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Respect For The Word Of God

Respect For the Word of God

    God has written two sets of Laws.  In both cases, God wrote to those who were His people.  The Old Testament Law of God to Israel was specifically to them, to direct their lives in accordance to the Will of God.  God had chosen a people; those descendants of Abraham to fulfill His plan to bring His Son to the world.  This people needed a Law. God gave them one.  However, not all the Jews in the day of Jesus had respect or reverence for the Word of God.   In Mark 7:13 we read what Jesus told the Pharisees as they put their tradition ahead of God’s Law.   Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.   Their actions showed they lacked respect for God and His Word. 

     But this is not the first occasion of God’s people under that Law to show a lack of respect for the Law of God contained in His Word, nor would it be the last.  Even a king, one hand-picked by God made the choice to disregard God’s Commandments.    We know the specific command God gave Saul regarding Amalek is found in 1Samuel 15:3.    Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.  This was very clear.     Then following Saul’s failure to do as God ordered, and admitting to his “sin”, Saul was told of his punishment for his lack of respect for the Word of God in 1Samuel 15:26.   There are always consequences for not having respect to God and His Word.  And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.      Saul, and all of God’s people should be ashamed when they lack respect for the Word of God.   In Psalm 119:6 the Spirit had the sweet singer of Israel pen the Words showing how we need not be ashamed. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

      Just following this, the Spirit had the Psalmist write in Psalm 119:9-16 to give us the formula whereby 1) all can be clean, 2) how diligently we need to seek God and His Word, 3) what we are to do with God’s Word, and 4) what benefit is ours when the Word of God is our delight and joy.    Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.   If one will do these things, then they are clearly showing respect for the Word of God.

     Following the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, God issued His second written Law to man.   This one is known as the New Testament.   It is so known because the first – Old Testament - written Law of God was fulfilled by Christ.     The Lord Himself stated this in Matthew 5:17-18 in the Sermon on the Mount. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 

      In Hebrews 10:9 the penman of the Hebrews letter was directed by the Spirit to inform the Hebrews Christians not to follow that “fulfilled” O.T. Law, but to continue to have respect to God’s second written Law to man.   Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.   That second Law of God was established that man could have the hope of Salvation.     All who live this side of the cross should be grateful they live in this New Testament age.   Christ made this possible. We are to have respect unto His Law and show it by following His Word. 

    The church at Colossae was told they must “continue in the faith”, which is another way to say they were to “respect” and “do” what was preached by Paul.  That which Paul preached was the Word of God, given him by the Spirit.   If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Colossians 1:23)

    Jesus Himself in Luke 6:46 asks a question which is directed to those that did not have respect for the Word of God in Jesus day, as well as now.  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?   All who have respect for the Word of God will do “all” the Lord says to do.  They will not seek another way, as there is but one way.     Jesus told Thomas this in John 14:6.   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.   Those who do not respect the Lord and His Word will not do what the Lord says to do.   Won’t you show respect to God and His Word and be obedient to the gospel today?  Failure to do so is to reject God and His plan to save the soul of man.  

             Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Just a Passin' Through

Just a Passin’ Through

   We sing the song, but do we live as though we believe it?   “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up some-where beyond the blue;”. . .    Are these just words of a song, or are they the guiding mantra of one truly looking for something beyond this life?  

   As we live here, we put a great deal of effort into the things of this life and to handle our responsibilities in this world.     In Hebrews 11:13 we see the Spirit had the penman point out what was of greatest importance to those listed; those who are a part of the “honor roll of the faithful”.   These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth

    Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:19-21, warned those listening to Him that man’s true treasure is not here on earth. 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

     Then, in Acts 7:6-7 when the high priest had asked Stephen if the things of which he was accused of saying was true, part of the answer the Spirit gave Steven was: And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.  He was speaking of Abraham, the Friend of God, whose descendants would live in Jerusalem and should have served God as though they would go to be with Him after this life.

