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By What Do You Live?

By What Do You Live?

     On the surface, this may seem to be a bit of an odd question. When a question such as this is asked, the majority of folks will consider physical life and the things we need to sustain life, such as oxygen, food, and the things the body cannot do without and still function. But when we consider the Words of Jesus from Matthew 22:32, we must realize Jesus was speaking of something other than physical life. He repeated what God said: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.   

     This was a bit of a rebuke to the Sadducees which did not believe in the fact that one does not cease to exist upon death.   To “tempt” Jesus, they offered a situation which would require Jesus to “weigh in” on the idea of resurrection.    Even the Sadducees would concede that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had passed from this life. In the scenario they presented, they were mocking the idea of resurrection.   Jesus set them straight immediately!   How did He do this?   He challenged their knowledge of the Law. In Matthew 22:29-30 He told them of their fallacy, then clearly advocated the resurrection.   Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 

     It is interesting to me how Christ not only answered their question, but also set them straight on another area in which they were erring.   The Sadducees also did not believe in angels per Acts 23:8. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.  So, what is it that caused Christ to refer to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as living, since all three had long since ceased to draw breath on the earth?

     Jesus had answered this question as well, and He did so before it was asked. In His answer in verse 29, Jesus alluded to the power of God. Could this be the source of life? Most would readily agree with this since God created all things, including life. But this only addresses physical life.   Abraham, His son and grandsons had already departed that phase of existence.   Christ referenced the “scriptures” and “the power of God”. This is indeed the source of “spiritual life”

     Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had followed God’s instructions, desiring to be with God after life on the earth was finished. Three times in the N.T. Abraham is put forth as an example as he “believed God, and it was accounted (or imputed) unto him for righteousness”. (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; & James 2:23)      And, so none could misconstrue this, James 2:24 shows that works also have a part in this relationship with God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  I submit that Abraham and the others mentioned live (presently in a spiritual state) because they not only knew, but believed, and DID what God said to do.  

     When the devil came and tempted Jesus, we are told Jesus was hungry.   We know that food is required to sustain life.   But what was Jesus’ response when the devil tempted the Christ to turn stones into bread?   The Matthew 4:4 account shows what it is that man is to live by.   But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.   In the gospel of John, chapter 4:31-34, as the Lord’s disciple’s brought food, (Jesus remaining by the well in Samaria), Christ revealed to them that He was sustained by doing the Work His Father had sent Him to do.   In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.    Later, in the latter part of John 10:10, Jesus revealed what the purpose of His Work was. . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  He came to procure “life” for all that would “hear His voice (His Word) and follow Him.

     Remember how Christ told the Sadducees that they knew not the “scriptures” nor the “power of God”? In Romans 1:15-17 the Spirit had Paul direct the Christians in Rome regarding the power of God and the source of life – everlasting life. He would preach it to them and all who would listen so they could have that life. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  Where does faith originate?  The answer to this is supplied by Romans 10:17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

   So, how does this work?   In Galatians 2:20, Paul was directed by the Spirit to reveal this to the church there.   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.    Christ died on the cross so we could have life.   One is “crucified” with Christ when they are baptized into Christ and die to sin. Then they are risen to walk in “newness of life”. Where does life originate? With God and His Word.   Follow God’s Word, obey it and live by it. By What Do You Live?     You must live by Faith if you will live forever.

                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Hungry Are You?

How Hungry Are You?

   Usually, when we think of hunger, we think of our physical desire for the food which the body requires. While it is true that the body is dependent on food to sustain it, we probably have never experienced true hunger.   I know we all say things like: “I’m starved to death”, but it’s most likely that none of us in this country have faced the pains associated with starvation.   We may not like or appreciate the types or kinds of foods prepared for us or made available to us, but there is most always sustenance of some kind available for us.

    There is a type of “starvation” that is prevalent in this nation as well as throughout the world that has nothing to do with the intake of food designed for cell growth and such. That which is under consideration is the deficiency of the desire for the Spiritual food God has provided humanity.   Abraham Lincoln, our nation’s 16th President once said of the Sacred Volume: “I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong.   All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”     These profound words from one of our nation’s fallen leaders show the impact that God’s Spiritual food can have in our lives if we will but let it.  

