Mooresville church of Christ

Teaching The Gospel in Mooresville, NC and Around the World...

News & Articles News & Articles

What Kind Of Disciple Are You?

                                  What Kind of Disciple Are You?

     Depending upon where you look, slightly different definitions of the word “disciple” can be found.  From a general standpoint, we find:  a) One who embraces and assists in the teaching of another.  b) An active adherent, as of a movement of philosophy.   From a religious viewpoint, disciple is usually associated with being “a personal follower of Jesus during His life, especially one of the twelve apostles.”  

     We are aware that all of these definitions or descriptions fit the term we are examining in this article.  Many have shown themselves to be “disciples” of a given set of beliefs, or thinking, based on how they act or react to that which occurs around them.  But as we respond to the question of the article this week, let’s confine our thoughts to the “disciples” of Jesus.    We know that Jesus had disciples (followers) during His life’s ministry.   We should be aware that one can also be Jesus’ disciple today, many years after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  Hence the question all followers of our Lord should ask: “What Kind of Disciple Are You?”

     To answer this, we need only go to God’s Word and see examples of the types of “followers” existing in Jesus’ day, and see where we stand.   There are always those that seek blessings, and for such will “follow after” Jesus. 

In Matthew 9:27 we are told of two followers with a need.  And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. They had a need and Jesus filled that need,albeit a physical one.   They weren’t being selfish.   But today, many seem to be willing to follow, or claim to be a disciple of Jesus, based solely on the temporal blessings they receive.   When the going becomes difficult, or the times get tough, these are the one’s that often forsake Jesus.  Of course, these too will “cry for mercy”, being justly punished for living for themselves and only looking to God when they needed or wanted something from Him.

      Indeed, as we read in Mark 2:15, there were many during Jesus’ time that followed Him.  And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, (Levi the publican’s) many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  But we are also told in John 6:66 that some who once followed, did not continue as disciples of Jesus.  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.   The “hard sayings” of Jesus made them choose to be disciples no more.    There are some today that no longer continue as disciples because they think the Word of God too hard or that it is too constricting for their desired “lifestyle”.   

      This perhaps causes some today to be the type of disciple Peter was as the Lord was being tried by the Jewish leaders.    Luke 22:54 shows us how Peter followed at that time.   Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.  Perhaps fear was not Peter’s only motivation for not standing up.   As Matthew 26:58 indicates, He wanted to “wait and see” how it all would turn out before committing fully.  But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.  Thank God Peter saw his error, wept, then repented and became a diligent “disciple” and served faithfully.    Had he continued to wait he might have lost his soul.

    Today, Christians are to be reminded of 2Peter 2:20 as we examine our own discipleship of Jesus.  For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

      We (Christians) should take the attitude of Thomas, one of Jesus’ original disciples, who also became an apostle, as is shown in John 11:16.    Thomas, often called “doubting Thomas” was among the apostles elect as they talked about how the unbelieving Jews of Bethany had sought to stone Jesus. Here, he showed what true discipleship is.  Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

      This same discipleship is shown in the Words of Paul as the Spirit had him write to the brethren in Philippi in Philippians 1:20-21According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

      What kind of disciple are you?  Are you following, seeking only temporal blessings in this life?   Have you ceased being an “active disciple” because the teaching or the circumstances were “too hard”?  Are you just following “afar” off, staying in the peripheral, and not being “too involved”?   Or are you, as a “true disciple”, boldly standing for truth and right, knowing that the reward far exceeds the sacrifice?   What kind of disciple are you?

     Only you can make that choice.   Become a Christian today and continue to serve as His faithful disciple and one day hear the Words from the Lord Himself: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.  

                                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises

     We’ve been inundated lately with promises from political candidates who make every claim possible to get into the desired office.  When the election finally arrives, we have heard more promises than can possibly be kept.   What is so incredible is that many of the promises by any given contender is often countered by conflicting promises previously made by the same man or woman seeking the position.   This is quite inconsistent. 

      Every member of mankind makes many promises in the course of his or her life.   We do so relative to personal relationships, jobs, and many other areas.   When such promises are made, it is hopeful that “good intentions” are behind the promises.   Some of these are kept, or honored, and others are not.  To not keep the commitments, or promises we make, makes us inconsistent as well.  