     However, not all the Jews of Jesus day were faithful to God.   These who were descendants of Abraham, were also supposed to heed the Word of God and follow it. As children of God, they should have worshiped, served and lived as those who had “treasure” awaiting them and would strive to receive it.    But as Jesus pointed out in John 8:41-44 those who don’t serve God are not the children of God. He said: Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.  42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.  43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.  44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 

   These to whom Jesus spoke were those under the O.T. Law of Moses and should have long been acquainted to the Word of God.   The Words of Jesus are the Words of God as Jesus is God.    Jesus came preaching the need for Israel to repent and prepare for the kingdom for which Jesus would die.   Those who are part of that kingdom, the church of Christ, are also to be sojourners as we look for a home beyond this life.  The Spirit had Paul write the brethren in Corinth to remind them of this fact in 1Corinthians 15:19 during this, the N.T. period of time. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  They, like we, were to be “passin’ through” this life while serving God faithfully in accordance to His Word.

     Truth is, all humans are “just passin through”.   We will all spend eternity somewhere.   In John 5:28-29 Jesus Himself told those seeking to kill Him that there are only two places where souls will exist forever. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnationEach individual must make the choice for themselves.   This is what the Spirit had Paul tell the brethren in Romans 6:16-17 as he wrote to the congregation of the Lord’s church that met in Rome. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

     This is the key to being able to “pass through” this life and being able to make the preparation for eternity.   In the latter part of John 10:10, Jesus also said: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  He paid the price. He purchased the church in His death and returned to His Father with His precious blood.    Then He went to prepare a place for that eternity.   He told His apostles this in John 14:2-3. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.       Where are you headed as you “pass through” this life?   It’s your choice.    Make the right one.        

                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Loyalty To God?

Loyalty to God?

      The word loyalty and loyal are not found within the Word of God, but the idea of loyalty to God is found throughout the pages of inspiration.   As one looks up loyalty, they find that loyal defined is: giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.   Synonyms for loyal include: faithful, true, devoted, steadfast, unwavering, dedicated and committed. 

     It is readily apparent that many are not loyal to God as they do not show faithfulness to God by doing the things that He says for them to do in His Word.    Jesus is Lord and God, and many call Him Lord, yet they will not be obedient to what He wants us to do.   In Luke 6:46 Jesus Himself asked His disciples: And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?   One cannot be loyal to God and not do the things the Lord wants us to do.

     One also cannot be loyal to God without knowing God’s Word.  The Word is how God communicates His Will to us in this age.  In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read of this.   God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;    Since God now speaks to us through His Son, why don’t we do what He says?   God’s Word is also where we read of His inspired Word to the Psalmist in Psalms 119:38.   Here the psalmist wants to know God’s Word because he is devoted to respect and loyalty to the Lord.  Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

     The Word “fear” here means respect and reverence. This is what we read what the Spirit had David pen in Psalm 119:4-6.   Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. 5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.  Then we read in vss 9-16, the inspired means to stability, faithfulness and fidelity, which means “loyalty”.    Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.  10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.  11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.  12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.  13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.  14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. 

    But, where does God indicate to us today that He Commands and expects loyalty?   As pointed out earlier, loyalty to God is indicated by faithfulness, dedication and commitment.  In Galatians 5:1, Paul was directed to write: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  The “yoke of bondage” is when one is in sin. To be “bound” in sin is to die eternally.   The Spirit had Paul in 1Thessalonians 3:8 tell these folks how important it was to be loyal to God.   For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.  To be disloyal to God is to die.  

      We could also look to Hebrews 10:23 and see that God is faithful, as He is committed to His promises to us.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)   God will not waver from His promises.  Colossians 3:24 is one of many places where we can read that God will indeed reward the faithful and loyal.  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.   Then we read in the verse following that God is also just.  All who are not loyal to Him and His Word will receive a “just reward”.   But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:25)

     Space will not permit the full examination of this need to be loyal to God in this article.   It should be enough to know that God Will justly reward for obedience and fidelity, and that He will justly punish for disobedience and failure to remain loyal to Him, once you’ve committed to Him.   The Spirit had John in 2John vs 8 warn the brethren so they not lose their reward.  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.If they were not “loyal to God”, they would lose their reward.  However, loyalty to God and His Word brings a full reward.  

      Where is the evidence of your respect for and loyalty to God?  Have you followed the plan of salvation?   If not, you do not yet belong to God and cannot be loyal to Him.  You need to obey the gospel today.  Let us help you.    If you have obeyed the gospel, how do you show your loyalty?   Are you being loyal to God when you are absent from services, fail to read and study, or fail to give monies to the work as the Lord has prospered you?   If you need to make changes, make them before it is too late.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ


How Hard Are You Trying?

