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The Father of Fathers

The Father of Fathers

   As much of the world celebrates “Father’s Day”, it is appalling how many forget God, the first “Father”. Believe it or not, what is known as Father’s Day has a long history, much of which is couched in denominationalism. The Eastern Orthodox church, centuries ago, appointed the 2nd Sunday before “nativity”, (the supposed date of the birth of Christ), as the “Sunday of the Forefathers” to commemorate the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, starting with Adam and emphasizing the patriarch Abraham, to whom God said: in Gen. 22:18a:And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”. This “seed” is Christ. It is sad that many fail to obey the gospel to become recipients of the ‘spiritual blessings’, which are only “in Christ”.  
   We also know Gen. 1:27 teaches the creation of man. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Man was made a living soul = a spiritual being. However, we can see the physical picture in Luke 3:38 at the conclusion of the genealogy of Christ. Here we see the ‘kinship’ of the created man to God, who created him, in addition to the son and grandson of the first man. Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.  This inspired record is composed of over seventy five generations. Adam was the ‘created son of God, and Jesus is the “only begotten Son” of God. Unfortunately for the Jews, when the fall of Jerusalem occurred, the official documented evidence whereby they could prove they were descendants of Abraham were utterly destroyed.
     Father's Day is a holiday recognized by many as a day of honoring one's father, as well as fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. This holiday is observed in various days in one hundred eleven countries. In the U.S., in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, with her five brothers who were raised by their father alone, convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association to celebrate Father's Day nationwide.
     Ironically, this “holiday” (from holy day) directs focus to earthly fathers and largely leaves out the Heavenly Father. There is nothing wrong with ‘honoring’ one’s physical parent as this is a biblical concept. Everyone in this age should be very familiar with Eph. 6:2, which is the New Testament Commandment concerning this. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;). A diligent Bible student will be equally acquainted with the fifth of the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament Law God gave to Israel through the ‘lawgiver’, Moses. It is easily seen that this Commandment had physical benefits for these people if they kept it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exo. 20:12)
   Yet, as was pointed out earlier, God is often forgotten on this holiday. He is “left out” of many folk’s life as they ‘honor’ their earthly fathers. The Hebrew Christians, in the context of chastisement, were provided facts and a question. This question applies in every area of life. The Spirit had the penman write: Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Heb. 12:9) Are not all to be “subject” to God in all things? From the beginning, God has issued ‘laws’, spoken or written, to instruct, guide and direct man as to how to live.  
     When God issued a written Law to His people Israel after their delivery from the bondage of Egypt, the first commandment as found in Exo. 20:3 is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”. Jesus reminded the people of this first Commandment of God during His day in Mark 12:29-30 as He said: And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  This “first Commandment” has not changed, nor will it. And, man should not find this, nor any other Commandment of God too hard. 1John 5:3 makes this abundantly clear. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.  Putting God first is a Commandment that has existed as long as man has and will remain in effect as long as the earth continues.  
     The question then becomes, how does one “put God first” in all things? First we need to acknowledge that God the Father, God the Spirit, and God the Son, are all God. 1John 5:7 helps us to fully understand this. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  In serving God we serve them all. Jesus tried to help His people Israel see this in Matt 10:37. This should help all see that to ‘honor’ our earthly father (or mother, children, siblings etc.) more than God, Christ or the Holy Spirit is wrong. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 
     We serve God, the Father of Fathers, The Son and the Spirit as we read, study, meditate on, apply, and participate in the Word of God by doing as it Commands. We are to do so out of love for God and His Word. Sure, honor our earthly fathers. This is pleasing to God. But put God first in all things. To honor earthly fathers or anyone or anything else in preference to the “Father of Fathers” displeases Him. Think about it!

