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Do We Properly Use Our Knowledge?

Do We Properly Use Our Knowledge?

       Man, from the beginning of time has been desirous of knowledge. This is evident in the first inspired record of man.  In his desire for “earthly” knowledge he found his own downfall.    In Genesis 3:1-3, it is obvious that the serpent was aware that the woman already had some knowledge as given by God to mankind. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 

     Satan got the woman to affirm what she knew to be true, as he would begin with what the woman knew, undermine it, and separate the woman, and ultimately her husband from God. In Genesis 3:4-6, the lie was told and the seed planted which would bring forth fruit for the devil. He tempted Eve to “desire to know more” than God had told her. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. After the temptation was presented, Genesis 3:6, shows how they submitted to their lustful desires. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

     Satan had knowledge, and so did the man and woman. The key is to use our knowledge correctly. Satan used knowledge of what God had directed man to do, against man. He knew the power of knowledge.   Do we? If so, do we use it properly?   Do we have knowledge of our spiritual status as it is described in the Word of God?  

     The wise man of Proverbs 1:7, through inspiration wrote: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction We are told in 2Chronicles 1:10 that Solomon, facing the great task before him, petitioned God.     His request was not for earthly riches, wealth, or honor. He asked: Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?   At the time, Solomon understood the power of knowledge but still, in his later years allowed himself to be drawn away from God.

     Jeremiah 29:18- 19 shows why God’s Old Testament people would be persecuted “with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach”. 19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD. Hosea 4:6 affirms this. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

     Even though Israel largely rejected God, His plan for Salvation, formed before the foundation of the world would still come to fruition, and we can benefit from that knowledge. We are told this in Habakkuk 2:14  For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.   This plan was carried out by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, and the message (Word of God) was delivered by the Holy Spirit so we could have that knowledge.  In John 1:12 we are told how this provides power so one can be saved. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

       The knowledge of the power of the Word is shown in Roman 1:16 as the Spirit had Paul write. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  The gospel is that New Testament Word of God. In James 1:21 the brethren “scattered abroad” were reminded what the gospel had done for them and why they must continue in it. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  This is the same thing in Acts 2:40-41 those “unsaved” Jews were told on the day of Pentecost when the gospel was first preached in N.T. times. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls

       In James 4:17, the Spirit had this brother of the Lord pen the Words Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin Eve knew it was good to “not eat” of the forbidden fruit, yet she sinned and did not use her knowledge to follow God’s Commandments. You now have knowledge. Will you apply the power of God (the gospel) and your knowledge of it to become His child today, or if already one, to remain faithful?   You know to do so is “good”.      Or will you remain in sin?  

                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Winning?

Are You Winning?

        Man is a competitive being because, let’s face it, mankind wants to win. However, the problem with this is what man desires to win. In Mark 8:36 Jesus presents a question that should make us all think about what it means to win. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Nothing on earth is as valuable as your soul.

       We have at least two cases in the book of Acts of folks thinking they are “winners” by “getting gain” while on the earth.   In Acts 16:16 we see some who thought themselves to be “winners”.  And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:Then in verse 19 we see they were outraged when they perceived their “success” was being diminished when Paul, through the power granted by the Holy Spirit, cast the evil spirit out of the damsel.   And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 

      There is also the case of a probable idolater, Demetrius, the silversmith of Acts 19:24-25 who also confused wealth with winning. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth

          When Jesus, in Luke 12:20-21 told the parable of the “rich fool” to the one that asked the Lord to “officiate” over his inheritance, He pointed out what it means to win in this life. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.  Wealth does not equal winning.

     In Matthew 6:19-21, in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, we find the Lord presenting the formula to be followed by those of His day, (and of ours) if one wants to truly be a winner.  Jesus was speaking of His kingdom which would come into existence following His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.   Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

       Winning in the spiritual realm is not a “one and done” event. We may win a battle, yet lose the war.  Even those who were privileged to enter the kingdom (church) when it first came into existence on the day of Pentecost on A.D. 33 were not guaranteed a home in heaven “no matter what”. The Bible never teachesonce saved, always saved”. When Peter and the twelve delivered the Words provided by the Spirit regarding Salvation on that great day, the Jews in attendance heard what was spoken. In Acts 2:40 we read that which shows clearly that they had the responsibility to respond to the gospel If they wanted to be saved. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

       But even this would not “keep” them saved. The Spirit had Paul direct the minds of the Christians in Philippi so they would know how to win all the way in Philippians 3:12-13.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before

     The things which have already passed are in the past.   If we want to win – truly win – we have to do as the Spirit directed the apostle to pen in the next verse, Philippians 3:14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  That prize of which the Spirit had Paul write is eternal life, and that is the only way we can truly win. We can start winning in this life, and then we receive the reward when the Lord returns and the judgment occurs.

