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Going Up? - Or Down?

Going Up? – Or Down?

     I’m aware that the title of this week’s article sounds a bit like what used to be asked when there were elevator attendants. I may be “dating” myself a bit but I do remember, years ago, the uniformed attendant asking us this question as we entered an elevator. But that’s not the reason for the article nor the purpose for the question here.

     Ever notice how some folks, when speaking of dear departed loved ones, will kiss their hand, or touch their heart area, and then point to the sky? Others, when receiving accolades, awards of honors, will look upward and thank the lamented deceased ones, regardless of the type of a person they were, or the type of life they lived.   Why is this?   I suspect it is because all would like to think their departed loved ones are in a place of rest, peace and comfort.   It is too bad they fail to understand that when a soul departs, they neither go to Heaven or to Hell but to a place “like unto” where they will spend eternity.  

     The fact is, all who live, will face death (or be changed), and after death is no more, judgment will occur as we are told in Hebrews 9:27. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: We are not told a great deal about the judgment, but 2Corinthians 5:10 informs us why we are to be judged. 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.

     Humanity has determined that Heaven is up and Hell is down, and no one in their right mind wants to, or wants their loved ones to descend into the realm of eternal Hell as Psalms 9:16-17 declares. The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. 7 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

     Perhaps the best biblical picture of the intermediate state of man after his life on the earth is depicted in Luke chapter 16, as the Lord told of the rich man and Lazarus.   This is not a fable, or a parable, as the man had five brothers, and all in the story lived under the Law of Moses. Therefore, they were to be “judged” according to how they lived their lives under that Law. Luke 16:22:23 recounts the death of each. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: (which is Paradise) the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.   Notice that each did not go to the same place, and both of them were not in peace. Luke 16:24 -25 shows the difference in the state of each of these souls. And he (the rich man) cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he (Lazarus) is comforted, and thou (the rich man) art tormented.

     Provision was also made that one in torment could not “escape” and find rest or peace. Luke 16:26 provides this information. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. It is also obvious that none have yet gone “up there” to Heaven but Christ, as 1John 5:7 clearly shows. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:13-17 indicates that the Lord will bring the dead in Christ with Him (from Paradise), at the end of time when He returns to gather the faithful living to go to judgment. If already in Heaven, would there be a reason for them to accompany the Lord to gather the remaining “saints”?   But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (means precede) them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  

       The final verse of this chapter, 1Thessalonians 4:18 tells the brethren to whom the Spirit had Paul write to: “ . . . comfort one another with these words.” These Words are indeed a comfort to those who have made the proper preparation, and have remained prepared for eternity. Life will have its share of “ups and downs”. In life, when we fall, we can get back up, and strive to serve God in accordance to His Will so we can spend eternity with Him. We want you to be comforted here, and after you die.   Going Up? – or Down after this life? That’s up to you.   Obey the gospel today.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

It's The Little Things

It’s the Little Things

It’s the little things that formulate life’s treasures,

It’s the weak things that tear the strong ones down.

It’s the tiny drops that fill the ocean’s measure,

It’s the simple deeds that make the world go round!

It’s the silent thought that forbids a painful heartbreak,

It’s the faintest smile that removes an angry frown.

It’s the slightest gesture of hope that one can make,

That lifts a man up when he’s down!

It’s the small hills which make the largest mountains,

It’s the unknown who rise to renown.

It’s the greatest in need, who shall likely succeed,

In exchanging their cross for the crown!

It’s the way that is down that leads up,

It’s what a man gives that he gains.

It’s the ones who die that shall live bye and bye,

It’s the ignorant that have all the brains!

It’s the poor who are rich and don’t know it,

It’s those who have not that can lose.

It’s not at your birth, you’re assessed for your worth,

It’s the little things of life that you choose.