How Hard Are You Trying?

      As we endeavor to do something, the determination shown and the energy put forth is in direct correlation to how much we want whatever it is.  When someone does not try very hard, it is likely that they either don’t want, or figure they cannot do or attain to something.   Another reason some don’t put forth the necessary effort into achieving something is that they think it will be given them, even though they have not exerted themselves to reach the goal.  

     Every “soul” should have going to heaven as a goal.   Not all seem to have this “goal” as many feel that serving God as God has put forth in His Word is too “restrictive”. Galatians 5:1 tells us that the Law of God in the N. T. age is not restrictive, but liberating.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.   Those who do not understand this would rather live the life they wish to live and then “hope” that God will be merciful to them in the end.  

    In short, they are not trying very hard to go to heaven. On the other hand, James 1:25 informs that those who understand and begin and continue to put forth the “effort” God requires can look forward to an eternal blessing.  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.  Those who are counting on leniency on the part of God after this life are going to be sadly disappointed.  They will then wish they had tried hard to obey God and remain faithful until death.    

     At that point, it will be too late.   The time for doing what God requires of us is in this life.   This was well known even in the O.T. times when Israel was the chosen people of God.  In Ecclesiastes 9:10, the preacher was directed by the Spirit to tell them this fact.  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  This same thing is still true today in the New Testament age as Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 6:2.  The Spirit had Paul tell these brethren that “now” was the time to put forth the effort to be saved.    (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.)

    Many also don’t realize that we have a part in our salvation. The Salvation that God has offered to man is not something God just “showers” upon us.  If that were the case all would be saved.  2Peter 3:9 informs us that it is the Will of God for people to be saved. God wants all to repent and come to Him.   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.   But we are also told in Acts 10:34-35 when God had Peter preach the gospel to the Gentiles, the Spirit had Peter proclaim that God is not a respecter of persons, and also told who would be accepted of God.    Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.   “Worketh” sounds like “putting forth effort” to me. 

       We have to “work out our own salvation” as Philippians 2:12 told those folks in that day.  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.   We are to have absolute respect for God and His Word (fear), and all should tremble at the thought that we might not do as God says, and then be rejected at that day.   For those who do not try hard, or try at all, there awaits eternal destruction.  This is plainly shown 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

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

      How hard are you trying?   If you have not begun, you’re not trying at all. The power to become God’s child is yours according to John 1:12, and the way is given in verse 13 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.   The “birth” is explained by Jesus in John 3:5 as Jesus spoke with Nicodemus.   Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.   The kingdom is the church.   One must be “born” into it by obedience, which includes baptism for the remission of sins. 

     The time to start is now!  Then we must continue to put forth the effort to remain in a proper covenant relation with God.  As Paul wrote Timothy:  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life . . . (1Timothy 6:12)     Begin today! – Obey the gospel – then remain faithful to God and His Word till the end of your life.   If you love God and want to be with Him forever, you will try hard.        Your eternity depends upon it.  

            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Who's In Control?

Who’s In Control?

     The question of “control” is one that is faced in all aspects and phases of life. This was learned as children (or should have been) as parents exhibited their God-given right to correct and guide their children and help them navigate the path through childhood, adolescence, and toward adulthood.    Most of us have also faced the question of “control” in the job situation. The “boss” always thinks he or she is in control.   The amount of “control” in all of these scenarios varies some as participants as well as situations vary.

     But there is one area of your life in which you have total control. That is in your mind. Whom or what you follow, and what you do, is completely up to you!     The fact is that you and I, and everyone will follow someone, or something. But there is a catch, as one can only follow one “master” at a time. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus 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.

     You and I will serve one or the other. We can’t just wish or desire for things to happen and expect them to come to pass.   For instance: You want to go to Heaven after this life and the judgment, don’t you?   Of course, you do!   Who doesn’t?   But one cannot simply desire to go to heaven, or just “believe” they will go to Heaven and make it so.   God has a plan which must be followed for that to happen. God is in control of His plan. He will not deviate from that plan. His Son died on Calvary’s cross to make sure that plan would come to fruition. Then the Holy Spirit was sent as promised to deliver the Word of God so that all of humanity could make informed choices as to the eternal destination of their souls.

