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The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

     Memories are important in many ways. We all depend on them to hold fast to the past, friends and loved ones now gone on, and the happy times shared with them.   Sometimes memories require that we recall the not so enjoyable aspects of life.   In this life, sometimes we may tend to “tweak” some of our memories that they be what we most desire, rather than what they really were.  Perhaps one of the things that will not “leave us” or that we will not leave behind is memory.   Luke 16:25 indicates that we might recall our life before our death, after we leave our bodies. Not all will be able to “look back” fondly on their time here after these lives are over. This is because all will “reap what soever they sow”.

       Let’s live our lives in obedience and service to God in accordance to His Word, so when this life is over, we can look back and actually see that the time in which we could affect our eternity were really the “good old days”.

Below, is a poem written by my wife’s father in 1978 that looks back.  

The Good Old Days

The good old days, were in many ways

“the golden years of yesterday”,

when morals were high, it was wrong to lie,

your word was your bond, and your friends knew why.

There was neighborhood, and a joy to do good,

lend a helping hand whenever you could.

More people attended the House of Prayer,

Heard sin condemned while they were there.

No one was “liberal” or “conservative” then

good was right and wrong was sin.

O, nobody claimed to be a hundred percent,

and the preachers back then said you must repent.

 

In the good old days, it was never so

that criminals were honored as sick heroes.

Patriotism glowed like a lamp in the sky

and your heart skipped a beat when the flag passed by.

Men loved their country and showed their pride

and because they did, a lot of them died.

Some on their knees saw times that were rough

But vict’ry and freedom were worth being tough.

And the Constitution, then, was considered correct

as prayer time in school taught the children respect.

Women were women, and men were men

in acts and in dress as it should have been.

 

We had radio, but no T.V.

and electric power was a luxury.

Nobody had two hens in the pot

and a pair of shoes a year was all that we got.

Five miles to travel was a little far

when you walked, but we got there without a car.

And the “out-house” stood away out on the hill

where you didn’t stay long because of the chill.

There were two at the foot and two at the head

and the lucky ones got the feather bed.

We went to worship and served the Lord,

got along with Him by obeying His Word.

 

Well, I guess that I could go on and on

about those good old days, now forever gone.

And so is Mae and my mom and dad

who made life worth it when things were bad.

Yes, I was poor, but I’m not ashamed

and I don’t know a person who can really be blamed.

If I had it all to do over again,

I’d be a better man than I was then.

They said it back there, and I believe it still

“put your faith in God, not a dollar bill”.

And while there’s improvement in many ways,

I wouldn’t take nothing, for the good old days!!

O.D. Wilson - deceased

         Why not look into God’s Word today and make the needed changes so that when this life is over, you’ll have no regrets and the memories from this life won’t haunt you forever.   Obey God’s Word. Live for God, and make the preparation for eternity.   As Jesus stated in Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. What have you got to lose?   Only your soul.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Faith Enough To Fight?

Faith Enough To Fight?

        What is it for which man will fight? Will he fight for something in which he doesn’t believe? Will he fight for something that is absolutely beyond his ability to attain? Will he fight for something that is of no benefit to him? It is certain that there is much stated about fighting in the Word of God. There must be a reason for fighting.    

     In 1Corinthians 9:26-27, the Spirit had the apostle Paul state how NOT to fight and why. One does not fight without reason.  

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  From what did Paul fear to be a castaway?  

     Paul is identified by the Spirit in Titus 1:1-2 as a servant of God, and one who is seeking the promise of God, which is eternal life. Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

      As the Spirit had Paul mentor and direct young Timothy, He had Paul write the Words we find in 1Timothy 6:12-14 which instruct Timothy and us how we are to fight. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ

     In 2Timothy 2:2 we find another admonition which tells how having the “faith” to fight will continue until the Lord returns. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also

     That which Timothy had heard, and what he was to preach was the Word of God.   This is obvious from 2Timothy 4:2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  He was also told in verses 3 and 4 why this was necessary.   For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  One can only have the faith to fight if they remain in the Word of God.   Romans 10:17 shows this. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

       It is an absolute certainty that if people don’t hear the gospel and do not know what to do to be saved, they also won’t know how to fight or why they should as Romans 10:13-14 shows.   For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? They also will not know what “calling on the name of the Lord” means. It means to obey the gospel.  