O.D. Wilson – deceased

     The preceding poem was written many years ago by my wife’s father, and shows the fallacy of ignoring the “little things” of life.   It has been often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This is true, and when considered in context, a single step is very small in comparison to the whole of a thousand-mile journey.   This “proverb” simply means that big achievements are made through small but concrete resolves. Dreams and life’s goals are achieved by making a plan, taking the first step towards it and continuing until the reward becomes reality.

     God also does not ignore the “little things”. The Spirit had Solomon write about four little things in Proverbs 30:24-28. The next thing stated in regard to these is that they are “exceeding wise”.   There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: 25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; 26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; 27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; 28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces. Each were made by God with the instinct to do the things in this passage. It is because they follow “God’s Plan” that make them wise.   It is also by these “little” things God teaches us much through His Word. These little things are great examples.  

     The Spirit also had Solomon pen the Words we find in Proverbs 15:16 in regard to what we have in this life. Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Then, the Spirit had Isaiah write about the might God would provide as His Will was being carried out in the land of Canaan. Isaiah 60:22A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.

     Even “small” places had a “big” part in the plan of God as Micah 5:2 tells us in prophecy about the Lord. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

     However, not all that is “little” in this life is good. In 1Corinthians 5:6 the Spirit had Paul write to the brethren in Corinth to remind them of this. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? This warning is given that we choose carefully the little things as well as the big things of life.  

     One must make choice in this life. God’s Word requires just a few “little” things for one to do to begin their lives as Christians.   These are: 1) Hear – Romans 10:17. 2) Believe that Jesus is the Christ – John 8:24. 3) Repent of past sins – Acts 17:30. 4) Confess that Jesus is God’s Son – Acts 8:37 and 5) Be baptized into Christ to have your sins washed away – Acts 22:16. Then, as a Christian, 6) Live the remainder of their lives in faithful service to God as He has directed in His Word.   In Revelation 2:10b, the church at Smyrna was told this . . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

     Consider that these things and the span of our lives in which we have the opportunity to obey God are “very little” when compared to the enormity of eternity. Choose wisely!   Remember, doing even God’s “little things” shows wisdom and produces great rewards.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

Who Is "Standing-Up" For You?

Who Is “Standing Up” For You?

     In our U. S. Justice system, one who is a “citizen” is granted certain rights. One of these is the right to an attorney (if needed). If you cannot afford one, the state will appoint one.   Many people understand this right, and when a person is accused of a crime, the accusers have to inform the accused of his or her rights. The attorney is the one who knows the law, and stands before the ultimate authority in civil matters for the benefit of the accused.

     In our military, there are also those who “stand-up” for the accused. In the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy, these are the JAG Corps, or the Judge Advocate General Corps. The Marine’s have Marine Corps Judge Advocates. These are in place to ensure that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), is properly applied for all involved.  

     Now, let’s leave the civil and the advocates and judges of that realm and apply this principle from a Biblical standpoint.    It is certain that all have sinned as is declared in Romans 3:23. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;     As such we are all, not only accused, but guilty and have a real need of someone to “stand-up” for us. The one thing that is in perfect agreement between the civil and the spiritual, is that a person must be a citizen to have certain rights.   This is of great importance.

     In Ezekiel 8:17-18 God told His own people, the house of Juda, that they had lost the “right” of prayer because of their continued disobedience to His Law. Because of their great sin against God, even this great prophet could not be the advocate for them. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

     This was well understood, even in the time leading up to the purchase of and the establishment of the church, as the former blind man of John 9:31 indicates. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. God (the supreme authority) would not hear His own people who lived in sin. No intercessor had been appointed for them (Isaiah 59:16).  Sadly, some citizens of the New Testament kingdom, the church, have lost the right to prayer, and access to our intercessor, due to disobedience, and the refusal to repent.

       As part of the N. T. kingdom, the church, we (who are citizens in good standing) have the benefit of one who “stands-up” for us. Christ became our intercessor after living a sinless life on earth and then paid the price of His own precious blood to purchase the church. Christ then sent the Holy Spirit (as promised) to His apostles in John 14:25-26 who delivered His Law so man could know how to become a Christian, one who becomes a citizen of the kingdom through obedience to the gospel. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. This was His part of the plan of God to save the souls of men and women.   Man’s part in the saving of their soul’s is to fully obey the terms set forth in the gospel to become a citizen in the kingdom, the church, and then remain fully compliant with God’s N.T. Law.

