it simply, choices have consequences. And while this is a definite rule of God, the specifics are determined by us and our free will, not His.

Finally, we must note that there is not always a clear, one-to-one corollary to be seen in every event in our lives. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. Why? Frequently we can ‘see’ it, but often we can not answer, other than to lay it to the reality of living in this present world with its physical suffering and death. We may not be able to explain them, but we can use even the ‘bad things’ to provoke us to do what is right and just – as we seek for a world where such will never happen again (2 Peter 3:13).

— Via The Beacon, February 23, 2014
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News & Notes

Shirley Davis was back in the hospital for about a week, due to a surface infection on her knee replacement, and returned home last Friday evening.  Her doctor told her that it was not as serious as he initially thought it might be.

Pat Joyner had an allergic reaction to the dye used in her tests, on December 3rd & 6th, for her upcoming aortic valve replacement, which has led to a rash, stomach cramps, and other physical discomfort.  Her heart surgery is scheduled for January 8.

We are glad to hear that the open heart surgery for 16-year old Ben Lingenfelter went well.

Let us continue to remember in prayer the loved ones of Billy Lowe (Barbara Kirkland’s father) who passed away November 27.

Also for prayer: Bryan and Hannah Greer’s two premature infants, Everleigh and Hazel; and with sympathy for the loss of Amelia Kaye, the smallest of the triplets, who passed away soon after birth.

Others to remember in prayer: Joyce Rittenhouse, A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Melotine Davis, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Judy Daugherty, Marilyn Roberts, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Mary Aldrich, Rick Cuthbertson, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin
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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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
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 (December 2, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) I Am Bill’s Ears (Mark Roberts)
2) An Ancient Description of Christians (Bill Crews)
3) News & Notes
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ear 3

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I Am Bill’s Ears
Mark Roberts

Some people say we’re shaped kind of funny.  Women poke holes in us and hang all kinds of ornaments off our lobes. If someone is mad they may threaten to “box” us.  A famous orator once asked Romans to lend theirs to him.  What am I?  I am the ear.  Specifically, since there are two of me, I am Bill’s ears.

To start with, you should know that we are a marvel of design and engineering.  The outer part of the ear — what you see and what women pierce for earrings — gathers sound waves in. Inside the inner ear the three tiniest bones in the human body and some extremely small hairs on specialized organs catch the sound vibrations and create nerve signals that the brain can understand as sound. It is all very complex but it is wonderfully efficient and works amazingly well. I can hear a range of sounds and volumes that is simply incredible — everything from the high pitched hum of a mosquito to the low roar of a waterfall.  Sometimes I hear someone talking about how humans evolved from slime and it makes me want to laugh.  How could anything as complicated as ears just happen by accident?

Bill doesn’t really think much about us but without us his world would be awfully quiet.  Sound adds so much to our lives.  Bill loves to hear his kids say “You’re the best, dad!”  Great music, like the wonderful hymns Mouth sings at church, move Bill’s Heart to worship God.  Even non-sacred music is enjoyable to listen to and can help Bill feel better when he is down.  But it isn’t all just fun and games.  Many times a sound is the first clue that danger is coming, like when Bill didn’t see that car that he was about to run into.  When they honked we got Bill’s attention in a hurry and avoided a bad accident! Perhaps the best report we Ears can make is when we report no sound at all.  Quiet, stillness, and no noise all help Bill be still so he can meditate effectively on God and His Word.

Of course, our job isn’t just gathering sounds.  The reason God gave Bill ears is so that he can hear and then act upon the truth.  Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 7:26).  Proverbs 5:1 says, “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding.”  The Hebrew writer adds, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). James warns, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).  These passages discuss the obligation of Bill to act on what we hear and send over to Mind.  If Bill doesn’t do anything with the information we give him then we might as well have never heard it at all.