       If you would be a winner, your obedience cannot end when you exit the watery grave of baptism. This is where one becomes saved from past sins, but baptism alone will not keep one saved. In Philippians 2:12 we read what the Spirit had the apostle Paul write to these same brethren. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

       Are you winning? You are not if you have not been baptized into Christ to become a child of God, regardless of the wealth you have attained, or if you have received the trophies and accolades of success as the world measures winning. Neither are you a winner if you have been baptized into Christ and failed to live up to the commitment you made to God at that time.      Become a winner today! Obey the gospel, and remain a winner by being faithful to God.      

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Strong Is Your Resolve?

How Strong Is Your Resolve?

   This is the time of year that many “resolve” to do something for the rest of the year. Usually this is declared as a determination to break a bad habit or to begin one for the betterment of the individual making the resolution. Whatever the case, how long does it last? How soon is it deemed too hard? When this occurs, typically a return is made to former practices and habits.

     The Word “resolved” is found only one time in the King James Version. It is found in Luke 16:4 in the parable of the unjust Steward.   He was accused of being wasteful.   His reasoning was: I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. In reading further, it becomes clear that his only “resolve” was to manipulate the situation and the debts of others to benefit his own circumstances.

     Another way to consider “resolve” is in one of the definitions given to the word as it is used in making resolutions. That definition is: to decide firmly on a course of action. Some synonyms are: boldness, courage, firmness, willpower or steadfastness. As we read some of these terms in the Bible, we understand God wants us to have “resolve” as we serve Him day to day.

     One of the resolutions we all need to make is to keep ourselves free from the grasp of the evil one.  In 1Peter 5:8-9 we are admonished to be most attentive to the dangers and make every effort to resist Satan and his devices. This passage also tells us that others have that needed resolve.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. Perhaps if we recall what the Spirit had Paul write in Philippians 4:13, we too can have the resolve we need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Surely the “all things” here are those things that are in accordance to the Will of God.

     What resolutions have you made this year?   Have you resolved to do as God would have you do? We know from 2Peter 3:9 that God’s Will is that none would be lost. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.    God has done His part in the sending of His Son, and Christ has done His part in dying on the cross to purchase the church. The Holy Spirit has done His part in bringing the Word to be recorded for all humanity. Are we doing our part so that others might be saved?   Jesus, in Matthew 28:19-20 gave His disciples the Great Commission. He said to them: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Have you resolved to make sure more folks hear what God would have them do to be saved in 2021?

     How strong is your resolve to honor the commitment you made to the Lord when you obeyed the gospel? At that time, we all “pledged” to serve Him and keep His commandments.   Are we doing that?   To do this we must have resolve.   In 1Corinthians 15:57 we are told we can be victorious. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Then in verse 58 we read that to do this we must be “steadfast” and “unmoveable”, and “abounding” in the Lord’s Work. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

       Of course, this is not possible unless we know His Word.   This may help with another “resolution” all children of God should make and stick to. We are told in 2Timothy 2:15 to study, and why we should do so.   One cannot learn God’s Word unless they are students of the Word.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Have you resolved to do this in 2021?

     Yet another thing we can resolve to do is faithfully attend all the services of the church this year. Hebrews 10:24-25 points out to do this is beneficial to each other and also promotes good works. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. This “not forsaking” is also a Command of God. To not do as God directs is sin!

       Rather, let’s heed the Words of Hebrews 3:12-14 and carefully consider our commitment to God and do all He directs in His Word to show our love for Him, and to also help ourselves and our brethren. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  How strong is your resolve? Will it see you through to the end?   That my friend is entirely up to you!  

                                                    Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Full Yet?

Full Yet?