     That gospel was first delivered by the apostles on Pentecost in A.D. 33 and all who complied with that law were made citizens of the kingdom (the church) and granted the rights that all within the kingdom have.   We read in Acts 2:47, just after the delivery of that law, those who had obeyed were “added” to the church by God Himself. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Those that “should be saved” were those who became citizens as they obeyed the gospel. To not obey the gospel, one remains outside of the church and does not have the rights a citizen of the kingdom enjoys.

      In 2John 2:1 we read where John, guided by the Spirit was writing to Christians, those in the kingdom. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: This is one of the “rights” a Christian has; one who stands-up for them before the Father in heaven.   In so doing, according to Romans 8:34 the Lord intercedes for us. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. All of humanity needs this, because as already pointed out, all sin.  

       Doesn’t everyone need one to intercede for them before the highest of all authorities?   The answer to that is “ABSOULUTELY!” Then why do some not have this privilege and right?   It is because they are not citizens in the kingdom, or they are not in “good standing” in the kingdom because of sin.

       What to do in such a situation?   That is simple. God has laid out in His Law, the way in which one can “legally” become a citizen and the means so that this can be accomplished. Won’t you obey the gospel today? If you are a citizen of the kingdom, the church, and have failed to live in accordance to that Law; won’t you repent of sins and regain your rights as a citizen in good stead?   Your eternity depends upon having Christ “stand-up” for you.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Working For The Lord

Working for the Lord

     The first Monday of September has been “officially” recognized as “Labor Day” since 1894.   I always thought it strange that we celebrate labor by taking the day off from work, even though I take the day off just like most all other “workers” on this federal holiday.

     Much of our life is spent working. Many adolescents eagerly await the time they can “work” and enjoy the freedoms the pay brings. Many young adults seek a job and others strive for education so they can get the job they most want.   Sadly, many of these same people soon face the reality that the “dream job” becomes a nightmare.   A lot of people don’t like their jobs, but have to press on because of obligations that cannot be otherwise met.

     However, not all work is to be dreaded.   It has been said: “If you do what you truly love, you’ll never work a day of your life”.   There is a bit of truth in this as the definition of “work” is: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. If you love what you do, the mental or physical effort seems minimal.

       Now, let’s apply all this to our “work for the Lord”.   In 1Peter 2:21 we are told that Christ left us an example. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  This goes for our working for the Lord as well. We see the Words of Jesus Himself in John 9:4 that shows this to be so. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. Jesus knew that His time on earth was limited.   Later, after healing a man on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him.   Notice what He told them in John 5:17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.  His prayer of John 17:4 shows that in doing and completing that work, He glorified the Father.   I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

     Some are very quick to point out that it is grace that saves, not “works”. These same folks cite Ephesians 2:5 as proof. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) It is most unfortunate that these folks stop reading with this verse, and refuse to acknowledge Ephesians 2:8. This verse shows that God’s Grace is part of His plan to save.   For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Faith is man’s part in the salvation of his own soul.   “Faith” here, means more than simply believing. It means one will obey the Word of God.

     Romans 10:17 informs that “faith” is derived from the Word of God. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  We also read in Titus 2:11 that all have access to this saving grace of God.  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Then we read in verse 12 what that “grace” is and what it does for us.  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 

       God’s Grace to man includes Him sending His only begotten Son to die on the cross at Calvary to purchase the church. It also includes what Christ promised His apostles in John 14:26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.That which the Spirit gave them was the Word of God. That Word must be followed to be pleasing to God.   When the Word is followed, those who follow it will “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” – Philippians 2:12.

