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Who Is In Charge?

Who Is In Charge?

      As we continue our lives, our situations change dramatically in the various phases through which we pass.   As small children, we likely looked to one or both of our parents as being in charge. In our teenage years, we looked to the time when we would be granted more freedom and could take some charge over our lives.   Adulthood brings with it more responsibility, additional needs and obligations, and we may begin to think at times that we are not so much in charge of our lives.   We have spouses, bosses and perhaps a number of other situations that may make us wonder, “Am I really in charge”?  

     In the realm of religion, many have been told: “God has a plan for you.” In many cases, this has its basis in the unscriptural concept of predestination. God does have a plan, but it is not imposed or forced upon anyone. God determined from before the beginning of time as we know it, not who would be saved, but how one is to be saved. God’s plan was formulated before time began and presented it to man in full accordance with what He had put in place to carry out that plan.   In Matthew 13:35 it was explained why Jesus spoke to His people in parables. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

     When Christ came to earth, He came to carry out God’s plan for man. He was here per John 4:34 to “do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” That “work” was to save the souls of those who would be obedient to the plan of God.   God’s Will is stated 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.    The plan from the beginning was to provide the means and the opportunity for man to obey that plan that was formulated from before time, and become a recipient of the eternal home God promises to those who obey.

     Some have taken various scriptures and misapplied then to make them align with man-made doctrines, causing untold problems. Some scriptures are truly more difficult than others as admitted in 2Peter 3:16. But notice also what is the outcome to those who twist or “wrest” these, and why they do so. As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.   One such passage often “wrested” is Ephesians 1:11. This verse is often improperly used to teach that God choses who is to be lost or saved even before birth.   In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

       Another passage man uses to support this man-made doctrine is found a few short verses earlier, Ephesians 1:4-5.   According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,. These verses, when properly applied, clearly teach that God has not “predestinated”, or predetermined some to be saved and others to be lost. To hold to such a doctrine, one accuses God of being a respecter of persons. But as James 2:9 shows that one who shows respect of persons is a sinner. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.   Are you willing to call God a sinner?   I’m not!

       God indeed has a plan for the Salvation of souls. He is fully in charge of His plan and the carrying out of the plan.   He formulated the plan, promised its success, sent His Son, and after His Son willingly died on the cross, sent His New Testament Word through the Holy Spirit.   In that Word we are given the Commandments for Salvation and directions for Christian living. When Christ died on the cross, was buried, arose, and ascended back to God, He “finished the work” and the redemptive plan of Salvation was in place.  

       We are now placed in charge of our eternal destiny.   Man has always been given choice. This was true in the Garden of Eden, and is still true today.  Even in the days of Israel’s departure from Egyptian bondage, choices were offered. Joshua 24:15 makes this clear.   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.  Israel could have saved themselves a lot of problems over many years by “taking control” and making the right choices.

       Much later, in Psalm 119:109, the Spirit had the psalmist write to show he had full responsibility for his own soul, as well as what he was to use to provide for his eternal home. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The psalmist knew he was “in charge”. We can see what he did in Psalm 119:11 and why? Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

       You also are “in charge”. Your soul is “in your hand”. Search the scriptures and make the right choices. Obey the gospel today. Then continue to follow God’s plan so you can spend eternity with Him.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

A New Year, A New Start!

A New Year, A New Start!

      One cannot contemplate this day, the first day of a year and not consider the fact that the year is new. After all, this particular year has never existed before, therefore it is “new”.   For many, this is a time to “start over” and as a result, many make resolutions.   What better time to “resolve” to do better than at the beginning of a new year?

     There have been a number of “new” things, in the Bible.   Something new usually brings about change. If the change is for good, it is a positive thing. If not, then it produces an unsatisfactory result.   For instance, the new king (Pharoah) over Egypt of Exodus 1:8 “knew not Joseph”.   This meant that he cared not for the benefit of God’s Providence as existed when Joseph, (who served God), was placed in power by a previous Pharoah.   The result – They oppressed Israel.   Neither this “new” king, nor his plans were good.