     In John 4:32-34 after an arduous journey, the Lord explained the true concept of “spiritual nourishment” to His disciples when they implored Him to eat.   But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.  We are not told if indeed they fully understood at this point, but many, including the Samaritans believed on Him because of His Word and the deeds He performed while with them after talking to the woman at the well.

    During the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus delivered what we have come to know as “The Beatitudes”. These are not, as brother Foy E. Wallace states, simply: “maxims to print on calendars; as mottoes to hang on the wall; as rules of behavior; as a social document to regulate human conduct; and as a sort of panacea for all the social ills that affect us an afflict us one way or another in our society. But the Sermon on the Mount is a doctrinal declaration.” (Number One Gospel Sermons pg. 94). Within these “Beatitudes” we find Matthew 5:6. Those who are “hungry” for the Word of God will be “happy” and filled. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  How hungry are you?

     The Spirit had king Solomon address this great need in God’s people Israel in Proverbs 29:18, which uses the word “happy” – the same idea as “blessed”. God’s Law to Israel was His Word, and they were to be sustained by it.   Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  There have been many that desired to hear the Word of God.   Some in the New Testament time sought out those who could “feed” them. Not all reactions to the “Spiritual Food” God provides in His Word are the same. In Acts 13:7there was a deputy of the country who was “hungry”. Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of GodWe are told in vs 12 that the deputy “believed”. This does not mean that he only believed, but also obeyed when spiritually filled with the “doctrine”.

     There is also the well-known case of the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8:31. He was reading God’s Word, seeking spiritual nourishment.  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with himWe are told in this account that Philip “began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus.”   The baptism and the rejoicing that follows shows that this once “hungry” man had been nourished.    Another case of desire to hear the Word of God did not yield similar results. Acts 24:24-25 finds Felix expressing the desire to be fed with the Word of God.   It seems that he did not find the truth very palatable. His reaction said it all. No food, physical or spiritual will quench hunger if one will not “eat it”. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. Seems he was not hungry after all.

     However, it is the duty and the privilege for Christians to continually “serve up” on-going helpings of spiritual food for those that are hungry by preaching and guiding folks toward, and in the Word of God. In 1Timothy 4:6 the Spirit had Paul direct Timothy in this regard. He wrote: If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 

     Should we not also be happy to be able to assemble to be spiritually fed?   The Spirit had the Psalmist express this very thing in Psalm 122:1. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.      HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU?                

                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

A Father's Love

A Father’s Love

    Today is the day many have set aside to honor their fathers.   Originally, this day was celebrated only by the Catholics in Europe, and started sometime in the middle ages.   The idea was to “honor” Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was the mother of Jesus.   In this culture he (Joseph) was referred to as: Nutritor Domini ("Nourisher of the Lord"). This is wrong – as it indicates that Joseph provided for Jesus and leaves God out of the picture. The specific day this was observed was March 19.

     The Spanish and Portuguese brought the “custom” to the Americas, and it was kept by Catholics only in Mexico and Central and South America.  “Father’s Day” was not observed in North America until after “Mother’s Day” was established after Anna Jarvis, a Methodist, began that tradition in 1905.     In 1910, Father’s Day was set up in the USA to complement Mother’s Day, and so that the male parents also would be given honor. (Set up by a Presbyterian)     NOTE:  If mankind would have followed the Word of God, both parents would receive honor that is due them and they wouldn’t need a “special” day in which to receive it.   Additionally, the parents (if they live by the Word) would live so as to be due the honor as they raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

      After reading the information provided above, do you ever wonder how many of the “traditions” of the religious world are followed blindly by those of the world and Christians alike, while not knowing the origin? (2John vss 9-11)    One is “blind” if they follow something, or someone and have no understanding of what, or who they follow.   Jesus addresses this in Luke 6:39 in while teaching His disciples – those He called apostles.  They were not to follow those who knew not where they were going.  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 

