The Gospel Observer (March 22, 2020)

“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) A Present Distress (Doy Moyer)
2) Dark Days of Faith (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
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A Present Distress
Doy Moyer

“I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is” (1 Cor 7:26).

Christians faced struggles and persecutions peculiar to their profession as Christians. Paul was dealing with a situation in which there was a “present distress.” We don’t know exactly what this crisis was. It could have been some kind of tribulation, persecution, or perhaps a famine or something else. Whatever it was exactly, Paul advised that it would be better under those circumstances not to marry.

A “distress” here is something that creates a great hardship or “severe pressure” (Thiselton). There certainly can be distresses in time that can cause us temporarily to alter our normal habits. We are in such a time now. It is not exactly the circumstances Paul was dealing with, but surely we can see some application. While this virus is not peculiar to Christians, it does affect Christians because our practices involve close personal and social interaction. Christians are going to want to be together. Yet here we are in our own present distress that causes us to change some habits.

This is not altogether unknown to us. We tell people that if they are sick, they should stay home. If they are “shut in,” we do not expect them to meet like normal. If they are in the hospital, no one thinks they are sinning if they cannot meet. We don’t tell the sick that they need to come to services and, if they don’t, they aren’t trusting God enough. These are personal distresses, and people need to use their judgment about what to do. This is not like altering services because I have a ball game to attend.

A present distress requires that judgments be made based upon that particular crisis. Paul advised against marriage, but said it was his judgment and there was no sin involved if someone married anyway. For us, judgments are being made about how much and how often our contact should be. Some will disagree, but here is a critical point: these judgment calls under a present distress are not about changing God’s plans, overturning Scripture, disobeying the Lord’s command to assemble, showing a lack of faith, and so on. Godly people are trying to navigate their way through a storm for which they have little to no precedent. This is temporary. It will pass. The last thing brethren need to be doing right now is calling their brethren’s faith into question because they are making judgments based upon a present distress. Even if you personally don’t think this is a big deal, others do, and we need to help alleviate fear and stress by showing mercy.

Paul advised against marriage because of a present distress. Imagine brethren telling Paul that he was explicitly denying the Lord’s plans for marriage. Imagine Paul being charged with trying to change God’s will or calling into question his faith over this. Paul should have just ignored that present distress and told them not to make any adjustments whatsoever. Who will tell Paul?

It may be that we find ourselves having to adjust to a new normal. It will take a little time to figure it out and make the needed adjustments. Elders and churches have difficult decisions ahead of them. While these decisions and adjustments are being made, we need to avoid vilifying one another. Love is patient and kind.

Many of these matters in our present distress are going to center around how we treat one another. How will we treat our elderly? How will we show love to one another when we ourselves may get sick? How will we serve the needs of those who are ill? How can we build up one another during a time when we cannot be together the way we normally are? How will we show mercy and compassion if we will feel “just fine” but might put others at risk if we are not careful? How will we respect the way others feel, regardless of how we might feel?

If ever there is a time to show love, respect, and mercy, now is it. Pray for each other. Build up one another. Perhaps we may find that a time like this can help us to refocus, to draw closer both to God and each other. Use the time well.

— Via La Vista church of Christ, March 16, 2020
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Dark Days of Faith
Gary Henry

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you now still mean to persist in your blamelessness? Curse God, and die.’ ‘That is how foolish women talk,’ Job replied. ‘If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we not take sorrow too?’ And in all this misfortune Job uttered no sinful word” (Job 2:9,10 Jerusalem Bible).

BOTH REVERENCE AND GRATITUDE MUST BE MAINTAINED DURING THE DAYS OF DARKNESS. God is not any less there when life is hard than when it is easy. This is an objective fact, regardless of what our feelings may indicate. The challenge is to discipline our feelings when necessary and maintain our faith in the face of hardship and doubt. Dark days need not be days of utter defeat.

As one of the Lord’s apostles, and having endured more than a few difficult days, Paul could say, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). To be “hard pressed” doesn’t mean that we have to be “crushed.” We may be “perplexed, but not in despair.”

To the church in Smyrna, Christ sent this message: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

We simply must not allow the onset of pain in our lives to demolish our faith. Is it not a finer and nobler thing to believe when it’s difficult than when it’s easy? After all, it doesn’t take much character or integrity to believe when God’s reality is radiantly shining and all the obvious blessings are flowing our way. “Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” But when the clouds roll in, that is when people of real faith continue to honor God and thank Him for His goodness. When it must meet some significant test, that is when trust means the most. The value of faith doesn’t really become obvious until there is some doubt to be dealt with.

I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

— Via WordPoints, March 17, 2020
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News & Notes

Due to the current situation of the coronavirus and the need for all of us to do our part in social distancing, out of a health concern for others, all of our services at church are being temporarily cancelled.

Let us pray for our nation and the nations of the world concerning the coronavirus that it will soon be remedied — and eliminated.

Andy Berendt recently had two heart attacks and was also diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has also spread to his stomach and is inoperable.

Rex Hadley is now in the hospital with what they think is pneumonia. He has also been having some heart-related issues lately, so they will be running some tests.

Kim Rowell had been out of the hospital, following her recent heart surgery, but has now been readmitted because of pneumonia.

Patrick, Lynn, and Tatum Downs, who lost their home in a fire, are currently staying in their camper at a friend’s who has camper hookups.

Jonathan Abbott was at home with a fever yesterday.

Rick Cuthbertson has been having a difficult time with his cancer treatments.

Joyce Rittenhouse is on medication for another kidney stone.

Ginger Ann Montero has not been feeling well with a respiratory illness, which she has been seeing a doctor for.

A.J. & Pat Joyner both have health issues.

