Mooresville church of Christ

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

News & Articles News & Articles

How Are We Guided?

How Are We Guided?

     Throughout life, believe it or not, we are to be guided by something or someone. Some adults tend to believe they do their own thinking and need no one to provide guidance or direction.   Many adolescents dream of the day when they will “be on their own”.   Seeking one’s own way in life and dealing with adulthood doesn’t mean we are free to go where and when we want and do as we please without consequence. Guidance is still needed as adults.
     Children are supposed to be guided by their parents.   Parents have the huge responsibility of bringing up their children properly.   As children, we often thought their guidance was too restrictive, or a hinderance to what we wanted to do, but when we become adults, if we are honest, we admit that much of the guidance our parents provided was for our own good.  
     When God had separated out a people, Israel, the seed of Abraham, through which the Christ was to come, He provided them a Law for guidance.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we see how the parents were to impress these on the minds of their children.   Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 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. They were to all be guided by God’s Commandments to them.  
     The children of Israel, all were to follow this guidance so they would be pleasing to God as His plan for the Salvation of man continued to draw ever closer to being a reality. In Exodus 15:13 we see that God was providing the needed guidance for Israel, whom God delivered from Egypt.   Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.  
       In the New Testament, the same principle applies. Parents are still to lead their children properly. And the children are to yield to the guidance that is provided in respect and honor of their parents. Ephesians 6:1-4 makes it clear that this is part of God’s plan for families.   Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  This guidance is for the good of the family and the home.
     Each part of the family has its part in God’s plan. The fathers are to see to it that God’s Word is the guide.   The children are to obey their parents “in the Lord” as we read above. Per 1Timothy 5:14, the young women are to “guide the home” in such a way that will leave God’s adversaries speechless. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. This requires guidance from the Word of God.   If the proper guidance is provided and followed, the home will be of much more value to the work of the Lord. Unfortunately, too many homes today have turned away from the guidance God has provided in His Word for family, and for the redemption of souls.
     Was not this what the Spirit had the prophet tell the inhabitants of Judea in Micah 6:8? Can one “do justly” without guidance? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Did God not guide His people to the Promised Land?   Psalm 78:52 says that He did. But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. Why did He provide this guidance? Certainly, for their own good. It also was for our good as through the Jews, Christ came. He lived, died, was buried, resurrected, and ascended while that very Law to Israel was in place. Then, shortly afterward the N.T. gospel was preached.  
      Should it be surprising that God has also provided specific guidance in the New Testament for man’s guidance to Salvation? In the very early days of the church for which Christ died, there were those seeking that guidance. We can read in Acts 8:30-31 that as the eunuch traveled, he sought it. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, (Isaiah) and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.   Philip’s response, as “guided” by the Spirit is interesting.   Acts 8:35 tells us what it was.   Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. That inspired guidance is what brought understanding to the eunuch, and also properly prompted him to be baptized into Christ.  
      Friends, it is the Word of God that guides one to Christ and tells one how to be saved. 2Timothy 3:16 shows this to be the case. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   Don’t seek guidance of feelings, friends, family etc. While well intended, this guidance won’t save. James 1:21 is sound guidance. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.   Let us help guide you through God’s Word.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