That is also why it is so important that Bill be careful what he uses us to listen to. “And Jesus was saying to them, ‘Take care what you listen to’” (Mark 4:24).  False teachers can make error sound like truth (see Jer. 12:6).  Honestly, I can’t tell the difference at all.  I just send it over to Mind and he has to sort it all out.  It would make life a lot easier for Mind if Bill just didn’t get me around that kind of teaching in the first place, wouldn’t it?  However, it’s not just false doctrine that I can get involved with.  All kinds of evil and sin begins in the ear.  I can hear gossip and rumors about someone that will change how Bill acts toward that person permanently. Too often today I hear profanity, vulgarity and curse words that hurt me badly.  Sometimes what I hear seems to go right over to Tongue because the next thing you know he is saying those words too!  Sadly, many a proposition to sin begins with a whisper in the ear.  “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).  Solomon says his words are designed to “deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words” (Prov. 2:16).  A lot of adultery and immorality can be traced over to Eyes; but though I don’t like to admit it, us Ears have a lot to do with it too.

If Conscience gets turned off, and Bill keeps me listening to sinful ideas and ways, then it becomes harder to hear God’s word.  As a result our walk with God is ruined.  “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). There is just an incredibly strong connection between me and Heart and so what I hear can determine Bill’s way, for good or evil.  “Each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (Jeremiah 16:12).

The best thing for me to be hearing is God’s word. Beyond that, however, there are many other good things for me to listen to.  Solomon also notes, “The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).  It hurts a little when someone rebukes Bill, but in the long run he’s glad I heard it so he could correct his life.  It is also very good to hear words of encouragement and acceptance.  Barnabas was always doing that, and I am sure the ears of everyone else around him perked up and listened to what he had to say because it feels so good to be exhorted and encouraged in the service of the Lord (Acts 11:23).  Ultimately I hope Bill someday hears Jesus say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  This old body will be changed then (see 1 Cor. 15:51-ff), and I guess that means I will be changed too. But I know Bill wants to hear Jesus say those wonderful words; and he wants to hear the angelic choruses ringing out hymns of victory and praise, and he wants to hear his voice added to theirs.  That will be something to hear, won’t it?

I don’t mean to sound stuck on myself.  After all, ears are just a part of the body that the Lord has made (Prov. 20:12; 1 Cor. 12:16).  Yet a look at the role I play in Bill’s life does point out how much I can do for Bill.  Hearing and listening are vitally important, especially in following and serving the Lord.  Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:23).  Bill has me and we are trying hard to listen to the Savior. How about your ears?  What are they hearing?

— Via The Auburn Beacon, December 19, 2010
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Acts14_22

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An Ancient Description of Christians
Bill Crews

The following quotation is from a letter written by a Christian who lived sometime in the second or third centuries:

“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs.  For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life.  Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are.  But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow native customs in dress and food  and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own  citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation.  They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers.  Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.  They marry like all other men and beget children;  but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives.  They find themselves in the flesh, and yet live not after the flesh.  Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.  They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives.  They love all men, and they are persecuted by all.  They are ignored, and yet they are condemned.  They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life.  They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich.  They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things.  They are dishonored, and yet they are glorified in their dishonor.  They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated.  They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect.  Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened to  life.  War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and  yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason for their hostility.”

This quotation is taken from “The Epistle to Diognetus,” paragraph 5.   It is accepted as authentic, and its author is classified as a Christian.  It is obvious that it was not easy to be a Christian in his day.  Count your blessings, and daily ask yourself if you are really being a Christian.

— Via The Beacon, May 22, 2016
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News & Notes

Billy Lowe (Barbara Kirkland’s father) passed away November 27.  We extend our condolences to all his family, relatives, and friends.

Let us also be keeping the following in our prayers:

Ben Lingenfelter, the 16-year old son of Nathan and Kellie,  will be having open heart surgery December 5.  UPDATE: Ben had the surgery and all went well.

Marilyn Roberts has been diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, which she will be having surgery for.

Pat Joyner will be seeing her doctor on the 3rd and the 6th of December in preparation for her heart valve replacements.

Shirley Davis was readmitted to the hospital November 27, due to an infection on her recent knee replacement.  The doctor told her that it was not as serious as he initially thought it would be.  For it was all on the surface.  She will be coming home today.

A.J. Joyner seems to have a chronic sinus infection and now also an inner ear infection.

Ruby Olson (Marie Pennock’s sister) is now back home and doing fine.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer: Joyce Rittenhouse, Jim Lively, Melotine Davis, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Judy Daugherty, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery; Mary Aldrich, Rick Cuthbertson, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (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)