      Still, many insist that God’s Grace is all that is needed for one to be saved, and after “jumping overEphesians 2:8, pull Ephesians 2:9 out and “wrest it” by claiming all they need is faith. Not of works, lest any man should boast.  What will they do with James 2:17-18?   Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.   

     Are they also willing to ignore the Words of Christ in Matthew 16:27? 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 works.   What about the Words the Spirit gave Paul to write in 2Corinthians 5:10?   Are these not important? 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. Christ in John 12:48 said: He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 

       Isn’t it about time to “get to work” for the Lord? If you truly love Him, you’ll keep His Commandments as Jesus told His disciples in John 14:15. If ye love me, keep my commandments. Keeping His Commandments entails obeying the gospel to become a child of God, then “working” to maintain a proper relationship with God in accordance to His Word.

       The Spirit had Paul write in 1Corinthians 15:58 that our “work” for God brings an eternal reward. forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

      

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

All Things

All Things

     The term “all things” occurs 171 times in the King James New Testament.   There are many who quote Philippians 4:13 as their favorite verse. It is an easy verse to remember, and the sentiment expressed is one that promotes courage as we face the many things the world places before us.   I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I have seen this in people’s homes, on bumper stickers and even on some clothing.  This seems to be the mantra repeated by many, without being fully aware of what is implied.  

     The “all things” in every occurrence must be kept in context.   The Spirit had the apostle Paul write this just after: 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.(Philippians 4:12)   What were the “all things” of which Paul wrote in verse 12? He pointed out “in all things I am instructed”. Surely, we understand we only receive spiritual instruction from God through His Word.  

       The Spirit had Peter pen the Words we read in 2Peter 1:3-4 which tell us the source and the purpose of the “all things” He has provided for mankind. 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 virtue4 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. 

       The promises of God are contained in His Word. These are provided by God for our benefit as 2Corinthians 4:15-16 shows. For all things are for your sakes, (Christians) that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  The “all things” God gave man renews the inner man.

       One thing I find amazing as well as repulsive is that most folks want the “all things” (blessings) God has offered man in His Word, yet their actions prove that they won’t do “all things” God has Commanded. The argument used by most in this situation is that God “blesses” all of humanity.   I agree. However, the passage that proves this point, also shows the fallacy of their reasoning. Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:45, made this statement.   That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  The previous verse clearly indicates Christ is speaking of the reason He taught His followers to love their “enemies” as well as their neighbors. The blessings He mentions here are the “temporal” blessings that God has provided to “all men” for life on this planet.  

     Christ’s message there, (a Pentecost Pointer) was directing them to the time and place in which they could be recipients of God’s Spiritual blessings.  We perhaps need to be reminded that in Ephesians 1:3, the Spirit had Paul state where “spiritual blessings” exist. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:   Does it not stand to reason, based on this verse that if one is NOT IN CHRIST, they do not have “spiritual blessings” such as the promise of eternal life?   IF NOT, WHY NOT?  

       Of course, there are other spiritual blessings than eternal life. Eternal life is not the “all things” of which the Spirit had Peter write in 2Peter 1:3 (above), although it is a part of it.   The Word of God contains the instruction God intended us to have.   God’s Holy Word contains the teaching, evidence, chastisement, and training that man needs. 2Timothy 3:16 tells us this, and the 17th verse tells us why He offers this to man in His Word. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 

     Now, let’s return to Philippians 4:13 for a moment.   In “context”, and “in act and in fact”, only the Christian has this blessing of being able to “do all things” through Christ.    In addition to this, we see Ephesians 1:3 as the only place all spiritual blessings exist. Why then, would one NOT want to be “in Christ”?   Why not look into the Word of God and see what instruction He has given so that we might “be in Christ”?  

       In the midst of the many problems the church in Corinth experienced, the Spirit had Paul write in 2Corinthians 2:9: “For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. Won’t you obey “all things” commanded of God to be “in Christ”, and to remain in Christ so you can prepare yourself for eternity? God clearly tells us what to do.   God says one must follow these steps to get started.  1) Hear – Romans 10:17. 2) Believe – Hebrews 11:6.  3) Repent of sins – Acts 17:30. 4) Confess Christ before man – Luke 12:8   5) Be baptized (into Christ) – Mark 16:16. 6) Remain faithful unto death – 2Peter 2:20-21.     The “Erring Christian” - return to God in repentance & prayer – Acts 8:22.

