The Gospel Observer (September 1, 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” (Matt. 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Pearls From Proverbs (Irven Himmel)
2) Correct Me, O Lord (Grady Huggins)
3) News & Notes
——————–

psa32_10

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Pearls from Proverbs
Irven Himmel

A Rough Road

“Good understanding giveth favor: but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

Things are not always what they seem. The course which looks good may offer more misery than happiness, more heartaches than comfort, and more disappointments than satisfaction.

Good Understanding

The Hebrew word sekel denotes intelligence, sound judgment, good sense, or prudence. It is translated “wisdom” in Proverbs 12:8; in 19:11 it is “prudence.”

Abigail, Nabal’s wife, was a woman of good understanding (1 Sam. 25:3). In contrast, her husband was churlish and evil in his deeds.

We show sound judgment and prudence in yielding to the will of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Psa. 111:10).

“Obedience to God proves that our judgment is sound. Why should he not be obeyed? Does not reason itself claim obedience for the Lord of all? Only a man void of understanding will ever justify rebellion against the holy God. Practical godliness is the test of wisdom. Men may know and be very orthodox, they may talk and be very eloquent, they may speculate and be very profound; but the best proof of their intelligence must be found in their actually doing the will of the Lord” (C.H. Spurgeon).

Giving of Favor

It is a fact that good understanding gives favor. “A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised” (Prov. 12:8). Favor and good understanding are connected in Proverbs 3:4.

Joseph gained favor with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, through sound judgment and prudence. Pharaoh remarked concerning Joseph, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?” He said to Joseph, “There is none so discreet and wise as thou art” (Gen. 41:38,39).

Daniel gained favor with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, through wisdom and good understanding. In all matters of wisdom and understanding, the king found Daniel and his three companions ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm (Dan. 1:19,20).

The youthful years of Jesus are summed up in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Wise judgment is appreciated by right-thinking people. Good understanding brings esteem, honor, admiration, and respect.

Transgressors

The Hebrew word for “transgressors” in our text is bagad. It is a term pointing to such as deal deceitfully or treacherously. It appears in Psalm 119:158, which says, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.” It is used in Isaiah 21:2 where the prophet said, “the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously.”

Our text refers especially to the unfaithful, the offensive, the treacherous. The New American Standard Bible renders it, “Good understanding produces favor, But the way of the treacherous is hard.”

A Hard Way

The course of transgressors is rugged and rough. Often there is violence. “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence” (Prov. 13:2).

Many transgressors have no compassion. “. . . The manner in which they transact with men, is stiff, as hard as stone, and repulsive; they follow selfish views, never placing themselves in sympathy with the condition of their neighbour; they are without the tenderness which is connected with fine culture; they remain destitute of feeling in things which, as we say, would soften a stone” (F. Delitzsch).

The way of transgressors is hard because the pleasures of sin are for limited duration and are deceitful. How dreadful to reach the end of life and realize that one has taken the road to perdition.

Transgression brings suffering, not only to the transgressor, but even to his family and friends in many cases. Some have plunged headlong into some wicked act without stopping to think of the consequences. Innocent people are hurt. Although the sin may be forgiven, some of its effects may never be erased during the lifetime of the offender.

No relief is in sight for one who continues in transgression. Sometimes one treacherous act leads to another, and then another. Deeper and deeper into evil plunges the unfaithful person. He heaps misery on top of misery. Guilt weighs heavily until his conscience becomes as hardened as the stones along a rugged path.

The narrow way that leads to life requires sacrifice, self-denial, and discipline. But there is no road as rough as that which the transgressor travels.

— Via the Guardian of Truth XXX: 13, p. 393, July 3, 1986
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prov14_12c

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Correct Me, O Lord
Grady Huggins

“I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23).

We are simply not capable of navigating our own way through life.  God is the potter, we are the clay, and we desperately need Him to mold us (Jer 18:1-6).  Trying to take control of our own lives has just ruined the original beauty that God had envisioned for us.  “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isa 53:6).  God had a safe path plotted out for us, but we refused to listen to His guidance.  We have rejected the narrow way for an easier road of our own devising.  With the world cheering us on all around, we rush headlong toward destruction (Matt 7:13-14).

Yet, trusting our own instincts we are often blissfully unaware of the danger we are in.  “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death!” (Prov 14:12).  We convince ourselves that we have it all under control.  Stop and ask for directions?  Never!  In our certainty we forget the warning of Jeremiah.  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).  Is it possible that our heart is deceiving us?  Is it possible that we are mistaken?  Maybe we don’t have it all figured out and under control.  Maybe we need help.

Recognizing we cannot direct our own steps, we must cry out with the prayer of Jeremiah: “Correct me, O LORD, but with justice; not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing” (Jer 10:24).  Yes, we need correction.  We need God to show us where we are deceiving ourselves.  With His help we can stop covering up and minimizing our faults.  We can rather expose and address them.

This process is not quick and painless.  It is very difficult to see ourselves the way God sees us and constantly grapple with our insufficiencies.  Yet, this struggle is exactly what we should expect traveling along the narrow way.  And we can find comfort in God’s grace.  He does not correct us in anger, but in love.  He is always there to pick us up when we fall and strengthen us to press on to higher ground.  Though we continually fall short of His perfect character, He has made a way for us to bridge the gap through Jesus (Rom 3:23-24).

The important thing is that we never harden our heart to His correction.  It’s when we are most at ease in our faith that we are most at danger (1 Cor 10:13).  We must allow God’s word to  function as a mirror, showing us what corrections need to be made (James 1:23-25).  We must allow it to function as a scalpel, opening up the innermost thoughts of our hearts (Heb 4:12).  Like Jeremiah, we must pray for and welcome God’s correction at all times, because there is no doubt we need it.

— Via the Kirkwood church of Christ, July 10, 2017
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Shirley Davis’ heel has not yet healed from the ulcer.  She is still in need of a right knee replacement, but doesn’t feel strong enough for it right now. It is hard for her to get around.