     God also had plans for something new. The “new” He had planned was good and was for the good of mankind. He had planned this from before the foundations of the world. In Isaiah 66:22 the Spirit had the prophet pen Words to help Israel understand how God would fulfill His promise to Abraham, and would also preserve the faithful and obedient among them.   For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.  Indeed, that new heaven and new earth (the church of Christ) was established, and Salvation was brought to “all Israel” as Romans 11:26-27 tells us. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

       Perhaps another way to consider the new year and the new start is to also continue in that which is good.   God has no need to change because He is good. I cannot think of any that would deny this. Malachi 3:6 shows that neither God nor His plan changes, and that even the sons of Jacob could benefit. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.   Through the plan of God, Christ, the Son of God came through the seed of Jacob to die and purchase His church.  

     There are many ways in which we can continue that which is good in the new year by aligning with God’s Word.   Part of aligning with God’s Word is to keep doing the things God would have us do.   God never wants us to cease or digress from that which is good. As we enter the “New Year” let us “Take Heed” to what God has directed in His Word and continue doing them.  

     The article below was written July 15, 1962 by O.D. Wilson (my wife’s father) for the Liberty Hill church of Christ - Mableton, Georgia bulletin. It is excellent advice, and had application then as well as now.    

(Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ)


     “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1Tim. 4:16)

     To say that there are warnings given in the gospel of Christ is to state the truth. The above passage is one example. Every Christian ought to give the earnest heed thereto.

     In the first place, the teacher, preacher, or saint of God is warned to “take heed unto thyself . . . “.   It is altogether possible to focus attention upon other people or things and forget our own personal lives.   It is of little or no value to teach the truth if the one teaching it does not practice what he preaches. The apostle writes: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, KNOWN AND READ OF ALL MEN.” (2Cor. 3:2)   People read us far more than they do the Word of God.

       Next, let us point out that purity of life and conduct is not all that the Lord requires of His servants. He says: UNTO THE DOCTRINE. How many men have you known who lived a rather good life but perverted the doctrine of Christ? How many friends and neighbors do the same? When it comes to friendship or neighborliness, they can’t be beat, BUT they know little about the doctrine of Christ. (Note that the doctrine of Christ is always in the singular.) Doctrines of devils indicate that Satan has many doctrines. So he does. From 2John verse 9: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”.   This statement alone should be sufficient to cause the preacher to stick strictly to the book of books.   In Gal. 1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

       If the preacher stays with the BOOK he shall save himself and THEM THAT HEAR HIM.   Jesus says something about the “blind leading the blind” and declaring they’d both fall into the ditch. It is lamentable that men who can scarcely read and write attempt to preach the gospel. The souls of men, whether preacher or hearer, are too important for such. We are commanded to “study to show ourselves approved unto God . . . “. God does not call or invite those who are unprepared, in any sense, to represent Him in the most important and eternal things of all.     TAKE HEED.

(O.D. Wilson – deceased)

One Special Day

One Special Day

       All over our nation, other nations, and quite possibly all over the world, many have looked forward to “One Special Day”.   Some make great plans for that day. Some folks spend a great deal of time in preparation. In some cases, plans are even made regarding the attire for that day.   Many look forward to connecting with the others in the family.   Of course, there’s always food.

     For some reason, I suspect that most are thinking that I’m speaking of the annual gatherings for birthdays, anniversaries, or perhaps some other holiday that takes place once a year. These are indeed “special” to folks as they occur on various dates and days, and the “personal” dates are specific to them.   But while most of the things listed above can indeed apply to those “days”, it is most important that all understand that there is indeed “One Special Day” which God set aside. It occurs every week. That day is the Lord’s Day.  

     God made great plans for this special day even before the creation of the world. After creation, God brought this day about after a lot of time and additional preparation.   He provided opportunities for folks and rewarded them for their obedience and fidelity.   In so doing, He separated a nation for the purpose to bring His Son into the world.   When Christ came as part of that nation, He set about to do His Father’s Will.   In doing God’s Will, Christ too made preparation. He chose twelve apostles, trained them, promised them another Comforter for their benefit and gave them the “keys” or the authority to “open the doors” of the kingdom when the proper time came.  