       Let us help you start at the beginning, and then together, let’s do “all things” God has Commanded in His Word as we prepare to spend eternity with Him and His Son in heaven.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Where Do You Stand?

Where Do You Stand?

     There are various places to “stand” and many ways to do so in this old earth on which we live. This has been noticed by folks over the years and several “inspirational sayings” have been written regarding “standing”. One of the most recognized is: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for something (anything)”. As I considered this article, I came across some “proverbs” written by men that will definitely make one consider whether or not they are standing where they should.   A few I found interesting are: One foot cannot stand on two boatsChinese proverb. Do not stand in a place of danger trusting in miracles – Saudi Arabian proverb. And, Where the cattle stand together, the lion lies down hungry – African proverb.

     While these are interesting and show “common sense”, God also has said some things about “standing” and about where one stands In His Word that bears remembering. We can read of the benefit of “standing” where you should In Proverbs 12:7. This verse also indicates what will happen if we don’t follow God.   The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand. We should strive to be righteous.

   The Spirit had the Psalmist write of the “state” in which we are to stand if we desire to be righteous.   In Psalm 4:4 we read: “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Then this is repeated in Psalm 33:8, but the instruction there is directed to everyone. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 

     In 1Corinthians 2:4-5 we see the apostle Paul preached in Corinth to tell them (and us) where our faith is to stand. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 

     When Jesus was on earth, He taught in Matthew 7:24-25, about those wise enough to build their house on a rock and the benefit of so doing.   Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

       In 1973 J. Harold Lane wrote a hymn about this very thing. The words of song are catchy, surprisingly biblical, and have been sung by many folks in the years since it was written.   The lyrics of “Standing On The Solid Rock” are printed here.

Through my disappointments

Strife and discontentment
I cast my every care upon the Lord
No matter what obsession

Pain or deep depression
I'm standing on the solid rock

Chorus:
I'm standing on the solid rock of ages
Safe from all the storm that rages
Rich but not from Satan's wages
I'm standing on the solid rock

Now I'm pressing onward
Each step leads me homeward
I'm trusting in my Savior, day by day
And close is our relation
Firm is its foundation
So on this solid rock I'll stay

Repeat Chorus

Even though He's gone now
I don't feel alone now
With comfort came the Spirit of the Lord
Now with His Word to guide me
From temptations hide me
I'm standing on the solid rock

Repeat Chorus

      Let me ask the question with which I began this article. Where do you stand?  Do you “stand” on tradition, feelings, emotions, or the teaching of man?   Now let me ask you another? How “firm” is your footing there?  

     The Spirit had Paul write in 1Thessalonians 3:8: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. Other N.T. passages also direct us where to stand. Galatians 5:1 reads: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

     Why not make sure you are on the only foundation that is sure. We read in 1Corinthians 3:11 where that is. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Obey the gospel today, remain faithful, then stay on that “rock” until the reward is given.

                                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Sure?

Are You Sure?

       The words of the title of this week’s article are often uttered when one receives news or a message that seems unbelievable.    If the message or news seems too good to be true, or when it is accusatory, the one being told the news is often dubious. They want to make sure that any information being passed on is true and reliable.    

       One thing is certain, and these are God’s Promises which are found in His Word. 2Timothy 2:19 affirms this. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. This inspired assurance was given by the Spirit, directly to Paul, who “penned” it for Timothy and now we have it recorded that we might also have hope.  

       In Hebrews 6:19, the Christian Israelites to whom this letter was written, were to be encouraged while the seeds of doubt were being sown by the Judaizing teachers of their day. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; This was speaking of Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of mankind.  