God Has A Plan For Me

God Has A Plan For Me

          Over the past few years, I’ve had several folks tell me: “God has a plan for me”. This is usually in the context of something happening to them or some event which they may have perceived as “a sign”. Perhaps they fail to remember Acts 10:34 as Peter and several brethren from Joppa had gone as directed, to the household of Cornelius.   He said: Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:    I ask, if God is not a respecter of persons, (and He’s not), then why would He have a plan for one, and not another?
     The truth is, God indeed has a plan.   And surprisingly to some, it is the same plan for everyone.   God’s plan, formulated even before creation, is the means by which the soul of man can be redeemed. 1Peter 1:18-20 shows this to be the case. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,.   The plan of God to “save” man has now been fully revealed through the Bible so that all can know the plan and “choose” for themselves.   No one is going to “force” them to follow God’s plan.   All are free to be “lost” if that is what they desire.  
       But I got a little ahead of myself. We need to look at the start of man, when he made the wrong choice and see that God’s plan was in place even then.   In Genesis 3:15, we see the first prophecy made by God Himself, and was speaking of the fulfillment of His plan for Salvation. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. God was foretelling the coming of the Christ.   Man (& woman) sinned, and in so doing had separated themselves from God. (They died spiritually) as God said they would.
         It would be many years before God’s plan for Salvation would come to fruition.   God, tells us throughout His Word, how that because of Abraham’s faith, he would be the one through whom the Christ would come so this great plan of redemption would be carried out.   In Genesis 18 just before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, God declared what part Abraham would have in God’s great plan for the redemption of man. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:17-19)
       Abraham was the grandfather of Jacob (Israel), whose twelve sons were the heads of the tribes that made up the nation of Israel.   It was through this nation that the Son of God would come to earth and pay the price so man could be saved.   Galatians 4:4 tells us that God’s plan to redeem the souls of mankind was presented in accordance to God’s timeframe. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,. Then in Ephesians 1:10 we are told what was to be accomplished by the advent, earthly ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of the Christ. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
       Israel, as a nation was separated for the purpose of bringing the Christ to the world, and as strange as it sounds, much of Israel rejected Him and that which He taught regarding the kingdom that would come shortly after His death, burial and resurrection. John 1:10-11 tells of His coming to provide the “Light” man needed, and much of Israel’s response. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. However, the next two verses show that even this rejection did not halt or hinder God’s plan for the saving of the souls of those who would obey.   But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
       This is God’s “plan” for all humanity.   First to be born physically, then to make the choice to be born “spiritually”.   We are told in 2Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God wants you to be saved. This is why He sent His Son. This is why Christ died to shed His blood, so you and I could have the choice to contact that blood in baptism. God isn’t a respecter of persons as we see in Acts 10:35. But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
        Will you not make the choice to obey God and participate in that one plan that God has provided to save man’s soul?   Yes, God has one plan for all. Let us help you see from God’s Own Word what that plan is and how to follow it so we can be together with God for eternity.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

By The Grace of God

By The Grace Of God 

          Perhaps the most recalled scripture that bears the phrase making up the title of this article is 1Corinthians 15:10, and unfortunately, many who use this verse, do so inappropriately. Most remember only a portion of it. But by the grace of God I am what I am:   Those who only utilize the first portion, do so to “justify” whatever “evil seems to suit them” at the present moment.   However, there is more to this verse.   The remainder of the verse shows that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are not the only Ones to “put effort” into our Salvation. To show this, I’ll include the verse in its entirety.   But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  
     Additionally, Hebrews 12:14-15 clearly shows that “our efforts” must be maintained so that we “not fail” of the grace of God. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;   Since it is “proven” that man can fail, it is only fair to “prove” that God does not, and cannot fail. We can read this in Zephaniah 3:5. The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.   So, if any fail, it is man, not God.   Lamentations 3:22 also shows that God’s Grace does not fail, nor do His Compassions. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. God’s Love has been abundantly directed toward man and culminated in the sending of His Son and His Word.   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
         I think part of the problem is that many fail to understand the “mercy” or the “grace” of God.   Indeed, God is merciful as we read in the passage above, but let us not forget that God is also “just”.   Isaiah 45:21 is the record of that prophet telling Israel this very thing. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.   Was not God’s Compassion (His Love) toward Israel shown while God’s plan for the redemption of souls was being brought forward through time?  
     Many suppose that Christ Jesus, and His death alone is the “grace of God”.   This is perhaps because many assume that just because Jesus died on the cross and shed His precious blood, that all will be saved. That, my friend, is a most dangerous assumption.    A re-reading of John 3:16 (above) should clear this up.   The passage states: “should not perish”, not “will not perish”. There is a huge difference in the two.   None were saved simply because Christ died on the cross. The cross was the means by which His blood was shed. Does not the “cure” also include the “instructions”?   We apply this in the taking of medicines.   Should we not follow the same advice in the saving of a soul?
     If indeed, all will be saved, as many assume while “gambling” with their souls, why is there teaching about, and warnings of Hell in the Bible?   Why would God waste the time and space in His Word, warning man of something which is not?   Why did Christ need to suffer and die that terrible death on the cross if all are going to be saved anyway?   Some would proffer: “He died on the cross to shed His blood so we could be saved”.   While this is a true statement, and Christ’s blood is the cure, (and it is), will the cure be effective if it is “not properly applied”?  
      Consider Titus 2:11-12. Is not the blood of Christ the cure? Is not the N.T. Word of God (the gospel) the “prescription” or instructions as to “how to contact that blood”? For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Medicine improperly taken cures nothing.   The blood of Christ improperly applied (or not applied at all) saves no one.   Christ’s coming, dying on the cross, shedding His blood, coming forth from the grave, and ascending back to the Father are all part of the grace of God. However, as the above verse shows, the teaching contained within His Holy Word, including warnings of Hell, are equally part of the “grace of God”.  
       One must read the instructions (study and meditate on the Word of God), follow the instructions, (do as directed), and by so doing, properly apply the soul saving spiritual medication contained in the Bible.   This puts one on the path of spiritual health and well-being as God intended.   Of course, one must also apply this grace of God for the proper duration, which is for the rest of their lives. This is what the Spirit had the apostle write to the brethren in Philippi. 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. (Philippians 2:12)  
      Why are you waiting? Take the medicine God offers. Obey the gospel. Seek spiritual health, and don’t stop properly applying “God’s Grace” until you enter into eternal life.    