     Christ also died on Calvary’s cross to purchase the church, and then returned to His Heavenly Father with His precious blood so that indeed a gift could be offered to all who would obey His Commandments as “handed down” by the Holy Spirit (that Comforter) by way of inspiration.   The “birth” of the church, the start of the kingdom, and the Salvation of souls through obedience to the gospel all began on that “special” day.  

     In Genesis 3:15, God, in speaking to the serpent, foretold of the victorious Christ and the making of this day special. He told the serpent: 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.  Here God was speaking of the Christ, entering the Hadean realm in death, overcoming the “strong man” (the devil) in rising from the dead, victorious to die no more, thus limiting Satan’s power.   Christ came forth from the grave on that special day, the first day of the week per Mark 16:9.   Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

     This “special day” was prophesied in Isaiah 11:10, foretelling that Christ was to be of the lineage of David, but also that His “rest” was to be offered to all mankind. Salvation was not offered until “that Special Day”. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.  Again in Zechariah 2:11 we are told that Salvation in Christ wasn’t available until that Special Day.   And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.

       It is of this “special Day” which the Spirit had the psalmist pen the Words we find in Psalm 118:24. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  The “joy” and “gladness” Christians should have in this “special Day” is because per Acts 20:7, this is also the same day the Lord Commands His people (Christians) to assemble together to hear His Word, commune around the Lord’s table in remembrance of the death of Christ, and participate in worship. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

       Earlier, I mentioned “food” and “gift”.   On that first “special day” which was on Pentecost, A.D. 33, the Spirit had Peter and the eleven offer Spiritual food for those Jewish hearers. The New Testament Word of God was the menu, including teaching the gospel plan of Salvation.   In Acts 2:38, while delivering this, Peter’s sermon is recorded, and the “gift” is mentioned.   Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.   The Spiritual food is the Word of God and the gift is the promise of eternal life, as 1John 2:25 reports. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  

     In 1Timothy 4:6 the Spirit had Paul tell Timothy how this young preacher was to be “fed” as well as how those who heard him were to learn of this great gift God has offered mankind in the New Testament age. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. Every Christian should strive to be “good ministers” whether or not they occupy a pulpit.  

   Christians, inform everyone you can of God’s “One Special Day” that comes around fifty-two times a year. Every Sunday is that Special Day.   Invite folks to services and studies and teach them God’s soul saving plan.


Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How "Bright" Are You?

How “Bright” Are You?

     Upon being presented with the question that heads this week’s article, you might ask some questions yourself.   You might even ask: In what context this question is being asked?   This is because “being bright” can mean several things. 1) giving out or reflecting a lot of light; shining: 2) (of a person, idea, or remark) intelligent and quick-witted: 3) giving an appearance of cheerful liveliness:  4) (of sound) clear, vibrant, and typically high-pitched:

       As an individual, one might desire to be known as: smart, intuitive, brilliant, or perceptive.   They also might desire to be acknowledged as: cheerful, glad, exuberant, or even “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”, or any other number of the synonyms that are affiliated with being bright.   This is because those who are described in such ways are those considered by others to be “fulfilled” in life, as compared to those described as “dull”.   Those that are “bright” will truly “see and reflect the light” that comes from the Lord.    

     When the Lord began His ministry, John had been imprisoned. Christ left Nazareth and came to Capernaum and preached in fulfilment of prophecy. In Matthew 4:16 we are told that God’s people Israel were provided the means to see the truth which Christ proclaimed. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.   Of course, this is speaking of the Salvation Christ would make available by His Sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, if people would simply be obedient to His Word.  

       When the Lord preached the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:14, He spoke of His followers of being “lights”. He said: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.   The “light” which was to emanate from the disciple of the Lord, was the reflection of the “truth” of which we read in John 8:32. Again, this was said to those disciples that believed on Him. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

     In fact, in the words of Simeon as provided by the Spirit and recorded by the physician Luke, we see “shining” this light of Salvation for all who would obey Him was the purpose for which He came to live on earth. Luke 2:29-32 - Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. This was God’s plan for man from before the foundations of the world. 1Peter 1:18-20 provides the same information for us in the New Testament. 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,