     There is one who is neither inconsistent, nor fails to keep a promise.  This is because as Isaiah 55:8-9 informs us, God does not think nor act as does man.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.Then we read in Isaiah 55:11 that God made promise about how effective His Word is.  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  Then from the New Testament, in 2Peter 3:9 we see how serious God is about the promise He made and the plan He set in order from before the beginning of time for the benefit of man.    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 is faithful, consistent, loving, and desirous that all souls would seek Him and be saved. 

     But what about our part in this?  Are we not expected to be consistent in our efforts to receive what God offers mankind?   Back in the early 1980’s O.D. Wilson, my wife’s father, re-wrote the words of “Make Me A Channel of Blessing” to address our promises, which he entitled “To Be Consistent”.   There was nothing wrong with the “original” song, but these “additional” words might help us to “examine ourselves” as we continue our Christian walk.   Perhaps when he wrote this, he was pondering the “commitment” all make to God when they obey the gospel.   Unfortunately, some Christians fail to live up to their commitment because of inconsistency.   Below are the words he wrote to that tune.  It asks some interesting questions. 

 

To Be Consistent

1)   Is it true that you are a Christian,

or a person who just wears the name?

Are you really committed to Jesus;

not acting or playing a game?

2)  Do you go to worship each Lord’s day,

are you just a “one timer” each week?

Do you eat the Lord’s Supper the right way?

Always the Lord’s Will do you keep?

3)  Do your neighbors know you are a Christian,

by the things that you do and say?

Have you tried to win them all for Jesus? 

Don’t wait, there’s no time like to day.

Chorus

To be consistent is so hard to do. 

I want to serve Lord and always be true.

Say what I do Lord, Do what I say Lord,

be an example each step of the way.

     What kind of promises do we make when we talk to God?   When we bow our heads in prayer and ask for specific blessings, do we consider that we committed to be consistent in our service to God?   Do we contemplate where we might spend eternity because of inconsistency?   Think about it. 

                                                  Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ   

Be A Giant Killer

Be A “Giant” Killer

     Upon reading the title of this article, you many have thought: “Fi -Fi-Fo-Fum”, as is found in the children’s stories depicting giants and such.   We know that the “mythical” giants as portrayed in these stories and films are designed to fascinate and entertain our young ones, and do not really exist. However, we are also aware that the “giants” of which the Word of God speaks did exist.   These were men of great size and of impressive physical abilities.   One of the most well-known “giants” is Goliath of Gath, and is found in the account of David and Goliath in 1Samuel chapter 17.  

     This account has been the basis of many a narrative in which the “giant”, or the great and mighty opposition is soundly defeated by the swift action, or the tenacity and perseverance of his diminutive foe.   There have been “fairy tales” told, books written, and movies made, some animated and others not, which had this as a storyline. More importantly, there is a lesson for each of us, if we will just heed the lesson and apply it within our lives.  

     We aren’t likely to have physical foes of the imposing stature of Goliath of Gath. We are to understand that he was indeed real, and he and warriors from the army of the Philistines terrorized the army of Israel for a time.   It simply took someone who served God, had faith in God and who looked to God for strength and deliverance to overcome and defeat the enemy.

   Young David, in 1Samuel 17:37 stated with full confidence: The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.   King Saul, grateful that he himself did not have to face the giant, told David: Go, and the LORD be with thee.         Saul, whether he realized it or not, was giving David some sage advice, which if followed will help us as we face the “giants” in our lives. As each of us have these in our lives, we need to be aware of the means by which we can overcome the “giants” we face day to day.  

     What might be the “giants” we face?   These are perhaps too numerous to list, as everyone is different and all live under various circumstances. But there are a number of these that might be familiar to us.   One “giant” has a rather broad description as many things fall into this category.   Its name is evil.   Romans 12:21 tells us: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.   If we want to defeat the evil that presents itself to us daily, it can only be done by challenging it with good from God.  

     Evil is indeed a “giant”. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus told His apostles that we have the power over evil. He said: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.   Can we not see that we have the power to overcome, if we will but control our minds?   The Spirit had Paul write of this in Philippians 4:12-13.    I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

     God has provided us all we need to kill the “giants” in our lives, if we will simply avail ourselves of it. The apostle Peter was directed to write of this in 2Peter 1:3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:   But even that which God has provided is of little use unless we access it.   Why do you think David chose five smooth stones, rather than the armor Saul offered?   He knew what would work.    1Samuel 17:38-40 shows this to be the case.   And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

     As we face our obstacles, and the many things that might deter us from serving God, let us become giant killers. Take what God has given us (His Holy Word) and learn to be proficient in the use of it. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15)   Then take on all that stands between you and God.   You can and will defeat the enemy, regardless of its size.   We can see from 1Corintians 10:13 that God has made a way for us to be giant killers.     There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

     Go ahead, face your giant(s). Prevail over that obstacle. Have faith in God, serve God and look to His Word for strength – Become a “Giant killer”.

