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CPR For the Soul?

CPR For the Soul?

     Ever taken a CPR class?   Those of us who have, know that one of the first things one learns is that CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.  The purpose of CPR is to restore partial flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart when an event has interrupted that flow. The objective is to delay tissue death and extend the brief window of opportunity for a successful resuscitation without permanent brain damage. The heart (blood pump), lungs and brain are all parts of our physical bodies; therefore, the term CPR cannot be rightly applied to the soul of man.  

     There is however, a Biblical principle in which the soul can be revived when sin has been allowed to do severe damage to that soul.   This can only be fully understood in light of scripture. In Genesis 2:16-17 we find the Commandment of God to Adam in the Garden of Eden.   And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.    We are also told in 1John 3:4 that breaking God’s Law is sin. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.     When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they broke God’s Law, but did not experience immediate physical death. From this, we can surely conclude that they died spiritually.  

   James 2:26 tells us death is a separation. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  So, when one is “separated” from God by sin, the soul needs to be revived by bringing it into a proper covenant relationship with God in accordance to His Word. God’s plan from before time began was to redeem the souls of men. All of God’s dealing with man from the time of Abraham was to bring His Son to earth through the descendants of Abraham so that in the fullness of time, the souls of man could be revived and through His Son have the promise of eternal life.

    Jesus, in the latter part of John 10:10, states His whole purpose for coming to earth. . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  The means for this was to be provided by Christ and His death on Calvary’s cross.   However, none were “automatically” saved upon the event of Christ death. Jesus taught that this could not occur until the kingdom came for which He died. In John 3:3 the Lord explained to Nicodemus that one must be “born again” which shows that this is a spiritual birth. This is when the soul is revived. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Then in John 3:5-6 Jesus also explained the way in which that birth would occur would be in baptism “for the remission of sins”. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  When one is “born again”, one enters into the kingdom and a proper covenant relationship with God. When something is new, it usually works as it should. 2Corinthians 5:17 tells us: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

     But what happens when a child of God no longer functions as they should and their soul has need of reviving?   Again, Spiritual CPR, is not taught in the Word of God, but there are things we need to do to maintain our spiritual health so drastic measures aren’t required. 2Corinthians 4:16 clearly indicates that our soul needs to be “renewed” daily for optimal performance. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. How is this accomplished? 2Timothy 2:15 is a great place to start.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

     The idea of spiritual exercise for the benefit of our soul’s well-being had been previously addressed in 1Timothy 4:6-9 as the Spirit had Paul write.  Timothy was to help his brethren to remain fit spiritually.  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. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

     Because CPR for the soul is not a real thing, we are to help our brethren to do all they can to maintain a strong and healthy soul. Hebrews 3:13 is one of the scriptures that shows that we are to encourage each other before souls are irreparably harmed.   But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. We don’t want any Christian to become as those described in 2Peter 2:20. 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.  If you are a child of God, and your soul needs to be revived, repent and pray as Acts 8:22 tells an erring Christian to do.   If you are not a Christian, you’ve not been born into the kingdom and your soul is in danger of eternal separation from God.   Obey the gospel today.          

                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Art of Overcoming

The Art of Overcoming

    We live in perilous times. There are different difficulties to be faced now than there have been in our recent past.   It seems to be the mindset of some that we will not be able to overcome “if” we get the virus.   Of course, this life offers many other areas in which we need to overcome as well. Every kind of evil is contrary to us and we must be careful not to allow evil to overcome us.   In Romans 12:21 we find the Spirit having the apostle Paul warn the church of Rome, (as well as we), that we can know the “Art of Overcoming”, and also how to accomplish it. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

     This idea of “overcoming” had already been addressed with the brethren that assembled in Rome. That which we allow to control us is that which we allow to overcome us. Romans 6:16-18 shows that the Roman Christians had indeed overcome.   Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousnessThese people had once served the world, but had now yielded themselves to the Lord and His Word and were, at the time of this writing, faithfully serving God.  