       However, just because Jesus came to earth, and just because He died on the cross, was buried, arose, and ascended back to the Father did not save a single soul. Sadly, many will enter eternity unprepared because they were taught all they had to do was believe in Jesus.     As was stated above, Jesus said it was the “truth” which would make one free.   The Spirit gave the psalmist Words to identify what truth is. In Psalm 119:151 we read: Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.   This is reinforced by Jesus in His prayer to the Father in John 17:17. He said: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  

       This is where “faithful Christians” come in. We are to “reflect” the “light” that Christ brought to the world.   But how are we to do this?   Christ told His apostles how this was to be accomplished. This could only be done after He had paid the price for redemption with His blood. In Matthew 28:18-20, after He arose, we see what He told them. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Therefore, to “reflect the light” of Christ is to tell folks of His great love, and His plan for Salvation.   The formula is: 1) Go and teach the true gospel of Christ. 2) Baptize them (into Christ) in the name of (by the authority of) Christ. And, 3) Continue to teach the things of God’s Word.  

       The Spirit had Paul write his “son in the faith” in 2Timothy 2:2 so that he would be instructed, and it was recorded so we could know the perpetuity of this Commandment from God first spoken by the Lord Himself. He was speaking of spreading the gospel. 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 is “light shining” in its brightest form.  

         We pointed out earlier that another definition of being bright is: “giving an appearance of cheerful liveliness”. In John 13:17, after washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus spoke of this way of being bright. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.   How Bright Are You?   Do you “know” His Word?   Are you spreading it?   Are you happy by doing it? Or does your “bulb” lack the luster a true Christian should possess?   Think about it!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Burden Bearing

Burden Bearing

     Within the Bible, much is said about burden and burdens. Sometimes as these are mentioned, they reference actual “weight”, while at other times, it is apparent that the term is metaphorical.   For instance, in the giving of the Law to Moses, Commandment was made in Exodus 23:5 regarding assisting one, even the enemy of the Jews. In this Commandment, burden is described as actual weight.   If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.   But in Exodus 18:22, sage advice is given to Moses by his father-in-Law which uses burden in a different sense.   He advised Moses to appoint God-fearing men of Israel to judge the smaller matters among the people lest Moses be overcome and become “worn down”. He said: “And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.” Upon reading the next verse, we can see that this “advice” was prefaced with it being God’s Will. If so, then it would be pleasing to God and to the benefit of Israel. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

     From this, we can perhaps understand the idea of the “yoke”. Long ago, it was learned that when “bound” together, two or more animals could bear a burden, pull a load, do a great task, etc., better than a single animal.   Man has often used this concept to lessen the “strain” of labor. Perhaps this is the idea of Ecclesiastes 4:12. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.   We know this is how the wall of Jerusalem was repaired in Nehemiah 4:6. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.   They “bore that burden” together.

       Some synonyms for “burden” are responsibilities, troubles, obligations, problems, or worries. Our responsibilities or obligations should never be a burden to us.   At the same time, it is easy to see how troubles, problems or worries can indeed be burdensome. For example, when one takes on the responsibility of marriage and family, this should never be a burden. Once “committed” to these things, and the obligations included, it should be a joy to fulfill them.   The same should be said of our service to God.  This should never be a burden. This is the idea behind Psalm 5:11. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

     Interestingly, the Word of the Lord is called a burden. Here, it is used in the sense of being an utterance or a prophecy from God. This was the case in Jeremiah 23:32-33. Israel of old, had been given Commandments of God, yet often, some of the prophets improperly guided the people by speaking lies.   Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. 33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

     The Word of God to Israel is also spoken of as being “burden” in this sense in Nahum 1:1. This is because the Spirit gave Nahum God’s Word for Nineveh.

The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. As we can see this was in the form of a vision. Moving forward through the Old Testament, we find the same in Habakkuk 1:1. This was either an observation or a vision. The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.   Then, as we look farther on, we find another incident of this in Zechariah 9:1.   The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.   The final O.T. occurrence is found in the final O.T. book. The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. (Malachi 1:1)

       As we contemplate this in the N.T., perhaps we think of the Words of the Lord in Matthew 11:28-30. We know that the only way one can come to the Lord, is in accordance with His Word. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. If this is taken in the same light as the Old Testament scriptures stated above, can we not see that the Christ is referencing His Word as “burden” in the same way?