Eva Mabry and Stephanie Fals are in the hospital and have requested prayer.

Jan Bartlett has decided to take follow-up treatments, as a safety precaution, following her recent surgery that eliminated cancer.

Melontine Davis thinks she might hear this week of when her upcoming surgery will be on her herniated disk.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer: Barbara Thompson, Rick Cuthbertson, Jim Lively; Pat & A.J. Joyner; James, Bennie, Deborah, and Penny Medlock; Mary Vandevander; and Rex and Frankie Hadley.
——————–

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)
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)

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The Gospel Observer (August 25, 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” (Matt. 28:19-20).
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Contents:

1) If Baptism Is Not Necessary (Irven Himmel)
2) Toward Better Communication (Sewell Hall)
3) News & Notes
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baptism_underwater

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If Baptism Is Not Necessary
Irven Himmel

In the thinking of many religionists baptism is no more than a ritual. Its meaning is explained in a variety of ways, and to some it has no real meaning. While there is widespread agreement that water is the element prescribed in the New Testament for baptism, few acknowledge that baptism is necessary to the obtaining of forgiveness of sins.

If Baptism Is Not Necessary,
Why Did Jesus Make It a Condition of Salvation?

After instructing the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, the Lord said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15, 16). Note that Jesus did not say, “He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved.” And He did not say, “He that believeth shall be saved whether he is baptized or not.” To the contrary, Jesus said, “He that believeth and Is baptized shall be saved.”

On another occasion Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man . . .” (Matt. 7:24). This makes both hearing and doing essential to our being like a wise man. In like manner, Mk. 16:16 makes both belief and baptism essential to our being saved. Hearing without doing does not make one wise, and belief without baptism does not result in salvation. If two and two make four, two minus two cannot equal four. Belief and baptism must not be interpreted to mean belief minus baptism.

If Baptism Is Not Necessary,
Why Did Peter Teach That It Is For the Remission of  Sins?

On Pentecost, Peter preached that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. His hearers, pricked in their heart with conviction, asked what to do. Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). How can one admit that repentance is for (unto) the remission of sins but deny that baptism is for that purpose?

When Peter said in Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” no one takes that to mean that repentance is necessary but being converted is non-essential. If Acts 3:19 makes both repentance and being converted necessary to blotting out of sins, Acts 2:38 makes both repentance and baptism necessary to remission of sins.

A disciple named Ananias was sent to Saul, a praying penitent man, in Damascus. “And now why tarriest thou?” said Ananias “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name, of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Were Saul’s sins already washed away? If so, why was he told to “wash away thy sins”?

It will not help to say this washing was symbolic. One might as well argue that the arising was symbolic rather than real, or that the baptism was symbolic rather than actual, or that the calling on the Lord was only symbolic rather than genuine calling, as to contend that the washing away of sins was only a symbolic portrayal. The language of Ananias clearly implies that Saul was still a sinner until he was baptized.

If Baptism Is Not Necessary,
Why Did Paul Regard it As A Prerequisite for the New Life?

Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3, 4).

Baptism stands between the sinner and his entrance into Jesus Christ. Baptism puts one into Jesus Christ. And baptism puts one into the death of the Lord where the benefits of His shed blood are to be received. Furthermore, baptism enables one to enter into “newness of life.” The theory of salvation before baptism would have one walking in newness of life before the old man is buried.

If Baptism Is Not Necessary,
Why Does the Bible Say That It Saves?

According to the apostle Peter, “eight souls were saved by water” in Noah’s day. The water saved them in that it carried the ark with its occupants from the old sin-cursed world to a new beginning. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).

Baptism doth now save us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is the gist of Peter’s statement. Just as water “saved” eight people who were in the ark, baptism “doth also now save us.” Many argue that baptism doth NOT save us. Peter said baptism doth NOW save us. Which do you accept, the teaching of the Bible, or the teaching of fallible men?

Reader, if you have not obeyed the Lord in baptism for the remission of sins, do it today.

— Via Truth Magazine XX: 45, p. 706, November 11, 1976
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Job12_11

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Toward Better Communication
Sewell Hall

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

Can you imagine better advice for getting along with others? How often we hear it said that the problem in a family, a plant, an office, a school, or even a church is a breakdown of communication. Obedience to this verse would change all of that.

“Be quick to hear.” Listen! Try to understand where the one who is talking “is coming from” and what he or she really means. See if you can repeat what was said so accurately that the one who said it will agree that you have stated the position accurately.

Now, make sure a reply is needed. We do not have to correct every mistake we hear. Some are not serious enough to require attention. Others, though serious, may have to wait for a more suitable time to be corrected.

Even if a reply is needed, take your time. “Be slow to speak.” Think of what you are saying. Think how it will sound to the one hearing it and how it will sound if it is repeated to someone else. Ask yourself if what you are about to say will do good or do harm. Ask God to help you to say only what needs to be said. Nehemiah was asked a question by the king and managed a prayer before he answered (Neh. 2:4-5). Remember that once you have spoken, you cannot recall your words.

Above all, “be slow to anger.” Anger almost always breaks down communication; shouting matches seldom end in a better understanding of each other. And, besides jeopardizing human relationships, they endanger our relation with God. We may fancy that our anger is “righteous indignation,” but the Holy Spirit says: “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

Are you thinking, “That’s not much of a way to win an argument”? RIGHT! But it is a pretty good way to stop one. How would you like to argue with someone who is “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger”?

— Via The Beacon, July 14, 2019
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Barbara Thompson had a follow-up in Jacksonville last Wednesday. The EKG looked real good and no AFib. She is coming along very well, though it might take up to 6 months for a complete recovery.

Melotine Davis has seen her doctor about her herniated disk that happened from a fall, after her recent back surgery.  But she has not yet heard when this additional surgery will be.