       Jesus, in speaking to His apostles elect in John 16:32-33, informed them that they were to going to face some severe situations, but also encouraged them by telling them He had provided them with the example to follow. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world

      John 6:38 also provides us another example from the Lord that we might be successful in overcoming while here in this world.   He said: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.If we expect to overcome, we too must do the Will of God.   God has provided His Will for us in His Word.   In His Word, God has also richly supplied us with the needed instruction and encouragement, so we will know how to fulfill the Will of the Father.  

       When things are difficult, when times are tough, and when it seems that we may not be able to overcome, there is much in God’s Word to help us.   Often when folks read about the “armor of God”, they seem to stop reading at verse 17, and not take into consideration the fact that we have to not only put on the armor of God, but we also have to persevere.   Notice this passage, and pay particular attention to the 18th verse (Emphasis DPS). 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 stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 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 saintsEphesians 6:13-18. Just putting on the armor does not provide on-going and continual protection. If we are to overcome, we must also persevere.  

     Often, we need encouragement in the various areas and activities of life. The Lord has also provided for this. Although the word “encourage” is not found in the N.T., there are plenty of scripture to help us to overcome. We might look to such well-known passages as Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  This has often been used as a mantra by many and applied in every aspect of life, and often otherwise is misapplied, but was spoken for the encouragement of the Christians there.       

     There are also many N.T. passages that encourage Christians to “stand fast”. These are given so Christians, even in the face of persecutions and tribulations will remain strong in the faith. Again, in looking to the Philippian letter, we can read in Philippians 1:27 that a person, or congregation’s manner of life should indicate that they are indeed persevering.   Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; Then, there is the assurance we receive from 1Thessalonians 3:8 that we can only “live”, if we continue to persevere.   For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.  This is stating that to persevere is a condition of continuing to live spiritually.

     We know from 2Peter 1:3 that the gospel supplies us with all we need, but even that which is supplied is ineffective if it is not applied.   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:    Use God’s Word as it should be used to 1) become a child of God. 2) Exercise the Art of Overcoming.   Your soul’s eternal destination is at stake.

                                Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Teach Me, O Lord

Teach Me, O Lord

       It is quite interesting to me that the only place in the Bible one can find the phrase “Teach me, O Lord” is found in the book of Psalms. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. (Psalm 119:33) There are a number of passages within Psalms (and one in Job) that have the phrase “teach me”, but none are found in the New Testament, or elsewhere in the Old Testament.    However, it is equally interesting that teaching by the Lord was in place long before the Spirit had the Psalmist pen the Words “Teach me”.   We read in Exodus 4:12, when Moses made his final excuse, God refused this and all other excuses Moses offered when He told Moses:  “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

     Moses was given what to say, what to do and how to do it. God successfully led Israel our of Egyptian bondage by teaching Moses what to do.   Moses then, as directed by God, taught Israel so they would know what to do and how to do it when they entered the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 4:1 we can read God’s directives to Moses for the people.   Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.  Then in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 we read how this instruction from the Lord was to be perpetuated among Israel. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.    We all know what happened to Israel as they continually refused to adhere to God’s teaching.

     Even after God showed His great mercy and brought Israel into the Promised Land, He sent many different prophets to warn Israel repeatedly. God’s great plan for the salvation of souls began to be fulfilled when, in the fullness of time He sent His Son, born of a virgin in Bethlehem.   He lived His life doing God’s Will as the latter part of John 5:30 tells us: . . . I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.   And, in the ultimate expression of love for His Father and for mankind, gave His life on the cross of Calvary.

       God has continued to teach man throughout history. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we see the means by which God’s “teaching” was delivered to man.   God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  And Jesus, while here on earth chose twelve men who would deliver His message after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. In John 14:26 we read the promise of the Lord to these twelve that ensured that the message would be taught and have no errors.   He said: 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

       As the “teaching of the gospel” was delivered first at Pentecost A.D. 33 in Jerusalem as God had planned, those who were taught, and obeyed the gospel were saved. The way the message was delivered was preaching as the Spirit (Comforter) gave it to the apostles.   Not everyone appreciated the message and some even persecuted folks for teaching others how to be saved.   We read in Acts 8:3-4 of one who tried to destroy the church and what those that were scattered abroad did. This ensured that even more folks were taught. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word This means they were teaching the Word of God even as they fled the persecutions.

