The Gospel Observer
"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).
September 11, 2011
1) Do We Ever Detract from God's Greatness, Based on Circumstances?
2) Thinking About Eternity (Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
Do We Ever Detract from God's Greatness, Based on
by Tom Edwards
In thinking of the above title, do we tend to believe less in an
answer to prayer, based on the more difficult the answer might seem
to us? For instance, do we feel more assured about God healing
the person with a broken arm, more so than healing someone who is in
critical condition in ICU, due to a serious car accident? If
so, have we not then detracted from God's greatness? For
regardless of how more "difficult" a situation might seem to us,
does God view it the same way? In other words, if it is God's
will to heal a person, does it make any difference whether the
healing be a broken finger or a brain tumor? Would God find
degrees of difficulty between the two, in answer to prayer?
What would be difficult for God? For He is the One who
spoke the universe into existence. He said, "...'Let there be
light'; and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). He also
said, "...Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seeds,
and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with
seed in them'; and it was so" (v. 11). He commanded the sun,
the moon, and the stars all to be -- and they became (vv.
14-18). By His word, He spoke into existence sea creatures and
every winged bird (vv. 20-22). By His word, He also commanded
the earth to bring forth living creatures after their kind that
would make up the animal kingdom -- and it was done (vv. 24,
25). Lastly, God created man in God's own image (v. 27) and
gave man dominion over everything else on earth that the Lord had
made (v. 28). What an astonishing ability God has to do these
things! The universe He has made exceeds what we can fully
fathom -- even with our most advanced telescopes and
technologies. In a ratio-comparison, is not our
awareness of the universe even smaller than the awareness a little
one-celled ameba has of the vast ocean in which it drifts?
Yes, God's power and abilities are awesome -- and it is to Him, the
Almighty God, that we, who are Christians, pray!
So whether the problem seems great or small, let us realize that it
would appear that way only to us -- but not to God. For with
the Lord, "all things are possible" -- even those things that
are impossible to man (Matt. 19:26). Similarly, the Lord
said to Abraham, "Is anything to difficult for the Lord?..." (Gen.
18:14). Jeremiah also answers that by saying, "Ah Lord GOD!
Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power
and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You"
Think, too, of some of the examples we have in the OT. Paul
says of it, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written
for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the
encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom.
15:4). Let us, therefore, focus on Jericho and Israel's
overtaking of it. It was the first city that Israel conquered
when entering the Promised Land, under the leadership of Joshua, in
that time known as "the Period of the Conquest." What is
really significant about this being their first victory is that it
was also what would have seemed as the most difficult or challenging
from a human standpoint because of the defense that Jericho had with
their protective wall and mighty army. So through this
victory, God showed His people, right from the start, that with Him
they would be able to triumph over all the enemy. To realize
even more of God's help at Jericho, think of how that city was
taken. The Lord's people had been commanded to march around
the city once each day for six days, and then seven times on the
seventh day. They were to also blow trumpets and shout with a
great shout at the appointed time, carrying the ark of the covenant
before them, as we read of in Joshua 6. By doing this
which God had commanded, the wall of that city came tumbling down;
and Jericho was taken. Therefore, how could Israel look to
anyone or anything, but to God, as to the reason for this great
victory? Clearly, they could see that it was not due to
their own power; but, rather, because of the Lord that they were
able to triumph over their foes. Israel merely had to meet
God's conditions in order for that to be so.
We note, too, that the second city that Israel was to conquer was
Ai, a place not as great as Jericho, weaker in defense. I
would think that Israel would see conquering them as being a cinch,
after having just defeated those at Jericho. But what happened
at Ai? Israel was defeated and lost about 36 men.
Why? Because there was sin in the camp of Israel. Achan
had taken plunder for himself at Jericho, which had been under a ban
by God. Because of that transgression, God did not give His
people the victory over Ai. The matter was then resolved by
putting Achan and his family to death; and, after doing so, Israel
then had no trouble in defeating Ai in that second battle (Josh. 7,
8). For they once again were back in God's favor.
Throughout their history, Israel's victories were not due to the
number of soldiers they had in contrast to the enemy, but to whether
they were on God's side or not, that they might have His help in
conquering their foes. God, therefore, wanted His people to
look to Him for victory. Notice, for instance, in Isaiah 31:1
what the Lord says through Isaiah: "Woe to those who go down to
Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because
they are many and in horsemen because they are strong, but they do
not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!"
David truly understood this -- even when a youth. For it was
then when he faced the giant Goliath, whom the rest of Israel
appeared to have been in fear of. But David said to him, "You
come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you
in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel,
whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my
hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And
I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day
to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all
the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this
assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by
spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our
hands" (1 Sam. 17:45-47). It was also David who states in
Psalm 20:7, "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will
boast in the name of the LORD, our God." So with just a stick,
a sling, and five small stones, David faced the giant Goliath and
brought him down with just one stone.