Rick Cuthbertson, who is being treated for lung cancer, will soon be seeing his doctor about beginning a more effectual chemo.

Let us also continue to remember our shut-ins: Mary Vandevander and Shirley Davis.

And also on our prayer list: Jim Lively; Pat & A.J. Joyner; James, Bennie, Deborah, and Penny Medlock; Doyle & Joyce Rittenhouse; and Jan Bartlett
——————–

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)
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 (August 18, 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) The Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Contribution to the Background of the New Testament (Marc W. Gibson)
2) News & Notes
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Dead Sea Scroll 2

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The Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Contribution to the Background of the New Testament
Marc W. Gibson

The ancient manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd in a cave in the cliffs just above the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. In the years that followed, some eight hundred intact and fragmented manuscripts were found in several nearby caves, adding up to the greatest archaeological find of the twentieth century. It continues to be the prevailing view of scholars today that these ancient scrolls were placed in these caves by the inhabitants of the settlement of Qumran, the remains of which lie between the cliffs and the Dead Sea.

The most likely inhabitants of Qumran were the Essenes, a sect of the Jews which separated itself from, and was critical of, mainstream Judaism based in Jerusalem. Though a point of dispute among scholars today, the manuscripts were most likely produced and owned by the Qumran settlement, and hidden when the Romans sent their army to the region to put down a Jewish uprising (A.D. 68-70). The excavators of Qumran have determined that it was destroyed in A.D. 68 by the Romans as they prepared to overthrow Jerusalem. Though Qumran was destroyed, the scrolls were safely hidden in the caves until their discovery 1,879 years later. The scrolls date from between 250 B.C. and A.D. 68 and include communal (sectarian) laws and regulations, religious documents, and most importantly for biblical textual studies, manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. Every book of the Old Testament was represented except Esther. This discovery pushed the evidence for the Old Testament text back more than one thousand years, and a study of these texts have shown that our Old Testament translations today are extremely accurate and based on solid textual evidence.

The remaining materials in the cache of scrolls should not be quickly dismissed as inconsequential to the study of the Bible or the New Testament in particular. When one understands that most of the sectarian and religious scrolls were produced and/or collected in a Jewish setting of the two centuries leading up to the time of Jesus and the New Testament (known as Second Temple Judaism), then he will realize that information may be available to shed light on the society and times in which Jesus lived and the New Testament was written. Jesus encountered various opinions and views among the Jews of his day. Could the scrolls help us identify some of this thinking? In what ways can they illuminate our understanding of New Testament backgrounds?

Dangerous Theories
In reading scholarly works on this subject, one will be inundated with the theories of men concerning the relationship of the New Testament and the Second Temple Judaism in the years before and during the first century. The Christian should beware of the liberal critical opinions that downplay, or even dismiss, the role of divine inspiration as the source of the message of the New Testament. Much speculation is practiced in the attempt to derive the “sources” of the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. Emphasis is given to the Jewish “soil” out of which Christianity supposedly arose. While it is true that the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament must be understood against the backdrop of the promises, prophecies, and shadows of the Old Testament, Jesus was not dependent on the Jewish thinking of his day to help formulate his doctrine.

The prevailing Jewish opinions of that day about the Old Testament and the person and work of the Messiah were not the “soil” from which New Testament doctrine was founded. Any parallels that have been suggested are only that, parallels. They do not prove in any way that Christianity borrowed or tweaked the popular thinking of its day, and became just another sect of Judaism. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and reveal divine truth (Matt. 5:17; John 7:16-17). He confronted various erroneous views and faulty interpretations (John 5:46-47; Matt. 22:15-46). The scrolls can help us understand more about both the parallels and contrasts.

Parallel Themes
One of the more interesting parallels in the teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament is the distinction between Light and Darkness. One Qumran text, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, speaks of the battle between the forces of Light and Darkness. Jesus used light and darkness to illustrate the distinction between truth and error (John 3:19-21; 8:12), as did Paul (2 Cor. 4:3-6; 6:14) and John (1 John 1:5-6; 2:9-10). Other parallel themes found in the scrolls include criticism of loving riches, righteousness, flesh and spirit, and the necessity of conversion. These parallels illustrate the common use of metaphors and the understanding of general themes revealed in Scripture.

Old Testament Prophecy

The Qumran community cited the Old Testament in its religious texts, but the fulfillments of its prophecies were often interpreted in the context of their ideology. One such example is found in the Manual of Discipline [Community Rule] (8:12-15) where Isaiah 40:3 is applied to the community itself, instead of John the Baptist’s heralding of the coming of Jesus (Matt. 3:1-3). They also understood themselves to be the eschatological “last generation” through whom God would bring final victory for the righteous. Through them would come a “Teacher of Righteousness” that would give the proper understanding of God’s Word. These examples affirm the fact that the Old Testament prophecies and promises were not fully understood until Jesus Christ revealed their fulfillment in him and his kingdom.

Views About the Messiah

One of the most significant subjects that the Dead Sea Scrolls helps us to understand is the confused first century view of the person and work of the Messiah. Those at Qumran reflected their times in that they had a high expectation of the Messiah. References are made to “the Messiah of Righteousness . . . the Branch of David” (Genesis Commentaries [4Q252]; Commentaries on Isaiah [4Q161]), and to a royal and militaristic “Prince of the Congregation” (Damascus Document 7:18-20; War Scroll 5:1). But the concept was taken further in the expectation of two messiahs: “They shall depart from none of the counsels of the Law to walk in all the stubbornness of their hearts, but shall be ruled by the primitive precepts in which the men of the Community were first instructed until there shall come the Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” (Manual of Discipline 9:10-11). Actually, three different characters are spoken of here: the Prophet, Messiah of Aaron, and the Messiah of Israel. The Messiah of Israel was a royal messiah, while the Messiah of Aaron was a priestly messiah and is the prominent one in that context. These beliefs again reflected erroneous views of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. On the other hand, the Messianic Apocalypse accurately speaks of a Messiah whose work would be of liberating captives, restoring sight to the blind, healing the wounded, reviving the dead, and bringing good news to the poor (see Isa. 61:1; Matt. 11:4-5). There were many different views and opinions as to whom the Messiah(s) was and what role he would fulfill, but there is no suggestion that he would be a suffering servant who would die. The expectation that the Messiah would suffer and give his life as a ransom for sinful man is noticeably absent in Jesus’ day and in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Matt. 16:21-23; Luke 24:25-26).