     What about today? Can we not see the pattern established during the early years of the church for which Jesus died?   The gospel was preached and folks heard, believed and obeyed it. Having become Christians, and upon receipt of more teaching, these people sought others to teach.   Is this not what the Great Commission teaches?   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. (Matthew 28:19-20)

     We cannot just “sit back” and expect God to teach us. I am afraid that is what some expect.   In 2Peter 1:3 we see that God has supplied the material and the means by which we can access His teaching. 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:  We need to heed the Spirit’s advice to Timothy from Paul in 2Timothy 2:15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  This is how Words of Jesus which are found in John 6:45 can be best applied.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.  Learn His Word – Obey it.   Be taught of the Father.        

                                                 Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Honoring Mothers

Honoring Mothers

      On this Sunday, more than any other during the year, folks pay tribute to, and honor mothers in this country.   This is in part due to the holiday so named in the 1900’s to recognize mothers for their love and devotion throughout the year.  It is my understanding that this “holiday” is observed in some manner in over forty countries of the world.  

     There is a real good reason to honor mothers, as God instituted marriage when He taught Adam and Eve, who would be the first parents, in Genesis 2:24 even before Eve had borne a child.   This was just after God had created Eve from the rib of the man, Adam.   Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.   He told them how the world was to become populated.   Following the exile of the man and his wife from the Garden of Eden, Genesis 4:1 tells us when the fact of motherhood came to be.    And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 

      When God began to carry out His plan to bring a Savior to mankind, He had separated to Himself a people, the descendants of Abraham, for the purpose of bringing His Son so He could die on the cross to bring about the remission of sins.    God gave these people, Israel, a Law (His first written Law) soon after He delivered them from Egyptian bondage.   In the fifth commandment of the decalogue, Exodus 20:12 where the Ten Commandments is first found, is the directive to “honor” their parents.   Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.   God was leading these errant children of Israel to the Promised land.  These “Laws” were repeated in Deuteronomy chapter five as well as in Mark 10:19 by the Lord as Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler under the O.T. Law. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  

      The Spirit also had the apostle Paul address this in the N.T and repeat the same commandment in Ephesus 6:2-3.   Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.     As God has given and repeated this “commandment” in both of His Written Laws to His people, we should see the importance of being keepers of these Laws.    The mothers in this, the N.T. age have a solemn responsibility when it comes to their children.  In 1Timothy 5:14 we see part of what they were to be doing. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.  Those who had already raised their children still have a serious charge as they are to help the younger mothers and set the right example per 2Timothy 2:4-5That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

      All parents are included in this all-important aspect of child rearing.  We have already mentioned Ephesians 6:2-3 (above), but as we see this verse in the full context of Ephesians 6:1-4, we can readily affirm that both parents are responsible to see that the child being properly reared.   As the husband is head of the wife, the wife (mother) has a large part in what is taught in the home.   Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

      We see in 2Timothy 1:5 that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had not only attended to his physical needs, but saw to his spiritual needs as well.   This is what God intended so that children would be properly instructed.  When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.  The instructions Timothy received as a child were provided by these godly mothers as they kept him in “the scriptures as 2Timothy 3:15 tells us.   And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.   Timothy was surely brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” due to the efforts of these dedicated mothers.   They definitely deserved honor.     

     In John 19:26-27 we see Jesus on the cross, not long before His death, give an excellent example of what it meant to “honor” His mother.    He provided for her after His departure, even before He left.   When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.    This is what it means to “honor” the parents that raised you and provided as God intended.   They “took care of you” – You are to take care of them.  

      Let us honor our mothers on this day as tradition has taught us.  But let us also give even more honor to those faithful mothers who have brought up their children to love God and serve Him in full obedience to His Holy Word.  