    No doubt we all have had plenty of meals lately and most likely have made multiple visits to the desert dishes. When contemplating “fullness”, we most often think of our stomach and the sensation after overeating.   But do we ever think that there are many ways, and many things with which we can “fill” ourselves?

     God’s blessings to Israel, even in the midst of their murmuring in the wilderness, so they might “be filled”, included quail in the evenings and manna in the mornings. Exodus 16:12 tells why this was done for them. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God. 

     Not everything with which one can be filled comes from someone else. A person can “fill” him or herself selfishly from within. Proverbs 14:14 tells of the (mind) of some, and with what it is filled. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.  We must be careful, lest we allow ourselves to become as Haman in Esther 5:9 and be “filled” with hate toward another.   Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. 

     Even in the face of calamity one can be “filled”. Perhaps this is why the Spirit have the penman record the words of Job, after Job had seemingly lost all his worldly goods and most of his family. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  (Job 14:1)  However, not all “filling” takes place within a person.   God had a plan from the beginning, and “filling” was part of it. Habakkuk 2:14 reads: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

      The time for the earth to be “filled with” the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, had not come when this was written during the Old Testament. It was a prophecy. The Messiah had not yet been sent. Jesus had yet to die on Calvary’s cross, be buried, arise and ascend back to the Father. This plan of God was still a mystery when Habakkuk wrote.  In 1Corinthians 2:7 we see the Spirit had Paul write of this.   But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  God’s plan has become a reality, and was being revealed in the Word the Spirit was delivering to His servants, like Paul.   James was also of this number. In James 3:17 we read:  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  God’s Word is that wisdom from above.

     This is very evident in Ephesians 3:3-6, and we can “fully” understand the mystery and how it was revealed.   How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

     God used the necessary “helps” in the absence of the written N. T. Word to bring that plan to fruition.   Ephesians 4:10-13 speaks of these things God put in place to bring us to the “fullness of Christ”. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, (Christ) that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ For this, all Christians should be “fully” and eternally thankful.  

           In Ephesians 3:14-19the Spirit had Paul show how he expressed his deep gratitude to God and how all mankind could benefit from the great gift of sacrifice offered by Christ and His death on the cross. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God

   Be careful with what you “fill” yourself, as each is responsible for their own destiny.  2Corinthians 5:10 shows us this. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Choose wisely.

        

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Living Better

Living Better

       The goal of many a human is to live better.  Sadly, to many this means the procurement of “things” or reaching certain achievements in this life.   In one sense this is a fair measure, in that we live life (physical) while we are in these earthly bodies.   Much time, effort, and monies are often spent to accomplish this.   Parents work hard to provide so their children “can have better” than the parents had when growing up.  The emphasis is often on the offspring becoming “better educated” so as to have a better life.   All of this does not guarantee that the child, when grown, will have a better life than their parents, but that they might have greater opportunities.  

      Some, because of various health concerns, (perceived or real) seek to “live better” through medicines, procedures, vaccinations, or just about anything that promises to reduce pain, increase mobility, improve mood, or promote the well-being of the recipient or participant.   All of these things have purpose, but can only improve one in the “here and now”.  

       Many fail to realize, that striving to “live better” while in this life for the sole purpose of our time on the earth is an eternal mistake.  Jesus addressed this in Matthew 16:26 while speaking to His disciples.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?   What we read in the next two verses shows that Christ came to earth so that man could “live better” even beyond this life.  For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.This last verse shows that this opportunity to live better came to be after the death of Christ, but in the lifetimes of His disciples of that day. This is still available today, but only “in Christ”. 

       This ties in completely with the latter part of the statement of Jesus in John 10:10 where  He said: “. . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Even the Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking were “alive” when He said this.  This must mean the life of which the Lord speaks, and for which He died on the cross, is beyond that which takes place on this mundane sphere.    Galatians 2:20 attests to this, as well as the fact the individual bears responsibility for “their part” of laying hold of eternal life.  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

        The Spirit had Paul write to Timothy in 1Timothy 6:11-12, to remind him (and by extension, remind us) of our responsibility to do our part to strive for eternal life.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 

      Below is a poem written about thirty years ago by my wife’s father which shows that the only achievement that matters in this life is that which helps one to “live better” now so they can live forever.   