Misunderstanding and confusion is also found concerning the Prophet and the Messiah being understood as two different individuals, instead of two roles being combined in the Coming One (John 1:19-21; Acts 3:22-26). The popular conceptions of the Messiah did not consider him to be a suffering servant who would die (Matt. 16:21-23; John 12:34). The Jews were looking for a victorious earthly warrior-king (John 6:14-15). Christ and the apostles would be the ones who would expound the divine truth concerning Jesus the Messiah as Prophet, Priest, and King (Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 2:36; 17:2-3). Jesus was given all authority and brought grace, truth, and salvation (Matt. 28:18; John 1:9-16). He fulfilled the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most significant discoveries in the history of Biblical archaeology. They reveal snapshots of Jewish thought in the years leading up to Jesus and the New Testament. We view in them the struggle to understand the meaning of the text of the Hebrew Bible. We see the confusion and errors that plagued the thinking of many who needed the light of truth revealed in Jesus. Only in that truth would they be able to find familiar themes placed in their proper context and the divine plan of God revealed in its fullness. Only in Christ would they be able to see the mystery revealed (1 Cor. 2:26-16; Eph. 3:1-7).

Recommended Reading
The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Geza Vermes (New York: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1997).
Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review, Hershel Shanks, ed. (New York: Random House, 1992).
The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hershel Shanks (New York: Random House, 1998).
The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature, John J. Collins (New York: Doubleday, 1995).
The Dead Sea Scrolls After Forty Years, Hershel Shanks, et. al. (Washington D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991).
Solving the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Edward M. Cook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994).
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible, Charles F. Pfeiffer (New York: Weathervane Books, 1969).
The Dead Sea Scrolls and Modern Translations of the Old Testament, Harold Scanlin (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).
Dead Sea Scrolls,” William Sanford LaSor, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, rev. ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 883-897.

— Via Truth Magazine, Vol. XLV, 1, p1, January 4, 2001
——————–

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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Rick Cuthbertson, who is being treated for lung cancer, will soon be seeing his doctor about beginning a more effectual chemo.

The procedure for Barbara Thompson to close the hole in her heart went well last Tuesday.  She is now also doing remarkably well following the mini stroke she had a couple weeks ago that affected her speech, which has already greatly improved!

Bennie Medlock has been having some painful trouble with his back and legs.

Deborah Medlock was also having some back pain.

Let us pray that Jan Bartlett will make the right decision about whether to have or to not have treatments, following her recent surgery.  The cancer was eliminated, so the treatments would be a precautionary measure.

We are glad to have Doug and Marie Pennock back with us, after their visit up north for a few weeks!

Melotine Davis is healing well from her back surgery; but a fall soon afterwards has caused a painful herniated disk.  She will soon be seeing her doctor about that.

Let us also be remembering our shut-ins: Mary Vandevander and Shirley Davis.

Also for our prayer list: Jim Lively, Pat & A.J. Joyner, and Doyle & Joyce Rittenhouse.
——————-

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)
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 (August 11, 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) Some Bible “Excepts” (Bill Crews)
2) Babylon Clay Tablet Confirms Jeremiah (Ben M. Shropshire)
3) Never Give Up! (Greg Gwin)
4) News & Notes
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john15_4

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Some Bible “Excepts”
Bill Crews

The English word “except” is a strong word. It can be used as a verb, either transitive or intransitive, and as a preposition. But it is also identified as a conjunction, at least “archaically,” with the meaning of “unless.” This simply means that in the past in the English language the word was used as a conjunction and meant “unless.” That is exactly how the word is used, and frequently, in our English translations of the Bible. It has the meaning of “if not,” “unless,” “but that” and “without.” It is used to emphasize conditions that must be met. For example:

THE NECESSITY OF FAITH: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Thus, it is imperative that we believe that Jesus is He (the Christ, the One sent from God). (The necessity of that faith is also stressed in this way: “And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him,” Hebrews 11:6).

THE NECESSITY OF CHRIST: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one cometh unto the Father but (or except) by Me” (John 14:6). We cannot come unto God unless we believe; we cannot come unto God except by His Son. How do we come unto that Son? “No man can come to me except the Father that sent Me draw him” (John 6:44). And how does the Father draw men unto the Son? “It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God” (that’s in Isaiah 54:13, B.C.). “Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). So the Father, through His word, draws men unto His Son. This is the same way that men are led to have faith (Romans 10:17 — faith comes by hearing the word of God; Acts 15:7 — by Peter’s mouth the Gentiles were to hear the word of the gospel and believe).

THE NECESSITY OF BEING BORN AGAIN: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew (or again), he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). This is explained further: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). On being born (or begotten) of the Spirit see James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 4:15 — we are begotten by the word or the gospel which was given by the Spirit. On being born of water see Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12 and 1:18 — we are brought forth from the water of baptism as new creatures.

THE NECESSITY OF HONESTY AND SINCERITY: “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Their righteousness was only apparent, external and hypocritical. Ours must be real, according to God’s word and from the heart.

THE NECESSITY OF HUMILITY: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein” (Mark 10:15).

THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE: “I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). Jesus addressed these words to some specific individuals, as He compared them to others, but the words Except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” can be applied in a spiritual and eternal sense to all sinners. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30-31).

THE NECESSITY OF CONTENDING LAWFULLY: “And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:5). The Christian is likened to a soldier (verse 4) and to a contestant in the athletic games (verse 5). Like the soldier he must be dedicated and loyal. Like the contestant in the games, he must abide by the rules that govern the “race.”