Also for prayer: Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Frankie Hadley, John and Myrna Jordan, John Bladen, Ann Vandevander, Kelly Stoneheart, Melotine Davis, the Medlock family, Shirley Davis, Sandra Goodrich, and Kerry Williams.
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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 Jesus 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)
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 (March 15, 2020)

“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) A Most Challenging Command (Ethan R. Longhenry)
2) The New Testament on Giving (Bill Crews)
3) News & Notes
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A Most Challenging Command
Ethan R. Longhenry

“To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

How do we define a “good, moral person”? Much of the time, a “good, moral person” is defined more by what he is not doing than what he is doing. “Good, moral people” do not get drunk, do not kill other people, do not steal (at least that much), do not lie, and avoid many other sins. They are “good neighbors” because they mostly keep to themselves and do not bother “us.”

In the New Testament, priests and Levites would, by common confession, be considered “good, moral people.” In fact, in the eyes of many, they were quite holy: they worked for God, perhaps even in the Temple. They worked quite diligently to avoid contracting any form of uncleanness.

Yet, when Jesus tells us the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the priest and the Levite in the story do not turn out to be that “good.” They are the ones who saw the man beaten up by robbers but did nothing to help him. In so doing, they failed to prove to be “neighbors” to that man, and thus violated the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (cf. Lev. 19:10; Luke 10:27).

But the priest and the Levite were “good, moral people”! They would surely have been morally outraged had they seen the robbers beating up the man. They might even have complained about how terrible times were — you cannot even go from Jerusalem to Jericho in peace! Nevertheless, as unpalatable as it may be, the priest and Levite are just as condemned as those robbers who beat up the man in the first place. Sure, the priest and the Levite did not actively hurt the man — yet, when presented with the opportunity to do good to him, they failed to do so. Instead, the “dirty half-breed” Samaritan proved to be more righteous than they!

The New Testament makes it clear that, for those who wish to serve Jesus Christ, it is not sufficient to just avoid evil: we must also do what is right. It is not enough to “abhor evil”; we must also “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). We are incomplete if we only avoid the works of the flesh; we must also develop and manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:17-24). James 4:17 goes so far as to declare it sin to fail to do what is good. Since the New Testament never provides any indication that there is a hierarchy of sin, failure to do what is good is just as bad as actively doing what is wrong!

What, then, are these “good things” that we should be doing? We need to be praying for all men (1 Tim. 2:1-4). We need to show love, mercy, and compassion to all people, even those who hate us and who stand against us (Luke 6:27-36; 1 John 4:7-21). As we have been forgiven, we must forgive others (Eph. 4:32). As we have opportunity, we ought to do good for all people, especially those in the household of faith: we may do so through financial benevolence, giving of our time, and/or using our talents for their benefit (Gal. 6:10; James 1:27). In all things we must imitate our Master, and be willing to serve and be a blessing for others, even without reward (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 John 2:6).

This is a most challenging command for even “mature” believers. It would be much easier if all we had to do was avoid committing acts of sin! Nevertheless, we have all been called to die to self and live for Christ (Gal. 2:20): that requires us to take on the mind of Christ and to serve others as much as it requires us to renounce self and the desires of sin. Let us not prove disobedient to this charge, but instead to do good whenever we have opportunity!

— Via Truth Magazine, Volume LIII, Number 10, October 2009
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The New Testament on Giving
Bill Crews

Said the apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders, “In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving, if properly done, brings greater happiness to a person and contains more to develop his soul than does receiving. He who gives to another stands a little taller and becomes a little richer (not a little weaker and poorer as the world might insist).

Some New Testament points on giving:

1. We are to give as we have opportunity. Galatians 6:10 sets forth the principle; our responsibilities are modified by opportunity.

2. We are to give of what we have, or as we have ability, 2 Corinthians 8:12; Acts 3:6; 11:29.

3. We are to give cheerfully and willingly, not grudgingly (wishing we didn’t have to) and of necessity (because we have to), 2 Corinthians 9:7. A readiness is to be there, 2 Corinthians 8:12.

4. We are to give liberally, generously, bountifully. Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 9:6.

5. We are to lay by in store on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2); and we are to give to him that has need (Ephesians 4:28), to the poor (Galatians 2:10), to the weak (Acts 20:35), to him that asks (Matthew 5:42), but not to those who will not work (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

6. When we are able to do but little, God does not overlook that little or even count it as little, Matthew 10:42; Mark 12:41-44.

7. We are not to give oral blessings only, but physical blessings as well, blessings that come of faith, James 2:15-16. Love in deed and truth, not in word and tongue only, 1 John 3:17-18.

8. We are not to give merely because others are giving, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

9. We are not to give because others expect it of us, 2 Corinthians 8:8, 12.

10. We are not to give to others merely because they gave to us, Luke 6:33-34.

11. We are not to give expecting something in return, Luke 14:12-14.

12. We are not to give to be seen of men or have glory of men, Matthew 6:2-4.

13. The deepest giving involves giving self first, 2 Corinthians 8:5; Romans 6:13.

14. The noblest giving is done in love; giving without love profits nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:3.

15. The supreme gift consists in giving one’s life for another, John 10:11; 15:13; 1 John 3:16.

Remember not only whose we are, but whose is the whole world around us. “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with a perfect heart they offered willingly to Jehovah: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (1 Chronicles 29:9). There followed David’s prayer of praise unto God in which he said, “For all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine,” and “For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:11,14). Friend, do you feel that way about the things you give unto God? The New Testament says, “For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (1 Corinthians 10:26).

Wayne Goff: We commend Bill’s points on giving to you. It would be very good if you would take the time to sit down in a quiet place, read every single passage on giving, and then reflect on your own attitude in the light of these verses. It is so easy to become selfish, complacent, and stingy in life because so many in this world are just like that.

Develop a benevolent, loving spirit of giving, and life will be so much better — now and eternally.

— Via the Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 10, Page 2, March 8, 2020
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** Postponed Gospel Meeting **

As a precautionary health measure, we have postponed our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ with Gene Taylor, which had been scheduled for March 22-25.
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Let us pray for our nation and the nations of the world concerning the coronavirus that it will soon be remedied — and eliminated.

