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Raised From The Dead

Raised From The Dead

     Throughout the New Testament, we have multiple accounts of people who were raised from the dead. The first occurrence is in the city of Nain in Luke 7:11-15.   This is when the dead son of the widow was raised from the dead by Jesus, while the young man was in route to his own funeral. And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 

     Then, there’s Luke 8:49-55 and the case of Jairus’ daughter.   While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 

     Jesus, by the power of His voice, called both of these dead young people back from the realm of death before they were buried so that they might continue their time on the earth, among their families and perhaps to even raise children of their own. This brought their families great joy.

      But who could forget the John 11 account when Jesus raised Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary from the dead?   This case is a bit different from the two above, in that John had been dead four days and was in the tomb. Upon Jesus’ arrival at Bethany, and following His conversation with Martha and Mary, He went to the burial site. John 11:38-45 we read the conclusion of this event.   Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 

     In addition to these, we have the disciples who had been “sleeping”, now walking in Jerusalem in Matthew 27:52-53 immediately after the death of Jesus on the cross.      We also have the Acts 9:36-42 “raising” of Tabitha (Dorcas), by Peter, and the account of the death and the restoration of life in Acts 20:7-12 of Eutychus by the hands of Paul, as the Spirit worked through them both. As incredible as these “resurrections” were, all of these who had been raised from the dead would die again later.  

     However, there is a “resurrection” that has far more impact than all of these and that provides great benefits to those who will follow God’s Word. That, of course, is the resurrection of Christ. When Christ was raised from the dead, He would not die again.      His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension is how Jesus provided what He promised in John 10:10b. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

     That promise was fulfilled in the New Testament age, which began at Pentecost, A.D. 33.     The apostles received “power from on high” and delivered the inspired message.  Because Christ was raised from the dead, we too can have the hope of the resurrection. 1Peter 1:3-5 tells us what we shall receive and when we shall receive it.   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

       Won’t you hear that inspired message, obey the gospel and make the preparation for that final resurrection? Hear His Word, and believe. Then repent of your sins, confess Jesus as the Son of God, be baptized into Christ, and remain faithful until death.   You can have that inheritance.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Church - The Body of Christ

THE CHURCH -- THE BODY OF CHRIST

The church which Christ said He would build (Matt. 16:18), and which was established on the first Pentecost after His resurrection (Acts 2:47) is called in the scriptures, "the body of Christ." In Ephesians 1:22, 23, Paul calls it " ... the church, which is' his body." In Colossians 1:18, he calls it" ... the body, the church ... "

THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHES THERE IS ONE BODY

The figure of the church of Christ as the spiritual body of Christ emphasizes the singularity of the church. Christ spoke of building "my church" - singular (Matt. 16:18). Paul wrote that "we have many members in one body" (Rom. 12:4,5); also, "But now are they many members, yet but one body" (I Cor. 12:20). Both Jew and Gentile are reconciled unto God in one body (Eph. 2:16). "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:4,5). The church is the body. The body is one. Therefore, the church of Christ is one. Let each be sure he is a member of this one.

CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE BODY - THE CHURCH

Christ's dominion over the church is complete. He was given "to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body. " (Eph. 1: 22,23). He is "the head of the body, the church" (Col. 1:18). As members of one's physical body are subject to his mind, so must the members of Christ's spiritual body (the church) must do. What he does not command and teach, the church must not do nor teach (II John- 9,10). The "effectual working" of "every part" (i.e., every member) is dependent on growing up "into him in all things, which is the head of Christ" (Eph. 4:15,16).

CHRISTIANS ARE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST

The relationship of a Christian to Christ as the head of the body (the church) is that of complete subjection (Eph. 5:24). The relationship of a Christian to fellow Christians as members of the one body (the church) is that of complete union and harmony. Every joint is to supply his part to make the body strong (Eph. 4:16). All the members are united in the one body (Rom. 12:4,5; I Cor. 12:12-20). Each member must perform his own work (I Cor. 12:14-19). One member is as important as any other member (I Cor. 12:21-23). There must be no schism in the body (I Cor. 12:24,25). There must be mutual sympathetic care for each other (I Cor. 12:25-27).