So the point is, as it was the Lord whom faithful Israel could look
to in defeating their foes, regardless of how mighty, we can liken
those foes to obstacles we need to overcome -- whether great or
small. For if they are obstacles that would hinder us in our
service to God, then He will help us to overcome them (cf. 1 Cor.
10:13). Also, if it be sicknesses, ailments, or physical
problems that God wants to heal us of, then it doesn't matter
whether they are minor or great. For one is just as easy as
the other for the Lord to heal -- such as whether it is a bad cold
or a serious case of leukemia, a sprained ankle or lung cancer,
etc. So whatever the problem, let us take it to the Lord in
prayer (and continue to do so), along with the use of medicines,
doctors, and surgery, etc. For the Bible indicates we should
do that, too. Jesus, for example, teaches that the sick need a
"physician" (Mark 2:17); and in those days prior to modern
medicines, Paul prescribed a little wine to Timothy for his
stomach's sake and "frequent ailments" (1 Tim. 5:23), which, of
course, was much weaker than today's wines (So I am not encouraging
the use of alcoholic beverages for our time). God, however,
can also work today through medicines, doctors, and surgeries; and
it is, therefore, to Him that the glory should go for every healing,
regardless of whatever means used! For though God has
not chosen for our time to heal through miracles, we are still to
pray to Him for the sick; and every healing is a divine
healing. The Lord working through His divine providence
continues today and throughout time, and it is even more astounding
than the miraculous. For it is not really baffling that God,
who spoke the universe into existence, could also with the same
power command someone to be miraculously cured of any disease or
physical problem; but what is really amazing is how the Lord can
bring about His will through divine providence, without having to
resort to miracles. So though we are not looking for miracles
today, we are looking for God's will to be done when we are praying
for the sick.
Though we might not always know what God's will is in a certain
matter, we can still pray, knowing that God will do what is right
and answer the prayer the way He sees best. We can, therefore,
be thankful for that. For we do not always know what to
ask. But, still, we can have that complete trust and full
assurance that the Lord will respond to prayer the right way; and no
matter how impossible it might seem from merely a human perspective,
true faith looks beyond that by trusting in the One in whom all
things are possible and who loves and cares for us more than we can
So may we never detract from God's greatness, based on
Thinking About Eternity
by Tom Edwards
On my way home from church Tuesday evening, I stopped off at the
library (which the road I take goes right in front of) and picked up
some music CDs. As I was soon back in my car, heading down
dimly lit roads (from East Baton Rouge Parish to Livingston Parish),
I had been listening for several minutes to Ravi Shankar playing
some Ragas on his sitar. (It had been many years since I last
heard his music.) I don't think I had slept too well the night
before and was somewhat tired. So as I listened to this music,
while driving through the darkness of the night, I began thinking,
"Maybe all we have is now -- the future is just an illusion."
Trying to imagine that was very strange. Do you think it was
the music evoking such an idea?
It made me also try to imagine what eternity is like for God.
For eternity is without time. It is just "always." For
instance, do you remember what Jesus said of Himself in John
8:56-58? He had been talking about how Abraham had rejoiced to
see the Lord's day, "and he saw it and was glad." The Jews
then said to Jesus, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you
seen Abraham?" Jesus then responded by saying, "Truly, truly,
I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Isn't that a
mind boggler? The Lord does not say, "I was" -- but, instead,
"I am." That phrase expresses the eternal nature of God.
As you probably recall, when Moses asked the Lord how to refer to
Him before the sons of Israel, the Lord said, "I am who I am...Thus
you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you."
God is the great eternal One -- and Jesus is just as eternal as the
Father. Micah, for example, refers to Christ as being one
whose "goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity"
What is really interesting is that even in all eternity, God doesn't
change, diminish, or grow old. In speaking of Jesus, the
Hebrew writer refers to Him as creating, in the beginning, the earth
and the heavens; and though they will "become old like a garment"
and "perish," yet the Lord "will remain." So while they
"will...be changed," the Lord will remain "the same," and His years
"will not come to an end." I would think the "years" is
accommodative language for mankind, since time, as we know it, with
its seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.,
pertains to only this earth life -- and is regulated by the way God
set up the universe, according to Genesis 1:14-18. For the
Lord put "lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day
from the night" and so that they would be "for signs and for seasons
and for days and years...."