For other “except” passages dealing with things that are necessary for our salvation see Matthew 6:15; John 15:4, 6; 1 Corinthians 9:16; James 2:17; Revelation 2:2, 22, 3:3.

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 34, Issue 31, Page 3, August 4, 2019
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Nebo-sarsekim tablet

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Babylon Clay Tablet Confirms Jeremiah
Ben M. Shropshire

The recent discovery of a cuneiform clay tablet by an Austrian scholar at the site of ancient Babylon confirms the historical accuracy of the book of Jeremiah. The recently deciphered tablet, which dates from 595 BC, refers to an official in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, which is also mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah. The tablet names a Babylonian officer called Nebo-Sarsekim, who, according to Jeremiah (39:3) was present in 586 BC when “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it” (Jeremiah 39:1).

The clay tablet relates that Nebo-Sarsekim bestowed a gift of gold on the Temple of Esangila in the city of Babylon. It does not mention that he was with Nebuchadnezzar when he laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and then destroyed it. The cuneiform inscription, therefore, just confirms that Jeremiah was accurate when he reported there was an official (Jeremiah refers to him as a prince of the king of Babylon) of the Babylonian government whose name was Nebo-Sarsekim. The dating of the tablet from 595 BC, which was just nine years prior to the event reported by Jeremiah, demonstrates the likelihood that the tablet and Jeremiah were both referring to the same person.

This is just another evidence, along with many others, that the Bible is not just a collection of legends, fables and hand-me-down stories, but that it is a historically accurate document. Believing that the Bible was inspired of God, we would expect it to be historically accurate.

— Via Lifeline, July 15, 2000
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don't quit do it

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Never Give Up!
Greg Gwin

Winston Churchill is remembered as one of the great motivators of the past century. His leadership qualities were a deciding factor in helping the British people through the darkest hours of World War II.

Later in life Churchill was invited to return to the preparatory school he had attended as a youth. He was to address the students, and they had been told to expect “one of the greatest orators of all times.” Their instructions were to listen carefully, and take notes.

Churchill’s speech to the student body was incredibly brief. You, no doubt, are familiar with the entire text of that speech. Sir Winston said, “Young Gentlemen, Never, never, never, never give up!” That was it. No  more. But it was a message that could not be forgotten.

Others have pointed out that the key to success is not necessarily talent, or training, or luck. It is patience, persistence, and perseverance that wins the prize.

This principle also applies in spiritual pursuits. We’ve known of some incredibly talented folks who have given up. And others who have received the finest opportunities have simply quit.

We need determination to continue on, no matter what comes our way. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t whine and drop out at the first sign of adversity.

The book of Hebrews was written to Christians who were tempted to give up. The words of encouragement written to them are needed by us today: “Cast not away therefore your confidence. . . ye have need of patience. . . we are not of them who draw back (10:35—39) . . . Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (12:1).

Never give up!

— via The Beacon, August 4, 2019
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“By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19, NASB).
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-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Last Sunday, Barbara Thompson had a TIA (a “mini stroke”).  It caused no paralysis, but did affect her speech.  She returned home Thursday and is to be kept in for a few days.  This Tuesday, she will be having a non-invasive procedure to repair a hole in her heart  .

Joyce Rittenhouse was bitten by an insect that has left quite a mark and had her feeling ill.  Her blood pressure had been up to 202/102 several days afterwards, but then dropped a few hours later to 149/98. She is also experiencing other symptoms.  If not better by today, she will begin antibiotics and see her doctor tomorrow morning.

Doyle Rittenhouse has still been having some trouble with a fast pulse and will soon begin wearing a heart monitor to better determine the problem.

Melontine Davis has healed well from her recent back surgery; but a fall, following that surgery, has caused a herniated disk that is giving her much pain.  She will soon be seeing her doctor about this.

Bennie Medlock has been having painful trouble with his back and legs.

Jan Bartlett has a decision to make about what kind of treatments (and possibly two) to have following her recent surgery for breast cancer.  The cancer was removed.

Our shut-ins: Mary Vandevander and Shirley Davis.

Our other members with health issues: Pat & A.J. Joyner; Jim Lively; Myrna Jordan, James and Deborah Medlock, and Bud Montero. 
——————-

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)
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 (August 4, 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) Fix Your Eyes on Jesus (Frank Himmel)
2) Two Wise Goats (Anonymous)
3) A Question About John’s Baptism (Greg Gwin)
4) News & Notes
——————–

mark9_23

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Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
Frank Himmel

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The Example

Jesus is the author of salvation. The Greek word used here “primarily signifies one who takes a lead in, or provides the first occasion of, anything” (Vine). Some suggest pioneer or trail-blazer is the idea. Jesus opens the way to God because He is the way (Hebrews 10:19-20; John 14:6).

Jesus is also the perfecter of faith. In Him faith found its perfect expression. He completed the faith by carrying out God’s plan, and He is also able to bring our faith to its complete end.

Other Examples

As we run our race we should rightly be able to look to each other for instructive and encouraging examples.  While elders (1 Peter 5:3) and preachers (1 Timothy 4:12) are especially charged  with leading by example, every disciple ought to be able to say with Paul, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Even the best disciples, however, have their flaws. Never make the mistake of judging the greatness or power or value of Jesus by the weakness of His followers. Fix your eyes on Jesus!

An Illustration

While Jesus, Peter, James, and John were away on a mountain to pray, a man brought his demon-possessed boy to the other apostles to be healed (Mark 9:14-29). The demon was causing seizures and self-destructive behavior. Despite having cast out demons previously (see 6:13), this time the apostles failed. The father was crushed. When Jesus arrived, the father explained the situation to Him and pled, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (v. 22). Due to the disciples’ failure, this man who had come in faith was now not so sure.