     The beauty of God’s plan is that you have full control of whether or not you believe God’s Word, whom you will serve, as well as what you do. The Spirit had the apostle Paul address this in Romans 6:16 as he wrote to the saints in Rome. 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?  These folks had become brethren when they took control of the choice before them. As we read verses 17-18 we see these brethren not only had once served sin, but also what they did as they took control of their soul’s destiny. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  The “form of doctrine” which they obeyed was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, in which one participates when they die to sin, are buried in baptism and rise to walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

      But, how is one to remain in control of themselves (of their minds) after they have become Christians?   This is an important question, as it is a fact that one can fall from grace as Galatians 5:4 points out.   Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.  But you don’t have to fall from grace. You have control of this as well. The Spirit had Paul write in 1Corinthians 9:27 that he was in control of his situation. We are told what Paul did and why he did it. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  The Word of God is what guides us as we choose to control our minds and bodies.

     Life and eternity really come down to choices. Whether we realize it, or are aware of it, we are all in control of our choices. We certainly have control of the choice as to where we will spend eternity. We have to make these choices while in this life.   In Joshua 24:15 we see that the Lord had Joshua inform Israel that they had the control of their choices.   But notice what choice Joshua had already made. 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.   

     As we again return to the title of this article: “who’s in control?”, know that you are!  From Romans 6:12-13 we can see that we have a choice and we are also in control of what we choose. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

   Obedience is also a choice, and you are in control of that choice.   If you choose not to obey, 2Thessalonians 1:8-9 tells what will be your eternal fate.   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;   Win the battle for your mind! Take the control! Obey the gospel and then continue to faithfully serve God in accordance to His Word. That is God’s plan that saves.   This is His only plan.   It’s your choice. You have the control.      

         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Encourage Me!

Encourage Me

     As we read the Bible, or any other book in which the characters stand out for some reason, we no doubt remember people for certain characteristics. This should certainly be the case with Barnabas, a Christian from very early on in the history of God’s kingdom, the church.  Barnabas could possibly be remembered for a number of things as he is mentioned 29 times in 28 verses of the New Testament.  

   It was Barnabas, in Acts 9:26-28 who took Saul, who once persecuted the church, to the apostles following his conversion. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 

     It was also Barnabas, in Acts 11:22-23, who was sent by the apostles to see what was being preached by men of Cyprus and Cyrene after the church was scattered following the stoning of Stephen, to make sure those doing the teaching were not false teachers. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the LordIt appears that even the apostles were aware of Barnabas’ fidelity.

     Barnabas realized how much opportunity was in Antioch, and we see in Acts 11:25-26 that Barnabas sought and found Saul and for a year they worked together diligently there with great results.   Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.  Then, when a great famine was foretold by the Spirit through Agabus, guess who it was that was chosen to take part in delivering the relief for the saints in Jerusalem?   That’s right, brother Barnabas! (Acts 11:30)

     Much more could be said about the accounts of the things in the life of Barnabas, but these will suffice, along with the first mention of his name in the Bible.   In Acts 4:36 we see that name “Barnabas” was given by the apostles as the name means “son of consolation”.   And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,.  Synonyms of “consolation” are: comfort; solace; relief; and support.     Another word, more familiar to us that fits here is: “encouragement”.

     Now to the point! How did Barnabas “encourage” so many people? Did he just say nice and flattering things to them? Did he just “build them up” with words? NO! His opening “action” was to give of his possessions to the work of the kingdom, and for the benefit of the church.   His further actions were finding another zealous, fellow-Christian and getting involved in the work of preaching and teaching the Word of God, (Acts 9:27) & (Acts 11:25). Then he remained involved in that work of the church in that location.   Later, he (and Paul) traveled about and “planted” churches in various cities.   Still later, he and Mark went to other places while Pail and Silas re-visited the congregations previously started and many folks heard the preaching and teaching of the gospel and many souls were saved.

     It was not just the words Barnabas spoke that showed he was one to encourage others. It was also the things which he did and the way in which he did them.   His unselfishness and willingness to “give of himself” for the cause of Christ was very encouraging. This also can be true of congregations

as 2Corinthians 8:3-5 tells us of the churches (congregations) of Macedonia.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

     Oh, the encouragement to be had when fellow Christians not only have zeal, but strive to have that zeal according to knowledge of the Word of God.   Israel, in the days of Paul had zeal, yet without knowledge. They were not saved as a result per Romans 10:1-2. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 

   Encourage me! Learn, Obey, and Follow God’s Word. Let’s all give ourselves wholly to the work God left for us to do.    Reach out with His Word. Encourage folks to be obedient. Let us help souls be saved and let us “build up” the church.        NOW, THAT’S ENCOURAGING!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Double Vision?