Andy Berendt recently had two heart attacks and was also diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has also spread to his stomach and is inoperable.

Patrick, Lynn, and Tatum Downs recently lost their home in a fire. They are currently staying in their camper at a friend’s who has camper hookups.

Kim Rowell had been out of the hospital, following her recent heart surgery, but has now been readmitted because of pneumonia.

Rick Cuthbertson has been having a difficult time with his cancer treatments.

Joyce Rittenhouse is on medication for another kidney stone.

Ginger Ann Montero has not been feeling well with a respiratory illness, which she has been seeing a doctor for.

A.J. & Pat Joyner both have health issues.

Tina Allen will be having a medical procedure tomorrow.

The shots and prednisone pack helped Doyle Rittenhouse’s back pain, but raised his blood sugar level to 400, requiring 5 insulin shots a day (and of different kinds).

Bud Montero will see his doctor on the 17th for consultation about his upcoming treatments and cyberknife procedure.

Also for prayer: Jim Lively, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Jordan, John Bladen, Ann Vandevander, Kelly Stoneheart, Melotine Davis, the Medlock family, Shirley Davis, Sandra Goodrich, and Kerry Williams.
——————–

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 Jesus 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)
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 (March 8, 2020)

“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) Trust and Submission (Doy Moyer)
2) True Reflections in God’s Mirror (Jeff Smith)
3) News & Notes
——————–

psa62_7-8

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Trust and Submission
Doy Moyer

Trust and submission are two related issues that we sometimes have a difficult time putting into practice. They are also two of the most significant aspects of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ, so understanding and practicing them are vital.

Christians are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Biblical faith is not just believing something gullibly in spite of evidence. The evidence is there (cf. John 20:29-31). Faith is not just merely believing something, though it does involve belief. Biblical faith is trust. A fuller definition of this can be seen in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith stands under our hope. It is an essential trust and demonstration in the reality of what we cannot see. This highlights the temporary nature of what can be seen over against the eternal nature of what we cannot see (2 Cor 4:17-18).

We trust that God is at work even when we do not see exactly what He is doing. In fact, trust is most vital when we do not fully understand something. If we think we have to “see” or have to have everything figured out before we can exercise faith, then we do not really have faith. Faith can be built on evidence, as God has shown in Scripture, but faith stretches into areas unknown to our experience. Like a child who trusts parents, especially when the child does not understand, so we learn to trust God, knowing that there is far more going on than what we will know or grasp. Trust says, “That’s okay. God has it figured out, and I’m glad to be in His hands.” When we don’t understand what is happening or why, trust God. When we don’t understand why God is doing something a particular way, or why we are asked to do something His way, trust Him. He has it figured out when we do not.

Submission is a related, though not identical, idea. Due to modern concepts, and like the term faith, submission is a subject that is sorely misunderstood. Many seem to associate the term with the idea of forced subjugation. Since submission equates to being forced or humiliated to do something, and since Christians believe in submission, then Christians essentially accept this unfair and immoral viewpoint. No one should have to submit to another! However, this is not what submission to Christ or others looks like in Scripture. It does mean that one is putting oneself under another, but the idea here is that we voluntarily submit first to God through obedience to His expressed will and then to others as we seek to put them first and do what is in their best interests.

When we submit, we are first yielding to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). God knows what is best for us, and we trust Him. Because we trust Him, we submit to Him. Herein trust and submission work hand in hand. If I am unwilling to yield my will to God’s will, then I do not really trust Him.

When we submit to others, we yield our will to their needs and put them before ourselves. All Christians are to submit to one another (Eph 5:21). Our first concern is not to be about ourselves. Rather, we are to be like Christ, emptying ourselves, doing nothing from selfishness or conceit, and looking out for the interests of others (Phil 2:1-8). Parents do this all the time for their children. They gladly, lovingly, willingly submit themselves to the needs of their children in order to serve the best interests of those children. In fact, we would consider parents who refuse to do this to be bad parents.

We can also see how this works in a marriage that is designed after God’s plan. Like any other relationship, husbands and wives should submit to one another (Eph 5:21). The wife is, indeed, told to submit to her husband (husbands are not told to put their wives in subjection). She voluntarily puts herself under his headship. At the same time, he is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This is a great act of submission on his part to her as he is to be willing to give himself up completely for her and her needs. As they learn to trust one another, they submit to one another.

The interesting thing about submission is that it is most meaningful when something is disagreeable to us. Christ submitted to the Father’s will by voluntarily going to the cross, though despising its shame (Heb 12:1-3). We might even disagree with others about something, yet yield to their judgment (cf. Heb 13:17). We are showing a level of trust. Unless we are selfishly demanding that everyone kowtow to our will, we must submit ourselves to others for the greater benefit.

When we trust God, we will submit to Him even when we might not understand (like a child). When we love others, we will submit to them, even when we might prefer another course of action.

Trust God. Love others. Deny self. Submit to one another. These are staples of biblical Christianity.

— Via Searching Daily
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True Reflections in God’s Mirror
Jeff Smith

We go to great lengths to make sure we are always presentable before others. Many of us spend literal hours in front of a mirror, making sure each detail is in proper order. Do we care as much about our “real” presentation? Consider the passage in Jas. 1:22-25 in light of this notion.

After admonishing us to be doers of the word and not hearers only (v. 22), James compares one who hears but doesn’t do to a man who looks at his reflection in a mirror and then walks away, forgetting what kind of man he is (vv. 23-24).

The lesson is obvious. Such is a man who hears the word of God but doesn’t think it applies to him (that is the reason why he doesn’t do what he hears). So, upon walking away from God’s “mirror” he thinks himself to be all right, forgetting what he saw as his need for improvement. We’ve all seen this person around or, God forbid, maybe even have become this man. Always thinking of someone else who better be listening when the word is preached, or thinking “someone ought to do that” when a suggestion is made. If this describes us, then we have truly deceived ourselves (v. 22).