Dennis Strickland, Mooresville church of Christ

Abide With Me

Abide With Me

    This song is in many of the hymnals in the ‘churches’ today. It has been for a long time. It was written in 1847 by Henry Francis Lyte, who by some accounts, presented the hymn to his hearers not long before his death and as he preached his final sermon as part of the Anglican church. Reportedly, he had written part of the song several years earlier. It is also been said that the first time the song was sung was at Lyte’s funeral. It has also been speculated that he wrote the song during a period of poor health, and as he anticipated his departure from this life.
     Not knowing the man, nor his intent while writing the song, I cannot be absolutely certain of what he was trying to convey. However, the words of the first verse seems to be asking the Lord to be “with him” as the darkness of the close of life drew near. The second verse confirms that this is the idea in the song. An ill-conceived concept that many folks have, is that the Lord is with them so long as they are ‘religious’. The idea of the song is derived from Luke 24:29 as the risen Lord, along with some of His disciples came near a village. When the Lord “made as though He would go further”, those with whom He walked “constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.
   Christ went in to tarry with them, and was with them in the flesh, having arisen from the grave to die no more. But as the account continues, we see He only remained with them for a brief period. As He sat at meat with them, He took bread, blessed it and broke it and gave it to them. When “their eyes were opened”, and they knew Him, He vanished from their sight. Later, in Luke 24:36-49 He appeared to His apostles. In Luke 24:50-51, He rose from their sight as He ascended into Heaven. However, Christ had not left them forever. He was returning to His Father having fulfilled His earthly part of God’s plan, designed from before the beginning of time.   Has not one of the Godhead “been with” humanity from the beginning?   Obviously, God was “with” Adam and Eve in the Garden. Gen. 3:8 clearly shows that God was in the Garden, and “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the gardenafter they had sinned. Years later, in Gen. 18:33, after Abraham interceded for sinful Sodom, we read: “the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” Even later, the aging psalmist, in Psa. 37:25 penned the Words: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
     This continued into the New Testament. After Jesus’ resurrection, before He ascended into Heaven, in Matt. 28:16-20, He met with His apostles, and after giving them the Great Commission, He told them: . . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”. As Paul spoke to the Athenians at Mars’ Hill, in Acts 17:27-28a, speaking of God, he said: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” Then in Heb.13:5b the Jews that had become Christians were assured “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” With this abundance of evidence that God has always “been there” for all of His creation, should not His faithful children be comforted that God ever abides with them?
    But, should not all seek to abide with the Lord? It should be the goal of everyone to ‘go to heaven’. Many fail to realize that unless and until they seek the Lord in accordance with His Word, and “abide” with Him in this life, they haven’t a chance to be with Him for eternity. This is why Jesus, in Matt. 6:33, in that Sermon on the Mount, while continuing to call Israel to repentance told them of the church. He said: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;”. He wanted them to repent and prepare for the time when they could be baptized into Christ when the church came. In Acts chapter two, the gospel was preached, the church was established and some of these same souls were ‘added to the church’ and from that point forward, could ‘abide in Christ”.
   Even the Gentiles would be granted this opportunity. In Eph 2:12, those Christians of Ephesus were reminded of their condition before they obeyed the gospel. That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But in vs 13, we see their condition afterward. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  They did as Jas. 4:8a advises. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
    This is accomplished initially in obedience to the gospel. 1John 2:24 tells us how, once we have been baptized ‘into Christ’ how to continue to ‘abide in Him’. One can only do so through abiding in His Word. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  We don’t have to worry about God. His promises are sure. If we ‘go to Him in obedience’, He’ll always be there. Rather, we need to make sure we do as we should to obey His Word and always abide “in Christ” until His return. This the only way we can be with Him forever.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Who Are You? Where Are You Headed?

Who Are You? Where Are You Headed?

    This is the kind of question one might expect if they are walking alone in a quiet dark neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning. Those who become aware of your presence, not knowing who you are, unaware of the reason for your being there, and ignorant of your intentions in a situation such as this have every reason to be concerned. Of course, those who mean no harm, and have the right and a purpose to be there will give answer and the desired objective will possibly be reached.  
   As we consider our identity on earth, we need to ask ourselves the same question. However, we all have reason to be here. In Genesis, we read the account of creation, and how that after that, all who are on earth arrive in the same fashion – they are born. We also learn from Job 14:1, that we also have something else in common.   That is the ‘trouble’ that life presents as we are here. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
   Additionally, this passage clues us into the fact that we have limited time in this realm. Because we are born, we become part of humanity, and have the ‘right’ to be here. But where are you headed? That is the question that all should ask and all should seek the answer. In Gen. 3:19, after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God said to Adam: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