       Life itself is a fight for eternal life as 1Corinthians 9:25 clearly indicates. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

We also know that this “eternal crown” will not be received until the Lord returns. Elders to which the Spirit had Peter write are told this in 1Peter 5:4.   And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Therefore, while we are here, let’s do as God directs in His Word. If we do, we can meet those who have gone on before us that have been obedient and faithful in that eternal home of the soul.

     Somewhere around 1968, my wife’s father penned the words below for a song that shows the desire that all should have for others as we prepare for eternity while we live here on earth.   It should be our desire to “meet” our loved ones in that eternal home.  

Meet Me

Meet me, greet me, on some morning fair

I’ll be so happy, when I see your there.

Nothing can separate us, there’ll be no tear dimmed eyes

In God’s eternal sabbath, Land of Paradise.

Don’t weep when I sleep, my armor is laid down.

Just another soldier, lost in battle,

Fighting, yes fighting for a crown.

So until it is God’s Will to call me home to rest

I promise your that I’ll do my best.

And I want you to

Meet me, greet me, on some morning fair

Tell me, will you . . . Meet Me????

O.D. Wilson – deceased

     Do you have faith enough to fight?   Do you have faith enough to begin the fight? Why not obey the gospel today and prepare to meet the saved in that eternal home?        

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Liberty And Justice For All

Liberty And Justice For All

       Many, upon reading the title of this article, will recognize this as a line from the “Pledge of Allegiance”.   Sadly, some won’t recall these words as a part of the pledge because it is decreasing in use in our schools and among our civic organizations.   This is a sad commentary on the status of the minds of the citizenry of our nation.     Our great country was formed on the very principles of the Declaration of Independence. The second sentence of this document is the most familiar.   It reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”   The declaration is not too long. If you haven’t read it lately, you should.

       Thirty-one words affirm the values and freedom that the American flag represents.  These should be often recited while facing the flag as a pledge of Americans’ loyalty to their country. The Pledge of Allegiance was written for the 400th anniversary, in 1892, of the discovery of America. The pledge has undergone a few changes since its inception.   In 1923 the words “my flag” were changed to “the flag of the United States of America”. Then in 1954, the final change was made. The words “under God” were added after “one nation”.   This was a great addition and is of utmost importance.   The pledge has remained unchanged since that time.

         As our nations celebrates its “Independence Day”, all American’s hearts should swell with pride for our nation, and for the freedoms we enjoy, so often taken for granted.  Just in case you have forgotten the words of the pledge or never learned them, I have inserted them here for you. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Learn these words; repeat them when the flag is presented, and remember that these are not just words; they stand for something.

       Another thing to remember is that “liberty and justice” do not only exist in the civil or political realm. “Liberty” is found 18 times in 17 verses, in the New Testament, while the word “justice” is not found once, but the idea of liberty, freedom, and justice is found throughout the New Testament.   The Spirit had the apostle Paul explain in 1Corinthians 3:17 that the Word of God provides liberty.   Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. In that context, Israel had been liberated from the Law of Moses, if they were in Christ.  

       We also read in James 1:25 that one must continue in God’s Word to be able to enjoy the happiness (blessedness) that comes from serving God. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. But where does “justice” come in?   The Spirit also had James to address this in James 2:12.   So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. Jesus addressed this as well, when in John 12:48, He tells us upon what we shall be judged. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day There are too many folks today, religious and non-religious, that are gambling that God’s mercy will “override” His judgment.