                                                Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ 

The Power Of Decision

The Power of Decision

Today, I stand on the top of “Mt. Achievement”.  It is truly a scenic and beautiful place, one that gives to me a certain feeling of peace and relaxation after the long, rugged climb.  It satisfies every dream and aspiration that were mine at the foot or the mountain and many miles and years below.     You see, Mt. Achievement is a rather distinguished “plateau”, reminiscent of the distant past, and is honored as the meeting place, and famous intersection of several popular and greatly traveled highways of life’s varied and exploratory wanderings.

I have traveled the highway of “Hope” all the way up the mountainside.  Ah, the optimism and expectancy of hope.   Hope, for all that which is good and right, maketh not ashamed, but, is rather a welcome guest in the reality in every God-given promise.   Although it has no definite prophetic finality, it does inspire the farmer as he plows, the expectant mother as she awaits the joyous arrival of her first new-born, the resurrection of a penitent believer from the waters of baptism to walk in the blessings of forgiveness and a new and rewarding life in Christ, and ends in fruition when faith becomes sight at the end of the trail. 

The highway of hope intersects with a winding road called “Choice”.  This is indeed the highway of beginnings, and I needed to consult my “road map of experience” before making a turn.  I noticed that no “arrows” pointed to the direction I was to follow, but since it is my responsibility to make a choice, the use of an arrow would be inconsistent.  

On this superhighway called “Choice” there are many road signs: “Travel at your own risk”; “Watch For Falling Rock”; “Winding Road”; “Meditation”; “The Right Decision”.  And, there were many side roads: “Believe God’s Word, But Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide”; “The New Testament Church Meets One Thought To The Right”; “Yield Not To Temptation”; “One Drink Won’t Hurt You”; “Don’t Let The Facts Confuse You”; “Millions Of People Can’t Be Wrong”, “No Hell Advocates – This Way”, and many others.  

Well, today I must make a decision, and the urgency of the hour causes my very soul to tremble at the mere thought of it.   Legion is the name of the wrong decisions I have previously made, and I have far more confidence in my “behind sights” than in my “foresights”.   The future, and the possible short projection into it is invaluable.  I must give thoughtful, prayerful, and precautionary consideration before it is made.  

O.D Wilson – (deceased)

    The above article was written in July 1981 by my Father-in-Law.   In the years he was granted from that time until his death in 1995, he had many choices to make as opportunities became available.   No doubt he consulted his “road map of experience” on many occasions to ensure that he made sound decisions as he continued his journey.   Each of us must do the same.

     One of the things he impressed on me was the benefit of having the proper attitude in every area of life so that the decisions we make don’t take us down the wrong roads or the paths that lead to destruction.  Remember, there are no “arrows” on the road of life to “make you” take the right roads.  One must make choices and must bear the consequences of the choices made.  The decision to become a child of God is the most important one can make.   But, if one does make that decision and begins that journey, and then fails to maintain a proper attitude, the road becomes awful “rocky” and difficult.   One with an improper mindset is much more likely to take “side roads” in life that lead away from Christ and the proper relationship with God.

    The Bible does not contain the word “attitude”, but the concept is very clearly taught in the Sacred Writ.  In the Galatians letter, we find the Spirit having Paul, in Galatians 5:7-9, pointing out that 1) these folks had obeyed.  2) some were later hindered.  3) the “attitude” maintained by the hindered brethren was not from the Lord.   4) And, left unaddressed, this would likely adversely affect the entire church in that region.   Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.  It seems quite obvious that an “attitude adjustment” was badly needed.  

    Sin, of any form is “leaven” in that it will affect the whole if not properly dealt with.  This is why the Spirit, in 1Corinthians 5:6-7a had Paul write brethren who had a situation among them, about which, some had the wrong attitude.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.   When times are difficult, decisions still have to be made.   We all are to maintain the proper attitude toward God and our fellow man whether the times are good or bad.    Choices are often made dependent on one’s state of mind.   The state of mind is the attitude.  