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MEMBERS OF THE BODY

Christ is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). If one wishes to be among the saved, he must be in the body. Men are "called unto the peace of God" in one body (Col. 3:15). If one desires this peace, he must be in the body. Man is "reconciled unto God in one body" (Eph. 2:16). If one is to have the benefits of this reconciliation, he must be in the body. The "fullness of him that filleth all in all" is in the one body (Eph. 1:23). If one is to enjoy this fullness, he must be in the body. One cannot be subject to the head and united with Christ without being a member of the body.

HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE BODY

Paul wrote to the members of the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1:2), "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body. " (I Cor. 12:13). This is by being "buried with Christ in baptism" (Rom. 6:3). Have you done this?

Written in 1983 - Joe Wilson (brother in-law)

– deceased 6/23/18

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The Church Is The Body Of Christ – Song

The church is the body of Christ we are told,

It consists of the ones saved from sin,

The rich and the poor and the young and the young and the old,

Whom the Lord adds as they’re born again.

The church is the kingdom of God we are told,

And its king is our Savior and Lord,

The spiritual blessings we freely receive,

Are bestowed as we live by the Word.

The church is the bride of the Lamb that was slain,

And this marriage took place long ago,

If we’re true to the groom until He comes again,

We are promised a mansion we know.

And the Lord of the church wills that Christians be one,

As was prayed in Gethsemane’s prayer,

But the doctrine of men mock the prayer of God’s Son,

There’s division and strife everywhere.

One church, only one church, for her life none but Jesus could pay,

Some day He will take her to Heaven on high,

That’s why I’m a member today.

Written circa 1981 – O. D. Wilson (father in-law)

 – deceased 1995

One sentiment, expressed in an article and a song by two generations. This is because both are based on Bible truth. To which “body” do you belong? If not the body of Christ, as shown in God’s New Testament, you need to think of where you’ll spend eternity.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

For What Are You Watching?

For What Are You Watching?

    It is clear from the myriad of references in the Word of God, that it is of most importance for one to “watch”.   However, it is equally important that we watch for the proper things and at the proper time.  There are some employees who tend to be guilty of “watching the clock”. Unfortunately, so are some church members. Ephesians 6:5-8, written in regard to servants, also applies employees, as well as “servants” of Christ, should put a stop to this habit of “clock watching”. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;  7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 

     The Jews of the Old Testament had long awaited the promised Messiah.   In John 1:40-42, (while still under the Law of Moses), Andrew heard the proclamation of John the baptizer, then followed Jesus and went with Him to His dwelling place. Upon hearing the Lord speak, first went to find Peter his brother. Oh, what joy to receive that for which one has been watching. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.  One irrefutable proof that the Messiah which had been promised, had indeed arrived was that He knew Peter, never having been introduced. These Jews had been watching for the Messiah and were richly rewarded when the promise of God to them was fulfilled.

       The purpose of the promise which was to be fulfilled when Christ came was prophesied in Isaiah 2:2. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house (the church) shall be established in the top of the mountains (Jerusalem), and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it The kingdom did not exist until after the Lord’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, and until the Spirit had delivered the gospel to the apostles. The kingdom began in Acts 2:41 when folks obeyed the gospel. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Then in Acts 2:47b we see to what God added them. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  We have no need to “watch for” this kingdom, which is the church, as it has been in existence since A.D. 33, at 9:00 a.m. at Pentecost, in Jerusalem.

       Since the kingdom has already come, why are we to be watching?   The Spirit had Paul answer this in Ephesians 5:15-17.   We are to be “watching” all around us because of evil. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. To understand what the will of the Lord is, is to know His Word.