       God’s mercy is great, but God Will have justice, and the judgment will occur as 2Peter 3:7 tells us. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men This same concept was affirmed in Jude vs 14b-15. Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

         Incidentally, God’s Word is also where the idea of “freedom in Christ” comes from. Many consider “freedom” only as when they can do as they wish, based on their own selfish desires.   This existed in the days of Paul, as the brethren in Romans 13:13-14 were told.  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

       Kris Kristofferson wrote a song in 1969, titled: “Me and Bobby McGee” in which the lyrics “Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose” are offered.   This is not true at all. Freedom in Christ means you have gained everything.   Neither is it true that there is no freedom when one has to follow rules or laws. In John 8:32Jesus said: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.This “truth” is God’s Word. We are told in Romans 8:2 from what we are given liberty if we are in Christ and remain faithful to His Word. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

       Won’t you seek the liberty that Christ offers, and become free from sin today, and prepare yourself for the reward God has prepared when His just judgment takes place?  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Don't You Quit

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must – but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –

You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man.

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup.

And he learned too late, when the night slipped down

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt –

You never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar;

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Unknown –

 

     The above poem from an unknown author is very sound advice. Most all desire to succeed in life, as is evidenced by how hard some folks work to be successful.  But more importantly, all should desire to succeed spiritually. To fail in this realm has eternal consequences. We mustn’t ever think about quitting when it comes to our spiritual journey. The final reward only comes after we complete the journey.  Jesus, in John 8:31-32, before the church was established, told the Jews of His day, the means whereby they could be freed from sin. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, 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 Only those who have obeyed the gospel are made free from sin through obedience to the Word of God, and have become Christians.  

       But we must also continue in truth. In Romans 6:16-18 the Spirit had Paul write to the church at Rome, and told them (and us) how the truth of which Jesus spoke makes one free. 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 righteousness. That “form of doctrine” is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  

       Colossians 2:12-13 clearly indicates that this obedience is baptism “into” Christ. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  When they obeyed the truth, they had become free from sin.

       The Holy Spirit had the penman to the Hebrews write of the importance of helping their brethren to remain faithful in Hebrews 3:12-13. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is the failure to obey truth as James 4:17 informs. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  

       Amazingly, some have quit after becoming freed from the bonds of sin having once “laid hold” on the promise of eternal life. In Luke 9:62, Jesus  

said to one who made excuses even before the kingdom came: No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. 2Peter 2:20-21 was written to Christians after the church was in place and still applies today. 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 beginning21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

       Don’t quit! Press on! Your journey is not over. The reward awaits.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Where Are We Going Daddy?

Where Are We Going Daddy?

 

      Dads, have you ever taken a trip with your young child? If you have, you know there are at least two questions children ask on such a trip.   The first, and most common is: “Are we there yet?”. We’ve all heard that one.   No trip is complete until a final destination is reached. The other question is: “Where are we going daddy?”

      Fact is, we are all going someplace.   We all have an eternal destination. We will not be “there yet” until we reach that destination. However, we all must first determine “where we are going”.   Just because we choose, or simply desire to arrive at a specific location at the conclusion of this life doesn’t get us there.   Fathers have a responsibility to those they helped bring into this world. Children, upon growing up, will indeed make their own decisions as to where they are going, but parents still must influence them in the right way.   Ephesians 6:4 is a passage that surely springs to mind at this point. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

     This is a principle that God directed Israel to keep from before the time in which they entered the Promised Land. This directive was given to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 to guide them. 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.  The frequency here should show how important this is.  

       We know from Joshua 24:15 their journey to their eternal destination was a matter of choice.   And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD

     The same thing holds true to those of us living in the New Testament age. We have a choice. We also have obligations toward our children.   One of those obligations are to correct our children.   We no doubt were on the receiving end of that when we were children, as Hebrews 12:9a points out.  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: This was not pleasant, as I well remember.   We are also reminded of this in Hebrews 12:11, which also show that the correction is for our own benefit. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby

      It is in perfect alignment with the plan of God that the fathers show the children where to go as well as how to get there.   Chastisement is a small part of the trip. The latter part of 2Corinthians 12:14 clearly shows that the parents are to provide for their children. . . . for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. When we couple this with what Jesus stated in Matthew 6:19-20 we can understand what it is most important to provide. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:    This is the instruction all children should hear and see from their fathers throughout their lives.

