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).
June 16, 2013


1) Give Thanks! (Daniel L. Holloway)
2) Careless Surmisings (Larry Ray Hafley)
3) How Some Viewed Jesus (Jerry Curry)
4) News & Notes


Give Thanks!
by Daniel L. Holloway

These days, we hear much about our country's economic woes.  And we do not have to look far to find that society is beset with plenty of other problems.  Of course, each individual has his own personal difficulties as well.  To make sure that we feel sufficiently miserable, we are often given to counting our many troubles.  If this is our attitude, there is a lesson which we are in need of from God's word.  

From Ephesians 5:20, we learn that we are to give "thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."  However, I fear that, too often, we take our blessings for granted.  We may even feel that we have earned them, that they are ours solely because of our own efforts.  We must guard against such an attitude.  The truth is that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17).  Although we may labor to get something, it is still from God in that He makes it possible to obtain it.  As Paul and Barnabas told the people of Lystra, "...he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17).  Paul said of the church in Corinth, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1 Cor. 3:6).  

Not only does God provide us with material blessings, but our very existence is dependent upon Him.  Paul declared to the Athenians, "...in him we live, and move, and have our being..." (Acts 17:28).  Rather than feeling that God has cheated us if we do not receive something that we want, we should be thankful for what we have.  "Come now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  What is your life?  For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that" (Jas. 4:13-15).  

Also, we ought to be thankful for the spiritual blessings which God offers.  From Ephesians 1:3, we learn that God blesses with all spiritual blessings in Christ.  We do not earn these blessings either.  Paul explains, "...for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Eph. 2:8,9).  

However, there is a significant difference between the way in which God bestows material blessings and the way in which He bestows spiritual blessings.  We may receive material blessings whether we want them or not and without meeting any conditions for them.  As Christ said, "...he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:45).  But spiritual blessings are not poured out on us whether we want them or not.  They must be accepted.  After preaching to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas told them that they were putting the word of God from them and judging themselves unworthy of everlasting life (Acts 13:46).  This shows that we can reject the spiritual blessings that are in Christ.  On the other hand, Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23).  We should be thankful that He has given us the terms which must be followed to receive His spiritual blessings: we must believe on Him (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3,5), confess our faith (Matt. 10:32), and be baptized (Mk. 16:16).  

As Paul wrote, we ought to be "rooted and builded up" in Christ, "established" in the faith, "abounding in thanksgiving" (Col. 2:7).  But how can we be thankful for the spiritual blessings if we have not accepted them?  The spiritual things are much more important than the material things which we prize so highly.  That which is material shall pass away with time, but that which is spiritual will never fail (Matt. 6:19,20; 2 Cor.  4:16-18; Matt. 16:26).  We ought to be thankful for our material blessings because they truly are blessings.  We ought to be thankful for our lives.  And we ought to obey our God that we might receive the spiritual blessings, and be thankful!

-- Via Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 3, p. 77, February 2, 1984


Careless Surmisings
by Larry Ray Hafley

Teachers of the word of God must be careful not to inject personal evaluations or judgments as fact.  In the smallest matters one must be meticulous.  

Lately, I have heard several loose statements.  One preacher of some ability said that the little maid who waited on Naaman's wife had been "stolen away in the middle of the night from her home."  Says who?

Another said that if Jesus had not made the water into wine that the young bride and groom would have been greatly embarrassed.  How old were they?  No passage tells us, therefore, no one can properly pronounce them young.  

How often have you said, or heard it said, that Jesus' presence at the wedding feast indicated his approval of marriage? (Jno. 2:1-11).  Well, it sounds good, but it is not so.  His teaching shows his acceptance of marriage.  With but little reflection it will be obvious that the "presence -- acceptance" argument will not hold up, so why use it?

At nearly every wedding, the one performing the ceremony will say something like this: "God took a rib from man, not his feet that he should trample her, nor from his head that he should dictatorially rule over her, but from his side, close to his heart, that he should love and cherish her."  Sounds sweet, does it not?  But who can say that is why God took the rib from the side of man?  To be frank about it, ribs are not found in the feet or head.  Maybe the reason the Lord took the rib from the side of Adam is because that is where ribs are found!

These are trivial matters you say?  Disregard for God's word in seemingly insignificant areas is the cancer cell that breeds disrespect.  Let every Christian be thoroughly true to the Book in thought, in word, in deed.  Avoid careless surmising.  

