The Gospel Observer (May 26, 2019)

“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 Time Given Us (John R. Gibson)
2) Your Wreckage Can Be Repaired (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
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Esther before Ahasuerus 2

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The Time Given Us
John R. Gibson

In his epic novel depicting a great struggle between good and evil, J.R. R. Tolkien narrates the following conversation about the evil threat of Sauron.

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’ Lord of the Rings, p. 50

Do we not often find ourselves like Frodo in wishing we lived in a different time, under different circumstances? Those who struggled to support their families during the Great Depression surely longed for the “good old days” of economic prosperity. With our current economic situation, how many young people are wishing they could have entered the work force at a different time? It can be depressing to think about the cultural and moral decline that has taken place in this country over the last fifty years or so. Despite the clear teachings of Scripture, fornication, adultery, divorce, and illegitimacy are everywhere (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Matthew 19:3-9). Like the Gentile world of the first century many Americans have refused to retain God in their knowledge, thus paving the way for the grossest forms of immorality to become accepted (Romans 1:20-32).

Technologically there has never been a better time to live, but there are so many things around us that we wish had not happened in our time. One can hardly leave the house without being bombarded with sensual dress, coarse language, and a general lack of respect for what was once known as common decency. Even among the most devoutly religious today, the truth of God that can set one free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32; 17:17) has been replaced with a subjective standard that encourages people to “serve God” by doing whatever seems appropriate to them. For many, religion is a product of the human mind (cf. 1 Kings 12:26-33) to be enjoyed on Sundays with little real impact on morals, business ethics, politics, family life, etc.

We could go on and on and include such things as the ever present threat of terrorism, but hopefully the point has been established. Now, what are we to do when we honestly assess the time we live in and the situations we face? Are we to sit and lament, wishing it were a different time and circumstance or realize that we cannot control when we live, but only how we live?

I imagine Elijah would have preferred to live in the days of David rather than the evil time of Ahab, but in the days of Ahab and Jezebel he was a mighty force for good. No devout Jew could have wanted to spend his adult life serving a foreign oppressor, but that was the time and circumstance in which Daniel found himself. Daniel may have wished it was different, but that didn’t stop him from faithfully serving God.

It had to have been difficult for Timothy to read the warnings of Paul that departures from the faith were inevitable (1 Timothy 4:1-3), perilous times were coming (2 Timothy 3:1-5), and the time was nearing when many would lose interest in sound preaching (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). We cannot know how Timothy felt about the times he would face, but we do know what Paul urged him to do and that was serve God and preach His word in the time that was given him.

The saints at Smyrna lived in a time of poverty and tribulation and had to live with the threats of imprisonment and death, but the words of Jesus were not, “Lament that you live in such a time.” Instead, the Lord exhorted and promised, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

No doubt there are certain times that are more difficult economically, culturally, politically, morally, and religiously, but we need to accept the fact that the time in which we find ourselves is the time in which we must live and serve our God.

If we live in the days of an Ahab, then let’s resolve to be an Elijah. We don’t have to agree with every government policy to be an influential Daniel. It is easy to get discouraged about America’s general lack of interest in spiritual things, but when faced with a similar challenge Paul exhorted Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1-5). That people do not realize their need for the gospel does not change the fact that they need it. As with the saints of Smyrna, we may see hard times economically and we may face oppression from the forces of evil, but the Lord holds out the same promise to us as He did to them. If we are faithful in this time in which we live, the crown of life will be ours.

Rather than say with Frodo, “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” why not say with Mordecai, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

— Via The Auburn Beacon, November 11, 2012
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wreckage_gary_henry

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Your Wreckage Can Be Repaired
Gary Henry

“…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 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 1:15,16).

UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, SAUL OF TARSUS BECAME A RADICALLY DIFFERENT MAN. The change was not superficial or temporary; it was deep and lasting. And later, writing now as Paul the apostle, he could offer himself as an example to prove just how sinful a person can be and still be saved by the gospel: “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.” If the prosecutor’s charge is that a truly wicked person can never change, Paul is “Exhibit A” to the contrary. He is a courage-giving example to anyone who has ever worried that they might be a hopeless case or a lost cause.