   Is this it? Is that all there is? Are we simply like the “beast” as described in Eccl 3:20-21? Speaking of both, the Spirit had the penman write: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” The last question in this passage shows there is a difference. Gen. 2:7 shows the difference when God breathed the breath of life into man “and man became a living soul.” That ‘living soul’ will exist forever somewhere. (Eccl 12:7; 1Thess 4:13-17; 2Thess 1:7-9)
     Now, we know who we are. We are members of humanity. We also know that physically, we shall return to the elements once our sojourn on earth is complete. We also know, unlike the ‘beast’, this is not “the end”, for man is a living soul. This sets up yet another question, which was asked by the suffering servant in Job 14:14 in the midst of his earthly tribulation. Where will man go? What is to become of his soul? He asked it this way: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” He did not know “where he was headed”, but knew he had to wait to find out. It is obvious that he also knew that while he was waiting, he was to faithfully serve God.
   This inquiry of Job so long ago was actually prophetically answered in the Garden of Eden by God Himself. This was after Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation to eat of the forbidden fruit and sinned against God. Gen 3:15 is the foretelling of Christ’s coming and dying, and that He would conquer death. Christ told how this would be fulfilled in Matt 12:29 as He foretold of entering Satan’s house (death) and binding Satan. The ‘binding of Satan’s power’ over death answered the question of Job 14:14. And we know this from 1Cor 15:55 as Christ was victorious over death. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  Christ’s death and burial were all part of God’s plan, but this wasn’t the ‘end’ of the plan.   Christ was resurrected to die no more. 1Cor 15:20 tells us this. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  Rev 1:18a also proves this. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore,. Christ came forth from the grave so we could “choose” where we are headed for eternity ‘while’ we sojourn here on earth.  
   While we are members of humanity, we must ask ourselves the questions: Where am I headed? Where am I going after this life? What will happen to my soul after I pass from this realm? That, my friend is entirely up to you. Where you (your soul) is headed is a choice you WILL and MUST make. Each arrived physically here through procreation (God’s plan). We had no choice in the matter. Having been granted life, we have the God-given privilege of choice. The choice ‘now’ is whether or not to be ‘born spiritually’. Christ spoke of this in John 3:5 to Nicodemus. He said: “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.”. Then in vs 7b, He said “Ye must be born again.”  
   Being born of water and of the Spirit is speaking of being baptized into Christ as Rom 6:3-5 shows. When one is ‘baptized into Christ’, they are baptized into His death. Those being ‘born again’ are to “walk in newness of life” while awaiting the resurrection. Christ made preparation for this as He told Thomas in John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”. Jesus had just told His apostles He was going to prepare a place for them. Those that become God’s children by spiritual birth, (baptism into Christ), and remain faithful until death have a destination and a crown of life awaiting them. (Rev 2:10b)
   Why not determine your ‘new’ identity by being baptized into Christ and becoming a child of God today? Then keep your eyes on the ‘desired destination’ (heaven) while faithfully serving God in this life in accordance to His Word. So, who are you? Where are you headed? The plan is offered. You can know who you are and where you are going for eternity. The choice is yours.  Make the right choice today while there is still time.

Dennis Strickland, Mooresville church of Christ

My Prayer For You

My Prayer for You

    You may or may not know me, & I may not know you, but I still have a prayer for you. In fact, whether you are a Christian or not, my prayer for you is the same. It might even be surprising to some to know that the prayer I have for everyone is the same that Paul had for Israel, which is found in Rom 10:1. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 
   However, Paul’s prayer for them could not save them. Neither can my prayer save you. In Israel’s case, they had a ‘zeal for God’, but it was ‘not according to knowledge’. Because they lacked sufficient knowledge, they went about to establish their own righteousness (follow their own desires and their previous religion). The result of this is that they would not submit to the ‘righteousness of God’. This means they refused to follow God’s Word. This can be proven from Psa 119:172b as we read: for all thy commandments are righteousness. When one is not following the Word of God (His Commandments), they aren’t being obedient to Him and God will not save the disobedient.
   My prayer cannot save you, because prayer does not save.   One can only be saved if/when they obey God’s Commandments for Salvation. In fact, per 2Thess 1:8, God will take vengeance on those who “know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God will not “help” such a person. This is expressed in the O.T. as well. God, through his prophet in Judges 10:13-14, said to Israel (His own people under the Mosaic Law) -Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. 14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.  There was no rescue for Israel if they persisted in their disobedience to God.   Today, there is no Salvation to any who serves, follows, or is in allegiance to that which is in opposition to God’s Word.
   Neither will God “hear” such a person. Jer 11:14, again in the context of Israel serving other gods, shows Jeremiah was divinely instructed to warn faithful Israel against praying for even God’s own people who refused to follow His Commandments. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.  God will not accept the prayer of those that oppose Him.  Previously, in Jer 7:16, the Lord also said He also would not accept the prayers of the righteous on behalf of the unrighteous. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. 
     Then why did Paul pray for Israel? Should he not have been praying for them? Should I not have a prayer for others? Am I doing wrong in praying for others? No! Paul’s prayer for Israel, and my prayer for all today is that they become “righteous”. 1Pet 3:12 tells us that God hears the prayers of the righteous, but not the unrighteous. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  Paul’s desire was that Israel would forsake their “own righteousness” and submit to God.
   Paul desired that Israel be saved. I desire that you be saved. In fact, that is God’s desire as well.  In 1Tim 2:4, the Spirit had Paul tell Timothy this in the context of prayer. He wrote (in reference to God) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. This meshes perfectly with the Words of Jesus Himself toward some who “believed on Him” from John 8:31-32. He said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” From this, it is obvious that it is not prayer or belief that “makes one free”, but obeying truth does.
   John 9:31 confirms this as the once blind, now healed man spoke in response to the Pharisees. He said: Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. This is ‘inspired testimony’ as the Spirit gave it to the apostle John to record. The Spirit also had James direct the church in the same way. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jas 1:21-22)
   Those who are ‘hearers only’ and not doers, cannot be righteous. If one is not righteous, they must be unrighteous. If unrighteous, are they not ungodly sinners? God addresses this in His Word as well. We read in1Pet 4:18 what fate awaits those folks. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  My prayer for all is that they come to a knowledge of the truth, will embrace the truth (gladly receive it), and will obey the truth, so they can be saved.
   I can pray that you become righteous (obey and follow God’s Word), but that won’t save you. You have to do the work. Why not look into God’s Word, obey what He says to do, lay hold on Salvation, and then remain faithful till death.   My prayer for you will then be answered and we can be together with God for eternity.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