     Now, that we have entered into the church in the New Testament age, the final dispensation of time that God has promised, for what are we to be watching? Those of us who are Christians, (have been baptized into Christ), are a part of the kingdom, the church. Therefore, two things spring to mind. 1) We are to remain strong in “the faith”, which is the Word. This is written to Christians, and we can read this in 1Corinthians 16:13.   Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 2) Titus 2:13 tells us we are to be watching for the Lord’s return. Looking for (watching for) that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

     There is also a very good reason why those not “in Christ” would not want to watch for His final return. 2Peter 3:10 tells us: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  When the Lord returns, time will be no more.   Time will end as the earth will be destroyed.  We also know what will happen to those not in Christ. We read in 2Thessalonians 1:8-9 what will happen to them, as well who will glorify and admire Him. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

       However, there is something you can do so you do not suffer the wrath of God at the coming of Christ. Obey the gospel today. Then remain faithful the rest of your life.   If you need help with this, let us know. We will assist you in coming to the knowledge of the truth. Then you too will want to “watch” for His return.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Teaching

Teaching

   The need for teaching is acute in this day and age. There is an on-going debate regarding the damage being done to our school-age youth, as many are forced to participate in “distance learning” during the current pandemic, while schools in many places remain closed. Some hold the position that as long as the youth are “educated”, they are receiving the tools needed to succeed in todays and tomorrows society. We know this is not the case as an alarming number of our young, and older folks are taking their own lives as times are tough and the ways are rough. Some folks have obviously not been taught that taking their lives is a sure ticket to condemnation.

     There is no excuse for NOT TEACHING, even in the face of a pandemic, or any other difficult time. In fact, that is the best time to teach certain things. This is because during difficult times, some are more receptive to the type of instruction that is needed to persevere during such periods.  

    The church MUST continue to teach, regardless of the difficulty of times, circumstances or situations.   This is because to do so is COMMANDED by our Lord.   In Matthew 28:18-20 we have the Great Commission, spoken by Christ to His apostles. When the wording is considered, one must realize it is a command and one can see the perpetual nature of it. 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.  

      Based on this final record from the pen of Matthew as the Spirit directed, one can fully understand that the command is: “Teach, Baptize, and Teach”. This requires that one be taught before conversion, be baptized into Christ, and then must continue to be taught so that they might grow and mature as they learn more of the Word so they can teach others.

        It is apparent from Acts 8:4 that the early church did not “forget” about teaching, even in the face of tribulation. As Saul was busy persecuting the church, the church continued to teach and preach. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. This “duty” belongs to the church in times good, or bad. Elders are to “lead the effort” in this as Titus 1:9 teaches in the qualifications of elders.  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.  Evangelists, which includes all preachers, are also responsible as 2Timothy 2:2 directs.  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. Then we can see in Hebrews 5:12 that this also is the function of every Christian who has spent any time in the kingdom.   For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 

        It is also important what is taught and when. The lost are to be taught the gospel of Christ so they can become saved. Romans 1:16-17 is where the Spirit had Paul point this out. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. And Romans 10:17 shows that faith comes from the hearing of God’s Word. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

     The “new” Christian is to be fed with the “milk of the Word” as we read in 1Peter 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: The gospel is directed to all and must be taught as Titus 2:11-12 teaches, and also tells us why it must be taught. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world Those who are “seasoned” Christians also need instruction. Hebrews 5:13-14 shows the difference in the “spiritual diet” of the new Christian and the established one. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  The truth needs to be taught to all, and all need the truth as Jesus said in John 8:32.   And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  He was speaking of one becoming “free” from sin.

     The reason we MUST continue to teach and preach the truth, is that folks won’t always “hold to the truth”. 2Timothy 4:3-4 warns of the “bondage” to be suffered by all who shun the truth. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables

     Let’s not allow folks to be “bound” by fables and false teaching. Let’s teach the truth to all who will listen and hear so they can make an informed choice regarding their soul’s eternal destination.

  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

My Hope Is Built On . . . ?????

My Hope Is Built On . . . ?????

     In most song books (hymnals) there are songs of hope. After all, religion is about hope. In the words of one of these songs, sometimes also called: “On Christ the Solid Rock”, we have a reminder on where our hope is to rest.   We must be on the foundation of Christ. The chorus reads: “On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

       There are many references to hope in the New Testament Word of God. As we live out our lives here on earth, we have various reasons to hope for and expect certain things.   Many a young person “hopes” for their sixteenth birthday, as they can then acquire a driver’s license.   For many a teen, this equates to a certain amount of freedom. Therefore, the expectation is some freedom and the means to have the freedom is the license.  Of course, to obtain a driver’s license, and being granted the privilege to operate a motor vehicle is dependent upon passing the required, written and driving tests in accordance to the laws of the land.