 

Achievement

To hitch you wagon to a star, move in the right direction,

Improve your “natural” talent to withstand a close “inspection”,

And see yourself as others do, without imagination,

Press forward, striving hard to win, must be aspiration.

To maintain hope when others doubt, may be intuition,

Or faith that will not change its “course” whatever the conditions,

To “fight on where you are alone”, must be dedication,

To “join the crowd” may make you proud, but cost you your salvation.

To take a “back seat” on your own, sometimes is called submission,

To serve, is better than be served, by certain recognition,

To sacrifice the things we need, is when we’re really giving, +

It’s when one walks that “extra mile”, that he knows he’s living.

Forgive, and then forget, is often recommended,

But, true forgiveness, in remembrance, is then and there ended,

The practice of the “golden rule”, with every fault confessing,

Will help you be a friend in need, and get the greatest blessing. 

                                                       O. D. Wilson – deceased

    

        What kind of achievement is important to you?  Is it the one that allows you to “live well” only in this life, or that which is beyond?   Philippians 3:12 tells us we haven’t “made it” yet.   Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.    Obey the gospel. Then live better here so you can live with God for eternity.  This is the only way! 

                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Reading To Understand

Reading To Understand

      Many folks, because of the “present distress”, have additional time on their hands.   Some, while not out of work, are working from home.   While this may have its own challenges and difficulties, there may also be some benefits that have yet to be realized.   At least the time gained not having to travel or commute to and from an office or jobsite, provides additional time to use in other ways.   What is being done with this time?  Would this not be an opportunity to read more?   I have heard several folks mention that they are beginning to “catch up” on their reading.  Are we “catching up on” our Bible reading? 

     What is the purpose for what we read? Some read for pleasure and some do so for the information that can be gained.  Many Bibles contain a “daily” reading plan that will have one “read through” the Bible in a year.  It’s never wrong to read the Bible, but after “reading through” it in the course of a year, what have we learned?   How much have we truly retained when we simply read through the Bible?  

     There is a real difference in reading and studying.  One cannot fully grasp the full meaning of the passages of the Bible (or any other book) by simply “going over” the words on the page.   This is why the Spirit had Philip ask the all-important question of Acts 8:30.     And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?    The eunuch’s response indicated his desire to truly know, rather than to just read the Words found therein.   The eunuch, and we, are to apply the advice given in 2Timothy 2:15 by the apostle Paul as directed by the Spirit.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  If more people read and studied God’s Word, honestly and earnestly they 1) would better understand, and 2) would be more likely to be obedient unto God.

       That which is not “understood” can truly be called a mystery.  The Spirit had Paul write to the church in Ephesus to inform them of that which was once a mystery, but is no longer.   Ephesians 3:1-6 is speaking of the gospel which has now been fully revealed.   Therefore, none have excuse for not obeying what God has directed in His Word.   This is where we also find that this glorious message includes us in the grace of God.    This passage also tells us how we can know this.  For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the SpiritThat the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

       God has always provided the means for His people to “understand” His Words to them.  In Old Testament times, God wrote to His people Israel.  In Nehemiah 8:1-2 we find account of one of the many times God calls Israel back to repentance through the reading of the Law.   His Word in every age has been clear and concise.   And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.     Then, in Nehemiah 8:8 we read that all present had understanding because of the reading.  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

        Even in this, the final dispensation of time, God has made His New Testament message known to His people (the church) as the Spirit guided the pen of inspiration.    However, man has responsibility to take in these Words, through reading and work to understand what God would have all do.  The Spirit had Paul advise Timothy to do that which also applies to all who would understand God’s Word in 1Timothy 4:13 .  Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

        In Ephesians 5:17, the church there was given a directive that applies to all Christians.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And, according to 2Peter 3:6-9 it is God’s Will that all would come to repentance.   The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  Christians are to read and understand this, then take God’s Word to those that are living in sin and those Christians in error so they might understand what to do.   We are clearly told in 2Timothy 2:25-26 how we are to do this.   In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.  Let’s read – Let’s understand – Then do as God Commands. 