America Is In Trouble Indeed

America Is In Trouble Indeed

      Among the political rhetoric of the day, you’ve likely heard this said, or will hear it as our upcoming national elections draw nearer.   There is some measure of truth to this, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you stand.   This is because there is a greater harm America faces than the ones that are the ‘talking points’ or the debate subjects our political heroes or villains embrace.        Contrary to popular belief, the fate of our nation does not lie in the hands of its politicians.  It lies in the minds of the people.  Our democracy was founded on the great idea of being a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.  However, when people, regardless of their nationality, gender, or political affiliation forsake God, they are in trouble.  Such is the case in our country by many during our present time.
     Some Corinthians had obeyed the gospel.  In doing so, they became ‘children of God’. In 2Cor. 6:14-17, the Spirit had Paul warn the brethren in Corinth of the fallacy of ‘conforming to’ the world, and what kept them separate from the world and in favor with God.  Paul penned: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Then in vss 17-18, we see the remedy and the way out of trouble.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.   God did them a great favor in warning them of that which would cost them their soul if they didn’t change.   
    We can benefit greatly from the ‘foresight’ of those now gone on, as they perceived the track being taken even in their day as they gave the clarion call to return to a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ and follow it always.  One such man was my wife’s father, O.D. Wilson, a faithful preacher of the gospel.  He foresaw the damage to America and its citizens as they forsook God, and also strove to bring this to our attention.
   Below is an article he wrote fifty-six years ago. If the decay was evident that long ago, and is equally evident that the “rot” that defiles has not been ‘rooted out’.  America is indeed in deep trouble!    

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

AMERICA IS IN TROUBLE

    I’m sure this comes in no way as an announcement because everybody knows by now that unless drastic changes are made SOON America will fall. This may be unbelievable to some. It was one of the hardest statements I have been forced to accept in years. Communism is considered the problem but it is really not the problem. It is but a symptom of the disease. The real trouble in America is UNGODLINESS (Rom. 1:28-32). Many of her citizens no longer believe there is a God, Jehovah.  In living their lives, making important decisions, rearing their children, appealing for wisdom and strength they turn to the weak and beggarly elements, but not to God (Gal. 4:9).  If America were GODLY Communism and all the other “isms” would have no place here at all. The “seed bed” has been well prepared to bear the fruits of sin and that is what she is doing in such a terrible mess.
   Thinking people are agreed that the only answer to this dilemma is Almighty GOD.  This means that we must again open the “old Book” (John 5:39) and read its sacred pages in prayer. It means that we must repent of our sins and “get right” with God.  It means that God’s people, Christians, must get on their knees and ask God for forgiveness and look to His Word for guidance (Psa. 119:105). We have “played church” too long. It is past time to “get down to business with God.”
    The sinfulness of America has had its impact upon the Lord’s church too. Doctrinal weakness, compromise, worldly members and “apologetic” preaching have greatly weakened her (II Tim. 4: 2-3). Think of how this must hurt the Heavenly Father.  What a price was paid for the redemption of the body of Christ, His Bride. What more can one give than Jesus gave? Men have not only been vile enough to build their own churches in competition with Christ, but, even worse, they seem determined to destroy His church, FROM WITHIN, with unconverted members, gimmicks, apathy and the like. Yes, America, the church, each citizen is in grave trouble but that trouble is “in the heart”, SIN AND GODLINESS, and may God help us to know the difference in the DISEASE and the SYMPTOMS and to understand that if, and when, the disease is cured the symptoms will disappear. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you free” John 8:32.  Whatever time we may have left, as God provides the means and opens the doors, let each Christian give his “all” in reaching the lost with the gospel, God’s power to save (Rom. 1:14-17). What will you do?????