    We all have “time on our hands” during the present situation.   Let’s use some of that time to reflect on, and examine our own attitudes and how these will determine the “paths” we take and where these paths and roads are leading.  Our journey is ours to take – Let’s not allow our attitudes make the trip harder.

                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Getting Ready For the Harvest

Getting Ready For The Harvest

     I recently read that there are a larger number of people than usual that are preparing gardens this year.   The author of the column in which this is stated surmises that folks are doing so this year because of the coronavirus and the requirements to participate in social distancing as well as the fact that many are restricted from going in to work.   This gives them “something to do” with their free time.  This is also the time of year to plant gardens and such.   All of this is in anticipation of the harvest in the fall and enjoying the “fruits of their labor”.  

    The idea of the “harvest” is not foreign to the Bible.  Harvest is mentioned 48 times in 43 verses in the O.T.   The first occurrence of “harvest” in the Bible is when God is promising to never again destroy the whole earth with flood.   In Genesis 8:22 God made this solemn promise:  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.   Of course, this “harvest” is in regard to the harvest of the field and the produce of the land.   This is what Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve was doing with his time – planting and harvesting – sowing and reaping as Genesis 4:2 points out. 

     As we move into the N.T. portion of the Bible, we find the first time “harvest” is used, was when Christ spoke of it.    In Matthew 9:36, we find that Jesus was moved with compassion toward the multitudes “because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”     Then in verse 37, Jesus turns to His disciples and said: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” and then gives them the instruction we find in verse 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.    We were told in verse 35 of the same book and chapter that as Jesus was going through the area, He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom (the church) for which He would give His life on the cross, and the application is one that extends to us – even today.   

      In Galatians 6:7, after the church had been established, the Spirit had the apostle Paul write about a “harvest”, but has him use the word “reap”.  In this passage we also read that the “sowing” and “reaping” is not dealing with crops, but how we live our lives in response to God’s Word.    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  This is readily apparent in verse 8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.   Then, as we read Galatians 6:9, we see a principle that is true in all applications of “planting and harvesting” or “sowing and reaping”. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

       These verses may help us to understand that our labor must continue until the time of harvest.   In the realm of gardening or horticulture, one has to continue to cultivate the plant until the fruit or the desired result is produced.   Another important aspect of this is that whatever seed you put in the ground, you can expect the result to be the same fruit or vegetable when harvest time arrives.    As applied to our lives, I cannot see how Galatians 6:8 could possibly be more plain.    One cannot live a life of sin and debauchery, or even one of failure to serve God, and expect to “reap” something different than that which is different than what was sown.   Sin sown does not reap Salvation!

       As Jesus spoke those Words in Matthew 9:37-38 (above), He was speaking to those who followed Him during His earthly ministry.   These were folks who would have the chance to be part of the kingdom and become “laborers” in the church and be able to plant and water.   The Spirit had Paul speak of this great opportunity each Christian has in 1Corinthians 3:6.   The laborers were Paul and Apollos.  They were preparing the “hearts” of the people; implanting the seed and then watering (nurturing) that seed.   When the seed produced, it was God that provided the increase.    I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  The latter part of Acts 2:47 tells how this increase takes place.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  This means God saves all who were baptized into Christ in obedience to His Word. 

      Jesus often spoke to the people of His day in parables.   In the explanation of the parable of the soils in Luke 8:11-15 we are told what that seed is and where it needs to be planted to produce the harvest God desires.   Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 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. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience

      All the laborers need to be diligent is sowing the seed of the kingdom, the Word of God, and watering as needed.  At the same time, we need to prepare for the harvest; for the time when we as individuals will reap what we have sown.    What have you “sown” in your life?    That is also what you will “reap”!    For what kind of harvest are you getting ready?  Think about it!

                                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Don't Worry - Be Happy!

Don’t Worry – Be Happy!

     Who doesn’t remember the 1988 fun song written and performed by Bobby McFerrin?   I’m surprised that someone has not “revived” this song to help us as we all deal with the difficulties associated with the current virus.  Perhaps this song is not being sung due to the fact that things are still difficult in so many areas.   Things will likely remain tough and may even become worse.   But the words of this cute song might very well, at least bring a smile to our faces, even in tough times. 