Jesus picked up on his “if You can.” “And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes” (v. 23). The humble, honest, struggling father immediately responded, “I do believe; help my unbelief ” (v. 24).

Jesus cast out the demon. The boy was cured at once. The Lord explained to the apostles that they had failed due to lack of faith (Matthew 17:20). He urged them to pray more (Mark 9:29). And everyone involved learned the valuable lesson, “fix your eyes on Jesus.”

— Via Pathlights, August 4, 2019
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two goats on steep ledge

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Two Wise Goats
(Anonymous)

Martin Luther is credited with the following interesting story:

Two mountain goats meet each other on a narrow ledge just wide enough for one of the animals. On the left there is a sheer cliff, and on the right a deep lake. The two face each other. What should they do? They cannot back up, that would be too dangerous. They cannot turn around because the ledge is too narrow.

Now if the goats had no more sense than some people, they would meet head on and start butting each other until they fell into the lake below. Luther tells us that goats have better sense than this. One lies down on the trail and lets the other literally walk over him . . . both are safe. They must be willing, at least one of them, to humbly lie down and let the other pass over him. If they were like some people, they would argue over who should lie down, and who should walk over. But evidently “goat sense” is common sense!

Is there any need to make an application to ourselves? How often our stubbornness results in tragedy! How hard to be the least, to humble ourselves for the best interest of others! We hear folks say, “I’m going to stand up for my rights!” How much better it would be to meekly “suffer wrong” (1 Cor. 6:7) and be the least. It’s hard to learn such a lesson as this. Another says, “It’s not the few pennies involved, or the results I’ve borne … but I must defend my principles!” Remember the principle is love, and the Bible says “Love suffers long and is kind … love does not seek its own…” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). Better allow yourself to be walked over than to quarrel!

Here lies the body of Jonathan Gray,
Who died maintaining his right of way.
He was right — dead right — as he sped along,
But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong!

“Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 34, Issue 30, page 1, July 28, 2019
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baptism_m

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A Question about John’s Baptism
Greg Gwin

We received this question:

I have a question about baptism. John’s baptism was before Acts 2: The question is: were those who were baptized by John baptized again when the church was established? I use Acts 19:3 when Paul found some brethren who knew only the baptism of John and they were baptized again to be in a right relationship with God.

While the New Testament doesn’t really answer the question about ‘re-baptism’ of those baptized by John, I think there are some indications that they were re-baptized after the preaching of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost. The passage you mentioned about Paul in Ephesus is one that is applicable to the discussion, but some argue that those men were baptized with John’s baptism AFTER Pentecost, and thus they claim it doesn’t pertain to the question of those who were baptized by John PRIOR to Pentecost. I’m not sure you can prove the ‘timing’ argument, but they may be right.

Here’s an argument that may provide the answer: Matthew 3:5-6 says: “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” Thus, we know that John’s baptism was VERY popular with the people.

Now, on Pentecost, when the people asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), notice that there were not two answers given, but only one: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (vs. 38). If those baptized by John didn’t have to be baptized again, it seems some exception would have been stated. Surely there were people in that audience that had been baptized with John’s baptism, since it was so popular, as noted above. But, there was no exception offered — everyone was commanded to be baptized. This would indicate that those baptized by John were re-baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

— Via Collegevue church of Christ, July 28, 2019
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News & Notes

Around 5 p.m., August 4, Barbara Thompson suffered a stroke.  Fortunately, it did not cause any paralysis. It did, however, affect her speech.  But that has already greatly improved since then. Soon she will begin therapy treatments.

Frankie Hadley fell Friday and had to be hospitalized.  Her daughter writes, “She had a large hemotoma on her forehead, but it has settled now in her eyes so they’re black. Looks like someone beat her.  She also has UTI.”  Frankie is now back home.

Doyle Rittenhouse has been having some trouble with his pulse being too high.  So he will soon begin wearing a heart monitor to better determine the cause.

Melotine Davis is now awaiting the results of an MRI, concerning a new and different pain in her leg, following her recent back surgery.

Jan Bartlett’s cancer was eliminated through her recent surgery. As a precautionary measure, she will soon begin treatments.

Penny Medlock is still at St. Simons-By-The-Sea, due to having trouble with her medication.  She has now also started experiencing some dizziness.

Mary Ann Fuller, who is in the hospital, has requested the prayers of the saints on her behalf.

Ronnie Davis recently had a shot for the painful arthritis that started developing in his knees a few months ago, and the treatment has helped!

Let us also continue to remember in prayer those folks with ongoing ailments and health issues:  Shirley Davis, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Rick Cuthbertson, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Nancy Pinckard, Mary Martin, Waylon Murray, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, 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).
——————–

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) 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 (July 28, 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) Passion (Robert Hudson)
2) The Faith of Barak (Derek Long)
3) News & Notes
——————–

Titus2_13-14b

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Passion
Robert Hudson

I ask you to think for a moment on this question: What is your passion? What are you passionate about? This very question is one that would often be misunderstood, one that would very often only be considered from an illicit sexual standpoint. This is an injustice to a very strong and thought-provoking word. The word can be defined in many ways and the most common is that which we will examine in this article. Webster states that passion “usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect.”

With this in mind let us again ask ourselves what has this strong effect in our lives, our thoughts, our direction in life? Is it God? Well it should be; nothing should change us more than the influence of God in our lives. How many of us can see the impact of God in the lives of those around us? We need to feel this impact so strongly in ourselves, in our day to day living that there is no doubt or question when we proclaim that our God and his word is our passion.

In Philippians 3:8 Paul writes, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” The words of the apostle here are most applicable to our train of thought; he had changed what meant the most to him, thereby he changed his passion. He was no longer driven by that which once had been his motivation, in fact he had laid that down, left it behind, and viewed it as worthless and even as trash which he had no desire or use for.