     From this simple example, we all should realize that a person’s desire and expectation to go to heaven following their sojourn here on earth has certain requirements. If not, why did Christ come to earth and die? When one has hope, it must be based on the reality of the law which governs it.

     The Law of God in the present and “last” dispensation of time is the New Testament. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we are told how and when God has spoken to mankind through the years, and how He does now.  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 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;  Why folks claim to have the “hope of heaven” and refuse to follow the Word of God, sent to man through the Spirit as Jesus promised is beyond me.

     Most “religionists” in Christendom affirm that the blood of Christ is most important, yet they refuse to contact that blood as God’s Law (His Word) says to do. Even the song which was referenced above points out the blood and the need to have one’s hope built on it. The first verse reads: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Notice that the song points out not only the blood, but “righteousness” and “Jesus name”.  

     Perhaps we need to examine the meanings of this word and phrase. The term righteousness according to Webster is: acting in accord with divine or moral law.   Jesus lived according to God’s Law under that dispensation of time.   Are not we, to be “righteous”, expected to live under God’s Law, the New Testament, in this present and final dispensation?   The term “in Jesus name” is also important and equally misunderstood. It means “by His authority”.   In Matthew 28:18-20 we have the Great Commission.   In this passage Jesus told the eleven He had all authority. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power (authority) 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. If our hope is not “built on” the N.T. Word of God and by the authority of Christ, do we really have hope?  

     Before their conversion, the Ephesians Christians had no hope and were without God.   Ephesians 2:12-13 tells us this, and also affirms that Christ’s blood must be contacted to have that hope. That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  But how did they contact that precious blood of Christ?  This is key. Baptism is where one contacts His blood and are placed “in Christ”.    Romans 6:1-5 tells us of “that form of doctrine”; the “death, burial, and resurrection of Christ”, and how we can partake of it to contact Christ’s blood that gives one hope. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 

     If you want to have hope, you must be “on Christ, that solid Rock”. You must have Christ as the foundation of your hope. You must follow the Word of God as was handed down by the Spirit to the apostles, and others to the saving of your soul. Be baptized into Christ and become part God’s plan like those of Ephesians 2:20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Do We Properly Use Our Knowledge?

Do We Properly Use Our Knowledge?

       Man, from the beginning of time has been desirous of knowledge. This is evident in the first inspired record of man.  In his desire for “earthly” knowledge he found his own downfall.    In Genesis 3:1-3, it is obvious that the serpent was aware that the woman already had some knowledge as given by God to mankind. 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. 

     Satan got the woman to affirm what she knew to be true, as he would begin with what the woman knew, undermine it, and separate the woman, and ultimately her husband from God. In Genesis 3:4-6, the lie was told and the seed planted which would bring forth fruit for the devil. He tempted Eve to “desire to know more” than God had told her. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. After the temptation was presented, Genesis 3:6, shows how they submitted to their lustful desires. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

     Satan had knowledge, and so did the man and woman. The key is to use our knowledge correctly. Satan used knowledge of what God had directed man to do, against man. He knew the power of knowledge.   Do we? If so, do we use it properly?   Do we have knowledge of our spiritual status as it is described in the Word of God?  

     The wise man of Proverbs 1:7, through inspiration wrote: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction We are told in 2Chronicles 1:10 that Solomon, facing the great task before him, petitioned God.     His request was not for earthly riches, wealth, or honor. He asked: Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?   At the time, Solomon understood the power of knowledge but still, in his later years allowed himself to be drawn away from God.