                                                Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Deep Are Your Roots?

How Deep Are Your Roots?

     When asked about their roots, many folks perhaps consider their places in the community, or their ancestry, or something of that nature.   This is certainly plausible, as our “roots” have some impact on us. We understand this as we look into our heritage.   Many have spent considerable sums and taken much time to research their roots for various reasons.  

     Some may want this information for health purposes. The tendency of a certain disease or physical abnormality within a family might be a good reason to have this information at hand.   This could be quite useful to a physician as he or she treats someone in such cases.   Others tout their “roots” in regard to their community because one with deep roots in the community indicates that the person has stability.   Perhaps their family has been in the area for many years.   This may also work in one’s favor with local law enforcement authorities, etc.

     But, how many stop to consider the depth of their roots from a spiritual standpoint?   My friends, these are the “roots” about which we should be most concerned.   Colossians 2:6-7 shows that our roots “spiritually” must be firmly “in Christ”. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

   This is the same concept Christ was teaching in John 15:4-6 as He spoke to His apostles. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. From this we should see how important it is that our spiritual roots be in the right place and that they remain firm.

     Part of the message of the parable of the sower in Luke deals with the necessity of roots. A plant, (or a person) without root, cannot be nourished as the root is the plant’s source of sustenance. In the Lord’s explanation to His close disciples in Luke 8:13, shows how the seed is ineffective when it does not develop roots.   They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.  The explanation in the Matthew 13:6 account shows what will happen if we have no root. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

       We all understand how roots work. One of the things the encyclopedia tells us about plant roots is: In vascular plants, the roots are the organs of a plant that are modified to provide anchorage for the plant and take in water and nutrients into the plant body, which allows plants to grow taller and faster. They most often lie below the surface of the soil. A couple of points can be gleaned from this. 1) The roots “anchor” the plant.     2) The plant receives its life-giving nourishment through its roots.  

     As Christians, we are to be “rooted” in Christ.  Therefore, in Him we have our anchor. 1) Per Hebrews 6:19 It is our hope in Christ that is our anchor. Those Hebrew Christians to whom this letter was written were told this so they would remain rooted in Christ. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;   2) The Spirit, in 1Timothy 4:6 had Paul tell the young preacher how the Christian is to receive the nutrition that sustains spiritual life.   If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

       We also know that the best way to prevent the growth of a tree, bush or any other plant is to separate it from its roots. The inspired message of John the baptizer in Luke 3:9 was to inform Israel that they would be “cut off” from God due to them having neglected and rejected His Word. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. God was applying the axe of His wrath on those of His people who would not remain rooted in His Word and would not follow His instructions.  

     This has always been God’s Way of dealing with His people. God has issued His Commands, provided the time and means for man to heed His Law, and has also warned of the penalty of failure to obey. In Romans 11:22 the brethren at Rome were told that this is also the case in the church age.   Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.   The goodness of God is shown in the giving of His Son on the cross of Calvary to purchase the church. His severity had already been shown to those that had rejected His Son, as they were “cut off”.   His Love and goodness is still extended to all today that will obey the gospel.   Put “roots” down today.   Obey the gospel. Then strive to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and remain firmly and deeply “rooted and grounded in love”. Ephesians 3:17

                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Fight of Your Life

The Fight of Your Life

       As we continue through this life, we no doubt endure a number of conflicts and struggles in various areas.  There are those who face disease or injuries that threaten their lives.      Many who have been afflicted with the COVID-19 virus have felt this way.   Others have major physical impairments that make life itself seem like an unfair contest.    Some who face this kind of struggle consider it the “fight of their lives”, yet strive to continue on.

     But if we look up the word “struggle” and the word “strive”, perhaps we can see that the “fight of our life” is the one that has the greatest impact on our souls.   Struggle defined:  make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.    We all are to “struggle” to be free of sin.   We are reminded of this in 1Corinthians 9:25-27 as the Spirit had Paul write.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. To walk this life and be favorable to God, we must fight with all that is in us to keep ourselves from sin. 