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Doing Your Duty?

Doing Your Duty?

         Through the course of our lives, we have all faced “duty” at some point. We may have been “pressed into duty” based on circumstances. This was the case among many a young man in periods of conflict or war in the history of our nation.   This military conscription, commonly known as the draft has been utilized by the U.S. federal government in six conflicts: the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The fourth incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940, through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country's first peacetime draft. From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were “drafted” to fill vacancies in the U.S. Armed Forces that could not be filled through voluntary means.
       This is but one “duty” that might need to be fulfilled. In the KJV Bible, we are able to identify 1) the duty in marriage, as is referenced in Exodus 21:10. 2) The duty as stated in Deuteronomy 25:5-7 of the O.T. Jewish brother-in-Law. 3) The duty of the O.T. priest mentioned in 2Chronicles 8:14 and again in Ezra 3:4.   4) The “conclusion of the whole matter”, in Ecclesiastes 12:13 as all humanity’s duty is laid out. 5) The duty of the Gentile Christians toward their Jewish brethren in light of the Judean famine in Romans 15:27. There are eight references to “duty in the KJV Bible, and the above addresses seven.
       The eighth reference is found in Luke 17:10, and provides the focus for this article. Unfortunately, many of the privileges we enjoy in this life may be considered as “duties” we are required to perform.   Sadly, it seems this is the case in the lives of some “so-called Christians”.   These, because they consider their service to God a “duty”, have become unprofitable. Jesus taught the Jews of His day: So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:10)
       Let’s consider this concept. We referenced Ecclesiastes 12:13 above. In this passage we are told that the word “duty” wasn’t in the original Greek text, but was included for clarity. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.   This is why the word duty is italicized in most volumes. But so that we may appease those who make such a contention, let’s state this passage without the Word “duty” included.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man. Is the meaning now any different?   Is it now any less clear?   The fact of the matter is that “the whole” of man is the “keeping the Commandments of God”.
       To further establish this point, let’s examine Titus 3:8-9. The Spirit had Paul write this epistle and warn the evangelist to not get “hung up” over the types of foolish questions and debates over foolish questions, genealogies of the Jews, and the fulfilled O.T. Law, and all such things that cause one to become unprofitable. He wrote: This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  It matters not that the Word “duty” is in Ecclesiastes 12:13 – the intent is abundantly clear with or without that word inserted.   God’s Word (His Commandments) are to be rightly applied and be diligently followed.  
       It should be viewed as our privilege, not duty, to know God’s Commands and to have the opportunity to follow these things.   Why would any want to be described as “unprofitable”? Romans 3:12-18 clearly shows the level of unprofitability in those who reuse to seek after and follow God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. This is the condition of those who think that service to God is a “duty”!
       Now, what about those who serve God (or think they do) out of duty? Do they not think they are profitable servants?   Perhaps in light of Luke 17:10, we ought to also read Matthew 25:30. There it becomes clear that the outcome for the unprofitable is undesirable. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Can we not discern the difference between that which is profitable and that which will result in eternal destruction?   God gave us 2Timothy 3:16 where we can read this and how it can help in our service to God.   All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
       Don’t just “do your duty”.   Show your love to God by reading, studying, and meditating on His Holy Word. Then make sure you OBEY ALL OF IT out of love, rather than following the teachings of man.   Just “doing your duty” to God or man makes you an unprofitable servant. No one wants that fate.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Ready For Battle?

Ready For Battle?