     Jeremiah 29:18- 19 shows why God’s Old Testament people would be persecuted “with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach”. 19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD. Hosea 4:6 affirms this. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

     Even though Israel largely rejected God, His plan for Salvation, formed before the foundation of the world would still come to fruition, and we can benefit from that knowledge. We are told this in Habakkuk 2:14  For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.   This plan was carried out by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, and the message (Word of God) was delivered by the Holy Spirit so we could have that knowledge.  In John 1:12 we are told how this provides power so one can be saved. 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:

       The knowledge of the power of the Word is shown in Roman 1:16 as the Spirit had Paul write. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  The gospel is that New Testament Word of God. In James 1:21 the brethren “scattered abroad” were reminded what the gospel had done for them and why they must continue in it. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  This is the same thing in Acts 2:40-41 those “unsaved” Jews were told on the day of Pentecost when the gospel was first preached in N.T. times. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls

       In James 4:17, the Spirit had this brother of the Lord pen the Words Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin Eve knew it was good to “not eat” of the forbidden fruit, yet she sinned and did not use her knowledge to follow God’s Commandments. You now have knowledge. Will you apply the power of God (the gospel) and your knowledge of it to become His child today, or if already one, to remain faithful?   You know to do so is “good”.      Or will you remain in sin?  

                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Winning?

Are You Winning?

        Man is a competitive being because, let’s face it, mankind wants to win. However, the problem with this is what man desires to win. In Mark 8:36 Jesus presents a question that should make us all think about what it means to win. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Nothing on earth is as valuable as your soul.

       We have at least two cases in the book of Acts of folks thinking they are “winners” by “getting gain” while on the earth.   In Acts 16:16 we see some who thought themselves to be “winners”.  And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:Then in verse 19 we see they were outraged when they perceived their “success” was being diminished when Paul, through the power granted by the Holy Spirit, cast the evil spirit out of the damsel.   And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 

      There is also the case of a probable idolater, Demetrius, the silversmith of Acts 19:24-25 who also confused wealth with winning. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth

          When Jesus, in Luke 12:20-21 told the parable of the “rich fool” to the one that asked the Lord to “officiate” over his inheritance, He pointed out what it means to win in this life. 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.  Wealth does not equal winning.

     In Matthew 6:19-21, in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, we find the Lord presenting the formula to be followed by those of His day, (and of ours) if one wants to truly be a winner.  Jesus was speaking of His kingdom which would come into existence following His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.   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. 

       Winning in the spiritual realm is not a “one and done” event. We may win a battle, yet lose the war.  Even those who were privileged to enter the kingdom (church) when it first came into existence on the day of Pentecost on A.D. 33 were not guaranteed a home in heaven “no matter what”. The Bible never teachesonce saved, always saved”. When Peter and the twelve delivered the Words provided by the Spirit regarding Salvation on that great day, the Jews in attendance heard what was spoken. In Acts 2:40 we read that which shows clearly that they had the responsibility to respond to the gospel If they wanted to be saved. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

       But even this would not “keep” them saved. The Spirit had Paul direct the minds of the Christians in Philippi so they would know how to win all the way in Philippians 3:12-13.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before

     The things which have already passed are in the past.   If we want to win – truly win – we have to do as the Spirit directed the apostle to pen in the next verse, Philippians 3:14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  That prize of which the Spirit had Paul write is eternal life, and that is the only way we can truly win. We can start winning in this life, and then we receive the reward when the Lord returns and the judgment occurs.

       If you would be a winner, your obedience cannot end when you exit the watery grave of baptism. This is where one becomes saved from past sins, but baptism alone will not keep one saved. In Philippians 2:12 we read what the Spirit had the apostle Paul write to these same brethren. 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.

       Are you winning? You are not if you have not been baptized into Christ to become a child of God, regardless of the wealth you have attained, or if you have received the trophies and accolades of success as the world measures winning. Neither are you a winner if you have been baptized into Christ and failed to live up to the commitment you made to God at that time.      Become a winner today! Obey the gospel, and remain a winner by being faithful to God.      

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Strong Is Your Resolve?

How Strong Is Your Resolve?

   This is the time of year that many “resolve” to do something for the rest of the year. Usually this is declared as a determination to break a bad habit or to begin one for the betterment of the individual making the resolution. Whatever the case, how long does it last? How soon is it deemed too hard? When this occurs, typically a return is made to former practices and habits.