     With this in mind, can we as earthly fathers not see how important it is to guide our children as to where they are to go, as well as how?   Can we not teach them as they should he taught while they still live at home and are subject to us, as Hebrews 12:9b asks?   . . . shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? This is the same things Ephesians 5:1 admonished the Christians in that area to do. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;. This was not the only congregation who was encouraged to keep going the right way and to the proper destination.  Brethren in Thessalonica were given the example of fathers exhorting their children in 1Thessalonians 2:11-12.  As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.   

       God, in His infinite wisdom set things in order in the beginning when He created everything including man.   In Genesis 2:24, even before children were born to Adam, the first human father, God declared how families would be established. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  But God did not leave man without direction about where to go, or how to get there. In Psalm 34:11 we see the Spirit having the psalmist write: Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD

     All children deserve an answer to the question: “Where are we going Daddy?”   Fathers, where are you leading your children?   What example are you setting before them?   Do your actions “speak volumes” in opposition to your words? Fathers, you have a great deal of influence of your children, even those who are grown.   What direction are you leading them?  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

Whichever Way The Wind Blows

Whichever Way The Wind Blows

   Several years ago, I worked with an elderly gentleman, whose reply to a question which required an opinion was: “Whichever way the wind blows, is cool with me”. Of course, we understand this meant he had no opinion on the subject at hand.   This didn’t seem to matter if the issue was to take the lunch break now, or whether to impose overtime on the folks in the shop. He obviously did not want to “rock the boat”, or impose on anyone else’s feelings or opinions.   Many seem to have this general attitude, especially when it comes to the church, worship and other things they deem “less important” than their own selfish desires.

     There are multiple Bible references to “wind” and its forces. One of the most familiar is found in Matthew 14:23-24 just before Jesus walked on water.   And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. Can any argue that the disciples were NOT afraid?   Verse 26 clearly reports they “cried out for fear”.

       Another case is in Mark 4:37-38 where the Lord was asleep in the boat. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  It doesn’t seem to me that any of the disciples in the boat had the attitude: “whichever way the wind blows is cool with me”. They wanted Jesus to make them safe. He did this, when He said “Peace, be still”.   Then the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

       Jesus still brings peace and calm today, many years after those calming words were spoken in the midst of raging waves being churned up by the relentless wind on that lake.   He does so now through His Holy Word. In that Word, He Commands that we not be tossed by every wind of doctrine.  He had the Spirit direct Paul to write this in Ephesians 4:14. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; This was written to Christians. As “joint-heirs” with Christ we have been granted multiple privileges. We are told in 2Peter 1:3, He “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”.   This includes being granted the privilege and the right of prayer. James 1:6 tells us that we have to “ask” God for things in the right way.   But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed

       We, as children of God, must take care to stand strong, even in the face of adversity, persecution and tribulation.   We must look to God’s Word so we will know how we may serve Him, and how He can use us as He directs through that Word. His gospel is, according to Romans 1:15-16, NOT “wind of doctrine”, and so Paul was not ashamed of it, or to sacrifice for the cause.   So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 

     About twenty-five years ago, my wife’s father, O. D. Wilson, re-wrote words to a well-known song, “Bring Them In”. There’s nothing wrong with that song, but this was another way to show how God can “use us”, if we’ll let Him through His Holy Word.

 

God Can Use You

How can they preach, if they’re not sent?

How can the church be so content?

The voice of truth is seldom heard.

There’s such a famine in the Word.

 

Where are the men we used to know,

Who preached it straight not long ago?

Should it be preached because it’s true,

Or just to please some in the pew?

 

As goes the world so goes the church.

We need to carefully make a search.

For faithful saints with anchor cast,

Who’ll man the ship to shore at last.

 

(Chorus)

Will you stand, and demand,

Nothing more or less than God’s own plan?

Don’t fear men, Try again,

God can use you if you’ll let Him.