     Christ also mentions the “yoke” in this passage. The bearing of a “burden” is made much easier when a yoke is employed.   Notice that Christ called man to bear “His yoke”. He helps us as we endeavor to serve Him in accordance with His Word. In addition to this, we know from 1John 5:3 that what He expects of us in not too difficult to do. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.   Following God’s Word is not a burden.     Look into His Word and follow it to the letter so you can spend eternity with Him.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Supplications And Prayers


Supplications And Prayers

      In the Holy Scriptures, the Word supplication(s) can be found sixty times. Supplication is often considered to be the same as prayer.   Prayer has been defined as: an invocation that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. The word “pray”, or one of its many variations, occurs four hundred seventy one times.   Based on this, one can determine that prayers and supplications are somewhat different.   This idea can also be gleaned because these words can be read in the same verse. There seems to be no reason to repeat the same thought in two different ways within the same scripture.

   Daniel 9:17 is one Bible passage that contains both words. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. At this point, the definition of supplication needs to be supplied. This will help us see how that one can pray without making supplication.   This word comes from supplicare, which is Latin, and means: to plead humbly.   The Spirit had Daniel pen his “deliberate communication” as he humbly asked God to grant His favor on the Holy Sanctuary, that had become desolate in Jerusalem.  

     When we break this down, we should see that supplication is prayer, but not all prayers are supplication. For instance, the brethren of Colossae were admonished to pray. In Colossians 1:12 we see the purpose of these prayers. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: As one prays such prayers, one is not asking (requesting) anything, but is expressing gratitude for the blessings one has in Christ. A similar passage is found in Ephesians 5:20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; The verse that follows this shows the attitude all Christians should have always. 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

       There is also a New Testament passage which contains several terms that identify a Christian’s communication with God. In 1Timothy 2:1-3 we find all of these are to be offered to God for all men, including those who rule over us in the civil realm. These are all pleasing in God’s eyes. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

       We have previously defined supplications and prayer, and the “giving of thanks should be self-explanatory. The word “intercession” means: the action of intervening on behalf of another.   This is necessary as, not all men, and not all civil leaders are children of God, and therefore do not have the privilege of prayer that God will recognize.   Here, many will object, perhaps claiming that God “hears” everyone’s prayers. To this, we gladly concur, as God “hears” all things. This is not to say that God “accepts” all prayer.   However, a reading of John 9:31, and a proper application of it, should properly explain. After Jesus healed the man who had been blind from birth, and while being interrogated by the unbelieving Jews, this healed man made a most profound declaration. He said: Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

       Sinners are those not in a proper relationship with God.   At that point in time, Jews that properly followed the Law of Moses, were doing God’s Will.   Today, those “in Christ” and faithful to the New Testament Word, have obeyed the gospel and are in a proper covenant relationship with God.   One of the privileges of this relationship is prayer.   As Jesus taught His apostles to pray in Matthew 6:9, He instructed: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”   Afterward, He gave them a “sample prayer”. Then, in John 16:23 we see Jesus relegate the timeframe in which this was to occur. He said: “And in that day”, meaning the New Testament age. He also taught: “ye shall ask the Father in my name”. This shows prayers are to be directed to God, by those who are “authorized” to pray.   The phrase “in my name” equals “by my authority.

       In 1Timothy 2:1-3 (above), we see that Christians, those who can truly call God, “our Father”, can ask favor for, give thanks for, and intervene on behalf of others.   This also includes for our civil leaders that we may be able to live quiet and peaceable lives.   It is for our benefit that we have the possibility of living peaceable lives in the faithful service to God.   Therefore, it is wrong for a Christian to NOT so pray.   In fact, James 4:17 makes it clear this is the case. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

     It seems there are many today, who follow the false teaching that directs one to “pray” and “ask Jesus into their heart”. This has the sinner praying before he/she is saved.   This teaching is nowhere in the Word of God.   To be in a proper covenant relationship with God, one must obey the gospel as given in the New Testament, starting in Acts chapter two.   Then, if remaining faithful to God’s Word, one is authorized to offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks to God.   Become God’s child today and access this great privilege of prayer.   Let us assist you in being obedient to God today in accordance with His Word.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