     The Word “resolved” is found only one time in the King James Version. It is found in Luke 16:4 in the parable of the unjust Steward.   He was accused of being wasteful.   His reasoning was: I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. In reading further, it becomes clear that his only “resolve” was to manipulate the situation and the debts of others to benefit his own circumstances.

     Another way to consider “resolve” is in one of the definitions given to the word as it is used in making resolutions. That definition is: to decide firmly on a course of action. Some synonyms are: boldness, courage, firmness, willpower or steadfastness. As we read some of these terms in the Bible, we understand God wants us to have “resolve” as we serve Him day to day.

     One of the resolutions we all need to make is to keep ourselves free from the grasp of the evil one.  In 1Peter 5:8-9 we are admonished to be most attentive to the dangers and make every effort to resist Satan and his devices. This passage also tells us that others have that needed resolve.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. Perhaps if we recall what the Spirit had Paul write in Philippians 4:13, we too can have the resolve we need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Surely the “all things” here are those things that are in accordance to the Will of God.

     What resolutions have you made this year?   Have you resolved to do as God would have you do? We know from 2Peter 3:9 that God’s Will is that none would be lost. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.    God has done His part in the sending of His Son, and Christ has done His part in dying on the cross to purchase the church. The Holy Spirit has done His part in bringing the Word to be recorded for all humanity. Are we doing our part so that others might be saved?   Jesus, in Matthew 28:19-20 gave His disciples the Great Commission. He said to them: 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. Have you resolved to make sure more folks hear what God would have them do to be saved in 2021?

     How strong is your resolve to honor the commitment you made to the Lord when you obeyed the gospel? At that time, we all “pledged” to serve Him and keep His commandments.   Are we doing that?   To do this we must have resolve.   In 1Corinthians 15:57 we are told we can be victorious. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Then in verse 58 we read that to do this we must be “steadfast” and “unmoveable”, and “abounding” in the Lord’s Work. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

       Of course, this is not possible unless we know His Word.   This may help with another “resolution” all children of God should make and stick to. We are told in 2Timothy 2:15 to study, and why we should do so.   One cannot learn God’s Word unless they are students of the Word.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Have you resolved to do this in 2021?

     Yet another thing we can resolve to do is faithfully attend all the services of the church this year. Hebrews 10:24-25 points out to do this is beneficial to each other and also promotes good works. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. This “not forsaking” is also a Command of God. To not do as God directs is sin!

       Rather, let’s heed the Words of Hebrews 3:12-14 and carefully consider our commitment to God and do all He directs in His Word to show our love for Him, and to also help ourselves and our brethren. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  How strong is your resolve? Will it see you through to the end?   That my friend is entirely up to you!  

                                                    Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Full Yet?

Full Yet?

    No doubt we all have had plenty of meals lately and most likely have made multiple visits to the desert dishes. When contemplating “fullness”, we most often think of our stomach and the sensation after overeating.   But do we ever think that there are many ways, and many things with which we can “fill” ourselves?

     God’s blessings to Israel, even in the midst of their murmuring in the wilderness, so they might “be filled”, included quail in the evenings and manna in the mornings. Exodus 16:12 tells why this was done for them. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God. 

     Not everything with which one can be filled comes from someone else. A person can “fill” him or herself selfishly from within. Proverbs 14:14 tells of the (mind) of some, and with what it is filled. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.  We must be careful, lest we allow ourselves to become as Haman in Esther 5:9 and be “filled” with hate toward another.   Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. 

     Even in the face of calamity one can be “filled”. Perhaps this is why the Spirit have the penman record the words of Job, after Job had seemingly lost all his worldly goods and most of his family. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  (Job 14:1)  However, not all “filling” takes place within a person.   God had a plan from the beginning, and “filling” was part of it. Habakkuk 2:14 reads: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

      The time for the earth to be “filled with” the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, had not come when this was written during the Old Testament. It was a prophecy. The Messiah had not yet been sent. Jesus had yet to die on Calvary’s cross, be buried, arise and ascend back to the Father. This plan of God was still a mystery when Habakkuk wrote.  In 1Corinthians 2:7 we see the Spirit had Paul write of this.   But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  God’s plan has become a reality, and was being revealed in the Word the Spirit was delivering to His servants, like Paul.   James was also of this number. In James 3:17 we read:  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  God’s Word is that wisdom from above.