James then contrasts such a pitiful man to the one who does what he hears. He concludes that such a one “will be blessed in what he does” (v. 25). However, notice how this man is described. The one who does what he hears is the one who “looks into the perfect law of liberty” or the gospel of Christ. Upon seeing his real reflection, he makes the necessary changes (this is the doing of what he hears). He has not forgotten what kind of man he is. He knows who he is…a sinner in need of salvation (Rom. 3:23). This look is not just a quick glimpse, never to look again.

Such a one who looks in this way “continues in it” (v. 25). There is no vanity here. Just the recognized need to continually pattern his life after what he sees. In short, he obeys what he hears.

So, have you checked your mirror? Do you remember what you saw? What reflection was there? God help us all to not be content with what we see in ourselves that is not good and make the necessary changes to please Him.

— Via The Beacon, March 1, 2020
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News & Notes

Let us be remembering in prayer all those who have been affected by the recent tornadoes in Tennessee.

Also for prayer:

Andy Berendt has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which has also spread to his stomach and is inoperable.

Kim (Ashley Ray Law’s mother) is now out of the hospital, following her open heart surgery, and doing better.

Sandra Goodrich recently fell and broke her ankle.

Doyle Rittenhouse has been having back trouble since Thursday.  He stayed on his back all Saturday, hoping it would help; but it did not.

Bud Montero will soon begin his treatments for his upcoming cyberknife procedure.

Jan Bartlett has now completed her radiation treatments and is doing well.

Also for prayer: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Jordan, John Bladen, Rick Cuthbertson, Jim Lively, Ann Vandevander, Kelly Stoneheart, Melotine Davis, the Medlock family, Shirley Davis, and Kerry Williams.  

Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ that had been scheduled for  March 22-25 (Sunday to Wednesday) with Gene Taylor has now been postponed, due to precautionary health measures.
——————–

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 Jesus 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)
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 (March 1, 2020)

“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) Antioch of Syria (Mike Willis)
2) News & Notes
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antioch 3 in 1

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Antioch of Syria
Mike Willis

There were a number of cities built by various Seleucid kings which bore the name Antioch in honor of rulers who wore the name of Antiochus. Two of them were Antioch of Syria and Antioch of Pisidia.

Alexander the Great was the first to imagine the city of Antioch, according to the fourth-century writer Libanius. After defeating the Persians at the Battle of Issus in 333 B.C., he stopped at the future site of Antioch, drank from the water of its sweet well, and declared that it “tasted like his mother’s milk.” He resolved to build a city on the site. He died before accomplishing this.

After the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.), his kingdom was divided among his generals. The northern area was given to Seleucus Nicator (358-281 B.C.). Seleucus built his capital on the Orontes and named it after his father, Antiochus. Seleucus Nicator made Jewish people citizens of those cities which he built, including Antioch (Josephus, Antiquities, XII. 3.1).

The Seleucid kingdom was ruled from Antioch until 64 B.C. The Seleucids vied with the Ptolemies in Egypt for control of Palestine from 323 to 198 B.C., when Antiochus the Great won control of the region and held it until the Romans moved into the region. Seleucid rule was at first welcome by the Jewish people, but the situation soon changed. During the reign of the tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.), the Jews in Jerusalem were ordered to offer pagan sacrifices on their altar in the Temple, leading to the Maccabean rebellion. The situation of the Antiochian Jews must have been quite difficult. With the coming of the Romans, their situation improved and Jews in Antioch enjoyed the status of a politeuma, a “political state” according to Josephus.

Antioch became an important military center after it was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 64 B.C. by Pompey. He made Antioch the capital of Syria and used it as a staging area for wars against its eastern adversaries. The Romans expanded the development of Antioch under Augustus (27 B.C. – A.D. 14) and Tiberius (A.D. 14-37), colonnading its main north-south street and building numerous public buildings. Herod the Great paid to pave with marble the main thoroughfare in Antioch. Tiberius Caesar later built the colonnades that are there. During the Jewish rebellion, Herod Agrippa II and other Jews opposing the rebellion, met Vespasian in Antioch (Josephus, Wars of the Jews III.2.4). Perhaps this is the reason that Vespasian and Titus continued to act favorably toward the Jews in Antioch, even after the Jewish rebellion (Josephus, Antiquities XII.3.1). After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Titus enjoyed a triumphal entry into the city of Antioch in celebration of his defeating the Jews. Josephus tells of a serious threat to the Jews in Antioch in Wars of the Jews VII.3.2-4).

After the destruction of Seleucia Ctesiphon in 165 B.C., Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman world, ranking behind Rome and Alexandria, Egypt (Josephus, Wars of the Jews III.2.4). Estimates of its population range from 600,000 to 100,000 (Pacwa, 265). The Christian orator John Chrysostom (345-407) estimates that its population was 200,000 during his time. The city was located on a major trade route from the Middle East to Palestine and Egypt, causing it to be a thriving commercial center in the first century.

Antioch played an important part in first century Christianity. Nicolas, one of the seven appointed to serve the daily ministration to the widows, was a proselyte from Antioch (Acts 6:5). After the persecution following the martyrdom of Stephen, those who scattered from Jerusalem took the gospel to Antioch where they began preaching the gospel with much success to the Greeks (Acts 11:19-20). When news of this reached Jerusalem, the saints sent Barnabas to investigate the situation. When he saw that things there were in order, he brought Saul to join him in the work at Antioch. They labored together for a full year in Antioch. Perhaps it was during this time that Paul suffered persecution at Antioch (2 Tim. 3:11). During this time, the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). This new church sent relief to help the poor among the saints at Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30).

From Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3) and to that church Paul reported on all of his missionary activities (Acts 14:26; 18:22).

The church at Antioch played a determinative role in working out whether or not Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul took Titus as a test case and with other brethren (including Barnabas) went to Jerusalem for what is generally called the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15). Though it was revealed that Gentiles could be saved without keeping the Law, Galatians 2:1-14 records a major conflict that occurred in the church when Peter came to Antioch and refused to have table fellowship with Gentiles. Paul resisted him.