In My Own Hand

In My Own Hand

       As we face life, at some point we come to the realization that we have responsibility for our own lives. For most, this encompasses the better part of our adulthood. When we began our lives, our parents had the duty to feed, clothe, and provide for us. As teens, we eagerly looked forward to “being on our own”, not fully realizing the obligations we must so soon face. Many, upon having to deal with these, keep leaning heavily on parents or on various folks to “support” them in numerous ways.   Still others, while they are quite young, tenaciously take on the many rigors of life and see to their needs as best they can. Unfortunately, a lot of folks lower their standards in order to accomplish this. One can perhaps “make it through” this life in this fashion.

       However, when it comes to our eternal soul, we are not allowed to alter the standard God’s Word sets, nor relegate the responsibility for our soul to another. It is clear from Ezekiel 18:20 that each one with a capable mind has accountability for their own actions while on earth.   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. Should not all be aware from this that each has full control of their eternal destiny?  

     In Psalm 119:109, the Spirit had the palmist pen Words to convey this very thought, and also point to the means by which every soul can be preserved. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. We should also be mindful that it is up to the individual to make the choice. Just a little before this we read: I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments (God’s Word) have I laid before me. - Psalm 119:30. This shows some of the differences between man, created in the image of God, and the beasts of the field. First, man has an everlasting soul, and will spend eternity somewhere.   The beasts do not. Secondly, we can determine where that will be.   But we can only make that determination from God’s Word.  

       Some are quick to point out correctly that these previous passages are from the O.T., and therefore don’t necessarily apply to us. But, let me show that this concept is relevant in the present dispensation as well. This becomes readily apparent in Galatians 6:7. The churches of that area, and by extension we today, know that all shall receive reward or punishment based on the choices made in this life.  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Verse 8 shows we have the choice to live for the “here and now”, or live now while properly preparing for eternity. That choice is ours. 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.

         The N. T. church in Corinth was also reminded in 2Corinthians 5:10, that their soul was “in their hands” and that each must give an account for the choices made while residing in these earthly bodies. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  This also shows that we have a choice to make.   Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that these choices must be made in this life, before our departure from this realm.   And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

         Therefore, we need guidance.   As we return to the example of God’s O.T. people Israel, we see they were given divine guidance in Jeremiah 6:16. 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.  Notice the choice many of them made at that time. God had previously given these people His Law, and expected them to follow it.   Obviously, they had not, and needed to repent and turn to the “ways” God had shown them through that Law.

     As the N.T. time approached, Jesus told His apostles that the Spirit would provide them the needed guidance following Christ’s ascension to Heaven. In John 16:12-13 we read the Words of Jesus to them.   I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. That guidance included causing them to remember what the Lord had taught them according to John 14:25-26. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  These things are now recorded in God’s Word for us.

       We now live in the “last days”, the final dispensation of time, and still, everyone’s soul is in their own hands. The “way” we are to go is the same as was explained to Thomas in John 14:6. Jesus said: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Won’t you come to God through Christ in full obedience to His Word?   Your soul is in your hand. You have responsibility for it. What will you do with it? Where will it spend eternity? These questions cannot be answered for you. You must answer them now by how you live.   Be obedient to God’s New Testament plan of Salvation. Make proper preparation for you soul today.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ



       We are about to enter the holiday called Thanksgiving in North America. This particular holiday was first observed in this country in 1619 in Virginia. When thirty-eight English settlers aboard the ship “Margaret” arrived by way of the James River on December 4, 1619, a religious celebration was held. The charter of the London Company, which had planned and sponsored the journey declared: "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."   This should always be done.

      Per Wikipedia, the more familiar Thanksgiving precedent is traced to the Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s. They brought their previous traditions of Days of Fasting and also Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England.   The 1621 Plymouth, Massachusetts thanksgiving was prompted by a very good harvest.   Perhaps this is why a familiar symbol of “Thanksgiving” is a cornucopia.