                                                               Double Vision? 

         Many of us know the difficulty in dealing with vision issues.   We wear the required devices (accoutrements), also known as glasses or contacts, so that we might see as we should when our sight is altered by age, disease, or just the simple fact that we have eyes that don’t work as effectively as they once did.     We probably all as children, have crossed our eyes in order to see double.   This seems innocent enough because as soon as we allow our eyes to return to normal, our double vision dissipates.  This all is something that takes place with our physical being.    
      But, have we ever considered one can have “double vision” spiritually?  It is not something the Lord sanctions.   In the physical and spiritual realm, one must have light for vision to occur.   In Luke 11:33-36 Jesus spoke of both light and sight.  
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.  The light of which Jesus spoke at this point was a candle.  The vision to which He referred was “single”.  He was contrasting the “single” eye with the “evil” eye.  He then pointed out that the “light” is necessary to keep the evil at bay.   The one who lacks the light – the proper kind of light – are the ones that suffer from “spiritual” double-vision.   Those who have 20/20 spiritual vision are those who keep the “light of the world” in them. 
      In John 8:12, Jesus said:  I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  He was speaking to the Pharisees following the episode in which the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman supposedly caught in the act of adultery to test the Lord.  Then we also have the record of the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew.  Just following the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:14-16 we find the Lord stating that His disciples were the “light of the world”.    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. 
     This is not double-talk as in both of these passages, Jesus is speaking of the same light and the same source of light.   As long as Jesus was on earth, He was (is) the light of the world.  When He finished what His Father sent Him to earth to do, His disciples were to be the light.   We know this is true because in Acts 13:47 Paul and Barnabas were “light” to the Gentiles. 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.   Then we see in the following verse what this “light” is. 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. 
      God is the source of light.  He sent His Son to earth to shine the light. The Lord sent the Spirit to deliver that light to the apostles to deliver to all men. In John 16:13 Jesus promised them the Comforter to “guide them into all truth”.   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.     We also know from Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commissioned the apostles to begin to preach the message of truth.    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.  This was to continue with all the Lord’s disciples in the church. 
      If His Word is truth, and the truth is light, then His Word is light.  If we will walk in the light we shall have “single” vision.   Our focus will be on seeing as God would have us see.   This is the message of 1John 1:5-7. 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. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 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. 
        Get your “spiritual vision” checked today.   Walk in the light – Walk in His Word.   Obey His Word.   Don’t walk in the darkness of sin – Don’t suffer with spiritual double vision.   See things as God would have you see them. 
                                          Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

There Is A Way

There is a way

    As we arrive on this earth, we begin a journey. Each has to walk the path of his or her own choosing. The problem is that there are many different “opinions” as to the “way” one is to go.   Some think their way is the best, but the Spirit had Solomon the wise man, in Proverbs 14:12, tell us that not all “ways” are the same and not all lead to the same place. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.   The Spirit also had the suffering servant Job, in Job 24:13, describe those that walk not as God would have them, and why they lived as they did. They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.  To live in this way certainly leads to spiritual death.

   Those who “rebel against the light” are evil men, described by the Spirit through the pen of Solomon in Proverbs 2:13-15. These are men that are “wicked”, “froward” and “crooked”. Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:  These are much like those of God’s own people, Israel, who when admonished by Jeremiah and given the Commandment of God in Jeremiah 6:16-17, refused to heed it. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 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 therein17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.

       But God, in His infinite wisdom saw to it that there was a remnant of Israel saved. There were those that loved God and followed Him. God’s plan was carried out. We are reminded of this in Romans 9:27, where the Spirit had Paul write of this to the Romans. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:  This is because God had a plan – a way – that was set up before the world was created.   That plan was that His Son was to come through the lineage of Abraham as promised in Genesis 22:18.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. 