Undoubtedly the church at Antioch played a significant part in shaping Christianity into a world religion instead of just another sect of Judaism.

Modern scholarship suggests that Matthew might have been written at Antioch and some think that Luke might also have penned his gospel at Antioch.

Antioch was the home of the famed Christian orator, John Chrysostom, who wrote Homilies Against the Jews. Another famous “Christian” character was Simeon Stylites, who was supposedly buried in Antioch. He lived for thirty years on a 60-foot-high column in the mountains east of the city.

Today the city is known an Antakya, a bustling small city that occupies much of the ancient site. There are ruins of the walls, the hippodrome, a large structure that might be the foundation of Diocletian’s palace, masonry works to control flooding, and aquaducts. However, most of the ancient city lies below the present town of Antakya. The most important artifacts that have been found are the magnificent mosaics found during the 1932-1939 Princeton University and Sorbonne (Paris) excavations (housed at the Antakya Museum, the Louvre, and the Princeton museum). Over 300 mosaics were found and removed; one of the earliest was moved to Worcester Art Museum and reconstructed (http://www.worcesterart.org/Exhibitions/Past/th.html). There is a little evidence of a Jewish population in Antioch.

Visitors are shown Saint Peter’s church, a natural cave on the western slope of Mt. Staurin (the mountain of the Cross), the eastern extension of Mt. Silpius. The cave is thought to have taken its present-day appearance during the medieval centuries after the crusader’s conquest of Antioch in 1098. A stone chair on the altar of the church was put there to commemorate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter to celebrate that he was the first bishop of the city, an apparent Catholic myth.

References

Heintz, Florent. “Polygot Antioch.” Archaeology Odyssey 3:06 (Nov/Dec 2000), 46-55.

Pacwa, Mitchell C. “Antioch of Syria.” Anchor Bible Dictionary, I: 265-269. New York: Doubleday: 1992.

Tate, Georges. “Antioch on the Orontes,” The Oxford Encylopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, I: 144-145. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

— Via Truth Magazine, Volume LIV, Number 2, February 2010
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News & Notes

Mrs. Abbott (Jonathan’s mother) is now in the hospital where she began dialysis yesterday.  She will continue with this 3 days a week.

Bud Montero has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but it was found in its early stage so the prognosis is good.  It will be taken care of in four sessions with a noninvasive, robotic cyberknife that makes no incision.  Treatments will begin in a couple weeks.

After about 2.5 weeks following her brain surgery, Ann Vandevander finally awoke, recognizing her husband and able to move her fingers and toes.  As mentioned, she will be spending a total of up to possibly 60 days in the hospital before being released.

Let us continue praying for Ashley Ray Law’s mother who is recovering now from open heart surgery that went well.

The church at Hoboken will be having a gospel meeting March 5-8 with Keith Crews as their speaker. Sunday: 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m.  Weeknights: 7:30 p.m.  The church meets at 5101 Main Street, Hoboken, Georgia.

Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ, which had been scheduled for March 22-25 with Gene Taylor as the guest speaker, has now been postponed as a precautionary health measure.
——————–
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 Jesus 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)
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 (February 23, 2020)

“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) Looking to Jesus (Doy Moyer)
2) Living To Be Like Him — Perfecting Holiness In Our Lives (Ron Drumm)
3) Holding Fast to the Head (Terry Wayne Benton)
4) News & Notes
——————–

Heb12_3

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Looking to Jesus
Doy Moyer

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

The Hebrews writer was concerned about these Christians turning their backs on Jesus and returning to their former ways. These Christians were facing persecution because they were following Christ, and the threat of wavering because of that suffering lingered. They needed reminding that what they have with Christ is far greater than what they had before, even with the persecutions and suffering. This was a matter of perspective that they needed to keep in front of them. That perspective was wrapped up in Christ.

How can Christians persevere when things get tough? How can we endure when it seems that life goes beyond endurance? The answer lies in the point made in Hebrews 12: look to Jesus. Other translations say something akin to “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (NASB) or “keeping our eyes on Jesus” (CSB). The idea is not just that we look in the direction of Christ or glance at Him now and then. Rather, the idea is to “direct one’s attention without distraction” (BDAG). We are purposefully turning away from other things that keep us distracted and focusing on Jesus.

Runners know that turning their heads away from the goal leads to distractions, and distractions contribute to losing the race. The Hebrews writer is not talking so much about a sprint, but more of the long distance race which requires putting away the things that are distracting (sin which easily entangles) and running with endurance and patience. In this race, distractions can be most deadly, so they needed to focus on Jesus. Other passages tell us something similar. For example:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, setting our minds on things above where Christ is, and pressing on toward the prize are all ways of telling us essentially the same thing. We have a goal, a purpose, a mindset, and a way by which to get there. That way is Jesus. When we look to Jesus, then, what are we seeing? Hebrews tells us that when we see Jesus, we are seeing the One who went to the cross (despising its shame) and endured through the suffering because there was something so desirable about the outcome.

When we look to Jesus, we are looking to the divine Son of God (Hebrews 1). We are also looking to the messianic Son of Man (Hebrews 2). He was manifested in the flesh in order to die for our sins, and this was anything but easy. After quoting from Psalm 8, the writer says, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:8-9). Notice the terminology: “we see Him…” When we focus on Jesus, we see Him who died for us, who went through the suffering and death for us. He endured the cross on our behalf; we can endure the trials of this world on His behalf. But we cannot do it alone. We need Jesus, which also means we need to stay focused on Him as the Captain of our salvation.

The whole of the book of Hebrews is about looking to Jesus. The author points time and again to our Lord, showing us that what we have in Christ is better than anything else to which we might devote ourselves. The Hebrews might have gone back to the Law, but instead they were encouraged to understand the “better hope” they had in Christ, “through which we draw near to God,” and the “better covenant” for which Jesus died (Hebrews 7:19, 22). When we understand what we are looking at and why we need to maintain our focus, it becomes more likely to stay tough when life gets hard.