     It is sad indeed that so many folks wait until this holiday to think about the many blessings they have. We know that all are recipients of the bountiful blessings bestowed on mankind.   This is the idea behind the teaching of the Lord in Matthew 5:43-45 in the Sermon on the Mount. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.   Do not the “just” and the “unjust” alike receive the innumerable blessings God has richly supplied to all His creation? Do not all benefit from the sun and its warmth upon the earth as well as the rain which falls upon all?   The answer to this is obvious.  

     Then why are not all grateful, especially at this time of the year? This answer is also readily apparent. It is because they have forgotten God, the source of all blessings.   We can read in Romans 1:20-21 what happens when one forgets God and shows no gratitude for His many blessings.   For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. When man forgets God, he tends to follow his own imaginations. This causes one to be unthankful as well as leading one toward his own destruction. Need we be constantly reminded of our total dependance on God, which Jeremiah 10:23 clearly shows?   O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

     The Holy Spirit, had the penman in James 1:17, remind the scattered Christians to whom he wrote why they should be thankful, even in the face of persecution. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Since God is “good”, and all His “gifts” to man are also good, should not mankind recognize this and be thankful? Some do, but sadly, so many do not. This causes us to again ask: “why is ingratitude so predominant in the lives of so many people?”

     Jesus provides some insight to this issue in Matthew 6:24 as He continued the Sermon on the Mount. He said: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. In this application, the “masters”, or that which one could serve, is God, or mammon. Mammon is the love of wealth (money). The same point can be made of self.   Indeed, one can love “self” more than God. 2Timothy 3:2 references those who fall into that category. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

     As we have seen, when one “loves self” they are also “unthankful”. In the reading of Romans 6:16 we see the fallacy of serving “self”. If we serve self we are sinning and are proceeding toward spiritual death. 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? Is not the love of self the same as “yielding to self”?   If we yield to self and serve self, are we not less likely to be thankful to God?

       Don’t fall into the error of ingratitude. And don’t wait until a “holiday” to be thankful to God for all He has provided.   After all, 2Peter 1:3 shows us God has left nothing out in His Provisions for us, as well as the means by which we can know these things. 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:

     Each should be thankful to God for all the material and spiritual blessings He offers. But we shouldn’t wait until a certain holiday to do so.   Show God your love by obeying the gospel and continue to show Him your gratitude and appreciation by following His Word every day.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

I Didn't Know

I Didn’t Know

     The title of this article is an excuse used by many today, and many will probably try to use it at the “end of life”, (if such a chance is offered), to justify themselves for their lack of knowledge.   For instance, when a patrolman pulls you over, and presents you with a citation for speeding, if given the chance, you’ll likely say: “I didn’t know the speed limit here.”   This “excuse” won’t cut it, and you’ll still be responsible for “paying the fine – for your crime”.   The same can be stated in regard to the Word of God, and our responsibility of following it throughout our lives.  

     This was true even before God had provided a “written Law” to man as we can see the Spirit gave Paul to write in Romans 1:19-20. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: God has “shown man” repeatedly throughout all time that He is, and what His Will is.

   Even in the Garden of Eden, the woman, Eve, could not offer this as an excuse when approached by the serpent (the devil). In Genesis 3:1-3 we can see (by her own admission), that she did indeed know. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.   We also know that by succumbing to the temptations of the devil, she (and Adam) were banished from the Garden.   It cannot be said they didn’t know.   But it is certain that they disobeyed, and for this they paid the price.   Failure to obey God and His Word is a costly mistake.  

     However, there is no acceptable reason nor excuse one can offer for not being knowledgeable of God’s Word.   One today cannot offer the “I didn’t know” excuse, as the Word of God was recorded long before our arrival on earth. Additionally, we are told in Romans 15:4, for what reason, and to what end the Scriptures have been preserved for us. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  Had God, through the Spirit, “not” had His Holy Word penned, we perhaps could say “I didn’t know”.  

     We can also “know” why folks don’t know. There are only two things of which I can think that would prevent one from “knowing”. These are: 1) Not having ever been taught, or having learned incorrectly, & 2) Refusal to “look into God’s Word to see what He wants us to do. And, we have scripture to support both of these views.   We are told in 1Peter 2:2 that the “babes in Christ”, (those only having recently learned how to become a Christian, and having done so), were told to be “instructed” from God’s Word. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: Those taught, but taught improperly are depicted in 2Corinthians 4:4. The “god of this world” will use all at his disposal to misguide and misdirect souls. 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.   This is the main problem I have with the various “modern translations” (perversions) of God’s Word that so many tout as the Bible.   To follow these are to be led to destruction.