Song – O.D. Wilson - deceased

Article – Dennis Strickland- Mooresville church of Christ

That Which Lies Beyond

That Which Lies Beyond

      We all wonder about the future. I think that is part of human nature. If not, it is likely that we have seen enough change during our lives on earth, we have come to expect things will continue to change.   Many ponder their futures relative to relationships, careers, and all other aspects of human existence. But how many truly contemplate their “future” beyond this life?  

     To the student of the Bible, it is no surprise that Job 14:14 reveals that men who believe in God have long contemplated life and the “afterlife”. The Spirit had the penman of the book of Job ask the question, and point out that one must wait to see.   If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

     Should we not understand from the statement of Job here that we have a purpose for our time here other than to “exist” and use the things God has provided for man?    It is for certain we cannot go to the “afterlife” in these bodies. All will undergo a “transformation” at the end of this life. According to 1Corinthians 15:53 this is a “must”. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Is not our time on the earth so we may prepare for the change?  

     There is also a situation in 2Samuel 12:22-23 in which David revealed the way things work. His infant son, who had done no sin, died shortly after he was born. The infant had not time to sin, nor the need to prepare for what follows this life, but David had sinned. He had to prepare if he wanted to go to where the soul of his son was.  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.  The psalmist was directed to write in Psalm 119:11 how he, and we are to make the proper preparation.   Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 

    All souls will spend eternity somewhere. Some of God’s Old Testament people Israel, because of their sin, were in danger of being separated from God for eternity. In Amos 4:11-12 we have a record of the many warnings from God to His people. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. 12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  Can we not see that in this dispensation of time, the Christian age, preparation must be made for that which lies beyond?

       Jesus was born, lived, and died under the Mosaic dispensation. He also preached in preparation for the kingdom, the church during His ministry. He did not come without preparation. In Matthew 11:10, Jesus Himself spoke of John the Baptizer, who was sent to “prepare” Israel to receive the Lord. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. This should show us that there are patterns in God’s plan for that which lies beyond.

       Israel, as a nation was chosen and given a Law to prepare them as the ones through whom the Messiah should come. John was sent to prepare the way for the Christ.   Christ, in accordance to John 10:10b, came to make preparation for mankind, so mankind could prepare for eternity. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. He provided the “means for Salvation” after He died on Calvary’s cross, then ascended back to His Father with that precious blood, the only blood that can remit sins.   Previously, in John 14:2-3 Jesus told His apostles He was going away, where He was and what He was doing while He was away. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for youAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

       Then, in John 14:6 Jesus told Thomas He was the “way” to the Father. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. This is where many miss the point and quite frankly lose out.   For some reason many think because Jesus died on the cross, all preparation has been made.   Colossians 1:5 does speak to Christians, and it does tell of what lies beyond for the faithful. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Why then, does the Spirit have Paul write the brethren in Philippi and tell them to continue to prepare?   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. Had they not already become “children of God” through Jesus Christ? Yes, they had.

       But even Paul had to continually prepare for that which is beyond. His eternity was not “settled” until he finished this life. In Philippians 3:12 he was directed to write: Not as though I had already attained, . . . Then this is followed up by Philippians 3:14: I press toward the mark for the prize . . .

       Make preparation for that which lies beyond now! Obey the gospel. Then strive to serve God in accordance to His Word – Press toward the goal.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Everything Is OK?

Everything Is O.K.?

     No, the title of this article is not in improper order. The question mark at the end is to draw attention to the title because of a real problem that exists and some are totally unaware of it.   Many take for granted that things are O.K. in their relationship with God when they aren’t. This is not a new thing. Even in the days of Jeremiah, there were those of Israel that had lapsed into such complacency, they were seemingly unconcerned about the sin in which they were involved. Everything was NOT O.K.

     In Jeremiah 6:7 the Spirit has the prophet describe Israel in this fashion: As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds Then in verse 8, the Spirit had the prophet warn them to heed the instruction of the Lord, and why they should do so. Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.  Through their sin, they would forfeit their reward.