       There are many today that are “blind” regarding the Love of the Heavenly Father.  They think (and teach) that God’s Love will supersede (take the place of) everything else come judgment time.    Some foolishly teach that God’s Love is so great that He will not allow any to be lost.  This is to say that God is not serious about what He says in His Word, the Bible.   Will His Love “replace” His Justice?   While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is equally true that God is a just God.  He told Israel this in Isaiah 45:21, and it has Never changed.   Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

      The Love of the Father (Heavenly), is considered by many in the world (and sadly, by many in the church) to be much like what is depicted in a George Strait song of a few years ago.   The title is: “A Father’s Love”.    In the song, the world’s concept of love was applied to the earthly father and his reaction to fighting at school.  Then it was applied to becoming a father himself and explaining it to his own child.  Finally, we see it applied at death.      The last stanza is fraught with religious error, yet accepted by many as “gospel”.   It goes: ”Last night I dreamed I’d died and stood outside those pearly gates.    When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.  If they know half the stuff I’ve done they’ll never let me in.    Then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.  And they said, Let me tell you a secret, about a fathers love.   A secret that my daddy said was just between us.    You see, daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.   It’s a love without end, amen.   it’s a love without end, amen.      Some of the many problems with this are . . .

      1)  No where does God’s Word teach that one goes to the “Pearly Gates” as soon as one dies.   2) God does not make mistakes.    3) Yes – we will be judged by what we do, per 1Corinthians 5:10.   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.    4) There is no one on the “other side” of the Pearly gates other than God. (1John 5:7)  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  5) It is blasphemous to speak of God as a “daddy”.(Matthew 6:9)    6)  God’s Love is not “a secret between God and anyone.   His gospel is available to all.   In Acts 6:26-27, the Spirit had Paul speak of the “openness” of God’s Love and God’s  plan to King Agrippa .   God’s Love was declared previously by the prophets.   For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.  

      God’s Love will never end, but unlike earthly fathers, God will always keep His Word – even to the judgement.   In John 12:48 Jesus (who is God) said: He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.    The Heavenly Father’s Love brought that Word to us so we can be saved.   It is available to all.      

     Why reject the gospel and in so doing reject the Heavenly Father and His Love?  Show your love to the Father.   Honor the Heavenly Father daily by reading, studying, rightly dividing and then doing what He tells us to do in His Word.   Do this, and have His Love and eternal blessing.

                                                                                                                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ.  

Becoming Prey

Becoming Prey

    There are a number of “nature” shows that reveal many horrors of the wild.  Folks go out and photograph, film and document the hunted and the hunter.    Often as we watch these shows we make comments such as: “That’s just nature.”  Perhaps we think: “That’s just how it is.”   How many of us stop and think that the hunted does not necessarily want to become prey?   I seriously doubt if the fleeing antelope thinks about the “circle of life” while being pursued by the hungry lion.  The truth is that the wild beasts of the field cannot “reason” and know nothing but the life they live and the instincts that were instilled in them at birth. 

     None of the creatures of the wild, whether of the jungle, desert or sea, choose the level they hold in the hierarchical structure of nature.  This means they cannot determine where they exist in the “food chain”.   Every creature is subordinate to the animal that is seeking him for their next meal.   The only one that doesn’t have this to worry about is the one at the very top of the food chain.   Of course, there is a lot of speculation as to which animal is at the top of this structure. 

     Humans on the other hand, have the capacity to reason and need not become prey to the one that desires to “devour” them. 1Peter 5:8-9 tells us we have a choice as to whether or not we are “eaten up” of the devil.    Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  9  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.   If indeed we choose to not be a victim, we have the means available to avoid the snares of Satan.  We are told in 2Corinthians 2:11 that we have no excuse if we find ourselves ensnared by the evil one.     He has many tricks and strategies to get the soul of a Christian to turn to him and do his bidding. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.   We don’t have to fall prey to him. 

       Why then, do so many people become victims or fall prey to Satan?   Perhaps another look at nature and the animals that have “instinct” is in order.   How many animals go alone to the watering hole for a drink?   Christians that isolate themselves from other Christians and the fellowship we have in Christ often become attainable targets for the one that would claim their souls.  By instinct, the animals in the wild do what we are told to do in Galatians 6:2.  They look out for one another.   Christians are to: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  There is safety in numbers after all, so long as all in the group follow Christ and His Word.