       These “perversions” contain Words of God, but are intermingled with the teachings of man.   We cannot “add to”, or “take away” from God’s Word and call it truth.   In John 8:31-32, Jesus stated succinctly what saves a soul. 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. The words man offers are not truth, neither can they save.   Should we not heed the warning of 2Peter 2:1-3? The “words” these bring is not truth, and does not lead where truth leads. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

       In 2Timothy 1:12 we have the Words the Spirit gave Paul to write to the young preacher showing why Paul was still following the truth, even in the face of much adversity. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Paul had committed his soul to God. The purpose of God’s Word being preserved for us, is so our souls can be preserved unto eternity. 1John 5:13 says it best. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.  

     You have the Word of God. You can “know it”.   Will you follow it? If not, and your soul is condemned, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Fleeting Time

Fleeting Time

     Once again, we’ve reached the point in the year in which we are forced to “fall back”, go through the house and change all the clocks to reflect what has been declared as “the current time”.   This can be a bit confusing, especially if we forget to re-set a clock.   Then, if we plan our day by that clock, our whole schedule is likely to be off for at least a portion of that day.

     This section of the year is most frustrating, as it seems we lose an hour out of the allotted period in which we have to accomplish the tasks assigned for that day.   The other section of the year doesn’t affect us as negatively, as we tend to have more daylight, and it “seems” we gain an hour. However, we all are granted the same amount of time in a day. Everybody’s day consists of twenty-four hours. It’s just our perception of the day which is altered by the annual changing of the clocks.  

     What is important is not how much time we have, but what we do with it, or how we utilize it. A well-known passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 shows that there is a “time” for everything.  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.    Does it not make sense that since God has appointed a “time” for everything that there will be plenty of time for everything that “needs” to be done? In the above passage, many different things are addressed, and these cover all aspects of life.

     Since God has provided a time for all that can take place, shouldn’t we direct our focus toward what He would have us do? God told His people in the O.T. in Micah 6:8 what was required of them. The same thing applies to those under the N.T. Law of Christ. Each is to use whatever time they have been granted, striving to be pleasing to God. 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?   Those who lived under the Old Testament Law were required to follow God’s Commandments under that Law. All of us in the New Testament age are to be subject to God’s edicts as found in the New Testament.  

     But, let all know and be reminded that we don’t know “how much” time we might have on this earth.   We are often reminded that time is fleeting. It certainly seems to “get away from us easily enough” doesn’t it?   We are told in James 4:14 that life is short-lived at best. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.   There is also the O.T. declaration of the suffering servant in his reply to his accusing friends in Job 14:1. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

     With brevity of time forefront in our minds, we should be better equipped to receive the Words of the Spirit in Romans 13:11-12, given through the pen of the apostle Paul.   And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.12 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. This was written to the Christians which gathered in Rome, but has equal application to us today. We seemingly have “filled” our days with all sorts of various things. How much of our time each twenty-four-hour period do we spend in God’s Word?

       Why should we waste our time?   Have we not access to “all things that pertain to life and godliness”, if we are His children?   His Word confirms this to be the case in 2Peter 1:3. 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: Is it any wonder that God has warned against the waste of time? He has provided a plethora of direction in His Word so Christians can know how to properly use their time in service to Him.   Perhaps this is the idea behind 2Corinthians 13:3. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? If we are not “in Christ”, we are wasting our time.   If we are not “in Christ” through obedience to the gospel, we are rejecting God’s plan.

     God provided this plan. He prophesied that plan as the Holy Spirit spoke to men of old. He then orchestrated that plan in the sending of His Son to earth, and Christ brought the plan to fruition in His death, burial, and His resurrection from the dead to die no more.   It should be readily apparent that God did not waste time, in that His plan was for our benefit.

     Time is indeed fleeting. Why do you hesitate?   2Corinthians 6:2 makes it abundantly clear that you can’t afford to waste your time.   (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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