     God has continually communicated His Will to His people.   We are told in Hebrews 1:1 that God spoke to Israel through the prophets. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,. Unfortunately, some of the prophets, and priests, who were supposed to be serving God were actually serving themselves.   As we look to Jeremiah 6:13 this becomes apparent.   For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They lied to the people to convince them that all was well, as Jeremiah 6:14 indicates. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. This must have satisfied the people because they were not inclined to change. They were “happy” with the way things were. Their own selfish desires were being fulfilled. All was not O.K. as their souls were in danger of eternal punishment.

     The Spirit again had the prophet bring this to their attention by asking a question, answering the question, then telling them what would happen to them in Jeremiah 6:15.   Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.  He also offered a way to make things O.K. in Jeremiah 6:16-17, but Israel refused.   Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.  Refusal to heed God’s warnings will bring destruction upon a people.  

       How was this warning expressed to God’s people in the New Testament age? In 1Corinthian 6:9-10, we find a list of heinous sins. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  However, these had become “God’s children” as verse 11 shows, even though some had once been participants in the aforementioned sins. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 

       We are aware of the fact that not everything was O.K. with the early Corinthian church. They had a multiplicity of issues. There were divisions; they tolerated incest; went to law against each other, excused sexual immorality; stumbled over eating meat sacrificed to idols; had issues over head coverings; abused the Lord’s Supper, and had troubles over spiritual gifts, to name a few. 2Corinthians 6:14-17 provided them the instruction needed. 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. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you

     Things seemed to be better for some of the other early congregations. The church in Philippi was commended by the Spirit through the pen of Paul as he wrote in Philippians 1:3-5. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;  But past obedience and former faithfulness does not make everything O.K. All who would continue to “be O.K.” today, must heed the inspired advice given by the Holy Spirit to this same group of Christians. Philippians 2:12 still applies today. 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.       Won’t you strive to be “O.K.” spiritually?  Let’s all get to work so everything will be O.K. for our souls.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

An Incorruptible Inheritance

An Incorruptible Inheritance

 

   Many today, work diligently in whatever career they have chosen. This they do for a variety of reasons. Some do so to take care of their families. This is a Bible principle as 1Timothy 5:8 shows. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.   Another reason some work so hard is to be able to “leave” something to their offspring. This too, is dealt with in the Bible. Jacob had served Laban for twenty years and had his wages changed ten times. Jacob had been informed of God to depart and return to the land of his kindred. In Genesis 31:14, Jacob’s wives immediately voiced concern over what “inheritance” they would lose by departing. And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house?  They felt they were “owed” something.

       The “Prodigal son” of Luke 15:11-13 is a prime example of the mindset of many “young people” today, whose fathers have worked very hard and “left behind” monies or goods. They “expect” something from the efforts of those before them. And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 

        Folks like this fail to heed what Jesus stated in Matthew 6:19-20 which shows what “real inheritance” is.   Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

      The Words of Jesus that follow, (Matthew 6:21), essentially points out why each is responsible for his/her “own inheritance”.   For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The “fact” that each is in control of their own eternal destiny is even taught in the Old Testament. Speaking to His people Israel through His prophet Ezekiel, God affirmed that one’s eternal inheritance is their own obligation. Ezekiel 18:20 reads: The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

       However, God also offered each Israelite the opportunity to “change”, if they would “repent” in Ezekiel 18:21. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  Because of this, the message of Jesus in Matthew 12:35 means so much more. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. In other words, that which you love and desire most, is where your focus will be directed. If indeed you desire only “worldly” things, that is only what you will seek.

         God shows us the fallacy of this in Galatians 6:7-8. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

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. We should then ask: “How does this apply to inheritance?” This is a great question and God has provided the excellent answer. We are aware that inheritance, in the “familial” sense is that which is provided by the parents, typically the father. This brings us to the point. One can only “inherit” from the Father in Heaven, if they are a “child of God”, as this is where the inheritance is. We can read this in 1Peter 1:23. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

       Jesus, in John 3:5-6, revealed to Nicodemus, the means by which one could become a child of God in the New Testament age, which at that time had not yet arrived. 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Upon obedience to the gospel, one becomes a child of God, and He becomes our “spiritual” Father. If we remain in “good stead” with God (remain obedient and faithful to His Word) we can expect that which God “holds” for us. 1Peter 1:4tells us what this is. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,(This only applies to Christians – “children of God”.)