     This is very evident in Ephesians 3:3-6, and we can “fully” understand the mystery and how it was revealed.   How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

     God used the necessary “helps” in the absence of the written N. T. Word to bring that plan to fruition.   Ephesians 4:10-13 speaks of these things God put in place to bring us to the “fullness of Christ”. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, (Christ) that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ For this, all Christians should be “fully” and eternally thankful.  

           In Ephesians 3:14-19the Spirit had Paul show how he expressed his deep gratitude to God and how all mankind could benefit from the great gift of sacrifice offered by Christ and His death on the cross. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God

   Be careful with what you “fill” yourself, as each is responsible for their own destiny.  2Corinthians 5:10 shows us this. 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. Choose wisely.

        

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Living Better

Living Better

       The goal of many a human is to live better.  Sadly, to many this means the procurement of “things” or reaching certain achievements in this life.   In one sense this is a fair measure, in that we live life (physical) while we are in these earthly bodies.   Much time, effort, and monies are often spent to accomplish this.   Parents work hard to provide so their children “can have better” than the parents had when growing up.  The emphasis is often on the offspring becoming “better educated” so as to have a better life.   All of this does not guarantee that the child, when grown, will have a better life than their parents, but that they might have greater opportunities.  

      Some, because of various health concerns, (perceived or real) seek to “live better” through medicines, procedures, vaccinations, or just about anything that promises to reduce pain, increase mobility, improve mood, or promote the well-being of the recipient or participant.   All of these things have purpose, but can only improve one in the “here and now”.  

       Many fail to realize, that striving to “live better” while in this life for the sole purpose of our time on the earth is an eternal mistake.  Jesus addressed this in Matthew 16:26 while speaking to His disciples.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?   What we read in the next two verses shows that Christ came to earth so that man could “live better” even beyond this life.  For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.This last verse shows that this opportunity to live better came to be after the death of Christ, but in the lifetimes of His disciples of that day. This is still available today, but only “in Christ”. 

       This ties in completely with the latter part of the statement of Jesus in John 10:10 where  He said: “. . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Even the Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking were “alive” when He said this.  This must mean the life of which the Lord speaks, and for which He died on the cross, is beyond that which takes place on this mundane sphere.    Galatians 2:20 attests to this, as well as the fact the individual bears responsibility for “their part” of laying hold of eternal life.  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

        The Spirit had Paul write to Timothy in 1Timothy 6:11-12, to remind him (and by extension, remind us) of our responsibility to do our part to strive for eternal life.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 

      Below is a poem written about thirty years ago by my wife’s father which shows that the only achievement that matters in this life is that which helps one to “live better” now so they can live forever.   

 

Achievement

To hitch you wagon to a star, move in the right direction,

Improve your “natural” talent to withstand a close “inspection”,

And see yourself as others do, without imagination,

Press forward, striving hard to win, must be aspiration.

To maintain hope when others doubt, may be intuition,

Or faith that will not change its “course” whatever the conditions,

To “fight on where you are alone”, must be dedication,

To “join the crowd” may make you proud, but cost you your salvation.

To take a “back seat” on your own, sometimes is called submission,

To serve, is better than be served, by certain recognition,

To sacrifice the things we need, is when we’re really giving, +

It’s when one walks that “extra mile”, that he knows he’s living.

Forgive, and then forget, is often recommended,

But, true forgiveness, in remembrance, is then and there ended,

The practice of the “golden rule”, with every fault confessing,

Will help you be a friend in need, and get the greatest blessing. 

                                                       O. D. Wilson – deceased

    

        What kind of achievement is important to you?  Is it the one that allows you to “live well” only in this life, or that which is beyond?   Philippians 3:12 tells us we haven’t “made it” yet.   Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.    Obey the gospel. Then live better here so you can live with God for eternity.  This is the only way! 

                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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