       In 1Timothy 6:11-12 we read where the young preacher was told what to avoid as well as well as that for which he (and we) are to strive.  The definition of strive in this sense is: make great efforts to achieve or obtain something.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 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.   Friends, for each of us, this is the fight of our life. Our eternal life depends upon it.

      But do we really stop and consider that where we will spend our “eternal life” is totally dependent on what we do in this life?  Based on the way some folks live, it seems they don’t realize this.   Most, upon reading this will apply this to those of the world.       Members of the Lord’s church also need to consider how this applies to us as well.    In 2Corinthians 5:10 we read a passage that was written to a congregation of the Lord’s church.   The “we” found in this verse means “Christians”.   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.

       The “fight of our life” takes place “in this life”.   In Ecclesiastes 9:10, the Spirit had the wise man Solomon pen this for our instruction.  We are to be busy in this life to make preparation for that which is beyond. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  And per Hebrews 9:27, it is a fact that our time in this life will come to an end. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

        One of the worst things I can think of, is having to fight for, or contend for something on the “spur of the moment”.   We have the advantage in the “fight of our lives, although we don’t know how long our lives will progress beyond the present.   The Spirit had James remind us of this in the general epistle that bears his name.  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:13-14)  The reason we have the advantage, is that God has told us in His Word how to prepare for that which is beyond this life.   However, we MUST start now because we don’t know how much time we might have. 

       Some have objected by saying: “But, aren’t we to do what we love?” We are, but we are also to be careful as to “what we love” while here in these lives as this determines the paths we will walk.    In 1John 5:3 we can read what the Spirit had the beloved apostle John write.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.    The word grievous means burdensome.  Therefore, it is never burdensome to do the Commandments of God, if we love Him. 

        The only way to take advantage of what God has offered is to do so in accordance to His terms.   In His Word, He has told us what to do to prepare for the fight of our lives.  1) Hear the Word–Romans 10:17    2) Believe that Jesus is the Son of God–John 8:24   3) Repent of sins–Acts 17:30   4) Confess Jesus before man–Acts 8:37     5) Be Baptized into Christ – 1Peter 3:21, and then remain prepared for that final stage of your existence.  This is where so many lose the “fight of their lives”.    Part of God’s plan of Salvation is that after we have done these things, we are to “remain faithful until death”.  We can read of the sad status of those who lose this fight in 2Peter 2:20.   

      Don’t lose the fight of your life by not beginning, or by not finishing.  God has provided us the time, the means and the reward.   The rest is up to you. 

                                        Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ  

Don't Waste Your Time

Don’t Waste Your Time

Life is like a flower in the Springtime,

Budding and blooming in the breeze.

Don’t crush its beauty but always be kind,

Do a good deed, always try to please.

Life is like a vapor, spreading o’er the valley,

In a short time, it goes away.

So temporary, it’s gone tomorrow,

Make the right use of it today.

Life is like a storm-cloud with a booming thunder.

There’s lightning and hail and heavy rain.

Soon it will pass, no need to wonder,

For we know the sun will shine again.

Life is like a journey; It has an ending.

We carefully chart the course to find.

Our footprints we leave, our message we are sending

To those who follow us, not far behind.

Then don’t waste your time; its use confine

Not for yourself alone, this resign.

Walk with God in perfect peace of mind,

Helping the lost, the way to find.

 

       This poem was written by my wife’s father, O.D. Wilson, many years ago but is still sage advice.    When we contemplate our “purpose of life” do we think about how we spend our time?   Do we consider the fact that we know not how much time we may have?   As Christians, do we stop to consider that our “duty” in this life is to help others know what they need to know what to do to become “children of God”?    Do we use our time getting “ready” and “able” to answer folks who ask of God’s plan for man?   In 1Peter 3:15 we are told how we are to prepare ourselves and help others.    But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

        The Spirit had Paul remind his protégé’ Timothy of the fact that he (Paul) had not “wasted his time” after his conversion.   In 2Timothy 3:10-11 we see that the young preacher had a stellar example of how to live, even in the face of persecution.   But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.  Of course, Paul’s “doctrine” was not his, but that which was given him by the Spirit and which Paul had the privilege to deliver to the benefit of all who would listen and would obey.