Going through difficult times should not be a surprise for the Christian. The Scriptures tell us time and again that this will be the case. How do we get through it? We fix our eyes on Jesus as our great example. We see something far greater, and in the end we know that our labor will not have been in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

— Via Bulletin Articles of the Vestavia church of Christ (Vestavia Hills, Alabama) , January 26, 2020
——————–

eph4_22-24f

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Living To Be Like Him — Perfecting Holiness In Our Lives
Ron Drumm

Toward the end of his life, the apostle Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (I Peter 1:15,16).

Can we actually be holy? Why is it that we feel holiness is unattainable? How could Peter make such a plea? Look at Peter’s life – he was rebuked by Jesus after confessing Him to be the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:13-23); he denied the Lord three times after saying he would die for Him (Matt 26:33-35, 69-75); and sinned concerning his treatment of the Gentiles when the Jewish leaders came around (Galatians 2:1-10).

Maybe the problem comes from our misunderstanding of holiness. We often consider it to be perfection in our actions, and that perfection to us seems impossible. Holiness means purity, being blameless, set apart for God’s use, or sanctification (I Cor 6:11; II Thess 2:13-17). This definition does not indicate living perfectly, but rather it describes living a life dedicated to God.

Our character and attitude are in view. Paul expressed it this way, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1). It is a Spirit-guided process we endeavor to follow that brings about holiness in our lives.

Holiness is attainable. This is why Peter in all of his sins and failures could call us to be holy, as God is holy. It is a choice. I’m a vessel for God’s exclusive use, or I allow myself to be the devil’s tool. We are not created to be useless and worthless. We have been created in Christ Jesus to be God’s workmanship — people allowing themselves to be molded into holy servants of Christ (Eph 2:10).

It is our desire to glorify the God of heaven in every aspect of our lives. We are to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). So, “pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

— via The Exhorter (of the Henderson Blvd. church of Christ, Tampa, Florida)
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gal1_6-7

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Holding Fast to the Head
Terry Wane Benton

Paul said to “let no one defraud you of your reward” (Colossians 2:18) by luring you into their misguided religious practices, and the way to not being lured into the false belief system is by “holding fast to the Head” (Colossians 2:19). That means to keep a firm grip on Jesus. Jesus will not mislead you. He leads you through and by means of the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and these “completely furnish you unto every good work.” You don’t have to explore every counterfeit and know all about it. You just need to know Jesus through the scriptures so well that the counterfeit is more easily detected. Hold tightly to what you know about Jesus, the head of the church. Grow in that knowledge source, and then no one will mislead and defraud you of your reward in heaven. Hold fast!

— Via Daily Exhortation (London, England), 2020 Day 36 (February 5, 2020)
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-4-

News & Notes

There will be an annual singing at the Hoboken church of Christ next Saturday (February 29) that begins at 4 p.m. The church meets at 5101 W. Main Street, Hoboken, Georgia.

The church at Hoboken will also be having a gospel meeting March 5-8 with Keith Crews as their speaker. Weeknights: 7:30 p.m.

Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ in Waycross, Georgia, will be March 22-25 (Sunday to Wednesday) with Gene Taylor as our speaker.  (We enjoyed the gospel meeting he preached for us last year. So we are looking forward to having him again.) The following shows his sermon topics and when they will be presented:

Sunday 9 a.m.: “Praying Like Jesus Prayed”

Sunday 10 a.m.: “The Problem of Self”

Sunday 5 p.m.: “The Spirit of Sacrifice”

Monday 7:30 p.m.: “God’s Love for the Prodigal”

Tuesday 7:30 p.m.: “A Demonstration of Brotherly Love”

Wednesday 7:30 p.m.: “Second Mile Living”

Ann Vandevander is to spend up to 60 days in the hospital, following the major surgery she recently had.

Jim Lively had a couple more falls recently that scuffed up his arm; but, fortunately, nothing more serious.

Emma Thomas is now back home from the hospital, following her recent stroke.

After the serious accident that young Kaydance Richardson was in, she has been healing up well and resuming activities.

Jan Barlett’s radiation treatments (for a total of 20 in 4 weeks) is still continuing.

Let us also be praying that Pat Joyner’s blood cell production will improve when it comes to the iron deficiencies she has been having.

Rick Cuthbertson has been having some difficulty with his cancer treatments.

Also for prayer: A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Bladen, Kelly Stoneheart, Melotine Davis, the Medlock family, Shirley Davis, and Kerry Williams.
——————–

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 Jesus 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)
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 (February 16, 2020)

“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) Why So Many Superlatives? (Wayne Goff)
2) Where Diligence is Needed (John Edwards)
3) News & Notes
——————–

star gazing

-1-

Why So Many Superlatives?
Wayne Goff

The New Testament seemingly is full of superlatives. For example, Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Really? “Exceedingly abundantly”? Isn’t that a little much? Well, that all depends on your concept of God. If your concept of God is rooted in the Bible’s revelation of Him, then no, that’s not a little much! In fact, even that superlative only scratches the surface of God’s power, might and ability. Friend, what is your concept of God?

God revealed His desire to help us beyond our wildest expectations in order that we might develop the deepest trust and confidence in Him, which in turn would lead to our eternal salvation. Absolute trust and confidence in God is essential to our faith. After all, didn’t Jesus, the Good Shepherd, promise in John 10:10 that “. . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (“Abundantly” comes from the same Greek word in both references.) The kind of life Jesus promises to those who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is a life that far exceeds anything they could have otherwise. Isn’t that what you want? If so, then trust and obey Jesus!

While on earth, Jesus calmed the winds and waves on a tempestuous Galilee, which caused those who saw it to be “greatly amazed . . . beyond measure,” (Mk. 6:51, same word). God is a God of immeasurable wisdom, power and ability, so superlatives are the best way to describe Him.

