“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).
1) The Boundaries of Prayer (Carl Witty)
2) A Future for the Man of Peace (Greg Chandler)
3) Realizing Sin & the Need for Reconciliation (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
The Boundaries of Prayer
In speaking of the God they scarcely knew and whom, in Paul’s words: “They ignorantly worshipped” (Acts 17:23), Paul describes to the Athenians a God in whom: “we live, and move, and have our being.” Surely such a God can do anything, be anywhere, know whatever He chooses to know, and has unlimited power! He can grant our every need, because “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God is consistently good, and is faithful in all that He has promised. He can answer our prayers.
James also notes that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The fulfilled prayers of Hannah (1 Samuel 1) were for a son who would be dedicated to the Lord. Elijah’s prayers for the absence of rain and years later for the presence of rain, are examples of fulfilled prayer (James 5:17-18). Daniel had such confidence in God’s power to answer his prayers that he repeatedly risked his life on the belief that God would hear and answer his prayers (Daniel chapters 1, 2, 4, & 6). Moses (Numbers 14) asked God to change the course of Israel’s history, and God granted his unselfish request.
Is it not strange that many do not choose to pray? If invited before an earthly King, Queen, President, or other Chief Executive of some great nation, most people would accept the invitation immediately and count it as a high point in their lives. We have been invited as Christians to “pray without ceasing” — an open invitation to enter God’s presence as often as we choose. What a blessing to be able to pray! Prayer serves as a wonderful outlet for our most intense emotions. James recommends prayer when afflictions come (5:13) — “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” Nehemiah was in deep sadness over his brethren’s condition, and prayed to the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:3-4). Hezekiah prayed when facing a great military power (2 Kings 18-19) and when facing the prospects of his own death (chapter 20).
Ezra prayed intensely when leading God’s people in repentance and dealing with the consequences of sin (Ezra 9, 10). In the New Testament, Paul’s heart’s desire for Israel’s salvation is reflected in his prayers to God (Romans 10:1). The record reveals also his earnest prayers for brethren in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Colosse. His prayers for Timothy and Philemon reflect his love and concern for them. The English poet Tennyson declared that “more things are wrought by prayer, than this world dreams of.”
There are, however, certain boundaries of prayer. It has truly been said that “nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which lies beyond the will of God.” It goes without saying that God will not violate His will in order to grant prayer’s requests. The Bible sets forth certain limitations to prayer, including the following:
We may fail to ask. When God promises certain blessings through prayer, we fail to receive these blessings when we fail to pray! James 4:2 — “…Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” The Hebrew writer encourages his readers to “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, commanded that we “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Jesus then asks His hearers to recall that since earthly fathers desire to respond to their children’s requests, surely our heavenly Father will give good things to His children when they ask. When our prayers ascend, God’s power and blessings descend. James said that we should ask God for wisdom (1:5), and Paul taught the Philippians that the solution to anxiety was to “…let your requests be made known to God…” (4:6).
We limit the power of prayer by our doubts. When we fail to believe, we limit God’s blessings that could come to us. Jesus taught (Matthew 21:22) — “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Our prayer for wisdom from God (James 1:5-6) is to be prayed “…with no doubting…” He notes that the “…prayer of faith will save the sick…” (5:15). We certainly will not convince God of a need, when we do not really believe that God will hear us. The Hebrew writer notes that the worshipper who approaches God “…must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).
The conduct of our lives sets boundaries on the blessings we could be receiving through prayer. Consider a few of the many passages that set forth this principle:
- “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).
- “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
- “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
David realized this eternal principle when he wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). The right kind of life and the effective use of prayer will allow Christ to truly live in us.
— Via Bible Articles from the Gooch Lane church of Christ, October 11, 2020
A Future for the Man of Peace
Psalm 37 is a beautiful poem of encouragement for God’s faithful. Throughout the poem, David provides gems of wisdom to keep one’s life fine-tuned to godliness. However, the psalm’s main theme exhorts the faithful never to fall prey to envying the wicked.
On the surface, this might seem a message few would need; yet a deeper look reveals great danger. The wicked can seem strong with sword and bow (vs. 14). They can seem satisfied with abundance (vs. 16). They can seem intimidating as they look for an opportunity to persecute the righteous (vs. 32). Though unstated in the psalm, the faithful can look weak in their refusal to retaliate, unambitious in an unwillingness to pursue gain, and timid as objects of persecution. How can one possibly maintain faith under such circumstances?
David provides an interesting outlook for the faithful. Though it might not always appear to be the case, he promises that “there is a future for the man of peace” (37b). The reason for this is that God is in charge. In the beautiful conclusion of the psalm, David states, “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in Him” (39-40). Trust in God provides contentment in the present as the faithful confidently look toward the future!
This year we have been challenged to “let the peace of God rule heart and mind”; however, challenges have abounded to derail this worthy spiritual goal. Each has likely struggled in some way with anxiety toward present events that put spiritual peace to the test. Still, these times have allowed a season of testing which, if used wisely, has produced spiritual growth.
Along with David, may each child of God take comfort in a future for those who seek peace. Through the King of Peace, a path has been provided to a realm where the problems and temptations that plague the present will cease. Until then, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (vs. 3). With such an attitude, there will be no regrets on the other side of the grave, only peace at the throne of God.
— Via Bible Articles from the Gooch Lane church of Christ, December 6, 2020
Realizing Sin & the Need for Reconciliation
For the video sermon with the above title, just click on the following link:
News & Notes
Folks to be Praying For:
Doyle Rittenhouse will have a procedure (an ablation) on the back of his neck this Tuesday to deaden some nerves that have been causing pain.
We were glad to hear that the heart catheterization showed no blockages for Ginger Ann Montero. And though her heart is weak, yet it can be treated with medication.
Bennie Medlock has been having some terrible back pain, but he will not be able to see his bone specialists until May 18 (unless there is a cancellation that would make it sooner).
Danielle Bartlett will be having tests run May 6 to determine the reason for her heart palpitations and swollen legs she has had.
We are happy to say that the shots Ronnie Davis received for his back pain have brought some relief.
Also for prayer: Ritt Rittenhouse (stroke-like symptoms), Janet Rittenhouse (broken sternum, sprained ankles, severe bruises), Rick Cuthbertson (cancer), and Nell Teague (cancer).
Our shut-ins: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, and Shirley Davis.
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. For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
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; 1 Pet. 3:21). This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation.
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm/ (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)