O D Wilson, evangelist 1968 - - - deceased -1995

Is It A Day For Mom?

Is It A Day For Mom?

     On this day throughout our country, and on other dates in other places all over the world, mothers are honored. Strangely, the date is not always the same, but the second Sunday in May is the day set aside to celebrate Mother’s Day in America. Why Sunday? Why not another day? Many ‘holidays’ occur on various days of the week regardless of their significance.
   There are a plethora of holidays recognized by Americans. Some of these are historical, others “religious”, and some, while not specifically recognized as “federal” holidays are observed by many in diverse ways for some reason.  Take for instance, New Years Day. It may or may not fall on a Sunday, and if it does, the government sees to it the following Monday will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes.
     Many other ‘holidays’ have a specific date applied to them based on various grounds. For example, the 4th of July, or Independence Day, must be celebrated on that specific date as it commemorates the same date the original Thirteen Colonies declared they would no longer be subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of BritainKing George III, and were, as of that date, now united, free, and independent states.  
   Even some so-called “religious” holidays, created by man and placed on a schedule, don’t fall on a Sunday. An assigned date was given to these, and some of these dates were changed a few times in history to fit man’s whims. Interestingly, said dates, and the holi-(holy)days they depict don’t have their origin in the rightly divided Word of God. I suspect if a man or woman “invents” a holiday, they should be given the privilege to affix it to the date they choose.  
   But why choose a “day” which the Lord made holy. We read in Acts 20:7 & 1Cor 16:2 that the church met on the first day of the week (Sunday) to ‘gather together’ for worship. Why tarnish that which the Lord sanctified and use it for any other purpose than which the Lord Himself intended?
     Perhaps this was the mindset of my wife’s father, O.D. Wilson, when he sat down and wrote the words of the song below. These were written in the 1980’s and fit the song “Higher Ground”.   There is nothing wrong with the song “Higher Ground”, but these words, remembered on this day, may very well help us keep our focus directed where it should be on this, the most holy of all days, the first day, Sunday, as it was sanctified by the Lord for worship to God in “spirit and in truth”.

Mother’s Day
(1)
My mother lived a godly life.
She was a Christian and a wife.
Although she’s gone to higher ground,
my love for her is most profound.

(2)
A mother’s day is every day.
We honor her in many ways.
In olden times men honored her,
It’s still the same most every where.

(3)
No Christian mother would prefer,
Our Lord be honored less than her.
And if for mom, one day we keep,
Don’t choose the first day of the week.

(Chorus)
Yes, Mother’s Day, is every day.
Let’s honor her in many ways.
Perhaps her choice of all we do,
Is tell her: “Mother, we love you.”

O.D. Wilson – deceased

     Yes, mothers are important. Without one to bring us into this world, we would not be. We are to honor both our parents as Eph. 6:2 commands. In the context of civil authorities, Rom. 13:7, honor is to be rendered to whom honor is due. Husbands are to honor their wife (1Pet. 3:7). The elders who rule well, and labor in word and doctrine are worthy of “double honor” as we read in 1Tim. 5:17. Per 2Pet. 2:17, Christians are also to honor all men including the ‘king’, or civil ruler. (Rom. 12:10) We are to honor each other also. Yes, all of these are important and each has their part in our lives.
   However, all pale in comparison to the One whom we are all to honor. In 1Tim. 6:16, speaking of Christ we see: Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.  Let’s prioritize as we should.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

A Separate People

    The following is an article from 1931, but much needed today.   Many thanks to brother Wallace and all other faithful brethren who defend the truth.    The church must remain separate, and it will as long as it follows the Word of God, and veers not to the right, nor the left, and remains on that 'strait and narrow way'.   (Dennis Strickland)