       However, some need to be reminded that each Christian has the great responsibility to remain obedient to the commitment they made to God.  The Spirit had Peter, in 2Peter 1:10, state that each Christian must strive to set aside doubts, make sure they have been saved, and make sure they remain saved.   Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

       Ask pretty much any religious person if they are saved, and you’ll likely get one of two answers. Some will immediately affirm that they are saved and others will state “I hope so!”   Ask both of these groups on what they base their response, and you’ll receive a plethora of answers, many of which are based on “feelings” and tradition, and not on the New Testament.  

     When one relies on feelings, emotions, or any such thing, there is a level of uncertainty.   We all know that feelings change and emotions also can change and are therefore unreliable.   Many state they are “certain” when choosing a mate, yet some the very ones who petition the court for divorce on the basis of “irreconcilable differences”.   When one depends upon their feelings for religious matters, how can they be sure those “feelings” won’t change?

     Again, the only reliable source for the Salvation of a soul is Christ. We are told this in Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Any who seek Salvation any other way are, per the Words of the Lord Himself in John 10:1 “thieves and robbers”.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

     Additionally, 1Peter 3:15 tells us a true Christian must be ready and able to show folks from God’s Word why they have hope in Christ.   But sanctify 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: 

       Sometime in the late ‘60’s, my wife’s dad wrote a song entitled: We Are Christians. I have included part of the words of that song below.

We are Christians and there is just one reason.

It is because we have obeyed God’s Word.

No more or less, can guarantee finesse,

When the final verdict has been heard.

No need to wonder about that home up yonder,

Unless you’re sure you’re on the narrow way.

So open up God’s Book and do more than take a look.

Be sure that you are saved today.

Do not delay, this is the day to make things right with God.

Believe in Christ, repent of sins, forsake the way you’ve trod.

And with the mouth confess the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And be baptized, remit your sins according to His Word.

He’ll make you whole, and save your soul, and you can sing this song.

We are Christians and there is just one reason.

It is because we have obeyed God’s Word.

No more or less, can guarantee finesse,

When the final verdict has been heard.

No need to wonder about that home up yonder,

Unless you’re sure you’re on the narrow way.

So open up God’s Book and do more than take a look.

Be sure that you are saved today.

O.D. Wilson - deceased

       In the Words of Acts 22:16, And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Let us help you be sure you have obeyed God’s Word and that you have the hope of salvation.        

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

A B C - 1 2 3

A B C – 1 2 3

     No doubt the title of this article “grabbed” your attention. It is a common way of expressing the simplicity of things in a number of aspects. This is because our “A,B,C’s” are the building blocks of our alphabet, and therefore the means by which we convey our thoughts in word, written and spoken. Our “1,2,3’s” are the foundation of our number system with which we count and compute simple and complex mathematical equations.   This is where we begin in our learning and therefore it is important to master these so we can move forward in our education.  

     Back in 1970, five composers wrote a catchy little song for the Jackson 5 entitled “A B C” that reminds us of some of the “basics”.   It points out the “I before E, except after C” that might help us with our spelling.   It mentions the “Do, Re, Mi” that is definitely a plus to know in making or singing music.   It even points out the simple, yet factual point that 2 plus 2 equals 4. “A B C, It's easy as 1 2 3, as simple as Do re mi”, is the start of the chorus. This song, as were many in that era, is about the basics of young love.

       The basics are important in all areas, as one must have an understanding of the basics before one can advance or grow. This is also true as it relates to our needs in the spiritual realm.   Many are headed for eternity, and have not been “firmly grounded” in the faith. There are two passages that speak of being “grounded” in the N.T.     Both are penned by Paul the apostle, as these were given him by the Spirit.   Ephesians 3:17 is the 1st. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, The 2nd is” Colossians 1:23. If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;   Notice that both of these passages indicate that “faith” is the common factor here.