     The Lord, in Matthew 28:18-20, told His apostles that which has come to be known as the “Great Commission”.  Even the wording of this commission, given before the kingdom came, shows its perpetual nature. Therefore, it is applicable today, as we live in the New Testament age – the kingdom age. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 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.   Could it ever be a “waste of time” to do what Jesus “commanded”?  

     Can we say we are following the Great Commission if we are not declaring the gospel to all who will hear?   Do we consider what it is we preach and teach as we try to fulfill that commission?   Can anyone “fulfill” that commission with the “wrong kind” of preaching?   Is not the wrong kind of preaching a waste of time?   

       Part of our “obedience” is to not “waste our time”, but to work to maintain the Salvation we have in Christ.    The Philippians were instructed of this from the pen of Paul as directed by the Spirit 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.

        Think about it.  Can we maintain our salvation, or help others learn how to become the children of God as the purpose for their lives if the “kind of preaching we need” is not offered?    If we worship in such a place, we have indeed wasted our time there.   Make sure that where you worship, God’s Word is peached and followed.   If it is not, how will you know how to be pleasing to God?   If you leave this earth not pleasing to God – You have wasted your time. Time is short!    Obey the gospel today before your time runs out!  

                          Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are We Pleasing To God?

Are We Pleasing To God?

     As we walk this path of life, all seek to please, or be pleased.   The problems that arise in this result from “how we seek to please” and “whom we seek to please”.   We all have our “place in the crowd” called humanity. Do we seek to be pleasing to humanity?   Many that are married seek to please their spouse.   The Spirit had Paul allude to this in 1Corinthians 7:32-35, noting that “pleasing God” is to be of most importance.   But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.  This is not to say that one should not be married, but that pleasing God MUST come first in the lives of all His people.

     This is in complete agreement with what Jesus taught in Mark 4:19 as He explained to His apostles, what He taught by the seaside in the parable of the sower. And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.While family, career, education and such are a large part of our lives, we cannot afford to allow these things to cause us not to be pleasing to God. Our focus is to be doing those things which are pleasing to Him. In Colossians 1:10 the Spirit had Paul write: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  The key here is that if we want to be pleasing to God, we must increase in knowledge and also do what we learn so that we walk worthy of the Lord and please Him.

     In Galatians 1:10 we read: For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ

We can also determine that which was to be proclaimed to be pleasing to God in vss 11-12. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  The revelation of Jesus Christ (the gospel), our knowledge of the gospel, and our continued obedience to it is what is pleasing to God.   1Thessalonians 2:4 clearly states that the faithful preaching of the Word of God is pleasing to God.   But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 

     But how does this affect “happiness”? That is truly dependent upon what it is that makes one happy.   Does being pleasing to God make us happy? Should we ever be happy if we are NOT pleasing God?  Happy defined is: Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.  Should we not be content or feel pleasure in being pleasing to God?   Then, why are so many worried about pleasing man?

Are they afraid of man?   Should we not remember the Words of our Lord found in Matthew 10:28 regarding “fear” of man?   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.  How many on the wrong side of this will be happy for eternity?   We all know that answer.  

       God’s Word was given to man to bring about man’s happiness.  We are also aware that God’s Word is given for our correction.   This too is for our happiness in this life and in the “world to come”. Job 5:17 is the first place in which God’s Word tells us we are to be happy when corrected by God’s Word. Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty Anyone who has received “chastisement” does not realize “happiness” at the moment the correction is being exercised.   But all who are honest, will realize the benefit afterward, as well as the happiness that results as Hebrews 12:9-11 tells us. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby

     What are other benefits of pleasing God?   The Spirit had the wise man, Solomon, write in Proverbs 16:6-7, Words for our learning. This is much needed even in our present society amid the turmoil that is certainly unpleasing to God. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. 7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.  The Spirit had the apostle Paul, in 1Thesalonians 4:1 write it this way: Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

     Isn’t it about time to consider “pleasing God”?   He has provided for this His Word in which we can please Him and also be happy in this life and in the hereafter.                  

                                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Inner Conflicts

Inner Conflicts

      Since nearly the dawn of time there have been hostilities, conflicts, battles, wars, and altercations.  These are usually the product of one man or group of men in opposition to another.   An excellent example of this is the first recorded war we have in the Word of God.  This account names a number of combatants, and is found in Genesis 14:2That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.  