-- Via Truth Magazine XIV: 16, pp. 10-11, February 26, 1970


How Some Viewed Jesus
by Jerry Curry

"Now at the feast the governor was wont to release unto the multitude one prisoner, whom they would.  And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.  When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, whom will ye that I release unto you?  Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?  For he knew that for envy they had delivered him up.  And while he was sitting on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matthew 27:15-19).  

We recognize the above record of the trial of Jesus before Pilate.  Pilate's wife had a dream (perhaps a nightmare), and concluded that, in her view, Jesus was a righteous man.  Let's reflect on those who encountered Jesus as He walked on earth and take note of how they viewed Jesus.  

"Pilate saith unto them, what then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ?  They all say, let him be crucified.  And he said, why, what evil hath he done?  But they cried out exceedingly, saying, Let him be crucified.  So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it" (Matt. 27:22-24).  It is interesting to note in Matthew's account of the trial that Pilate also viewed Jesus as a righteous man.  Unfortunately, he also viewed Him as a political risk and liability.  Luke's account (Luke 23:24-25) records, "...And he released him that for insurrection and murder had been cast into prison, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will."

"The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, what do we?  For this man doeth many signs.  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. ... So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death."  

The above excerpts taken from John 11:47- 53 indicate that the Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their position and control.  

As Jesus spoke with the woman at the well (John 4) about the living water and her five past husbands, she says in verse 19, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet."  She later goes into the city and tells others about her conversation with Jesus.  "Come; see a man, who told me all things that ever I did: can this be the Christ?"  May each of us share the open mindedness of this woman as we study and allow God to speak to us.  

Following is the account in Matthew 27:50-53 of the occurrences immediately after the death of Jesus.  "And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many."  A Roman centurion and others standing by reacted to the above with fear and acclaimed, "Truly this was the Son of God."  Jesus says in John 20:31-32 that the records of His life were written that we might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  

As Jesus came up from the water following his baptism by John (Matthew 3:17), God speaks from heaven and says, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Clearly this is the most important view of Jesus!  When asked by Jesus in Matthew 16:13-16 who Peter thought He was, Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The question to each of us this morning is, how do I view Jesus?  My view of Jesus will dictate my response just as it did with those mentioned above.  I either can reject Him, or accept Him as the Christ, the Son of God.  

- Via The Bulletin of the church of Christ at New Georgia, March 11, 2012


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people in prayer:

Virginia Fontenot recently had a colonoscopy that revealed almost a complete obstruction, due to a tumor, which will require surgery for an intestinal resection and the foregoing (at least for several weeks) of the new, additional chemo drug that they had previously wanted her to begin Monday.     

Linda Blevins found out recently that her kidneys were working only 75% back in January, but now they are working at only 50%.  She has been diagnosed with bilateral renal artery stenosis and has hydronephrosis, along with a kidney stone.  She will be having some more tests.

Penny Foley (Jackson Moon's great aunt) had surgery June 21 to remove a tumor in her leg. 

Ellen Gordy recently had a heart attack that required several days in the hospital and two stents.

Jean Calloway is now back home recuperating from a cardiac arrest on May 8 and continues receiving therapy and treatments.

Jennifer Crews is back in the hospital.  She has been dealing with mental disorders for many years.

Janice Webb (Anthony's mother) is healing from the removal of her thyroid, due to a malignant tumor.   

Cindy Crews is now healing from her second surgery for breast cancer.

Ashley Robertson Walters' recent bout with a kidney stone has not been troubling her lately, but there is an uncertainty as to whether it is no longer with her.

Pam MacDonald is still healing from major back surgery that required adding 16 pieces of metal to her spinal column.    

Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) is now off a ventilator, though they will keep the CPAP on him for continuous airway pressure.  He has been in a few different hospitals continuously since March 2012.  

Robert Howton will soon be having surgery, due to bladder stones that he has had for about a year.

Joshua Young has been under the weather for several days (though he was able to be with us last Sunday and Tuesday, but not totally over it).  It is very rare for him to be ill.

* Let us also be remembering the following in prayer: Tom Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer; Cheryl Crews who has some chronic ailments; and Shirley Young who suffers continually from fibromyalgia.

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. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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)