Most people, if they’re honest, know what it’s like to struggle with deeply ingrained character flaws. As we struggle to remove these flaws, we become frustrated. In time, we may come to doubt that real change is even possible. Sometimes we start thinking that way because we’ve been influenced by a determinism which says that at birth we are already “determined” — i.e., whatever we are, that’s what we’ll always be. At other times, we may be plagued with a victim mentality. We see ourselves as the victims of circumstances and influences that are more than we can handle.

My suspicion, however, is that most of the time our problem is just plain discouragement. The devil fights against us with a war of attrition; he keeps coming back, coming back, and coming back, trying to wear us down. After a while, our cause looks like it’s lost.

But the great hope of the gospel is that, while life lasts, none of us is a lost cause. Our defeats need not be final. Our failures need not be fatal. Real change for the better is always possible.

Whoever you are, my friend, believe this: your wreckage can be repaired. If God can turn a fire-breathing, murderous Pharisee into the great apostle of grace, he can surely help you get pointed in the right direction. Your fate is not fixed, and you’re not just a victim. You are a living person capable of great growth.

“When you feel that all is lost, sometimes the greatest gain is ready to be yours” (Thomas à Kempis).

— Via WordPoints, March 14, 2019
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News & Notes

Folks to be keeping in prayer:

Tommy Lindsey (Tory McCarthy’s grandfather) was sent home a couple weeks ago, where he is now receiving Hospice Care.

Waylon Murray (a 3-year old) will be having surgery on his spine this Tuesday for cerebral palsy.  They will be clipping inactive nerves in hopes of helping him walk. He also cannot talk.

Melotine Davis’ back surgery is less than 3 weeks away —  June 13.

Others to also be praying for: Shirley Davis, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Rick Cuthbertson, James Medlock, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Kayleigh Tanner, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, Jon Newman, Rex & Frankie Hadley, and Roger Montgomery
——————–

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:
7 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 (May 19, 2019)

“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 Letter to the Ephesians (Brad Toy)
2) Carnal or Spiritual? (Wayne Goff)
3) News & Notes
——————–

Eph1_3

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The Letter to the Ephesians
Brad Toy

The letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus is truly an amazing letter. It speaks of unity, eternal matters, things that are now revealed that had been hidden for thousands of years, ways of marriage, and even spiritual warfare. And this letter is unique in that Paul does not address any problems or errors that are occurring there. The message is simply one that speaks of profound theological truths and then how to apply those truths to our everyday Christian living (our walk). With all this letter has to offer, consider just one part of this brilliant text.

Paul erupts with this praise statement, “Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). He then goes on to note at least 15 areas where the Christian is blessed because of being in Christ! Fifteen areas! Here are the list and note these incalculable gifts the child of God has by being “in Christ” (1:4-14):

–just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

–having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

–to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved,

–In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

–having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,

–that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, in Him.

–In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

–In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

This letter is amazing, awe-inspiring and at the same time extremely humbling. Why would God bestow such rich gifts to such unworthy people? Let us be thankful, grateful and praise Him, as Paul did, and live each day in honor of such incredible blessings.

— Via the Fort Logan church of Christ, Stanford, Kentucky, December 14, 2017
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rom8_5

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Carnal or Spiritual?
Wayne Goff

The apostle Paul stresses in Romans 8 that those who are “in Christ Jesus” should “not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (v. 1). Every Christian would give lip service to the concept, but perhaps a little self-reflection would be worthwhile for all of us!

“The Things Of The Flesh”

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh…” (Rom. 8:5). Robertson L. Whiteside had this to say on the subject:

“To mind the things of the flesh is to give our time and attention to the things of this life. To do so is to leave God and our eternal welfare out of consideration. We need to be careful, for it is easy for us in our struggles to make a living to forget God and look only to our material interests…” [Commentary on Romans, pp. 171-172].

You see from his comment that one can mind “the things of the flesh” to the neglect of his spiritual well-being, and that constitutes a “carnal person”! I’m afraid that we too often think of someone who is committing those terrible sins of fornication, adultery, drug addiction, etc. as being the carnal ones. In fact, a person who seems to be very good in the eyes of the world, and sometimes in our eyes, could be very carnal!

Remember the parable of a certain rich man in Luke 12:16-21? He was rich, a successful farmer, with a bountiful crop, who wisely(?) chose to store his additional crops in bigger barns and then take his ease and eat, drink and be merry. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? Jesus did and said as much. God took his life that very night and his “soul would be required” of him — then whose will those things be? Jesus’ warning to us: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (v. 21)! This is the “carnal man” of Romans 8! He is not a bad person in the eyes of the world, but he is spiritually destitute while he takes care of the things of this life only. Americans should take note of this because it is our besetting sin.