“Awesome” is a word that often describes God in the Bible. Unfortunately the word has been marginalized from being over used to describe things that are not actually awesome. When God appeared to Jacob in a dream, he awoke and exclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Gen. 28:17). The place was awesome because God was there! Israel was told to put their trust in God because “. . . the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:21; see also Deut. 10:17; 28:58; Nehemiah 1:5; Ps. 47:2; etc.).  “Awesome” means “to fear, to revere; to cause to be afraid or full of dread.” This describes Jacob’s thoughts perfectly. One does not come into the presence of God and think anything else! “Holy and Reverend (Awesome) is His Name!” (Psalm 111:9).

The salvation procured for us through His mercy, by “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” has been “poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). God saves us in a way that exceeds the need, but He desires to leave no doubt!

God determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). God leaves no room for doubt in the work that He does to us and for us. If there is any doubt, it resides solely in our inability to believe in an Awesome God!  What should be the reaction of sinful man? “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7). You cannot ask for more than that!

— Via The Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 5, Page 2, February 2, 2020
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2pe1_10

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Where Diligence is Needed
John Edwards

The Scriptures stress the need for diligence, careful and persistent work or effort.

IN TEACHING OUR CHILDREN. Israel was instructed, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children . . .” (Dt. 6:7). How much effort do we put into teaching our children the words of the Lord, and to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might?

IN COMMANDMENT KEEPING. Deuteronomy 6:17 says, “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God . . . ”  Joshua exhorted, “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law . . .”. (Josh. 22:5). King Artaxerxes decreed, “Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done . . .” (Ezra 7:23). We need that same fervor for doing what God commands today! The Psalmist said, “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (Ps. 119:4).

IN KEEPING THE HEART. Wisdom literature teaches, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Moses appealed to the nation of Israel, “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently . . .” (Dt. 4:9). It is the persistent effort of every individual to keep his heart!

IN SEEKING THE LOST. Remember the lost piece of silver? “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” (Lk. 15:8). No doubt, there will be more rejoicing when there is more seeking!

IN SPEAKING AND TEACHING THE THINGS OF THE LORD. It is said of Apollos, “. . . he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord . . .” (Acts 18:25). Think how many would come to know the Lord if each of us would do this today!

IN FOLLOWING GOOD WORKS. Among “widow taken into number” requirements is the condition: “. . . if she have diligently followed every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). The Christian is “. . . created in Christ Jesus unto good works . . .” (Eph. 2:10), to be “. . . zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

IN SEEKING GOD. God “. . . is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). It is true that, “if thou shalt seek the Lord, thou shalt find him” (Dt. 4:29). Paul preached, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him . . .” (Acts 17:27). Some may never find the Lord for lack of diligence in seeking! Will you?

IN LOOKING. The Hebrew writer admonished, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God . . .” (Heb. 12:15). If the notion of  “once in grace, always in grace” is true, why the admonition to look diligently? We do not want to “fail of the grace of God” for “by grace ye are saved” (Eph. 2:5)!

IN ADDING TO FAITH. Peter reminded disciples, “. . . giving all diligence, add to your faith . . .” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity are seven additions that require careful work. Diligent faith-adding is a must “. . . to make your calling and election sure” (v. 10)!

IN BEING FOUND BLAMELESS. Looking for new heavens and a new earth,   “. . . be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14). How will we be found in the day of the Lord?

How about dedicating yourself to “abounding in all diligence” in this new decade (2 Cor. 8:7)?

— Via The Terre Haute Speaker, Volume 9, Number 1, January 5, 2020
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Ann Vandevander (Melotine Davis’ sister-in-law) had another fall recently that required major, emergency surgery. She will be in the hospital for up to 60 days.

Emma Thomas (Bennie Medlock’s sister) had a stroke recently that has affected her speech. She has been transferred to a hospital in Savannah.

Jan Bartlett has started her 4 weeks of radiation treatments, 5 days a week.

Pat Joyner was recently in the hospital to intravenously receive an iron infusion. She might also have to have a bone marrow biopsy to check on her blood cell production.  With the iron deficiency and still recovering from her recent surgery, she had been physically weak.

Also: Rick Cuthbertson, A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Bladen, Kelly Stoneheart, the Medlock family, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, and Kerry Williams.
——————–

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 Jesus 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)
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)
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The Gospel Observer (February 9, 2020)

“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 Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (David McClister)
2) News & Notes
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Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III_2

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The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
David McClister

One of the most fascinating archaeological finds relating to the Bible is the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesser III. It is a four-sided column of black limestone inscribed with words (in the cuneiform alphabet) and pictures. The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (who reigned 858-824 B.C.) had it made to record his achievements through the first 31 years of his reign. Austen Layard unearthed it in 1846 during his now-famous discovery of Nimrud (Calah), just south of the capital city of Nineveh. Shalmaneser’s monument was probably set up in a public place where people passing by could see it and take note of the king’s accomplishments. It was, in effect, the ancient Assyrian equivalent of a billboard. The obelisk stands about six feet tall and is now kept in the British Museum. Copies can be seen in other museums, such as the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

What is so amazing about this ancient monument is that it both mentions and depicts a person from the Bible. In the picture accompanying this article, which is a detail from one of the panels on the obelisk, the person bowing down is none other than Jehu, king of Israel, and the person before whom Jehu is bowing is the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. We are sure that this is indeed Jehu because of the inscription underneath the picture panel, which reads “tribute of Jehu son of Omri” (Jehu was not Omri’s physical son, but the word “son” is here used in the sense of “successor”). This is the only artifact from biblical times that contains a representation of a biblical character. While the picture is stylized and therefore probably not intended to be an accurate depiction of Jehu’s appearance, it is nonetheless striking.