       The Spirit had Paul, in 1Corinthians 9:25, tell why Christians are to work so hard to go to heaven. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. What are you going to inherit eternally?  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

But The Fearful . . .

But The Fearful . . .

       Over the past twelve months or so, we have heard much more about fear, or things that induce fear, than perhaps in the last twelve years. The “fear mongers” in politics and medical field have been largely responsible for the fear that has been instilled in the hearts of people this past year, and into the present.   Fear mongering is: “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue”. The reasons for such a tactic to be used are myriad. But when “boiled down”, all these reasons point to one spreading fear in order to be in control of others.  

       The phrase: “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself” was immortalized in the 1933 inaugural address of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Of course, at that time, there was a lot of fear in this country.   The country was in the Great Depression, and uncertainty was the order of the day.   Some speech writer came up with the phrase to allay the fears and uncertainty of the American people, which also carried the “thinly-veiled” message that the “fear” would go away, especially if the man delivering the speech was put in office to “make things right again”.

       As we live our lives, there are no doubt, many things which we fail to fully understand, and the lack of understanding spawns fear.   This is why God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided all we need to know about fear and how to overcome it in this life as we prepare for our existence beyond this one. 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:  (2Peter 1:3)

       God has always “conveyed” His message to His people with words. God sometimes spoke directly, and at other times sent an angelic messenger to tell the earthly messenger what to say.   Therefore, words are important. This is because words have meaning. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God now speaks to man through His Son through the medium of the New Testament.

     Words convey the thought(s) of the one conveying the message for the benefit, or in some cases, the detriment of others.  The Words of the Bible convey information, instruction, correction, as well as warnings needing to be heard and heeded.   In Revelation 21:6 we find a list of all will suffer the “second death”. 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.  NOTICE that fearful heads up this list.

     But, what does it mean to be “fearful”?   In every case, a word must be examined in its context, and in many cases, it is helpful to know from what a certain word is translated.   For instance, the “fearful” of Revelation 21:6 is not the same word as is found in Hebrews 10:31, although in English, they are spelled and sound the same. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Here, it means “to have a dread”, but in Revelation 21:6 the Word “fear” is derived from a different Greek word and carries with it the meaning of being “timid, or faithless”. Neither of these is a good fear. Timidness and faithlessness both lead to a dread of an eternity of anguish.    

     After rebuking wind and waves we find Jesus’ question to the apostles elect in Mark 4:40. Immediately, in verse 41 we see their reaction, and see another meaning of fear; one we all should have in the presence of God and His Holy Word.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? They were in “awe” of the Christ and His magnificent power.

     Let us be clear. All are to be in “awe” of God and His Word. That Word and the plan it so excellently lays out, is given so none should have any reason to “dread” God, nor to be “timid or faithless”. Romans 10:17 clearly tells us where to go if/when we need more faith.   So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God The Spirit had Solomon convey this very thought in Ecclesiastes 12:13 which identifies the “whole duty” of man while on this earth. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

     Rather than dread or timidity, one that has the proper fear of God and His Word, will have the boldness to stand in the face of adversity; the lack of dread for what earthly foes might do or say, and have the dedication to warn every fellow man of the demise that awaits the “fearful” and wicked.

     Christ is the perfect example, and we read what others noticed about Him in John 7:26, while He was on earth. But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Why can we not see it through His Word?  

     Remember the Words of Jesus to the twelve in Matthew 10:28?   They apply to us as well. 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. The only “fear” we should possess is the “awe” of God and His Word.   When this is the case in our lives through diligent study of God’s Word and application of it to our lives, we can see “love made perfect” as in 1John 4:17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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