     Down through the years, and in the history of most every nation, there is the record of wars, skirmishes and battles. Some of these were waged to earn independence from those who would oppress them. Other conflicts are for the purpose of defending hard-fought freedoms that had been wrought in the forming of the nation, or those decided upon by its people as that nation was becoming established.   Still other “struggles” result from efforts to overthrow the established government by those with a different set of ideas as to how that particular land is to be ruled.
     There are perhaps, at times, various ways in which these types of conflicts could be resolved and not all of these need to result in bloodshed or physical hostilities. Unfortunately, many are intent on resolving differences at any cost.   Sadly, the idea of some is to compromise, rather than “standing up” in the face of adversity. However, there are some things which are not ever to be compromised, and some things which we must be ready to defend.
     Jude verse 3 is very clear. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.   And, verse 4 provides the reason this admonition is given. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.   But Jesus, in John 18:36, was also very clear that the “defense” commanded in Jude vss 3 was not to result in the types of “battles” in which the world participates.   He said: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”   The church (kingdom) has to be defended, but not in a violent manner.
     Some in our nation have expressed their readiness to defend themselves by arming themselves with weapons.   This has set up quite the dispute on the issue of guns and whether or not the citizens of this nation should be allowed to have them. This should not need be debated in this country, as the Second Amendment of our Constitution guarantees this as it states: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” When this “right” is abused by the lawless and wicked (those of this world), violence is most always the outcome.  
     So, how is one to “fight” for the cause of Christ? In spiritual warfare, one has no need to “take up arms” in the same manner in which carnal warfare is engaged. We have inspired directives that should make us “ready for battle”. First, we must make sure to be properly attired.   In Romans 13:12, the Spirit had Paul write: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.“   When we are properly “outfitted” and prepared with what God has provided, we will be better equipped to defend the truth and stand in opposition against all who are against God.  
     Most all students of the Bible are familiar with Ephesians 6:10-17 and all the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be.   These passages also tell us why we need the spiritual armament. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
     God has provided those who are in the kingdom (the church), all the items needed to defend themselves. He has also delivered unto us the weapon by which we can mount an offence against the adversaries of God.   With the armor of God and the spiritual weapons supplied, we can heed the advice given to the young evangelist in 1Timothy 6:12. There, he was told to: “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.” Timothy had been given what he needed.   He was a faithful soldier in the war against evil.   God has not asked anyone to do anything without supplying the tools with which to complete the task.   The spiritual weapon each Christian has is the Word of God.  
     It is the Word of God and the application of it in our lives that make us, and keep us prepared.   1Peter 3:15 tells us one of the ways we can remain ready. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: If you haven’t obeyed the gospel, you haven’t taken up the armor of God, and you’re unprepared for the battle for your soul.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Peace, Man

Peace, Man

           I’ll admit it. I’m old enough to remember the long-haired young men with tie-died tee shirt and having what slightly resembled an altered Mercedes Benz hood ornament suspended on a chain around their necks.     Upon being approached, a folded hand with the first two fingers extended in a “V” shape was exposed, and a greeting of two words was offered. That greeting was: “Peace, man”. Strangely, this was during the same time when war raged in Viet-Nam as well as other parts of the world.  
     “Peace” in the minds of those so attired and adorned in such a manner meant: societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence.   In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups.   It is a bit strange that there has been a resurgence of the “peace sign” lately, even while the streets of our country are being stained with the blood of innocent victims as viscous and cruel people are rioting and looting while “expressing their displeasure” to some things that have occurred.  
       Peace is important.   It’s not just a greeting, or a feeling. However, it’s not peace as defined by man, or as declared by man that matters. In the history of God’s O. T. people, Israel, men have declared peace, when it did not exist. Should we not consider these folks wicked?   In Jeremiah 6:13-14 we see that some declared peace for their own benefit. 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. 14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.  
       But what has God stated about peace and those who involve themselves in wickedness? In Isaiah 48:22, the Spirit had the prophet state this about the disobedient. There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.   In fact, in John 16:33, while Jesus was speaking to His apostles, He told them why He had taught them. He also warned them that peace did not come from the world. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
       Therefore, if we desire peace, we are not to look to the world, nor to the things of the world, as they cannot provide peace. In Luke 2:11-14 we find the proclamation of the first advent of the Son of God. In that declaration by the angelic hosts, we find the assurance that the provider of peace had now arrived on earth.   For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.   This was indeed an inspired prophecy of what the Christ would offer to all humanity when the church was established.    
       According to Romans 3:17, the Jews (also includes all others) that have rejected the gospel of Christ, who have “gone out of the way”, have “become unprofitable”, and who have “destruction and misery” in their ways, have not known the way of peace. And the way of peace have they not known: We are told why there is no peace with them in verse 18. There is no fear of God before their eyes.   When man has no respect for God, His Son, His Word, or the way of peace that is “in Christ” through the Word, there is no true peace in that life. Perhaps this is why the Words of Ecclesiastes 12:13 were given to Solomon by the Spirit. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.   God wants man to have peace.  
       The prophesy in Isaiah 9:6 tells of the majestic name that was to be given the Son of God. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.   Jesus the Christ, the Son of God was so named the Prince of peace, as He is the Son of the God of peace. In Hebrews 13:20-21 we are told that it is through His Son that one can have true peace.   Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
      Do you want “true peace”?   Why not go to the author of peace?   We are told in 1Corinthians 14:33 that peace originates with God.   For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.  How can you have that peace through His Son?   Only by strict and total adherence to what God has said in His Word. James 1:25 put it this way: 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.  Look into His Word today.   Do what is Commanded because you love the Lord. Obey the gospel. Become God’s child. Prepare for eternal peace. Then strive to remain faithful all the rest of your life.   “Peace, man”!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