     This fits well, as Romans 10:17 clearly directs us to the source of faith. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Faith is the most basic aspect of Christianity.   Romans 5:1 tells us what “faith” does for those that have proper faith. It justifies us. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:   As has been pointed out, faith comes from the reading of the Word of God. This is a very basic concept. Strangely, some have completely missed this and determined that all one needs to do to be justified, is to believe.  They have confused “feelings” with “faith” because they have not fully grasped, embraced, and understood the basics.

     If one will but “read” and “study” the Word of God, and meditate on it, they will absorb the basics and will further advance in the knowledge of the truth.   We know that Jesus said in John 8:32: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. But we needn’t forget what He stated just before in vs 31, as to where this “truth” comes from. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed This is basic – God’s Word contains truth. Couple this with what we read above in Romans 10:17, the basics are: God’s Word contains truth which will make one free from sin, if we do it.

       Faith also, is not simply believing. This too, is basic! James 2:19 shows that there can be a difference in belief and faith. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.   How many of the “devils” would you say had faith?      The argument is made: “Well, they believed!”. They did, but as James 2:18 points out, faith will be seen by one’s works.   Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  It is basic, that what one believes (has faith in), will be shown in what they do.  

     James 1:22 directs us in regard to how to “show our faith”.   This passage tells us we must not only hear, but do the Word.   But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. In Mark 16:16, Jesus Himself stated what one will gladly do once he or she understands the basics, and seeks the remedy from sin.   They will do as Jesus, the Son of God directs. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  This last part is equally important.

       The A B C’s or 1, 2, 3’s, -- the basics of Salvation are simple. One must hear the Word of God – John 6:44-45.  One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God – John 8:24.   One must repent of past sins – Acts 17:30. One must confess that Jesus is the Son of God – Romans 10:9-10. One must be baptized into Christ – Galatians 3:27-29. And, one must remain faithful until death – 2Timothy 4:6-8.   IF one has become an erring Christian by allowing sin into their lives, they must “repent and pray”, as Acts 8:22 directs.

     Let us help you with the A B C’s & 1, 2, 3’s of the gospel.   You must first become before you can be!   Then, as fellow-heirs of the promises of God, given in His Word, we can grow in knowledge together and serve God in the cause for which Christ gave His life.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Our Closest Friend

Our Closest Friend

       Pretty much anyone who has ever texted, or perhaps all who don’t “live under a rock” has seen the text item BFF. Most young people could tell you what these letters mean. BFF is an initialism of the phrase best friends forever. BFF has since evolved into a noun that refers to a close friend.  

     There are many who have different ideas as to what a friend is, or should be. One dictionary definition of “friend” is: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.  Another common (and more modern) application is: to add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.

     The Bible has a lot to say about friends.   In 1Samuel 30:26 we read that after David inquired of the Lord, and had been told to pursue the enemies of Israel, the Amelekites, he returned with the spoils. He gives part of this to his “friends” in Ziklag, and to many others of Israel. And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD;

       Much earlier, the suffering servant Job came to the conclusion that the “friends” and family one has are not always supportive or faithful.   We can read this in Job 19:14: My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. Then in verse 19 we see much the same. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. But we also see that Job was not one to hold a grudge.   He even prayed for his friends who had wrongly accused him. We then read in Job 42:10 that God truly blessed Job substantially after Job endured suffering. Job did nothing to bring this upon himself.   And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job was truly the “friend” in this situation.  

     Some in this life who are considered “friends” don’t always remain so. The weeping prophet Jeremiah was directed by the Spirit to pen the Words we read in Lamentation 1:2 about Israel, and how her “friends” changed in their dealings with her.   She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Then, in Zechariah 13:6, as we near the end of the Old Testament, the Spirit had the prophet warn Israel of the result when the wrong types of “friends” are chosen.   And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends

         Our choice of friends is of utmost importance.   We shouldn’t want to select the type of “friends” that would draw us away from God. We can see from James 4:4that being friends with some, makes one enemies of others. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Too many rely on earthly “friendship” to make their time here on earth more pleasant or enjoyable. Micah 7:5 is one place in which God’s O.T. people Israel were warned. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. 