A SEPARATE PEOPLE

     The divine idea of separation in religion is as old as the Jewish race. God divinely determined to raise up a people to be his own, a peculiar people, separate from all other people, to preserve belief in the true and living God, to prepare the race of man, then in universal apostasy, for the coming of the Redeemer of man.
   Abraham was chosen of God to be the father of the chosen race. But idolatrous Ur of the Chaldees was not a land to nourish such a race. Influences were overwhelmingly against God’s purpose to raise up a separate people. Hence, the call of God came to Abram to abandon country and kindred and seek a home in an unknown land. It was a stern requirement, but the true philosophy and absolute necessity of such a demand is seen, and the lofty purposes of God justify the radical measure. “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” And that is the beginning of separation--a separate family.   
     Years afterwards the posterity of Abraham, through a series of varied providential circumstances, settled in the land of Egypt. There they grew into a numerous race.  Their presence within the empire presented a rather ominous aspect to Egypt’s Pharaoh, and, as a safety measure, the Israelites were reduced to serfdom. Time developed that they could not serve God in Egypt. Their religion was contrary to Egyptian customs and their worship was in direct conflict with Egyptian idolatry.  Separation was essential. God called them out of Egypt. The emancipation of Israel was accomplished by wondrous power. A peculiar nation was formed at Sinai, with peculiar laws, a peculiar government, and peculiar life and relations. In keeping this law and maintaining this separation Israel was blessed. But when they departed, changed their government (1Sam. 8) served other gods (Deut. 8: 19), and formed alliances, they were rejected by God and subjected by their enemies. And only after reformation did God grant them restoration. (Ez. 10: 10,11.) The lesson of the story is separation-a separate nation.
     But that is not the end of the story of separation. God still requires it--a separate church. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God.” (1Pet. 2: 9,10.) As fleshly Israel was called out of Egypt, God has called the church, spiritual Israel, out of the world. And to retain the favor of God, the church must maintain that separation distinct and peculiar. (Emphasis DPS)
   1. The church must maintain separation in speech. “Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard in me.” (2Tim. 1: 13.) The power of a united language is demonstrated in the Tower of Babel. It became the bond of an apostate union which God had to break up in a confusion of tongues. And it is so that unity and purity of speech--calling Bible things by Bible names--is a bond among Christians that will triumph over error and bring order out of confusion.
   2. The church must maintain separation in doctrine. Paul’s charge to “preach the word” and his admonition to “speak thou the things that become sound doctrine” need constant emphasis today. There can be no compromise. Jeremiah said: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2: 13.) God’s word is the fountain of living water, our only source of truth. The creeds and doctrines of men are broken cisterns. A compromise with error can only be regarded as a repetition of the evils assailed by the prophet Jeremiah in his day. The New Testament command to “touch not, taste not, and handle not,” does not refer to strong drink, but to “the commandments and doctrines of men.” (Col. 2: 21,22.) It is a warning against flirting with error and fraternizing with denominationalism. The growing idea that the “church of Christ” is just a church among churches will prove fatal, and it must not prevail. It is the church or nothing.  It is only one way or none. Any participation on the part of members of the church of Christ in denominational functions can only compromise the church and is detrimental to the cause of truth.
   3. The church must maintain separation in worship. The Old Testament injunction to “take heed lest ye turn aside” has its counterpart in the New Testament counsel: “Let no man beguile you, . . . intruding into those things which he hath not seen, . . . and not holding the Head, . . .after the commandments and doctrines of men. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship.” (Col. 2:18-23.) Self-devised worship is condemned along with man-written creeds and man-made doctrines. The New Testament pattern must be adhered to. The forms and formalities of men in worship must be shunned. God’s worship is sacred and God is jealous. He requires separation in worship.
   4. Finally, Christians must maintain separation in life. Terms of dignity are applied to Christians. The church is “a chosen generation,” it is “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation.”  Christians are to “show forth the praises [or excellencies]” of God who called them. But is there any visible distinction in the lives of professed Christians today and admitted non-Christians? What is it that non-Christians do that the majority of professed Christians are not doing?
   The demand of the Bible upon Christians is to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” It is a demand for separation of life. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.’

Foy E. Wallace (May, 1931) Gospel Advocate Editorial

 