“The Things Of The Spirit”

“…But those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). Whiteside went on to say this:

“…To mind the things of the spirit is to look to the  the things that fit the spirit for acceptable service to God in this life and that will prepare it for the joys of the next life.”

So those who live according to the spirit mind the things that pertain to the Spirit’s instructions in  God’s Word, 1 Corinthians 2:9-12. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians that no man knows the things of God except the Spirit of God, Who was given to the apostles for the revelation of the mind of God!

Those who “live according to the Spirit” read, study, understand, and follow these things! Paul even warned in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The “natural man” of this passage is the same as the “carnal” (worldly) man of Romans 8!

“Spiritually-Discerned”?

Yes, “spiritually-discerned” means a disciple of Christ has taken the time to develop a taste and ability to understand God’s Word. He begins as a babe in Christ who drinks spiritual “milk” (1 Pet. 2:2). As he matures, he eats the meatier things of the Word (Heb. 5:12-14). The Christian who thinks he is “spiritual” should ask himself exactly how much he studies, understands and practices God’s Word? I’m afraid there are too many malnourished believers who have not even considered whether or not they are “spiritual” according to Romans 8. Let this brief article be an “eye-opener” for you.

— Via the Roanridge Reader, Volume 34, Issue 19, Page 2, May 12, 2019
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News & Notes

Folks to be keeping in prayer:

Due to not sleeping well, Shirley Davis underwent a sleep-study last Tuesday which revealed sleep apnea that she is now using a device for and is attributing that with her recent hoarseness. She was also in the ER on May 5th, due to her first time with UTI.  Also, a second skin graft was done on the heel of her right foot, which should heal in about 2 weeks.  The medication she is on leaves her feeling weak. Her doctor wants her to keep weight off her right leg (with its bad knee), so she uses a walker.

Bud Montero’s checkup last week showed that he still is without any of the symptoms of the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Melotine Davis is scheduled for back surgery on June 13.

Due to the amount and its effect, Rick Cuthbertson will be taking a break from his chemo for a while.

Others to also be praying for: Pat & A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, James Medlock, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Kayleigh Tanner, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Rex and Frankie Hadley,  Tommy Lin, Jon Newman, and Jeannette King.
——————–

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:
7 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)

The Gospel Observer (May 12, 2019)

“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) Methuselah (Frank Himmel)
2) The Bible Exposes Sin! (Wayne Goff)
3) Hebrews 4:14-16 (exhortation from Scripture)
4) “Forever” (Greg Gwin)
5) News & Notes
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Gen5_27

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Methuselah
Frank Himmel

Most folks I know want to live as long as they can. Why? The answer typically is because it gives us the opportunity to experience life to the full—to accomplish as much as possible through our work, to finish some long-term projects, to travel to exotic places, to watch our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren grow up. But have we really pondered what a full life means?

Methuselah is mostly the answer to the trivia question, Who was the oldest man? He lived an incredible 969 years. (Can you begin to fathom the changes that have occurred from the year 1049 until the present?) Apart from his record age, however, we know nothing about Methuselah. Besides the brief record of his life in Genesis 5:22-27, he is mentioned only in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1:3 and Luke 3:37.

Was Methuselah a man of faith? Did he obey God? Did he make any lasting contributions to posterity? The Bible is silent. If the Genesis genealogy can be used to establish a chronology—an admittedly uncertain approach—he evidently died the year of the flood. Was he among the wicked destroyed in it, or did he just coincidentally die of “old age” that year? Living as long as he did, he certainly had plenty of opportunities to serve God. What use of them he made we do not know.

By way of contrast, Methuselah’s father lived only about a third as long. Nevertheless, Enoch left an unmistakable mark. Jude mentions him as a prophet (Jude 14-15). And Hebrews 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.”

Methuselah’s grandson also left his mark. “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. . . . Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). Surely you know the rest of his story!

When it comes to life, quantity is not nearly as important as quality. Even a short life brings glory to God if it is used in His service. Remember, Jesus lived only to about age thirty-three! A full life is fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Thank God for the time you have, and resolve to live each day for Him.