                                                    Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

In God's Presence

In God’s Presence

     The phrase “the presence of God” is found but five times in the King James Bible.    The first of the three Old Testament instances in which the phrase is utilized, speaks of the effect of God’s presence on the earth in the scattering of God’s enemies in Psalm 68:2.  As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.  The second and third times is in Psalm 68:8 in reference to God appearing to Moses to give him the Law to govern Israel. The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.  Surely all will agree that the presence of God is of great importance.

   The two New Testament occurrences deal with those in God’s presence in Heaven. In Luke 1:19 we find Zacharias, father of John the baptizer being visited by the angel to deliver great news. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.The final time we see the phrase, is in Hebrews 9:24 and alludes to the fact that Jesus arose from the dead to return to be with His Father following His resurrection. This also informs that Christ intervenes for us before God in Heaven. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 

     Christ was not a priest under the Law of Moses as He was of the tribe of Judah. However, following His resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven and is in the presence of God as our only High Priest as Hebrews 8:1-2 informs us.   Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 

       God doesn’t make His presence known today as He did in Old Testament times. Neither is there any in the presence of God in Heaven, but the angels and the rest of the Godhead. 1John 5:7 is irrefutable proof the Godhead is there.  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  Jesus’ response to the Sadducees in their error on resurrection in Matthew 22:29-30 proves that the angels are also in the presence of God. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.  And, John 3:13 dispels the false teaching of folks that their loved ones go directly to Heaven following death. And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 

         We today, see God in the beauty of nature. God, in His omnipotence created all for a purpose. In Isaiah 45:18 God’s people were told: For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. But while enjoying nature we aren’t in God’s presence; we are simply appreciating what God has richly provided for us.  

       We cannot be in the presence of God as are Christ and the angels until time is no more and we have been granted entrance to that eternal home with Him.   Of course, this will not happen unless we are obedient and remain faithful.    God is omnipotent – all powerful.    God is also omniscient – He sees everything.  And, He is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere.    But this doesn’t mean we are always in His presence. We must hold Him in awe, and seek to be in His presence (Hebrews 10:25).

       But don’t despair. We can be in God’s presence while we live here on earth.   When we gather with the church to worship, we are in the presence of God. We aren’t to “assemble” for social, or other reasons.   We come together to be in the presence of God Almighty! We can surely see this in Ephesians 2:22 as when we gather, God is in our presence. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.  We are in God’s presence as together we bow to pray, raise our voices in song, as we commune around the Lord’s table to remember His Son’s death, and as we gladly return our offerings for the continuation of the work He has laid out for us in His Word.   Worship is homage rendered to God in obeisance, a reverence in submission to “His Will”.  

     We also “meet” God in His revelation to us. His Word, the Bible, provides all the instruction needed so we can prepare ourselves to be in His presence for eternity. Without that preparation, and unless we remain prepared, we cannot spend eternity with Him; we will be separated from His presence.  In Amos 4:12 we read of God’s warning to His Old Testament people Israel. Many of them had forsaken Him.   It seems they didn’t want to be “in His presence”.   Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  The church is the “spiritual Israel” of God.   The same warning applies. We meet God in death! We will meet Him in the judgment!

                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Sin Sick?

Sin Sick?

     We are hearing a lot lately about the virus, and the sickness it brings as well the impact these things have on people.    There is a great deal of care being taken regarding the virus, such as face masks, social distancing, the careful washing of hands, and even the wearing of vinyl gloves when the situation calls for them.    A lot of money is spent each year on doctor visits, medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, as well as other alternative means to promote good health.   Most agree that good health should be one of our priorities. Our physical body is the only one we have.   Christians also know the body is the “vessel” that houses the soul while in this realm.  

      But how many people seriously stop and consider their spiritual health? In Luke 5:31-32 we find Jesus replying to derogatory remarks of the scribes and Pharisees.  And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  The Pharisees considered themselves “whole” because they were following their “own form” of doctrine, and felt spiritually superior to the rest of the Jews.   When we look at Luke 16-9:10 we see the kind of “medicine” the Great Physician came to offer humanity. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost

       We also know that the “health” that Jesus was bringing to man was the healing provided following His death on the cross and the establishment of the church.   In Acts 28:27 while Paul was in Rome conversing with the chief Jews in the area, Paul reminded them of the words the Spirit gave to one of their own prophets, Isaiah, which reveals why some will not receive the spiritual healing Jesus offers.  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