Here's a little song I wrote

 You might want to sing it note for note

 Don't worry, be happy

 In every life we have some trouble

 When you worry you make it double

 Don't worry, be happy

 Don't worry, be happy now

      Life is full of worry, but that does not mean happiness can’t be ours.  After the Lord taught His apostles the lesson of humility by washing their feet, He also gave them another valuable lesson.  In John 13:16-17 He told them the secret for true happiness.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.  

     Even when times are tough and when we are afflicted, we can still be happy.  In James 5:10-11 we see what the Spirit had James write on this subject.  Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

     There is the chance that we may suffer for doing what God has Commanded. If that proves to be the case, perhaps we should be reminded of 1Peter 3:14 as it also informs that even then, while we suffer, we can be happy.    But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;   This was so important that something very similar was also stated in 1Peter 4:14, and that God is glorified in this.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.  In verses 15-16 we are instructed in the things in which we are to NOT be involved and that we are to never be ashamed for serving God, but that we are to glorify God in our tribulation.    (1Peter 4:15-16)     But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  

     Happy and Joyful are often used interchangeably.  There is no doubt that one who is happy exhibits joy.   In 2Corinthians 7:4-5 we can see that Paul was joyful even in times of tribulation.    Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.   Then in verses 6-7 we can see that consolation exists even during times of mourning.  Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

     Perhaps people allow themselves to “block” their happiness because they are too prone to worry.   But the Bible also deals with this.   Philippians 4:6 tells us how we are to deal with worry.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   The word “careful” here means “anxious”.   Anxious by definition is: experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.       The truth is, there is no need to worry about things over which we have no control.  There is also no real need to worry about the things over which we do have control.   For instance, we have full control over our Salvation if we but do what God has Commanded in His Word.   We needn’t “worry” about it, but we must “work” at it. 

     In Philippians 2:12 the Christians there had to maintain their Salvation which is in Christ.  We too must “work out” our Salvation.  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.   The way of true happiness was revealed to the Psalmist by the Spirit in Psalms 144:15 and still applies today.   Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.   The people of the Lord are those who obey His Word.   

       If you have been obedient and are a child of God, “don’t worry – Be happy”.   If you have not obeyed the gospel – Seek that happiness today. 

                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Standing Fast

Standing Fast

      We are hearing words of encouragement from many celebrities during this Coronavirus pandemic.  This is because they are also secluded in their homes and are not participating in some areas of life so common just a few months ago.    This lack of activity is necessary as we all do our part in combating this evil that has affected so many within our country as well as all over the world. 

    Often, these celebrities, sports stars, and others, who offer these reassuring words, do so that we might see that they too, are affected by this.   There is no doubt that this deadly situation will have far reaching ramifications.  There will be many other difficulties that will need to be faced and overcome as we as a people, continue to address this situation.   

      These urgings to unite people in times of difficulty and struggle are not new.    Down through the years there have been many situations in which people all over our great nation and the world needed comfort and hope during trying times.  There is no doubt in my mind, that if time is allowed to continue, this will not be the last difficult period in the existence of mankind. 

     Equally important is the need to be strong as Christians while continuing to serve God and do His Will.  There are five occurrences of the words “stand fast” in the New Testament.   Each of these are written to a congregation of the Lord’s church.   This shows that not only the individual, but also all those who make up the congregation in a specific locale, need to be strong, or “stand fast”.  

     I find it most interesting that the first time we read “stand fast” in the N.T. as written to a congregation, was to the church at Corinth.    We all know that this congregation had more than its share of difficulties.   In 1Corinthians 16:13, as we near the end of the epistle, the Spirit had Paul tell them as a body of believers, in what they were to stand fast in order to overcome their problems. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.   They were to “stand fast in the faith”.   This means to stand strong in God’s Word. 