This concept of changing our passion or finding a new motivation is one that is developed throughout the ministry of Christ and continued in each of the books of the New Covenant. Peter clearly informs us that we must change in 1 Peter 2:1-2, “Therefore laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.” We recognize that the evil works listed by Peter all have tremendous motivational powers. It is not unusual at all to see someone whose passion is that of envy, and that envy takes over all direction and guidance of his life until he ends up warped and twisted shells of the person that he once was. The apostle tells us to change what is directing us; in essence he says, “Turn from passions of evil to passions of righteousness.”

We often refer to patriots or martyrs as men of passion. Why? Because their conviction is so strong that they are willing to die for the cause. They demonstrate a high level of visibility concerning what they believe in, what they stand for. This is viewed as an honorable trait, and we need to develop this same degree of intensity in order to be pleasing to, and effective for our Savior and God. I guess the whole point here comes down to one rather simple question, how much does God mean to you? As easy a question that this is to ask, it’s much more difficult to honestly answer. Are we passionate about our service to Christ?

One of the most dramatic illustrations of passionate service and dedication to God is found in the death of the Judge over Israel, the man of God Eli. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 4:12-18; for reasons of space I shall set the context for you. The children of Israel had just lost a major battle to the Philistines, the army had fled, many people had been killed and the ark of God had been stolen by the enemy. Eli, who was 98, heard all of this from a young man who had escaped. Not only did this young man bear this news of great defeat and destruction, he also informed Eli that two of his own sons had died in this battle. Let us notice what Eli’s reaction was to all this. “Now it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years” (1 Sam. 4:18). What news had the most impact on Eli? Find that and we find his passion. It wasn’t the fact that the army had fled, or that many had died. Yes, these hurt him; his own children had been killed and he would see them no more. What hit this man of God the hardest was that the ark of God had been taken by an ungodly people. He cared about all of these other things, but he cared most about God. God was his passion.

Eli is not the only example of a passionate servant that we find in the Scriptures. Time after time we see men and women who were willing to die for, and most importantly, live for their Father and God. The question that needs to be addressed at this time is where did their godly zeal and passion come from? The writer of the Hebrew letter after discussing many of these impassioned men says, “all these obtained a good testimony through faith.” All spiritual direction and guidance, all righteous motivation, all godly passion must be grounded in faith. After all how can one truly be devoted and given to that which does not have his total trust and conviction? With faith comes a degree of passion and, as that faith grows, passion grows with it.

Our passion for God is predicated by our level of knowledge. We have all heard of a vicious circle, some set of unfortunate events that demand all the strength that only God could supply. What made Jesus rise up and walk to a quiet place to talk to God? The same thing that will make you get up earlier, or stay up later, or watch one less TV program so that you may pray to your Heavenly Father, a true passion for God.

Intensity and depth, love and devotion, strength and discipline, these are the elements that form the passion for God that all of us must have in order to please God, to serve him, and to bring others to him. Passion is such a misunderstood and yet powerful word; does it dwell in your heart as far as your God and Savior is concerned?

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 4, pp. 117, 120, February 15, 1990
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Barak

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The Faith of Barak
Derek Long

During the days when Deborah was serving as a prophetess and judge in the land of Israel, we are introduced to the individual named Barak (Judges 4:4-6). Deborah commissions Barak to go to Mount Tabor against the forces of Sisera with ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun (Judges 4:6-7). Barak will demonstrate for us the type of faith we must have to be acceptable and pleasing to God. The Hebrew writer calls our attention to the faith of Barak among others in Hebrews 11:32. He writes, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” What are some important lessons we can learn from the example of Barak?

* Like many people who are mentioned in Hebrews 11 as examples of faith, Barak was not immediately confident or sure perhaps. Judges 4:8 says, “And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!’” Perhaps Barak shows he was not someone who was simply confident in himself to be able to go up against Sisera all alone. Deborah was a prophetess and perhaps he wanted to know God was with him and thus wanted God’s spokesperson with him. Because of Barak’s statement Deborah tells him there will be no glory for him but Sisera will be given into the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9).

* Barak’s faith can be seen in the fact he obeys the instructions given by the Lord through Deborah. Deborah instructed him to take ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and Judges 4:10 says, “And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.” A second example of Barak’s obedience to the instructions given to him by the Lord is in Judges 4:14. Judges 4:14 says, “Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?’ So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.” God, through Deborah, tells Barak to go up to the battle and Barak goes. People who have the type of faith which results in salvation are those who are willing to hear and heed God’s commands. Do we have such a faith?

* Judges 5 records for us a song sung by Deborah and Barak after the defeat of Sisera’s army. Notice what they say about the victory Israel had just had. Judges 5:4-5 says, “Lord, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens poured, the clouds also poured water; the mountains gushed before the Lord, this Sinai, before the Lord God of Israel.” Judges 5:13 says, “Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles; the Lord came down for me against the mighty.” The song ends in Judges 5:31 by saying, “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” The song Deborah and Barak sing after their victory ascribe their success to God and not to themselves. Faith in God leads us to see ourselves as servants of God. Faith in God leads us to see our efforts as being made prosperous because of the Lord. Faith in God allows us to praise God for the things He does through us.

Barak may not be as well-known as someone like Abraham but he provides us a good example of faith for us to follow. Do we seek to have a type of faith which allows us to please God (Hebrews 11:6)? Do we seek to learn from the example of the faith of others who lived by their faith in God?

— Via the bulletin of the Oak Grove church of Christ, Jennings, Florida, July 14, 2019
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to remember in prayer:

Doyle Rittenhouse has been having some recent trouble with his pulse being too high, and his blood pressure and sugar levels too low. He will be seeing his doctor again tomorrow.

Melotine Davis is now awaiting the results of an MRI, concerning a new and different pain in her leg, following her recent back surgery.

Jan Bartlett’s cancer was eliminated through her recent surgery. As a precautionary measure, she will soon begin radiation treatments. She is also deciding on whether to do the chemo, as well.