A Life Or Death Situation

A Life Or Death Situation

      Often when folks speak of life or death circumstances, they consider if the situation will cost someone their physical lives. At times, due to medical issues, a person may be required to make a life or death decision. This may be whether or not to participate in a treatment or take certain medications. It is also possible that some ‘professionals’ offer an estimation on how long a person ‘might’ live with or without said care.
   Of course, that is a wild guess at best. I have known those who have been diagnosed and were told: “Go home and get your affairs in order, you only have about a year or so to live” by those who were respected as being in the know.  Strangely, on several occasions, the “condemned one” failed to expire until long after the prescribed period without the treatment.  
   It has long been known that people die. In Eccl. 3:19 this is confirmed by the Spirit through the pen of Solomon. He wrote: For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. The ‘life force’ that is within all living beings is subject to being extinguished.
   Eccl. 9:11-12 verifies this, and it applies to all. I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.  From a physical standpoint then, life itself is a death situation. This is why all need to understand that it is what we do with this physical life that is of most importance because it is in this life only when we prepare for eternity. Our time on this earth is truly when we determine our eternal destination – Life or Death.
   This is confirmed in Eccl. 9:10 as all the things ‘of this life’ have ceased once we pass that threshold. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest This means that even though everyone is going to die, time on this earth is precious and it needs to be used carefully. It is only in this live we can do for others.  In Jas. 2:15-16 as faith is being discussed, the Spirit had James write: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” The provisions for the body are important because according to Jas. 2:26, it houses the soul until the spirit of life departs the body. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 
   In Matt. 6:25 Christ told those gathered to hear Him preach the Sermon on the Mount: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Surely He wasn’t telling them life wasn’t important.   Neither was this Christ’s message as He spoke to His apostles in Matt.10:28 saying - And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. One who can only ‘kill the body’ is very limited in that all they can do is ‘take a physical life’. The soul continues and this is the ‘life’ that matters.
   A life or death situation is pointed out in Rom. 8:13 as the Spirit had Paul write to the church in Rome. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Surely he wasn’t addressing physical life or death, as we are all going to die. From the context this is abundantly clear. Verse 12 acknowledges this. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. Then, verse 14 drives the point home. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 
   To be ‘led by the Spirit of God’ is to be directed by the Word of God. To reject or neglect God’s Word is to die spiritually. Gen. 2:17 provides this as God Commanded the man He placed in the Garden - 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 know the body of Adam (or Eve) did not cease to function. Life or death was put before them and they chose death. We also know the ‘signs’ Jesus did was to draw folks to life. We read in John 20:31 that the signs were recorded that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  Of course “believe” here carries with it the idea of obedience.
   Rom. 1:17b & Heb. 10:38a both tell us how to live spiritually – the just shall live by faith. And Rom. 10:17 tells us faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Just as Moses of old in Deut. 30:19 set before Israel “life and death” and implored them to choose life, so must we. Our time on earth is truly a “Life or Death Situation” – eternal life which is only “in Christ” – or eternal separation from God, (spiritual death) in everlasting torment. Choose now while you can – Obey the gospel and become a child of God, and then live your life so that you need not eternally die, but live forever with God on high.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Playing Church?

Playing Church?

     It is possible that as children we had been taken to a worship service somewhere and during the following week, played church. Recently, Linda and I were talking about this, and she recalled how she and her siblings ‘played church’ on the stairs when they were much younger as one of the boys led singing, one ‘preached’, and the remainder of the kids made up the congregation. It is apparent that the parents were ‘so involved’ in the work of the church and God’s Word was in their lives, that their children ‘played church’ often.
   While the ‘playing church’ of the youth shows what these young folk were exposed to, there is a much more serious ‘playing church’ that is happening today among many adults.   How serious are we about service to God? How often do we consult His Word to see when, how, what frequency, and what elements are to be a part of our worship to Him to be acceptable to Him?
   Many of the youth who “played church” in the past, did so by following what they heard and perceived as they “went to church”. I’m afraid there are many adults ‘playing church’ today without realizing the ramifications. This is not such a new thing as some would suspect given the relaxed attitude many have toward God and His Word today. Through the years, this attitude has been held by some and it was recognized by others.
   This is why faithful brethren, upon realizing this, have endeavored to warn the masses of such a harmful attitude and action. In 1968, my wife’s father, O.D. Wilson, wrote a song regarding this. His hope, and the hope of all the faithful is that others stop “playing church” and get serious about their own souls and the work of the church laid out in the Word. Has it ever occurred to you that countless souls will enter eternity with false hope, not knowing that “playing church” throughout their lives has left them woefully unprepared to be with God for eternity? Some are the “hypocrites in the church”. They need to be warned and need to take heed.

Hypocrites In The Church

(1)
Just got home from church, hadn’t been for a while.
but I did have a wonderful time.
The members were friendly, each gave me a smile
and the preacher’s sermon was fine.
They spread the Lord’s Table, and graced it with prayer,
there’s no doubt the Savior was near.
Then I wondered why such a small crowd was there,
and these words rang out in my ears.

Refrain
Hypocrites in the church who just won’t live right,
God’s love is not in their hearts.
They care not that sinners are lost in the night,
they’re really just acting a part.

Recitation

Then I saw myself as others see me
and I prayed Oh Lord please forgive,
Help me to be faithful that others might see
Jesus Christ in the life that I live.

(2)

You may ask this question, I’m sure that you could,
Just why is the Lord’s church so small?
If all of us members would live true and good,
It wouldn’t be that way at all.
So brothers and sisters give your heart a search,
And by the Lord’s Spirit be led.
It’s the things that we do that speak for the church,
So don’t ever let it be said . . .