       As we read Jude vs 3 we can surely see that God’s N.T. message to man was that which was called “the faith”.    Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.   It was also the meaning of the Words of Jesus as He spoke in John 8:32, to those that believed on Him as the Son of God.  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.   And, this is the same meaning of the Words of Jesus prayer in John 17:17.   Those who live by the Word of God are “set apart” from the world and strengthened by that Holy Word.   Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

       In the Philippians letter we are told that their manner of life was to be one of “standing fast”.   Notice in Philippians 1:27 by what means the Spirit had Paul tell them they were to stand.   Only let your conversation (manner of life) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;   They were to be staying strong by standing fast in one spirit – one mindset – all based on, and supported by the Word of God.  If all follow the gospel of Christ, and are of the same mind, the decision to “stand fast” is an easy one to make.   In fact, all who have made the commitment to obey the gospel, have actually made a commitment to stand fast in God’s Word.    If we fail to “stand fast” in His Word, we have failed to live up to the commitment we made to God.   

     Is it not apparent from 1Thessalonians 3:7-8 that while we not only are to find comfort in affliction and distress by our faith, but also we live by standing fast in the faith?   Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faithFor now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.    Need we be reminded that the opposite of living is death?   Therefore, if we fail to “stand fast” in the Lord – We die!   Perhaps this is why the brethren in Thessalonica were admonished in the first letter written to them to avoid even the impression of evil.   In 1Thessalonians 5:21-22 we see these things.   Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.  

       This is the same concept passed on to Timothy by inspiration as Paul was directed by the Spirit to write in 2Timothy 1:13.   Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  It is impossible for one to “stand fast” until and unless they are standing on and following the Word of God.   

       As we seek to “stand fast” during the present situation, let us remember the words the Spirit as given to Paul in to those brethren in Philippians 4:8-9.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these thingsThose things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.    If we will do these things, we can still have peace in our lives, even during the tough times.

     Our prayer is that all Christians the world over remain faithful, stand strong, and continually focus on, and follow God’s Word.  

                                               Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Perilous Times

Perilous Times

    There is no doubt that the title of this week’s article draws everyone’s mind to the distress we are experiencing in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.   This is definitely a true reason to be concerned, and could be cause for alarm.  None would argue that these are indeed dangerous times, and that certain activities which require close proximity to others could be hazardous. 

     As our national, state and local governments sets guidelines and restrictions and as we dutifully follow these, we do so for our own good, the good of our loved ones and for the good of our fellow Americans.     Many have called the restrictions as well as the virus itself and the ravages of it, persecution.  What is now occurring is more correctly termed tribulation, as the definition of tribulation is: a cause of great trouble or suffering. 

     As many are truly suffering, we are indeed involved in perilous times.  All the “tribulation” being experienced is causing a number of different reactions. Most of the people looking for relief or comfort are focused on the physical aspect of things.   Many are fearful that “life as they know it” is forever changed.   But, if our perspective is from a Scriptural standpoint, we will look for comfort from above.  From 2Corinthians 1:3-4 we are directed to look to God in perilous times so that we might have comfort, and so we can help ease the distress of others.  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  

     Another thing that should help us is that tribulation can actually be beneficial to us.  Roman 5:3-4 provides us with this information.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  Those who have hope in Christ should always use tribulation to grow and serve God; not being fearful. 

     If you’ve ever been on a ship on a storm-tossed sea, you would certainly call that time perilous, or a “cause of great trouble”.   This is what occurred in the lives of the twelve that were called by the Lord in Matthew 8:23-26.  Notice the question the Lord asked them when they feared in time of tribulation.  And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.  26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.    These disciples, although in the very physical presence of Jesus, were afraid, and the passage above showed the source of their fear.   But, 2Timothy 1:7 is where we read what the Spirit had Paul write to this young preacher in the face of the tribulations he suffered for the cause of Christ. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.   