A little background knowledge may help us understand the significance of this artifact. First, you may recall that Jehu was the man God chose to replace the wicked family of Ahab of the house of Omri. Elisha the prophet was commanded to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel in 1 Kings 19, and the command was carried out in 2 Kings 9 (841 B.C.). With the appointment as king came a command from God that Jehu destroy the house of Ahab. In this connection, Jehu is perhaps most remembered for killing the wicked queen Jezebel, the wife of Ahab and a Baal worshiper from Phoenicia. He also killed Joram, Ahab’s son who had taken the throne of Israel. Jehu was far from done, however. He killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah, and his relatives, and he killed the 70 sons of Ahab who lived in Samaria and put their heads in two piles at the city gate. Then, using trickery, he killed all the worshipers of Baal. This killing spree is sometimes called “the purge of Jehu.”

While we may be repulsed by all this bloodshed, it was God’s judgment upon the wicked house of Ahab, and it was just. God was pleased that Jehu carried out his orders (2 Kings 10:30). However, Jehu did not please God in everything. Jehu allowed the golden calves, set up by Jeroboam, to remain. He did much to bring Israel back to God, but he did not finish the job. Apparently Jehu did only enough to secure his position on the throne of the northern kingdom. For his failure to cleanse the kingdom of idolatry God allowed Israel’s enemy, the Syrians, to rise up against Israel. It is probably in the context of Jehu’s military problems that we should interpret Shalmaneser’s monument.

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III records an event that is not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible mention Jehu going before the king of Assyria and bowing down before him. However, there is every good reason to believe that Jehu did exactly this. When Jehu was anointed he was encamped at Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 9:1-6), indicating that control of this border town between Israel and Syria was still being contested. The Syrians had another problem, however, and that was the rising military strength of Assyria directly to their east. In the same year that Jehu came to the throne in Israel (841 B.C.) the Assyrians marched westward into Syria. According to Shalmaneser’s records the Syrians suffered heavy losses, but we also know that Shalmaneser was not able to take Damascus. In this context there are at least three scenarios that would have prompted Jehu to bow down before the Assyrian monarch: (1) Jehu saw that Syria (which was a buffer between himself and Assyria) was losing the war with Assyria and that he would not be able to withstand the coming Assyrian advance, so he submitted to their superior military might in order to avoid conflict (which also left his enemy, the Syrians, alone to face the Assyrians), or (2) Jehu may have submitted to the Assyrians in return for help against the Syrians (cf. a somewhat similar tactic by king Asa in 1 Kings 15:17-22; but this is the least likely scenario), or (3) Jehu submitted when the Assyrian army finally pushed into northern Palestine (Shalmaneser says that he took tribute not only from Jehu, but from Tyre and Sidon as well). Either way, it seems that Jehu (wisely) never entered into any anti-Assyrian alliance with Syria and that he probably submitted to Assyria to keep his throne. This is what is being depicted on the obelisk — Jehu bowing before the king of Assyria, recognizing his power, and presenting his nation’s tribute payment.

The political effect of Jehu’s action would have been that while Jehu may have saved his kingdom from destruction (for the moment), he weakened his kingdom by obligating Israel to hefty annual tribute payments to Assyria. His capitulation to Assyria also increased Syria’s animosity toward Israel and the king of Syria, Hazael, apparently after the Assyrians withdrew, vented his anger against Jehu and captured all of Israel’s transjordan territory (2 Kings 9:32f). These negative effects only compounded the political crisis Jehu already faced. When he killed off the house of Ahab (including Jezebel), he lost favorable relations with the Phoenicians (Jezebel was a Phoenician), and the Moabites had already successfully rebelled from Israelite subjugation under Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:1) about ten years earlier, which meant that Moab’s tribute payments, which once boosted Israel’s economy, had ceased. So Jehu created enemies to his north, he lost his territories to the east, and had lost control of the Moabites to the south. It would not be until the reign of Jeroboam II that Israel would recover.

There are two brief lessons to consider. The first is about the historical trustworthiness of the Bible. The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III proves that there really was a man named Jehu who was the king of Israel, just as the Bible says there was, and that he lived in the time period which the Bible reports. The name of Hazael, the king of Syria at that time — who is also mentioned in the Bible — also appears on the Assyrian king’s monument. The Bible’s stories are true, they really happened, and the biblical record is accurate.

The second lesson is a moral one, and has to do with our influence on the world around us, how others see us. I have always thought it regrettable that here we have an actual picture of a person in the Bible — and what is he doing? He is making a fool of himself! Here was the king of Israel. With God behind him, there was nothing he could not have accomplished. God would have fought for Israel, and Israel could have risen to great power and blessing. But Jehu took advantage of none of this. In times of trouble Jehu looked for human help rather than looking to God for help. This scene, carved in rock and preserved for all the world to see, makes me think about the influence that we, as God’s people today, should have. How do others see us? Do they see us like they saw Jehu — catering to the world and bowing down (figuratively) before worldly people, surrendering ourselves to them and their lifestyle? If all that ever remained of our lives in the records of the world was that we served the world instead of God, what kind of legacy have we left?

Whenever I see this panel from Shalmaneser’s monument, I am both happy and sad. I am happy to know that the biblical record has been proven to be true and accurate, but I am sad to see that it shows one of God’s people acting in a faithless way. Let us live so that we are not remembered like Jehu was.

– Via Truth Magazine, Volume XLV: 1, p10, January 4, 2001.
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Olivia McCarthy had strep throat last week, but is now doing better.

Natalie Mackey (Cheryl Corbitt’s granddaughter) had the flu recently, but is also now better.

Cheryl’s daughter Ashlee had her baby last Tuesday. His name is Khiree Isaiah. He and Ashlee are both doing fine.

Jan Bartlett is now having radiation treatments 5 days a week that will continue for four weeks.

Let us also keep the following in prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, James Medlock, A.J. and Pat Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, John Bladen, Kelly Stoneheart, Ann Vandevander, the Medlock family, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Brook & Kaydance Richardson, and Kerry Williams.
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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)
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)