     How many of these animals just rush right in for a drink and show no concern for the dangers that exist?   Those who do, often do not live to roam and drink another day.  Carelessness kills!  Christians who do not remain alert to the dangers Satan presents are destined to fall.   But Christians are warned and also told what to do to avoid becoming prey in 2Peter 1:5-10.   This passage also speaks of those who forgot they had been cleansed by Christ’s blood.   Those who do the things listed are not careless, but are making their calling and election sure, and won’t become prey to Satan.    And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall

      The animals in the wild, if given the chance, will be very diligent in trying not to become prey.  They are watchful, alert and cautious.  Some of this is “inborn”, but the rest is taught by their herds, packs, or whatever their particular group is called.  We ought to take a lesson from them on this as well.    Sometimes, the reason that many become prey to the “devil” and fall for his devices is because they have not been taught properly.    When an animal is not taught properly in the wild for any reason, death comes quickly.  When the Christian is not taught properly, they do not grow, and unfortunately, thy too may die, but their death is spiritual.  They have then become prey to the devil.  

      What do we think, or what is our comment when our brethren become prey to the devil?  Do we think “that’s just the way it goes?”   Do we not realize that a soul is being lost when one becomes prey to the devil?   2Peter 2:2 points out that this growth is to begin very early in our Christian life.  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:    Let us, who have been born into the kingdom, not become prey.    Apply the latter part of 2Peter 3:17 and look forward to an eternal home with God.    Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  It’s your soul – Don’t let Satan “devour” you.    Your eternal destination depends on it!         

                                              Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Assurance or Ignorance

Assurance or Ignorance?

     A few weeks ago, while watching a crime drama on television, something was said which truly reflects the world’s attitude toward heaven, or who will go to heaven.   A suspect with a gun was surrounded by the police force tasked with bringing him to justice.   Unfortunately, he was able to “snag” a hostage during the chase, and was threatening to kill the hostage if not allowed to escape. He said to the officer: “If you pull that trigger, she (the hostage) dies and we all go to heaven.”     Certainly, the context of the scene would not allow us to think the suspect (in the show) was in any kind of proper relationship with God. Nothing had been shown to indicate that any of the folks were even religious.  

     This is how the world thinks about heaven and who will ultimately go there.   The prevailing idea is that God is a merciful God.   I don’t know any who will question or argue with this. However, I wonder if the whole world has forgotten that God is a just God! in Isaiah 45:21 the Old Testament people of God, Israel, had to be reminded of this. They were dwelling in ignorance, even to the point of worshiping wooden and graven images, yet felt they had assurance of God’s blessing just because they were “God’s people”. Their relationship with God was based on their fleshly relation to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

     How many of God’s people today, “Christians”, are living in ignorance, thinking they have assurance of eternal life based solely on the premise of being called the “people of God”?    There is no assurance of salvation in the scriptures, without obedience to God. Therefore, those who don’t obey God need not expect to spend eternity with Him.

       In 1Thessalonians 1:8, the justice of God toward the disobedient is clearly put forth as the Spirit had Paul to write to those brethren.   Of this we can all rest assured.   In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:   Then, In Acts 17:30-31 where the apostle Paul was in Athens at Mars Hill, we find a passage of scripture that speaks of both the ignorance of man and the assurance of God toward man. These verses also speak of the time when the wrath and the vengeance of God will be released on all who are disobedient. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.  God has assured man through His Word, that salvation was made possible and available through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, not a single soul was saved or will be saved just because Jesus died, was buried and resurrected.