     Do we need to be reminded of the source of our faith?  We have access to that which can help us bolster our faith, even in the most perilous times.  Paul was directed by the Spirit, in Romans 10:17, to reveal this to them.  This is the message that has been forever recorded in God’s Word so all may have this information.  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.   As we are armed with this fact, are we to allow fear to rule our lives?  Are we to fear what “may” happen to us, even in perilous times or periods of tribulation?    Now, more than ever is a time to remain in the Word of God and have faith.   The apostle Paul was directed to write in Romans 8:35, words to those brethren which are also applicable to those in Christ, even today.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?Then, in verses 38-39 of the same book and chapter, we can read that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

     But, those in Christ perhaps need to recall that while nothing external will be allowed to isolate us from God, being creatures of free will, have a choice in the matter.   I am afraid that some are allowing fear to separate them from the Lord in these “perilous times”.    Remember what the Spirit had the penman of the Hebrews letter write in the latter part of Hebrews 13:5 to those Christians who were facing tribulation?   . . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.      There is also a suitable scripture for those who allow fear to dominate, even in the face of tribulation or peril.  The Spirit had John pen the Words we read in Revelation 21:8.  It is here that those who are “fearful” are included among the vilest of offenders and even the end result of their lack of faith is pointed out.  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. 

      Perilous times?  Absolutely!   What better time to turn to God, do His Will and faithfully serve Him?      

                                  Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

What Are We Going To Eat?

What Are We Going To Eat?

      Been to the grocery stores lately?  Notice the near empty shelves?  Perhaps when you viewed the shelves, or had to make alternate selections, the question that makes up the title of this article becomes more real.   Of course, most of us do not even know what it is like to be truly hungry.   Despite the current issues, situations and areas of concern, we are still blessed to be a part of the greatest nation on earth.  

     But all this is physical in nature. The shelves that are not stocked are missing food for our physical bodies.  These foods we eat as well as the freedoms we enjoy and are so abundantly available are part of what God has provided for us and these are designed for our physical success. 

     Have you ever considered this question from a Spiritual standpoint?  As you may have realized, we need spiritual nourishment as much, if not more than we require physical sustenance.     Christ knew this and His reply to the tempter in Luke 4:4 shows He knew which was of most importance.  It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.   Our Lord was indeed physically hungry as He had not eaten for quite a while.  Luke 4:2 tells us how long this had been.  Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

    Another event in the life of Jesus helps is to see that even when food for the body was available, the Lord remained focused on that “spiritual” food from the Father.  In John 4:32 He told His disciples that He had access to that food at all times.  But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.   Then, as we look at verse 34 we see what it is that sustained our Lord even when He was hungry, being persecuted and even as He died.   Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

     In Acts 14:17 as Paul and Barnabas plead with the people of Lystra not to do sacrifice to them for the miracle of healing the lame man, the Spirit had Luke the physician record the Words the Spirit gave Paul at that time.   Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.   Now, we are all aware that physical food does not “fill our heart”, but “spiritual” food does fill our Bible heart, the mind.  1Timothy 4:6is clear evidence of this.  The Spirit had Paul write this to Timothy. The preacher, minister and teacher also must maintain a proper spiritual diet to be effective. This is equally true today as it was when written.  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.  

     The Spirit also had Paul direct the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20 how to properly sustain the brethren among whom they labored for the benefit of all their souls.  In Acts 20:26-28 we also see that Paul, in service to God had set the proper example by “feeding” them.  We also see the “dish” the Spirit had Paul serve up.   Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  

       Peter was also directed in 1Peter 5:1-3 to instruct some elders as to their responsibilities to the congregation with whom they serve.  They were also to set the proper example and have the correct spiritual diet.  They could not do what the Lord desired of them if they did not.  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock

       When the Spirit had Paul write the church at Corinth, He had Paul address a dietary issue the brethren there had in 1Corinthians 3:1-2.  It seems they hadn’t grown spiritually as they should have and couldn’t digest spiritual meat.  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  All Christians are to grow as they are nourished spiritually.  Some don’t.    All Christians are to grow to the point that they can properly teach others.  In Hebrews 5:12-13 we are told that some of these Christians hadn’t reached that point.  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  

      What are we going to eat?   That is entirely up to us.  God has provided the food.   2Timothy 2:15 tells us how to consume the Spiritual nutrition God has provided.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.    Eat up and Enjoy!

                                      Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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