— Via Pathlights, April 8, 2018
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rom5_8b

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The Bible Exposes Sin!
Wayne Goff

The idea of “sin” has almost disappeared from our society’s vocabulary. “Mistake,” “error,” “misjudgment,” “prejudice,” “-phobia,” etc. have replaced the idea of sin. Perhaps that is why the Bible and Christianity seem so unpopular today. The Bible is the revelation of God’s solution for sin! It shows the introduction of sin into the world with the first couple, Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). It contains a Divine promise in that same chapter for the future “seed of woman” to conquer Satan and sin.

Throughout several thousand years in Genesis, fifteen hundred years of the Mosaical Age (Exodus-Malachi), and two thousand years of Christianity (Matthew-Revelation), God has unfolded that plan and commanded all men everywhere to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31).

The book of Romans is a detailed discourse on the subject of sin and its solution. Paul wrote in Romans 1:5-6, “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:5–6).

And again he concludes the book with these words: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—” (Romans 16:25–26).

God displays His holiness as He justly deals with sin and graciously offers a solution: “…that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23). A holy God cannot offer an unholy solution to sin. So our holy God offered the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins — Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25)!

The only thing left for us to do is believe and obey! But what a wondrous picture of the workings of the Divine mind in lovingly providing a solution to our sin problem while remaining perfect and holy Himself. Read the Bible, and especially the book of Romans, in this light.

— Via the Roanridge Reader, Volume 34, Issue 18, Page 1
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Bible 3

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Hebrews 4:14-16

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NASB).
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psa39_5

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“Forever”
Greg Gwin

A highway billboard down the road advertises for a local restaurant. Along with promises of “good home cookin” and “friendly service” is the proclamation “OPEN FOREVER.” This caught our eye. It was not the typical “open 24 hours per day,” or “open seven days per week.” This was a far bolder claim. Forever, as you know, is a very long time!

While we may chuckle at, and even appreciate, the originality of the folks at that restaurant, we know – and surely they know – that nothing in this world is forever. James wrote:

“Come now, you who say ‘today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13-14, NASV).

Sadly, too many of God’s own children – who are supposed to know better – still act as though their plans, their activities, and their very lives will go on forever. These Christians become totally involved with their work, their recreation, making money, having fun, etc. In the process they woefully neglect their spiritual service to God. Can it be that they have forgotten that nothing here is forever?

Jesus told of a successful businessman who said to himself, I have “much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” He imagined that his prosperity could last  “forever.”  But God said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:16-21).

Many still need that lesson.

— Via The Beacon, April 28, 2019
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Jeannette King has been diagnosed with breast cancer, which she will soon be having surgery for.

Myrna Jordan is healing from recent outpatient surgery.

Jon Newman is still in rehab, due to a recent stroke, and making improvement.

Melotine Davis is awaiting the test results that will determine surgery for her back.

Doug Pennock is still having some  trouble from his recent dental work.

Others to also be praying for: Pat & A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Bud Montero, James Medlock, Deborah Medlock, Penny Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Rick Cuthbertson, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Kayleigh Tanner, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Rex and Frankie Hadley, 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 sermon)

 

The Gospel Observer (May 5, 2019)

“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) Escape (Frank Himmel)
2) “Lord, Do Not Hold This Sin Against Them” (Adam Litmer)
3) An Exhortation: Ephesians 4:1-6
4) News & Notes
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heb2_3

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Escape
Frank Himmel

The English word escape comes from an old Latin compound word composed of ex-, “out of,” and cappa, “cape” or “cap.” It therefore literally means to get out of your cape; that is, to leave a pursuer holding only your cape while you get away. We use the word primarily of either breaking free from confinement or control (e.g., escaping from prison), or of successfully avoiding something dangerous or unpleasant (e.g., escaping death). The New Testament has a good bit to say about escaping in the spiritual realm.

Our first concern must be escaping divine punishment. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The righteous judgment of God calls for wrath against sinners—and that is all of us (Romans 3:23). Thankfully, He has provided salvation in His  Son. It is the exclusive means. “And there is salvation in no other; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:13). Therefore, being Jesus’ disciple is serious business; it calls for careful attention. “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

Escaping divine punishment involves several other escapes. It begins with escaping our captivity in sin. Sinners often see themselves as free, but in reality they are held captive by the devil to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Escape from that condition requires repentance and learning the truth (v. 25). Escaping the devil’s hold on us also requires that we escape the world’s thinking and conduct. Peter emphasized the importance of escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:4), the defilement of the world (2 Peter 2:20), and those who live in error (v. 18).