On Whom Do You Believe?

On Whom Do You Believe?

       There are many who believe much in religion and all claim to believe in or on something. It is apparent that these “beliefs” are based on various things or beings as there are many “faiths” in the world.   Unfortunately, this belief is not soundly couched in rightly divided Bible knowledge.   Those of these many “faiths” have evidently failed to read or believe Ephesians 4:5 where the Spirit directed Paul to write: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”.
       Unfortunately, in all Christendom, or “Christianity as those in the world determine it and define it”, are those who claim to believe in Christ. To believe in Christ is to “believe on Christ”.  In John14:1, as Jesus prepared His disciples for His departure said: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. Then He told them where He was going and why. He was going to prepare a place for them (as well as all who would believe and be obedient).   This does not mean He went to “build” a dwelling for those who believed, as He had just told them: “In my Father's house are many mansions:“. He went to provide the means for Salvation as He died on the cross, shed His precious blood, and then take that blood back to the Father as the perfect sacrifice for sin.   This is why it is so important to believe “on Him”.
       Now, what does it mean to believe “on Christ”?   It should be abundantly apparent that to simply or only believe is insufficient.   As the question of faith and works is discussed in James 2:19 we see that devils not only believe, but also tremble.   Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  Are there any who proffer the argument that the devils (because of their belief) are saved?   Many have avoided this passage in preference to Acts 16:31 to prove the man-made doctrine of faith only or belief only Salvation. The response of Paul and Silas to the Philippian Jailer is recorded there.   And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
       However, even a casual perusal of the conversion account of the jailer and his house shows that there was more required of them than to simply believe in, or on the Lord Jesus Christ.   A reading of Acts 16:32-34 makes this abundantly clear.   And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.   As the Word of the Lord was delivered (preached) to them, they received the instructions as to how to be saved, which was the question the jailer had asked of Paul and Silas.
       It might be good at this juncture to stress “on Whom” we are to believe, how that belief is attained, and the fact that this is a Commandment of God to those who will obey Him. Jesus, in John 17:20, in His prayer to His Heavenly Father, prayed for His apostles as well as others. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;   He would supply them this “Word” through the Holy Spirit.   So, we are to believe on Christ as the Word is proclaimed.   We are also reminded in 1John 3:23-24 to do so as a Commanded by the Lord, in addition to the benefit for doing so.   And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (Keep in mind that the Spirit is given us through the Word).
       On Whom do you believe?   That is very easily ascertained. One does not need to orally respond to this question to show on whom they believe.   We obey what or whom we believe and the evidence is the “acts” we perform.   This is made crystal clear in Romans 6:16 . 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?   On Whom did the Philippian jailer and his house believe?   Well, what did he and his household do?   They (1) heard the truth, (2) believed on Christ and (3) obeyed the gospel by doing as instructed from the Word of God. Their very own actions showed on whom they believed.  
       One who refuses to obey Christ and the Commandments as given in the New Testament cannot “honestly” profess to “obey” Him.   As one examines him/her self, should they not determine who it is they obey to determine what it is they believe?   This is why the Spirit had Paul identify those who caused division and offenses contrary to the doctrine Paul had preached as the Spirit had given him utterance.   Romans 16:18 shows whom these served.   For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
       In Matthew 7:20, Jesus stated this very thing. He said: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. He followed this with: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   Will you not obey the gospel today and show the “fruits” of obedience? That is the “Will of God”. This is what He wants you to do.   Then all will know on Whom you believe. Let us help you be obedient to God and His Word.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

After This Life, What Awaits You?

