Month: March 2020

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) When We Don’t Know Why (Doy Moyer)
2) Respect for the Name of God (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
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When We Don’t Know Why

Doy Moyer

We have so much difficulty grasping why bad things happen in this world. How can God be in control when we see so much heartache, sickness, and evil? This has long been a point of doubt for many. Books like Job, Ecclesiastes, Habakkuk, and many Psalms grapple with this problem.

The reality of evil and heartache in this world need not sink our faith. The fact that Scripture devotes so much space to the problem of evil, and indeed is a major theme of Scripture, is evidence that its existence in no way impugns the integrity and purposes of God. Scripture is a testimony of God’s response to the problem that includes Jesus dying for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him.

Times like these require that we make a decision about whom we will trust. Trust will be tested the most when we are required to give up the most. Think about Abraham sacrificing Isaac and trusting that God knew what He was doing, even to the point of believing that God would raise Isaac from the dead (Gen 22:1-14; Heb 11:17). When Abraham was asked to give up the most, he trusted God all the more.

When we don’t know why, we must trust that we know the One who does know why and that He always has good reason to act, to allow, and to arbitrate between the various events and issues that we face in this world. Since we are to walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), and since faith undergirds our hope (Heb 11:1), then we ought to remember that faith is the demonstration of our trust in the reality of what we cannot see. We don’t see what is going on “behind the scenes,” but we know the One who owns and manages the stage.

God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, all-understanding, and all-loving. None of that changes when we do not understand something. Our lack of knowledge about greater matters of reality should never be a reason to turn from God; rather this is all the more reason to turn to and trust God.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).

Trusting God in a world that is full of “bad things” requires that we be prepared both spiritually and physically. Spiritually, we prepare our minds for action and seek to obey His will and to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet 1:13-16). Without spiritual preparation, we will be open to the schemes of the evil one (Eph 6:10-18). Physically, we prepare because “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God” … and “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20).

Spiritual interests are always more important than what may happen to our physical bodies (not that our bodies are unimportant). Recall that when Jesus had healed the man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years, He later found him in the temple and told him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).  Sin will be more destructive to us, body and soul, than any particular physical illness. One can be physically ill yet spiritually robust, and one can be physically in good shape yet spiritually anemic. The former condition would be far better than the latter. After all, if we are reconciled with God, we trust that the resurrection is coming.

On the other side of the spectrum is the problem of panic. This is generally some kind of sudden or overwhelming fear and can lead to irrational behaviors. Sometimes panic results in an outbreak with larger groups of people acting irrationally at the same time. This type of fear can be very destructive, and not only with physical properties. Our peace of mind is ruined. There is no joy in a mind full of fear. Think about the difference of panic and preparation:

Panic is irrational.
Preparation is rational.
Panic is based on fear.
Preparation is based on trust.
Panic loses sight of the needs of others.
Preparation cares for the needs of others.
Panic forgets God is in control.
Preparation submits to God’s control.

The child of God is called upon to trust God. God has given us tools by which we may overcome our anxieties and fears. Paul put it this way:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:5-7).

As we think on things that are excellent (v. 8), determine to practice what is right (v. 9), show our  care for others (v. 10), and learn to be content in our circumstances (vv. 11-12), we know that Christ will strengthen us (v. 13).

When we don’t know why, trust the only One who does know.

— via the Vestavia church of Christ, March 22, 2020
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Respect for the Name of God

Gary Henry

“And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:12).

ONE EVIDENCE OF HOW LITTLE REGARD WE HAVE FOR GOD IS THE FLIPPANT WAY IN WHICH WE SOMETIMES USE HIS NAME. It is possible, no doubt, to be scrupulous in the use of God’s name and still not have any reverence for Him in our hearts. But in today’s meditation, we want to focus on the inside-out problem: the problem of the person who has no inward respect for God and that lack of respect shows up in the person’s outward speech. There are basically three ways we may disrespect God and His name.