   The fulfilment of that plan -the way- is explained in Galatians 3:16 which shows that Christ is the means for the Salvation God provided for humanity.  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. This also helps us understand what Jesus told Thomas about Him going to the Father in John 14:6, and that we also could “come to the Father”. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

     Notice how specific this way is. Jesus said: I am “the” way. This means there is only one way. This was not new in the days of Jesus. As mentioned earlier, this was always part of the plan of God. The Spirit directed Isaiah to inform Israel of this in Isaiah 35:8.   There we also see that this “way” is not so difficult that we cannot find or follow it.   And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. The meaning of this is provided by Foy E. Wallace in Number One Gospel sermons, page 101. The wayfaring man is the man who fares by the way, and is not acquainted with the territory through which he is passing. Therefore, he must have someone to inform him, to instruct him, and to guide him. In being truly guided he will not be in the way of error--he will not err in that way; because he will have received the instruction that would lead him right; therefore he would be in the way of truth and not in the way of error. The fool and the wayfarer here are the same man.

       The singular nature of this “one way” which is provided in Jesus is again taught in Ephesians 4:4-6.   There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  Those today who refuse the “one way” offered by God, are traveling their own way, or man’s way.   Man’s way is not the way of holiness. Only in Christ, can one have “spiritual blessings”- Ephesians 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 

   Your journey is not complete. There is “existence” beyond this life. You’ve not been there before.   Won’t you seek the one way?   Obey the gospel today.            

                                                                                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

      What is happiness anyway?   Upon looking up happiness, one will find several definitions and examples.  Happiness is a mental or emotional state of a positive nature.   The definition is: “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.”  The problem with such a definition is that it is subjective.  One must determine for themselves what it is that makes them happy, content, or from what they derive pleasure.  

     Other ways of understanding the idea of happiness are found in the way the idea of “happy” is used.  It could mean having a sense of confidence in, or satisfaction with a person, arrangement, or situation.  It can also mean being satisfied with the quality or standard of something.  Or, willing (happy to) to do something, etc.  So, the question should be: “What is it that makes you happy?”     What is it that will provide you the long-lasting contentment, pleasure or feeling you so desire?  

      Thus, the quest begins.  Many seek happiness in the things of this world or the things of a physical nature.   These can only bring “temporary” pleasure or a fleeting feeling of contentment. The Spirit had the wise preacher, Solomon, the son of David, write in Ecclesiastes 1:14 so that all could know the fallacy of seeking happiness in the “works” of the hands of man (the things of the world).  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Vanity and vexation of spirit does not fit the definition or examples of happiness at all, do they?    

     Many seek happiness throughout life, and when the initial feeling of euphoria or contentment of their present quest passes, they move on to something else.  They are seeking and never finding that which can and will make them happy in this life and the one to come.  As we read Proverbs 28:14 we can see that true and lasting happiness only comes from serving God.   Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.  “Feareth” here means a continual respect for God and His Word and following it.   Those who do not, are not happy.  They will “fall into mischief” while seeking true happiness elsewhere.

      While speaking to His disciples (apostles elect) and teaching them a valuable lesson in humility in John 13:17, Jesus said: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”   All of the teaching of Jesus and all that was sent to messengers by the Spirit (the Bible) is designed to produce happiness in the adherents thereof.  Another way to say “happy” is to say “blessed”.  We know this as the same Greek word (makarios) pronounced mak-ar’-ee-os, is used for both happy and blessed here in all the translations of the Bible.   There is another Greek word translated “blessed” (eulogetos) yoo-log-ay-tos’, found in places such as Ephesians 1:3 which means “adored”.    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

     This fact being established, we look to the “beatitude” of Matthew 5:6 to see what the Lord stated in these “Pentecost Pointers”, which would cause one to be happy or blessed. Blessed (happy - makarios) are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.   As we seek true happiness, we can only find it in righteousness.  The word righteousness means justification. It is so used in Romans 1:16 and 17: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” The righteousness of God is that justification which God imparts to man through obedience to the gospel. (Number One Gospel sermons – Foy E. Wallace, page 105).       Therefore, for one to be truly happy (blessed) one is to seek righteousness.    This means to obey the gospel and continue in it.   