       Often, when the call for action in this kind of conflict is made in the field, or location of the clash, there is a need to let all involved know when to charge.   Battalions of the U S Calvary included a “bugler” who was well versed in all the “tunes” that were designed to signal various things.   The need for this was recognized even in Bible times.  In 1Corinthians 14:8, the Spirit had Paul write about this.  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

       But these types of struggles are “external” in nature and usually involve a multiplicity of individuals.   In Romans 7:25 the apostle Paul was directed by the Spirit to inform the Roman Christians that not all “wars” aren’t fought with club, sword, firearm, or other such weapons.   Some take place “internally”.  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.    Another congregation was given a similar message.  In 1Corinthians 10:3-4, those brethren were reminded that the flesh did not control the Christian’s conflict.   For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  These are battles of an individual nature and are fought by each of us.

      However, as we face these daily, we are not expected to deal with our inner conflicts without aid or assistance.   2Peter 1:3 assures us that we are richly supplied with all we need to live godly lives and overcome even our own inner battles.   According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:   These “all things” are contained within the Word of God and are easily accessed by every soldier of the cross, if he or she will just go to the Word and read, study and meditate.  According to Ephesians 3:16, this is where we are to draw that needed inner strength.  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;   Once we have done this, perhaps we can say as the Spirit had Paul write in Romans 7:22.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

        We cannot separate the inner man from the outer until we die as we read in James 2:26.   For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  So, when the inner man is “conflicted” and fails to remain faithful to God the outer man also suffers.  Therefore, God has provided all that the faithful Christian needs to prepare him, or herself, for every type of conflict one might face in this life.    The Spirit had Paul pen this so the church that met in Ephesus could overcome inner conflicts.   This has been recorded for us as well in Ephesians 6:10-18 so we can be fully equipped.    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 

      How can we be victorious over these “inner conflicts”?   We must first obey the gospel.  When we become a child of God, Philippians 4:7 tells us, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   Then as the “inner conflicts” arise, we as soldiers in the Lord’s army have access to all we need to overcome.   Let us remember, just as warriors in other battles know, the weapons for offence and defense are useless unless we take them up and use them.  They are equally inadequate if we have not been trained to use them.   Take up God’s Word today.  Obey what it says to do.  Learn how to use it to your benefit and to render aid to others.  

                                        Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

You Complete Me

You Complete Me

     Some will no doubt remember this phrase, delivered by Tom Cruise from the 1996 film “Jerry McGuire”. Probably better remembered from that same movie is: “Show me the money”.   The truth is that many feel they are only complete if and when they have money.   This is evidenced by the importance of gain in this world in which we live.  

       Another word for complete is “whole”.   In John chapter five we are told of the belief of the Jews of that day, in the miraculous power of the “troubled water” at the pool of Bethesda, in which one could be “made complete” or “whole” or if they could be first in the water after the troubling of the water. In John 5:6, upon seeing a man infirm for thirty-eight years, who could not get in the water, Jesus asked: “Wilt thou be made whole?”     Then in John 5:8 Jesus simply Commanded: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”   Then we read that the man was immediately made whole.  

       The man in the above account was “infirm” in that he was unable to convey himself from place to place.   He was lacking that which would allow him to do so. Jesus supplied that need and made him “whole” or “complete” in a physical sense. When the Jews ask the man why he carried his bed on the Sabbath, the answer is given in John 5:11. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

     The Jews were not thrilled that one of their own was healed, and could not rejoice in that the man who had suffered an infirmity for thirty-eight years was made “complete”. Rather, they used the episode to find fault with Jesus as He performed a miracle, and then told the man to do that which was contrary to their traditions.   I am afraid that many today allow their “spiritual traditions” to prevent them from becoming “complete” or “whole” in the spiritual sense as they refuse to do all the Word of God Commands that their infirmity of the soul can be healed.

       The word “complete” only occurs two times in the KJV New Testament. It is first found in Colossians 2:10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:  The second place is Colossians 4:12. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  In both of the occurrences, Christ is the catalyst that makes one whole or complete.   The first is obvious as one must be “in Christ” to be complete.   The second occurrence speaks of the “will of God”.   In John 5:30, Jesus’ response to the Jews following the healing of the infirm man shows He came to do the Will of God. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.  Therefore, it is God’s Will that we be “complete”, and only “in Christ” can we be that way.  