Swearing. To swear is to invoke God as the guarantee that we’re going to do as we say. For instance, the person who says, “This is what I’m going to do, by God” is swearing. But Jesus taught that our statements ought not to require any oath to back them up. “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

Profanity. Profane speech is that which makes common or crude use of words that should be held as sacred and used only with great reverence. It’s not uncommon anymore to hear the words God and Jesus Christ thrown around so casually one wonders if the speakers even realize whose names they are using.

Cursing. When a person curses, he calls down God’s wrath upon someone, verbally wishing them harm. “Damn you” is shorthand for “I hope God will damn your soul to hell.” Even thinking this about someone is serious, but speaking it out loud — using God’s name to vent our anger on others — is a monstrous evil. It is no light matter to wish the loss of someone’s soul.

Why are these things so serious? Might we not consider them harmless foibles, less dangerous than sins that actually hurt other people? Well, the problem has to do with the heart. Crude words, and certainly irreverent ones, are almost always symptomatic of a heart that is turned away from God. So Jesus said, “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). So the next time you feel like “cussing,” check your heart. Where is your spiritual father, above or below? Does your speech show that you’re a humble worshiper of God?

“To curse is to pray to the devil” (German Proverb).

— Via WordPoints, March 29

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News & Notes

As we continue with the need for social distancing to help stem the tide of the coronavirus, let us be keeping each other in prayer and also pray that all will soon be back to normal

Also, Jonathan Abbott’s mother will have a port installed at the Memorial Satilla tomorrow and then begin chemo on Tuesday in Jesup.  She is having this to treat her Amyloidosis.

Rex Hadley returned home last Tuesday, after his recent hospital stay.  For a few days, he had been weak, but is doing better as of yesterday. It turned out that he did have pneumonia — but just in the one lung. On the day he left, they did an echocardiogram, but cancelled his stress test.  He has not yet heard the results.  They have given him some new medication, and he will soon be having a follow-up with his cardiologist.

Ginger Ann Montero is healing from her respiratory illness.

Bud Montero has not yet been told when his treatments will begin.
Ann Vandevander is still about the same with her condition.

Rick Cuthbertson has been having difficulty with his cancer treatments.

John Bladen is still not able to walk without support, and his left arm is paralyzed with some feeling at only the tip of his fingers.  He had been in rehab for a month, but now continues therapy on his own.

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

Joyce Rittenhouse is on medication for a kidney stone.

Shirley Davis still has some trouble with her right leg and back, and has had a kidney infection for about a month.  It still hurts when she uses her right shoulder and arm.  She would like our prayers because she loves us all.  For the last two years, she and her sister Vivian talk on the phone about 2 hours every night, and some of each call is in reading the Bible to each other. Vivian was doing that for Shirley when Shirley was not able to see well enough to read; but now her eyes have improved. So they both read to each other.

Let us also remember the following in prayer: Andy Berendt, Jim Lively, Bud Montero, Frankie Hadley, John and Myrna Jordan, Kelly Stoneheart, the Medlock family, Kim Rowell, Sandra Goodrich, and Kerry Williams.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services:9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) A Present Distress (Doy Moyer)
2) Dark Days of Faith (Gary Henry)
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A Present Distress

Doy Moyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Henry

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via WordPoints, March 17, 2020
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) A Most Challenging Command (Ethan R. Longhenry)
2) The New Testament on Giving (Bill Crews)
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A Most Challenging Command

Ethan R. Longhenry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Crews

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

Some New Testament points on giving:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a precautionary health measure, we have postponed our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ with Gene Taylor, which had been scheduled for March 22-25.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Trust and Submission (Doy Moyer)
2) True Reflections in God’s Mirror (Jeff Smith)
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Trust and Submission

Doy Moyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via Searching Daily
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james1_22-25

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True Reflections in God’s Mirror

Jeff Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via The Beacon, March 1, 2020
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

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

-1-

Antioch of Syria

Mike Willis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

— Via Truth Magazine, Volume LIV, Number 2, February 2010
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-2-

News & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ, which had been scheduled for March 22-25 with Gene Taylor as the guest speaker, has now been postponed as a precautionary health measure.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services:9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
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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