    This is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:33, still in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount.  He was teaching the Jews that would listen about the coming of the promised kingdom; that which was to begin at Pentecost A.D. 33, therefore pointing to Pentecost.     But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; (justification – which is only in Christ) and all these things shall be added unto you.  Jesus wanted all the Jews to be “happy” or “blessed”.    He wants us to be happy as well.  He wants us to be obedient and remain so, and because of that we will have happiness here on earth, and if we remain faithful, we will have happiness for eternity.  

     In John 2:5, we have an inspired record of some very sound advice given by the Lord’s mother that leads to happiness.  Jesus had arrived at the marriage in Cana of Galilee and His mother made the observation that the beverage for the marriage feast had been depleted.  Then as the servants awaited direction, Mary gave this sage advice: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.   If we would make “doing what” the Lord has said in His Word an integral part of our lives, we will truly be happy. 

     Still, we are the only one that can make the choice regarding what makes us happy.  Additional advice to Christians was issued by the Spirit and penned by the beloved apostle John in 1John 2:15-17.   This will help us avoid seeking the world’s happiness and keep us on the path to true happiness for eternity with God.  Love not the world, (sin) neither the things that are in the world. (sinful things) If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  Are You Happy? You can be!       Be obedient today, remain faithful and prepare yourselves for eternal happiness.     

                              Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

What Are You Doing?

What Are You Doing?

     This question has been asked many times over the years. The answer to this question has varied at times based on the situations in the life of those of whom it was asked. If you are asked this question relative to your service to God, what would your answer be? Often when this question is asked in a generic sense, the answer is likely to be: “nothing”. If asked specifically: “what are you doing for God?”   What would your honest answer be? Would we say: “nothing”? If we were required to make a list of the things we do in service to God, would the list be very long?  

   I am afraid that many in the church today have become much like the rich man of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:16-21. These “Christians” indeed are busy, but in what?   Some were “busy” in the Lord’s Work for some time, but have now decided to “take their ease”. This is when they begin DOING NOTHING! How did that work out for the man in the parable? And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 

Indeed, this man in the parable was busy for a time. He worked hard, but at what? For whom was he working? He labored to gain worldly goods. He was of a mind that these goods would sustain him through all of life. While it is true that one must have certain material things to live in this life, to do so without the spiritual needs being fulfilled is not life at all, and leads to the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

       One must look to God’s Word and do what it says. One cannot sit back and “Do Nothing” spiritually and still be pleasing to God.   Matthew 6:33 points out that we are to put first things first.   Believe it or not, there will always be time for all else that is required for life in these bodies. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.    Christianity is also not like our jobs in this life.   We can never “retire” from our service to God. We are to “retire” spiritually when we “expire”. We cannot “work” 20, or 30, or even 40 years, and then sit back and “draw our pension”. That pension only begins when we finally have completed the whole journey. Notice how the Spirit had Paul address this in 2Timothy 4:6-8 as he was drawing close to the end of his time here on earth.     For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  Paul had “continually” labored since his conversion, and would do so till his death. Notice also, only then is the “crown of life” laid up for him. He will not receive it until the Lord disperses these “crowns” at the judgment.   Those who retire in place, from the service of God while here on earth needn’t even expect that crown of life, nor the rest that comes from the end of this life till the trumpet sounds.

    Christians that have “retired” from service to God while in this life should heed the warning God provided for His O.T. people through the prophet Amos. It is here that God’s people came to believe they had “done enough”.   They were, after all, “God’s people”. He would love them and provide for them, wouldn’t He?   All they had to do was set back and receive.   In Amos 6:1 this solemn charge is offered to break them from their complacency. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!  God did love them.    He also instructed and warned them in His Word. Those who failed to heed that warning paid the price.   Need we be reminded again what the Spirit had Paul write to the Roman brethren in Romans 15:4 so they would have an example to follow, albeit it under a previous Law of God?   For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. They are written! We are warned!

     What are you doing?   You might say: “I do my part”, but what is “your part”?   Who determines what your part is?   You? Can you provide for your spiritual needs? Can you provide the “reward” or “retirement” at the end of this life?   I dare say: “None of us can”.   What does God say our part is?   Romans 12:1-2 is a great place to start. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And 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.  It sounds to me that God expects us to give Him our all.

      In Luke 17:10 Jesus told His closest disciples – the “apostles elect” – that the bear minimum is not acceptable. 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.    Does what you are doing consist of the minimum?   Are you putting God, and His kingdom first in your life?   What Are You Doing?      

                                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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