Satan will not leave us alone when we escape to Christ. He will still tempt us. Nevertheless, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

It is up to us to use the way of escape, and it is vital that we do so. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter 2:20).

“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Hebrews 12:25).

— Via Pathlights, April 28, 2019
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john13_34c

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“Lord, Do Not Hold This Sin Against Them”
Adam Litmer

Stephen, a horrifying mess of blood, lacerations, and broken bones, falls to his knees as the stones continue to crash against his body. They’ve done their work. Even were every hand to drop its stone rather than throw it, irreparable damage has been done. Stephen is going to die.

I do not know whether the vision Stephen was granted of Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55) had continued as they cast him out of the city and began stoning him. If it had not then Stephen’s rapidly dimming sight would have been filled with the malevolent faces of his murderers. Indeed, his final statement before death may indicate this. Regardless, the statement itself demonstrates a number of important points worth consideration.

As he fell to his knees, Stephen cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Immediately after these words, Stephen died.

When one carefully considers the situation, Stephen’s final words become even more striking than they appear at first blush. The “natural person” (fleshly, sensual, selfish, proud, ungodly. See 1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7; Jeremiah 6:10) typically responds to hate with hate, violence with violence, and anger with anger. Instances where the “natural person” does not respond in this way tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

To face the moment of an unjust death at the hands of hateful people with forgiveness in one’s heart is foreign to humanity generally. Even if something deep inside the “natural person” recognizes transcendence in such a heart, they have long learned to ignore pesky pricks of the conscience God installed within them.

Truly there is something transcendent in the heart displayed by Stephen. It is the result of the complete transformation God works within His people. (Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 3:14- 16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) It is a transformation that must be desired and permitted, for God will not work it apart from our will. This is why we are told to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, (Colossians 3:16a) to strive for…the holiness without which no one will see the Lord, (Hebrews 12:14) and to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. (Romans 12:1)

Stephen was not the man he had been before putting on Christ. Perhaps that man was already kind and patient. Certainly, he was not so Christ-like before Christ filled his heart and mind. (Luke 23:34; 1 Peter 2:19-23) Indeed, Christ would have to fill a heart to overflowing for it to be so deeply concerned with the souls of its own executioners.

That Stephen spent the last of his strength appealing on their behalf makes this even more astounding. What type of person would do this? Certainly not the atheist with all his hopeless humanism. He hates those who cause him needless pain. Certainly not the agnostic who has refused to commit to any belief. His cherished skepticism provides only horrifying doubt at a moment like this. He despises those who have brought him to it. Certainly not the lukewarm Christian. He never took it all that seriously. If he does come to this moment (which is doubtful for why would he be willing to die for his “faith”?) his thoughts will not extend beyond his heart’s own worry. Only the heart transformed and remade in the image of Jesus Christ can think in the way Stephen thought. How glorious it is!

Peace and love fill this heart. At the moment of death, it need not plead and beg. It is confident of its salvation, (Romans 8:1; 1 John 5:13) not because it believes itself deserving or has compiled  enough works to earn it, but because its life has been one of trusting faith reliant upon God’s grace. (Romans 9:30-32a; Ephesians 2:8-10) This repentant, active life has been dedicated to God’s service and trusts Him to the end. (Titus 2:11-14; 3:8) This saint longs for all to possess what has so graciously been given to him, even those who may unjustly take his life.

May we all grow to love and trust our Lord as Stephen did. May our love for souls abound to the very end.

— Via the University Heights Messenger, Volume 11, Number 4, January 27, 2019
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Bible 3

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An Exhortation: Ephesians 4:1-6

“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. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (NASB)
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Kayleigh Tanner was recently readmitted to the hospital in Atlanta, due to a low blood count.  Until that is back to a good level, she will not be able to continue with her chemo treatments.

Jon Newman is still in rehab, recovering from a recent stroke, and making improvement.

We are glad that Penny Medlock is doing better and now back home from the hospital.

Last week, we mentioned that Bud Montero has recently been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia; but, so far, without the symptoms.

Doug Pennock’s recent dental work had been giving him a little trouble while healing from it.

Also for our prayers: Pat & A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, James Medlock, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Rick Cuthbertson, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Rex and Frankie Hadley, 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 sermon)