Refrain/Recitation

O.D. Wilson deceased

    Several passages spring to mind as I write this. Matt. 6:33 is one. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Another is 2Cor. 6:17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,. Yet another is Heb. 10:24-25a. The faithful will be in the assembly physically, mentally and spiritually. To forsake the assembly and claim ‘faithfulness’ is hypocritical in spades. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:
   Do we see ourselves as others see us? Do we want to? Do we simply “act a part” and “play church”? Is the “examine yourselves” of 2Cor. 13:5 only for others? When that self-examination is made, do we seek strength from God’s Holy Word? Do we pray for the “wisdom from above” (Jas. 1:5 & Jas. 3:17) as we seek that strength? Our time on earth is a spiritual life or death battle.   If we “play church”, we are going to lose eternally. We need to get serious about our souls.   Think about it!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Hope For tomorrow

Hope For Tomorrow

   As we live our lives, we all come to expect ‘tomorrow’. This is supported by the many times people say: “See you tomorrow”, or something like this. We are often asked to think of the future. When I worked in the corporate world I was once asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years, ten years?” When this was asked, my initial response was “I have no idea”. The purpose of the question was to gauge my desire to advance, and to see if I would take the steps and put forth the effort to achieve those goals.
   All this expectation was predicated on the idea and the hope that there would even be a tomorrow for me or for those with whom I interacted. This is a bit presumptuous as none on earth know their future. We are reminded of this in Jas. 4:13-15. This passage certainly points out that life is brief even though it might last many years. Time has existed since God put it into place about six thousand or so years ago. What is seventy, eighty or even a hundred years in comparison?   That’s right – “It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
   This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make plans for ‘tomorrow’. We read this in verse 15. “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”. Many misread this passage and try to make it state that if it is God’s Will, we will do ‘this or that’. What is actually being said is that if the Lord tarries His coming (2Pet. 3:9b-10) and the earth remains, I plan to do “this or that”.   Also God and His Word should never be left out of our plans.   The point is two-fold. The first fact is we are going to die. This is made abundantly clear in Eccl. 12:7. When the spirit leaves the body, (death per Jas. 2:26), the body decays and returns to the dust from which the original body God formed came. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  We can’t control ‘how long’ our life will be, but we can make plans for the tomorrows we have, including our eternal tomorrow. Get prepared! Stay prepared!
     The second fact is that any plans we make for earthly tomorrows or the “eternal tomorrow” must be addressed before we die on this earth. All that is possible to do must be done in this life per Eccl. 9:10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. One cannot make plans for the afterlife, after this life. When this life on earth is over, it is much too late to prepare. Failure to plan now for eternity with God is to plan for an eternity separated from Him. I’m relatively sure that this is not an eternal tomorrow anyone wants!
     So, what is our hope for tomorrow? What is important for tomorrow? It has to be that which beyond this life. As we pointed out earlier, life is short and may very well end for us this day. Is our hope contained in this life alone? If so, according to 1Cor. 15:19, we have a sad and melancholy life. There, the Spirit had the apostle write: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. This must mean that there is the possibility of something beyond the grave. Since our life could end today, should not our hope for tomorrow really be a hope for eternity? Is this not what our minds should be focused on?
     Sadly, most fail to make adequate plans for eternity because they are so engrossed in seeking pleasures in this life and involve themselves with the cares of this world. There’s nothing wrong with wholesome activities that bring pleasure, and there are certain “cares” in this world for which we have responsibility. But God has provided for these and yet, they are not to be the whole focus or function of our time here. In Mark 4:19 in the parable of the sower, Jesus explains how these things, if made our priority, prevents the Word from directing us properly. He said: And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 
   In 2Tim. 2:3-4 after the church was established, the Spirit had Paul warn about becoming so concerned with the things of life that one couldn’t fight the good fight of faith which they committed to when they obeyed the gospel and became a soldier of the cross. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  This means we cannot be pleasing to God if we put the things of this life before God. Are the things of this life more important than our hope for earth’s tomorrows or for our eternity?
   All of what God has provided for us in His Word is for our good and given so we might prepare for that which is beyond this life. In Rom.15:4 we find this requires that we read, learn, know and continually follow God’s N.T. Word. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. This is also supported in Col. 1:5-6a. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; This hope cannot be realized until one obeys the gospel and is “born” into the family of God. This is how you get ready.   To stay ready – you must remain faithful to God and His Word from that point to the time you pass from this life.
   If you’ve not obeyed the gospel, hope that you have a tomorrow on earth so you can obey before its everlastingly too late.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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