       Since it is God’s Will that we be complete, and one must be in Christ and remain in Christ to be complete, God has provided the instruction in His Word so we can become complete. We can see from Jesus’ reply in Mark 2:17 that He came to provide the means for one to become “complete” spiritually. They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  God has also promised the reward of eternal heaven to all who become “complete” in Christ, and remain faithfully committed (COMPLETE) for the duration of their life. In 2Peter 3:9 we are told that God desires that all would become “whole”. 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.

      So that those who have become “complete” in Christ can remain “whole” the Spirit gave Paul words to write to the church in Rome in Romans 12:2. These Words apply to Christians today as well.   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  This clearly indicates that the world and the things of the world cannot make one whole or complete.   This is also supported by 1John 2:15-17, as the Spirit had John write to the church. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.   

     Compare that with what the Spirit had Paul write to Titus in Titus 1:14 and it is clear that the commandments of men and the truth are not the same things. Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.  Couple this with what Jesus stated in John 8:32 and we can see that only by faithfully doing what God has given in His Word can one be complete. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  Isn’t it time for you to allow Christ to “complete” you? You cannot spend eternity with God unless or until you are “in Christ”. You are not “complete” or “whole” or in Christ until you have obeyed the gospel. Obey the gospel today! Then remain whole by reading and studying His Holy Word and living as it directs.

                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Almost Faithful?

Almost Faithful?

       Have you ever looked up the word “almost” in the Bible?   Would you be surprised to know it only exists eleven times in God’s Word, and is never associated with faithfulness?   Of the nineteen times “faithfulness” is found in the KJV Bible, eleven times God’s faithfulness is referenced.   Salvation is also not something one can “almost” attain.    Acts 26:28-29 is the closest this ever came to be as the apostle Paul stood before king Agrippa. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. 

     One cannot be “almost saved” any more than they can be “almost faithful”.   I am afraid that some Christians seem to think they can be altogether saved, yet remain “almost faithful”.   That is not a Bible concept at all!   The first mention of “faithful” in the Bible is in Numbers 12:7 and is speaking of Moses, the one God chose to deliver Israel from the Egyptians. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.   However, we are also aware of when Moses became “almost faithful” and was not “altogether” faithful in Numbers 20:11. God had told him to “speak to the rock”. And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 

       Then in Deuteronomy 34:4 we see the penalty Moses had to pay for not being all the way faithful. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.  There is always a price to pay when man is not faithful to God.  We saw it in the Garden of Eden and at the end of the life of Moses. This also will be the case for us if we are not faithful.  

       We are told we may suffer for being faithful. But there is also a reward waiting for all who are faithful to the Lord. And there is a penalty we must pay if we are not faithful.   In 2Timothy 2:12 we are told of the reward to be given the faithful as well as the penalty for the “almost” faithful and the disobedient. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: Then, in 2Timothy 2:13 we are informed that God Will always continue in faithfulness.  If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.    This means if there is any unfaithfulness, it is on man’s part and not on the part of God.

       To better understand the idea being conveyed in the title of the article, let’s ask some questions about our daily lives, and see how this looks. Can we be expected to accept “almost” in the service of those with whom we interact?   Are we to accept medical services from a Doctor who is “almost” educated in the field of medicine?  Should we take our automobiles to mechanics who are “almost” certified?   Would you reward and pay the roofer who “almost” finished your roof?   How would we feel about the services of the Dentist who “almost” fixed a broken tooth?   Get the point?  

     God also pointed this out to His O.T. people, Israel shortly before the pen of inspiration was laid down until the N.T. times began. In Malachi 1:7-8 the Spirit had Malachi write: “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.”  Sadly, some of them did not get the point either.  

       In being “almost faithful”, Israel was robbing God.   When we today in our service to God, give “almost” what we should give in our time, service, monies, dedication, and adoration, we are “robbing God”. Israel was also told of this by the Spirit, through the same prophet. Malachi 3:8-10 tells Israel how they “robbed” God and also how bountifully God will bless if they did as commanded. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 

     The church in Smyrna was not told to be “almost faithful”. They were soon to face severe persecution, but Revelation 2:10 tells them to be all the way faithful to receive that crown of life. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. What about you?   Are you willing to gamble your soul by being “almost” faithful or almost obedient?   That’s a choice you have to make – and a price your soul will have to pay for eternity.                

                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Upcoming Events

Share This Page