      The great news is that God’s Salvation is now offered to “whosever will” and in Acts 28:28 the Spirit had Paul tell these same men this. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.   In other words, God’s remedy for sin is available to all who will receive it, obey it and abide by it.   John 1:10-12 tells us that the Lord had come, and that He provided the means by which a soul could be healed and remain healthy.  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

      This “power” was not available when Jesus was on earth, but in the next verse, we are told how and when it would be.  Per John 1:13, it is when one is “born” into the kingdom of God.  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of GodThis is much the same as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 when He told him: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.   This was more fully explained by Jesus in John 3:5-6 after Nicodemus failed to understand.  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.    Again, the remedy for the sin of man was not available when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, but it soon became obtainable.  

      The Spirit had Paul, in Romans 1:16, write to the church in Rome and tell them where the medicine for sin sickness is located.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.   The remedy for spiritual sickness is available through the gospel.  

      We take the “medicines” prescribed by our medical doctors, knowing to have them and not ingest them, serves no purpose whatsoever.   Why can’t we see that the New Testament is the “cure” for sin sickness, as it is God’s Word that provides the instruction (directions), to eternal life.   The Spirit had Paul provide Timothy (and us) instructions in 1Timothy 6:11 for the “cure”.  We would do well to heed these Words.   But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  That “medicine” is not a “one and done” as the Spirit had Paul write in Philippians 2:12.   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.       God’s Word is the “medicine” we need for sin-sickness, but we must continually apply it in our lives.   To remain spiritually healthy, one must “work at it”. 

     It is so very sad to see our friends and loved ones suffering with physical injuries and illnesses.  Our heart goes out to them and we do whatever we can to help them in their times of need.   It is far sadder to see a friend or a loved one who is “sin sick” and will not accept the remedy Jesus provided through His blood, and as God has directed in His Word.  

      Obey the gospel today.  Take care of yourself physically and spiritually so you can live well in this life, and be with God for eternity. 

       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing Gratitude

       How often do we have the chance to tell someone “thank you” and let the opportunity pass?  Some don’t see the need to express their gratitude as if what is done for them is due them.   Then why does the KJV Bible have the phrase “give thanks” thirty-five times?      In addition to this, “giving thanks” is found five times, “giving of thanks” three times, and “thankful” three times. There are also many other ways to express gratitude.  

     Do we fail to express our gratitude for all that God has given us; done for us and provided for us?  Some don’t even pause long enough, when they sit down at the table to eat, to thank God for what they are about to consume.   It is apparent from Genesis 9:3, just after Noah and his family came out of the ark, God had “given” man food. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

     Christians should be aware that God has not only provided the means for fulfilling our physical needs, but according to 2Peter 1:3, the provision for our spiritual needs have also been met. According as his divine power hath given unto us (Christians) all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Can we not find it within ourselves to tell our Heavenly Father how much we appreciate the physical and spiritual blessings He has provided?   Some do not, cannot, or simply will not.

     Part of the “all things” of 2Peter 1:3, are “exceeding great and precious promises” of God.   He has promised in His Word in 2Peter 1:4 what awaits us if we answer the gospel call and then remain faithful to God.   Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  To be with Him and spend eternity with Him will only take place after the Lord returns at the end of time.  

   I am sure we wouldn’t want to be known as part of, or included with the carnal group of 2Timothy 3:1-4 who are identified as those “ushering in” perilous times.  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Notice that the “unthankful” are listed along with the covetous, blasphemers, and the unholy.   Surely the child of God will not “willingly” participate in such things.    Rather, in the latter part of 2Timothy 3:5, we see the inspired instruction regarding those of this way.   Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 

     We are quickly approaching the “holiday” known as Thanksgiving.   Many are having difficulty “finding” things for which to be thankful this year. Much has happened in the past twelve months or so which has caused some to blame God.   We have the on-going virus, the restrictions imposed on us all as a result, the election woes, and perhaps even some unrelated personal ills, which draw the focus of many toward what we “don’t have”, rather than the many good things we “do have”.   Things might not be as they have been in previous years.  This is to be expected as much has changed during this year, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have things for which we can be thankful.  

