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).
March 22, 2020
1) A Present Distress (Doy Moyer)
2) Dark Days of Faith (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
A Present Distress
“I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a
person to remain as he is” (1 Cor 7:26).
Christians faced struggles and persecutions peculiar to their
profession as Christians. Paul was dealing with a situation in which
there was a “present distress.” We don’t know exactly what this
crisis was. It could have been some kind of tribulation,
persecution, or perhaps a famine or something else. Whatever it was
exactly, Paul advised that it would be better under those
circumstances not to marry.
A “distress” here is something that creates a great hardship or
“severe pressure” (Thiselton). There certainly can be distresses in
time that can cause us temporarily to alter our normal habits. We
are in such a time now. It is not exactly the circumstances Paul was
dealing with, but surely we can see some application. While this
virus is not peculiar to Christians, it does affect Christians
because our practices involve close personal and social interaction.
Christians are going to want to be together. Yet here we are in our
own present distress that causes us to change some habits.
This is not altogether unknown to us. We tell people that if they
are sick, they should stay home. If they are “shut in,” we do not
expect them to meet like normal. If they are in the hospital, no one
thinks they are sinning if they cannot meet. We don’t tell the sick
that they need to come to services and, if they don’t, they aren’t
trusting God enough. These are personal distresses, and people need
to use their judgment about what to do. This is not like altering
services because I have a ball game to attend.
A present distress requires that judgments be made based upon that
particular crisis. Paul advised against marriage, but said it was
his judgment and there was no sin involved if someone married
anyway. For us, judgments are being made about how much and how
often our contact should be. Some will disagree, but here is a
critical point: these judgment calls under a present distress are
not about changing God’s plans, overturning Scripture, disobeying
the Lord’s command to assemble, showing a lack of faith, and so on.
Godly people are trying to navigate their way through a storm for
which they have little to no precedent. This is temporary. It will
pass. The last thing brethren need to be doing right now is calling
their brethren’s faith into question because they are making
judgments based upon a present distress. Even if you personally
don’t think this is a big deal, others do, and we need to help
alleviate fear and stress by showing mercy.
Paul advised against marriage because of a present distress. Imagine
brethren telling Paul that he was explicitly denying the Lord’s
plans for marriage. Imagine Paul being charged with trying to change
God’s will or calling into question his faith over this. Paul should
have just ignored that present distress and told them not to make
any adjustments whatsoever. Who will tell Paul?
It may be that we find ourselves having to adjust to a new normal.
It will take a little time to figure it out and make the needed
adjustments. Elders and churches have difficult decisions ahead of
them. While these decisions and adjustments are being made, we need
to avoid vilifying one another. Love is patient and kind.
Many of these matters in our present distress are going to center
around how we treat one another. How will we treat our elderly? How
will we show love to one another when we ourselves may get sick? How
will we serve the needs of those who are ill? How can we build up
one another during a time when we cannot be together the way we
normally are? How will we show mercy and compassion if we will feel
“just fine” but might put others at risk if we are not careful? How
will we respect the way others feel, regardless of how we might
If ever there is a time to show love, respect, and mercy, now is it.
Pray for each other. Build up one another. Perhaps we may find that
a time like this can help us to refocus, to draw closer both to God
and each other. Use the time well.
— Via La Vista church of Christ, March 16, 2020
Dark Days of Faith
“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you now still mean to persist in
your blamelessness? Curse God, and die.’ ‘That is how foolish women
talk,’ Job replied. ‘If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we
not take sorrow too?’ And in all this misfortune Job uttered no
sinful word” (Job 2:9,10 Jerusalem Bible).
BOTH REVERENCE AND GRATITUDE MUST BE MAINTAINED DURING THE DAYS OF
DARKNESS. God is not any less there when life is hard than when it
is easy. This is an objective fact, regardless of what our feelings
may indicate. The challenge is to discipline our feelings when
necessary and maintain our faith in the face of hardship and doubt.
Dark days need not be days of utter defeat.
As one of the Lord’s apostles, and having endured more than a few
difficult days, Paul could say, “We are hard pressed on every side,
yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted,
but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying
about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of
Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). To
be “hard pressed” doesn’t mean that we have to be “crushed.” We may
be “perplexed, but not in despair.”
To the church in Smyrna, Christ sent this message: “Do not fear any
of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is
about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and
you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I
will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
We simply must not allow the onset of pain in our lives to demolish
our faith. Is it not a finer and nobler thing to believe when it’s
difficult than when it’s easy? After all, it doesn’t take much
character or integrity to believe when God’s reality is radiantly
shining and all the obvious blessings are flowing our way. “Do not
even the tax collectors do the same?” But when the clouds roll in,
that is when people of real faith continue to honor God and thank
Him for His goodness. When it must meet some significant test, that
is when trust means the most. The value of faith doesn’t really
become obvious until there is some doubt to be dealt with.
I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
-- Via WordPoints, March 17, 2020
News & Notes
Due to the current situation of the coronavirus and the need
for all of us to do our part in social distancing, out of a health
concern for others, all of our services at church are being temporarily
Let us pray for our nation and the nations of the world concerning
the coronavirus that it will soon be remedied — and eliminated.
Andy Berendt recently had two heart attacks and was also
diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has also spread to his
stomach and is inoperable.
Rex Hadley is now in the hospital with what they think is
pneumonia. He has also been having some heart-related issues lately,
so they will be running some tests.
Kim Rowell had been out of the hospital, following her recent
heart surgery, but has now been readmitted because of pneumonia.
Patrick, Lynn, and Tatum Downs, who lost their home in a
fire, are currently staying in their camper at a friend’s who has
Jonathan Abbott was at home with a fever yesterday.
Rick Cuthbertson has been having a difficult time with his
Joyce Rittenhouse is on medication for another kidney stone.
Ginger Ann Montero has not been feeling well with a
respiratory illness, which she has been seeing a doctor for.
A.J. & Pat Joyner both have health issues.
Also for prayer: Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Frankie Hadley, John
and Myrna Jordan, John Bladen, Ann Vandevander, Kelly Stoneheart,
Melotine Davis, the Medlock family, Shirley Davis, Sandra
Goodrich, and Kerry Williams.
WordPress version of this week's bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal
1) Hear the
gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John
2) Believe in
the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of
sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom.
10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the
remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom.
6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39;
Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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)
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(Older version of Gospel Observer website without
pictures, but back to March 1990)