After This Life, What Awaits You?

     Often, in contemplation of passing from this life, one thinks about how to divide their worldly goods and possessions among those who remain behind to live the rest of their lives on earth.   This is a natural thing with humans as the Spirit had Solomon speak of it in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19. However, He had the preacher give notice that to “worry” about such things is vanity.   Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.
     There are many who discuss these affairs with their heirs in order to be fair in the dispersion of what one has amassed while laboring on earth. But even this is “vanity” as we were told above – How do we know how the person who inherits will properly utilize that which was left them? We’ll never know as Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 makes this perfectly clear. We won’t be able to “look down” (or “look up” as the case may be) to see how the one’s we loved fare after our parting.   For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
     Yet, I am told, many “put in their orders” or express their “wants” as older parents, aunts, uncles and various other relatives seemingly approach the time when the “silver cord be loosed” or the “golden bowl be broken” and as “man goeth to his long home”.   Can folks not see the “cycle” and repetitive nature of this?   Why “worry” about what is “left you” in this life, as it really doesn’t matter.   What matters is what awaits you when “YOU” pass on.  
     This was obviously important because Jesus Himself spoke of it in the Sermon on the Mount in the Matthew 6:19-21 account.   He said: 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: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.   Where is the “heart” of the one that frets and worries over material things which they might inherit?   Is this to be the main focus of life?   Perhaps we need a reminder of the warning of Philippians 3:18-19.   (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
     What a rich inheritance has been passed on by the godly parents of years gone by. These were parents who had read the Commandment given to God’s people in the O.T. (Israelites), and heeded them.   It reads: And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 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. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) These “children’s inheritance has value that is inestimable, because if used properly, will benefit their own offspring as well as keep them on the right path for an eternal inheritance.  
     The beauty of this type of inheritance is that it can be “passed on” before death, by any faithful student of the Word to any hearer that will believe and obey.   This is what the Spirit had Paul tell the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32 when they went to see him in Miletus. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. It is the Word of God which informs one what to do and how to do it, to have that final inheritance God gives His obedient children.
     Colossians 1:12-13 makes it clear that one MUST be part of the kingdom or they CANNOT inherit.   Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: This is further proven in 2Thessalonians 1:8-9. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;   What awaits these that do not know God and who will not obey? I think their eternal “inheritance” is not something any should desire.  
       Colossians 3:23-25 warns that preparation for our eternal inheritance is ours alone to make. None can prepare for you. What awaits each soul is based on if, and how they serve God.   And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. After this life, what awaits you? You decide!     Obey the gospel now and then serve faithfully all the rest of your days.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Don't Turn Off That Light!

Don’t Turn Off That Light!

       In my home, I have a designation beyond that of husband, father, bread-winner, or head of household. That designation is: “The light police”. I bear this title in part, because I tend to turn off lights anytime someone is not in the room at the moment. Our electric bill arrives in the mailbox on a regular interval, and of late, it seems to have become more expensive each month.       My wife, constantly reminds me that she is “going right back into that room”, so: “Don’t turn off that light!”  
       However, there is another light which should never be extinguished. Our Lord reminded His disciples one of His earthly designations in John 9:5. He said: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. We also read in John 3:19-21 that Jesus informed Nicodemus why some want this light to be diminished, and why others welcome it and its source.   And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
        In Matthew 5:14-16, near the front part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples and told them they were to continue to “shine the light”, and to do so to the glory of God.   Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.   Many of these who followed Jesus while He was on the earth, would later be blessed to hear the gospel and have opportunity to obey it and be added to the kingdom. Afterward they could do their part to “shine” for the cause of Christ.  
       Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, Christians are to reflect the light of the Son of God to the glory of God.   This is done in the preaching of Christ as the Spirit had Paul write in 2Corinthians 4:5-6.   For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.   In fact, in the verses prior to this, the brethren in that congregation were reminded that many still could not see because they allow the “god of this world” – the devil, to deceive and blind them. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2Corinthians 4:3-4).  
       The beloved apostle, in 1John 1:5-7, was directed by the Spirit to remind the Christians of that day what the apostles had heard directly from the Savior while He was physically among them. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  To “walk in the light” is to live in full adherence to the gospel of Christ as was preached by the apostles and is still preached today by faithful proclaimers of God’s Holy Word.  
       You don’t have to take my word for this as God Himself, through the Holy   Spirit in Acts 13:46-49, had the physician Luke record the message Paul was provided as he responded to Jews who rejected God’s Word and would rather remain in darkness. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. These Gentiles gladly heard the Word (saw the light), and were obedient to the gospel, and in so doing became Christians.
       Colossians 1:13 shows that when one has been baptized into Christ in obeying the gospel, they have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, and need not be any longer in the dark. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In addition to showing that Christians are in the light, 1Peter 2:9 provides an inspired list of spiritual designations of those who have obeyed the gospel and have become the children of God. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
       Don’t Turn Off That Light! Don’t shun the gospel!   Obey it today before it is eternally too late, and remain faithful to God.    