     Might I direct the Christian’s mind to 1Corinthians 15:57 where we read that every faithful Christian is a winner? Most all folks I know are thankful when they win. But thanks be to God, which giveth us (Christians) the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Then as we read the next verse, we should see that the best way to “express gratitude” to God for this victory is to remain strong, and “abound” in His Work.     Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

(1Corinthians 15:58)

       Gratitude, or thankfulness, is not to be just a “holiday” affair, but should be a manner of life, especially that of a Christian. The Jewish brethren who previously lived under the Law of Moses, but were now the children of God “spiritually” were told in Hebrews 13:5 how all their lives were to show gratitude or appreciation. Let your conversation (means manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake theeThis alone is something for which all Christians should be grateful.   These same brethren were even told how to express their gratitude to God in Hebrews 13:15-16. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

       Let’s strive to be pleasing to God as we enjoy the “Thanksgiving” holiday and every day by doing His Will, praising His name in song, communicating the Word of God and showing His Love to all.

                                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Where Are You Wanting?

Where Are You Wanting?

 

    If asked this, most would correct the one asking the question, thinking they were asking “what do you desire”?   But in the use of “wanting” in the Bible, we see a different meaning.   The Bible meaning of “wanting” is: to have a deficiency in; or to be lacking.

     This is the idea being conveyed in Daniel when he, through the power of God, interpreted the dream of Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Belshazzar was being “judged” by the Lord in the sense that he had been warned, by the way his father, Nebuchadnezzar had been punished for not giving God the glory. Yet as king, Belshazzar ignored the warning. He received his “final” warning in Daniel 5:27 when Daniel told him part of what the handwriting on the wall said. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

     Then, Daniel told him of his demise in Daniel 5:28, as the latter part of the message from the writing on the wall was revealed. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.  Belshazzar must have figured this was to occur much later as Daniel 5:29 tells how the king responded to the news that he was “wanting” and his sentence had been given. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

   Verse 30 of the same book and chapter makes it very clear that when God makes a declaration that it is to be heeded, because it will come to be. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.  He had been told “where he was wanting”, or lacking, and he ignored the warnings. This sounds like many today, who 1) have been duly warned in the Word of God, and 2) figure they have ample time before making changes that are needed before entering into eternity.

     Perhaps yet another reminder is needed. Man has been duly warned in God’s Word about the pending judgment, the demise of the ungodly as well as those who were once saved and then turned away from God. Another way a reminder finally “gets through” is in song.   It is a proven fact that most folks remember songs longer than spoken words or those on the printed page.  Possibly, this is due to the tune “sticking” in their mind.  

      We have a few excellent hymns that can serve as a reminder of the fate that awaits those that fail to obey God, or fail to continue in obedience. One such song is “Standing Outside”.   This song was written in 1932 by a man named John A. McClung.   The warning in its words is chilling.   Maybe the words of this song will cause someone to stop and consider “where they are wanting”.  

 

 

Standing Outside

Judgment is surely coming. Coming to you and me.

We will be judged that morning for all eternity.

Some will go into Heaven. Others will be denied.

Will you be in that number, Standing outside?

 

Standing outside while loved ones, Enter that pearly gate.

Knowing that there forever, You will then separate.

To be away from loved ones, And by your God denied.

O what an awful picture, Standing outside?

 

Can you not see the picture of those who’re lost in sin,

Standing outside the portals, Without a hope to win?

Souls crushed with deepest sorrow, Without a friend to guide?

O what an awful picture, Standing outside?

 

Chorus

Standing outside the portals, Standing outside denied,

Knowing that with the demons Ever you shall abide.

Never to share the beauties, Waiting the sanctified.

O what an awful picture, Standing outside?

 

   Don’t let your friends and loved ones be left “Standing Outside”.   Make sure that you have done all you can to bring them to Christ.   Invite them to Bible studies and to worship services.   Help them have opportunity to hear the warnings God has given in His Word so they can make informed choices.

     And equally important, don’t be afraid to live a righteous life before them, as Daniel did.    He did not fear the king, or what the king might do to him.   Serve God in all areas of life, not fearing what man can or may do to you. Fear being left “Standing Outside”. As stated in Matthew 10:28 by Jesus Himself: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.    When “weighed in the balances” will you “be found wanting?”            

                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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