       However, not all our “friends” are ones that will be against us or those who might cause us harm.    Proverbs 18:24 speaks of a friend that is closer than a brother.   A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   Would anyone claim that one willing to die for our benefit is not our closest friend?       That is exactly what Christ did for humanity according to Romans 5:6-8. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

     This makes God, Christ and the Holy Spirit our friends, if we will allow it. God sent His Son, Christ died on the cross, The Holy Spirit brought the Word to obey if we desire to possess the promises God has made. This also means that we can be “friends” of God. But we have to do our part. In James 2:23 we see Abraham was a “friend of God”, and why he was granted this great compliment. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.   James 2:17 tells us that our faith must be accompanied by works. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Abraham’s Faith was shown by works. Abraham obeyed God. Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham obeyed because he had faith in God.   By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went

     You too can have faith from God’s Word as Romans 10:17 shows. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God You too can obey the gospel and become a child of God, and then continue to be His friend by continuing to follow His Word.   Let us help you do this.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Show Me

Show Me

     As we continue through life, there are often things which we are told, that are hard to believe. Many a person has commented: “I’ll believe it when I see it”.   Showing someone is the means for providing the proof of a claim of that which has been accomplished, a “scientific fact”, or something of that sort.   If the proof can be produced, the claim can be verified.

     Those from Missouri take pride in the state’s unofficial nickname of: “The Show Me State”. I have heard a number of people, some definitely not from Missouri, say: “I’m from Missouri, show me”. I suspect many, with the exception of some Missourians are unaware of the origin of that nickname. It seems to have its origins in an 1899 speech in Philadelphia, by Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver. In that speech he said: "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me. " That phrase is now used to describe the character of Missourians; not gullible, but conservative, and unwilling to believe without adequate evidence.   More folks need to be this way!

   It is amazing to me that many folks want to “toe the line” in many areas, and demand proof to follow, yet are quickly willing to “fall in line” with the whims of many religious leaders who spew forth all sorts of denominational doctrine. 2Peter 2:1-2 provides inspired warning about such leaders and those who will follow them. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.    False teaching of any description does not lead to Salvation, but directs those who espouse it and those who follow it toward destruction.    

    In the KJV Bible you cannot find the phrase “show me” as the word for show in the KJV Bible is “shew”.  Even in the Old Testament we can find the phrase “shew me” several times. In Psalm 16:11 the Spirit had the psalmist pen the Words we find which indicate the desire to be directed in the ways of God. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  In Psalm 25:1-6 we read the Words the Spirit gave David, which shows that salvation can only come from the Lord and His Word. These verses also show that God always has mercy and loving kindness to those who seek Him.  Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

     Why would one NOT want “proof” from the Bible for that which they believe and follow? Should we not take the position: “Show it to me in the Bible”, or more correctly, since we live in the N.T. age; “show it to me in the New Testament?”   It is only in the New Testament age, where Salvation is offered to humanity, after our Lord died on the cross, was raised from the dead, ascended back to the Holy Father, and sent the saving gospel message to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit as promised.   That gospel message is now available and one who is a Christian should be able to show others this in the Word of God as well as by the lives they live before mankind.

       The only two records of Jesus saying: “shew me” while He was on earth were in reference to the tax, or tribute money are found in Matthew 22:9 ff, and in Luke 20:22-25 in which He explained we are yield to each authority as is applicable.   Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. 

       How are we to know what to “render” to God, except by being shown? It is not up to man to determine this as Jeremiah 10:23 informs. O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.  Therefore, we must turn to God’s Word to be shown. The way of Salvation can be shown through the gospel.   In Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul was directed of the Spirt to write: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

       That gospel which the Spirit brought, and which will not and hasn’t ever changed is how we can “shew” others of the hope in Christ as 1Peter 3:15 tells us. But sanctify 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:  Let us “show you” in accordance to God’s Word how to access the saving blood of Christ in obedience, so you too can know that you have that hope for eternal life with God.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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