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Where Livest Thou?

Where Livest Thou?

        We all live somewhere.   God created this planet so we could have a place to abide as we prepare for eternity.   While we all come from various locations on Earth, and while we may all slightly differ in shape, size and appearance, we all have something in common.   We all possess a soul.   The animals which God created also live on this earth, yet when they die, they are simply dead. Man lives here now, but each has a choice where they will spend eternity.
      The title of the article this week is also the title of a song written in 1948 by L.O. Sanderson.   This song affirms these choices in the realms of physical as well as the mental aspects of life.   The song concludes with where God wants us to live.   This is not a specific town or city, but God does want us to live in a particular state. This is not necessarily a “state” in this country as God’s people live all over the world.   That state is “in Christ”. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that “in Christ” is where all spiritual blessings exist.   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
        Most who live in the world are confused as to how to become “in Christ”. John 1:12 shows that one must first “receive Him” before they can access the “power” He offers for one to become a child of God. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Then verse 13 tells us what we are to do to “live” in the kingdom for which He died. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
      This is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3.   Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Verse 4 shows Nicodemus failed to fully understand. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
     It seems that even today there still is confusion as to how to be “born again” as some want to claim such while refusing to be “baptized into” Christ. This is a result of man-made teaching and practice that has become accepted over the years. Unfortunately, those who follow this will not only be NOT IN Christ, and will be outside of the kingdom, but also await an eternal fate of condemnation.   We are told in Galatians 3:27: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Does it not stand to reason that if one has NOT been baptized “into Christ”, they are NOT IN CHRIST?   That being the case, all who are NOT IN CHRIST, are not in the “state” God desires that all be in. They are not in the kingdom, not in Christ, not saved and have not made sufficient preparation for eternity.  
      There is another cause for concern found in Luke 13:27 as was voiced by Christ Himself to the “people of God” under the Law God that had given them. God’s people were the Jews, and were being called to repentance so they would be ready when the kingdom was established following the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.   If God’s people then were in jeopardy, do we not think the same thing could be the case today? Jesus, predicted what would be said to the disobedient and unfaithful. He said: I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.   I know you not whence ye are” simply means: In the state you have allowed yourselves to be, because you refuse to follow my Word, I can no longer accept you.  
     Now let’s apply that to true “Christianity”.   In Romans 12:2 the brethren of that congregation were told: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.   In other words, remain in the “state” into which you were baptized (in Christ), and do not allow the things of the world to “shape you”. The way to become in Christ is to be baptized into Christ.   But that alone will not keep one “in Christ”.
      I am afraid that many “modern day Christians” have fallen into the trap of thinking that being baptized into Christ is all that is necessary. If this is the ideology they hold and follow, then “once saved – always saved” is what they are practicing.   The Bible nowhere teaches this foolish man-made doctrine. True, “baptism into Christ” is what makes one a Christian, but it alone doesn’t keep one “in that state”.   This is why the Spirit had the apostle Paul pen the Words in Philippians 2:12 which apply to all Christians. He wrote: 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.   One cannot “work out their salvation” by just sitting around waiting to die or waiting for the Lord to return.  
      In the closing verses of 1John chapter 2, the beloved apostle was directed to pen these appropriate words: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (1John 2:28-29)
       Where livest thou?   Great question. That’s completely up to you. God has shown us where in His Word.   He’s provided the means through His Son.   Don’t live in such a way that at your sentencing you’ll hear: “I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Upcoming Events

Share This Page