So when the universe ceases to be (2 Pet. 3:10-12), time, as we know
it, will also cease to be; but eternity -- apart from time -- will
always be. And we will also always be, so we need to be sure
to end up in the right place -- heaven -- and to which Jesus is the
Therefore, how important it is for folks to submit their lives to
the gospel plan of salvation. For heaven can never be earned
nor merited, but there are conditions that one needs to meet to be
saved; and they are: 1) hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17; 1:16), repent
of sin (Luke 13:5), believe in the deity of Christ (Jn. 8:24),
confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), be baptized in
water (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21), and strive to
live faithfully unto God (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39).
I write this last part especially for my friends who haven't become
Christians yet -- and even for those I have never met. For God
wants all to be saved, and so should we.
So we all have "right now." Our past is past, our tomorrow has
not yet come. But if we make the best of now by giving
ourselves to the Lord, we will one day really know what not only a
duration of eternity is like -- but one that is ultimate bliss!
Don't miss out on that! For if you do, it will become your
biggest regret -- and for all eternity.
You cannot be forced to obey Jesus; but you can do so because you
want to, out of your own love and appreciation for all that He has
done for you. He died for you -- suffering a horrible,
torturous death -- so you can be set free from the bondage of sin
(cf. Heb. 2:9,14,15,17).
So here is the answer to your biggest problem -- your problem of
sin. No problem could be greater than that; and Jesus solved
it for us, if we will now just accept what He has done by our faith
and obedience to the gospel plan of salvation.
-- from my facebook site (slightly revised)
News & Notes
Louisa Jane Gillium Pitman,
who went by the name "Lou,"
passed away Saturday, September 3, 2011, at the age of
87. Her body was laid to rest at Parkland Memorial
Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She and her husband
John, who preceded her in
death in 2004 and with whom she had been married for 60 years, used
to drive about 50 miles one way to worship with us in Ashland,
Kentucky, after John had retired from full-time preaching.
This they did, even when they both had physical ailments that made
it painfully difficult for them. They truly showed their faith
in the Lord, and their love for Him.
Born in 1924, Lou had become the 14th of 16 children, of whom
only her brother Frank has survived her. She was also
preceded in death by her first son Joseph (in 2004) and her 2nd
daughter Deborah (in 2009). She is survived by three of her other
children: Glenda, LaVone, and Phillip; by two sons-in-law, Richard
and Mike; by six grandchildren; by six great grandchildren, and by
many nieces and nephews (and some great ones).
We extend our condolences to all the family and friends.
On September 15, I also received much good news in an update on
my sister (Helen Bott) who
had been re-admitted to the hospital September 4 for acute kidney
failure, a few weeks after having had surgery for stage 3 cancer.
Her creatinine level had been up to about 6.3 (1.5 is normal), but
now it is down to 0.6 to 0.8; and her kidneys are functioning
normally again. They have, therefore, removed the tube from
her for dialysis, since she won't be needing it any more.
Then after hearing this, however, I learned a few minutes later
that Helen had to be taken into surgery, due to two blood clots in
each leg. One of the clots was causing a complete blockage
from the groin area to the knee, and the other clot wasn't as
bad. The surgery was to install a filter to prevent the
clots from being able to move to vital areas.
Helen also had some type of blockage to her kidneys, which is now
kept open with stents (similar to what they use for arteries
around the heart).
Her pulse is still a little high -- 101 (but it has dropped from
111). So with normal being 60 to 100, Helen is just
slightly over that.
Her blood pressure fluctuates somewhat, but is about 101 over
55. So that is a little low (with 90 to 140 over 60 to 80
being normal). Helen, therefore, falls in that range
for the top number, and just slightly under for the bottom one.
Helen has improved so much that they were going to let her go
home September 15, before they had then discovered the blood
clots. But even if that problem hadn't arisen, she
wanted to be transferred to a rehabilitation clinic for a little
while, since she feels so weak.
The nurse also thought that they might be able to begin Helen's
chemotherapy and radiation treatments sooner rather than later --
maybe in a week or so. But she'll still have to have
the cat scan first to determine if cancer has spread elsewhere.
I thank you for your prayers for my sister. I was so glad
to hear of how things have improved for her! Please continue
to pray that she will be healed completely -- from the blood clots
and blockage; and if she has any cancer elsewhere, that it will
all be totally eliminated! Thank you!
Let those of us who are Christians also continue praying for the
R.J. Evans, who began his
treatment September 13 for a slow-developing prostate cancer, caught
in its early stage. The procedure is known as "seeding," and
they placed 88 radiation seeds throughout the prostate. Both
his doctors thought that this would eliminate his cancer in about
two months. His wife, Jackie, has expressed appreciation for
the thoughts and prayers of others.
who continues to be having health problems, not feeling well, and
Bill Barfield, an
85-year old with prostate cancer, whose mobility was also impaired
several years ago, due to a stroke.
Bill Holt, who had an endoscopy performed on his
pancreas September 12; and this coming Monday, he will be having
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;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)