Penny Medlock has been having some trouble with her medication and is now back at St. Simons-By-The-Sea.

Mary Ann Fuller, who is in the hospital, has requested the prayers of the saints on her behalf.

Myrna Jordan has not been feeling well lately.

Ronnie Davis recently had a shot for the painful arthritis he began developing in his knees a few months ago, and it has been helpful!

Let us also continue to remember in prayer these folks with ongoing ailments and health issues: Shirley Davis, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Rick Cuthbertson, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Nancy Pinckard, Mary Martin, Waylon Murray, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, 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).
——————–

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) 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 (July 21, 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) The Small Things (Kent Heaton)
2) Take It To the Lord in Prayer (Terry Ryan)
3) News & Notes
——————–

jam3_4

-1-

The Small Things
Kent Heaton

In April of 1990, the $1.6 billion Hubble Space telescope was launched into orbit with great anticipation. It was discovered that something was very wrong. The problem was a few 25-cent washers that technicians used to fill in a gap in an optical testing device had shaken loose. The cost of the rescue mission to fix Hubble was $86 million. It is hard to believe how something so small can cause such damage and bring about such costly repairs. Small things matter.

James reminds us of the small fire kindled by a loose tongue. “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things” (James 3:3-5). The tongue is a little member but how much damage can be done when not used properly. Careless words can be few but start a conflagration of hurt and destruction.

It must also be remembered that a few words can encourage and lift up the spirits of the downtrodden. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Paul wrote the brethren at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing… encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-14). This type of encouragement does not take many words. Words fitly spoken for those who need to be uplifted can be of such value to the work of the Lord.

Small things take on the importance of sharing the gospel of Christ. Jesus set the pattern in John 4 when He spoke to the woman at the well. From this discussion with one woman, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world’” (John 4:39-42). How many people can tell the story of their conversion from the small beginning of a tract, a radio program, a bulletin article, a caring heart who helped them find the truth?

Elijah became discouraged with the work of the Lord in 1 Kings 19 and desired the Lord to take his life. As he sat in his despair, Jehovah comes to him “and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). The problem with Elijah was he thought the will of Jehovah had to be accomplished with great things (see 1 Kings 17 & 18 for examples of great deeds); he was reminded that the will of the Lord can be accomplished with one man if the Lord so desires.

Small things matter to God: a cup of water (Matthew 25:31-46); little children (Matthew 18:1-6); one soul (Luke 9:25); one sheep, one coin, one boy (Luke 15). You (John 3:16).

— Via the Taylorsville church of Christ, Louisville, Kentucky, April 11, 2018
——————–

prayer and praise to God

-2-

Take It To the Lord In Prayer
Terry Ryan

Romans 8:26 (ESV)“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Have you ever felt like this? So overwhelmed or sad or depressed, that you don’t even know where to begin your prayer? The Spirit of our Lord knows our hearts and can understand our despair, without us even uttering a word. But sometimes we can neglect to go to the Lord like we should. He desires for us to come to him in prayer. What a comfort and what a privilege!

So why don’t we go to him? Understanding God and his love is essential in maturing as a Christian. Getting to know him throughout our lifetime should bring us great joy! God’s majesty is endless, and his love is beyond comprehension. To study and learn about him, and try to grasp an understanding of the depth of his love, can only help us in our prayer life. We are not strangers to him, but sometimes he can be a stranger to us. Not that we don’t know who God is, but we don’t know his attributes. You are not going to confide your innermost fears or your greatest joys with someone you don’t trust. So, we need to really get to know God on a deeper level and understand his character.

John 15:7 (NIV): “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Psalm 34:17 (ESV): “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”

Will God help us when we are in trouble? God loves us, and one way he shows us is that he does answer prayers. Sometimes he does not answer them right away. But he does in his time, and he will tell us yes, or no, or not yet. We need to understand and trust his way. Prayer is a very important part of our relationship with God. Reading and studying his word, then praying, is how we commune with him. Prayer is how we connect to him, and in a very special way, demonstrate our love for him.

Philippians 4:6 (ESV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV): “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

We are to separate ourselves from this world, live in it but don’t love it. That is a difficult thing to do, because most of our time, other than sleeping, is spent in the world, and we are surrounded by worldly things and people. God is our last bastion. He is our only defender, and we must pray to him for help, as we strive to be his people.

Psalm 34:4 (ESV): “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

God is not going to come down and literally stand in front of evil and protect us while we are in this flesh. But spiritually, we can count on him to protect us daily.  Every time we pray, he hears us, and his protective hand is upon us.

Psalm 91:14 (ESV): “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

Psalm 91:1-5 (ESV): “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

Psalm 138:7 (ESV): “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”

Do we call on his name? Or do we neglect him and try to do it on our own? How does that usually turn out for us? Someday, when Jesus comes to gather us to him, nothing in this world will matter. But until that day, the avenue of prayer is our link to him.

I love this song:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

— Via Cedar Park church of Christ, April 19, 2019
——————–

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6, NASB).
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

We are glad that tropical storm Barry did not bring a repeat of the terrible flooding that many had experienced in 2016.  RJ Evans writes:

“Louisiana escaped the worst of Barry’s flooding. I am happy to report that all turned out well for our members. Prayers have been answered. We are so thankful for the prayers of Christians all over the nation. We express our deepest gratitude for your love, concern, and again, your prayers. May God continue to bless us all as we serve Him faithfully. To Him be the glory!”

For those to be praying for…

Myrna Jordan has not been feeling well lately.

Doyle Rittenhouse has been having some recent trouble with his blood pressure and sugar levels being too low, while his pulse has been too high.

Bud Montero has been under the weather the last couple days.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer those folks with ongoing ailments and health issues:  Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Rick Cuthbertson, Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Nancy Pinckard, Mary Martin, Waylon Murray, Michelle Rittenhouse, John Stoval, Amris Bedford, Danny Hutcheson, 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).
——————–

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) 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)