     Many seek assurance of salvation by misapplying John 3:16. This verse clearly reads “should not perish” and not “shall not perish”. There is a huge difference in the two. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Christ’s death on the cross and His coming forth from the grave was to procure the “means” by which all can be saved, provided they are willing to be obedient and remain so. If we do not access, and contact the “blood of Christ” we have no hope of heaven or assurance of eternal life. 1Peter 1:18-19 tells us those who are obedient to the gospel are “redeemed” by the blood of Christ.   Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 

   We do have the “promise” of eternal life if we have obeyed the gospel and remain faithful throughout this life.   This was what Peter was directed to say in Acts 2:39 as he preached to those Jews on Pentecost.   For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  Of course, we know from 2Thessalonians 2:14 that the “call” is the call of the gospel as it is preached and taught to those outside of the body of Christ.  None are “called” of God in any other way. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But what assurance do we have?   As we go examine 1John 2:25 we see that we only “hath” eternal life in promise. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

     Let us strive to know the Word of God so we can be obedient and continue to do the Will of God.   We cannot afford to assume we are going to heaven, especially if we have not obeyed the gospel and remained faithful.   The fact that God is a “just” God will in no way be negated by His mercy.   Obey God today, by being obedient to the gospel, and then be assured of eternity with God by continuing to follow His Word. Don’t live in ignorance and, just assume that you are saved.

                             Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

An Inescapable Conclusion

An Inescapable Conclusion

    Of all the many choices in life with which we are faced, there are very few that lead to an inescapable conclusion.  Most situations can be handled in various ways and have been addressed in these ways through the years.  God saw to it that Israel, His Old Testament people were told of their “whole duty” in life.  In Ecclesiastes 12:13 the Spirit had Solomon, king of Israel write: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. This is one Old Testament Commandment that is also applicable to those of us blessed to live in New Testament times.  Of course, all of God’s Directives to man must be “rightly divided” so they can be properly understood and followed. 

     The Spirit had the apostle Paul write to Timothy in 2Timothy 2:15, the same thing He had Solomon write, but here, He also told how we are to “know” what God wants us to do as we strive to be pleasing and acceptable to God.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly  dividing the word of truthOne cannot know if they will not studyIf it applied to Timothy, it certainly applies to us.

     But you may be asking: “Why is keeping the Commandments of God” the whole duty of man?”   It is because man will be judged and either sentenced to eternity in a place of condemnation, or rewarded with eternity with God.    When Jesus came to earth, He did not come to judge man.    Jesus told the chief priests in John 12:47 His purpose for coming to earth was not to judge.   His purpose was to bring Salvation (the means for Salvation) to man.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.   Jesus will become judge after He concludes His present function, which is to reign over the kingdom for which He gave His life on Calvary’s cross.  We also know that the kingdom exists now and is not some future entity which is to be expected.  

     The judgment is an inescapable conclusion if one reads and studies the Bible.  We do not know when this will occur, except to the degree the Bible tells us.  We know the “end” will come after certain things are finished.  In 1Corinthians 15:24-26 we see that Christ will “rule” and “reign” until the end.  Also, death of our physical bodies will no longer exist when this great judgment occurs.    Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.   As long as people live and die, the kingdom continues on and Christ rules. 

      This means another inescapable conclusion is that all will die.  Hebrews 9:27 makes this clear and nowhere is it stated in God’s Word that one is judged “when they die”.   This passage simply says that death precedes judgment.   And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:  So, from this passage and the one above it, one must conclude that all will have died (or have been changed) per 1Corinthians 15:51 when the judgment will occur.  

      From these Bible facts, we can also conclude that while we are alive and have full access of our faculties is the time to make the needed changes in our lives.  One way to make the changes that are needed within us is to prioritize.   Jesus knew this and told those hearing Him preach the Sermon on the Mount that the “kingdom” (the church) which would soon come, and the righteousness of God would have to be first in their lives.   But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.    The “these things” of which the Lord spoke were the other necessities of life such as food, raiment, and shelter. 

      How do we prioritize the many things within our lives to ensure that we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first?     Well, it has to be through that which will judge us after life for all humanity is over.   It is a choice all must make.  We can receive His Word or we can reject it.    In John 12:48, Jesus again speaking of the chief priests of His day said:   He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.    And as we read John 12:49-50, the verses that follow, we can surely “conclude” that God’s Word was what Jesus spoke, and that if we want the desired outcome at the judgment, we must put the Word of God first in our lives. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.  It is an inescapable conclusion that only the Word of God, rightly divided and properly lived by leads to the eternal life we desire.
         What is it that is keeping you from doing the things found in the Word of God so you can “lay hold” on the hope of salvation?   Why can we not see that God’s Word is that which directs us?   The Spirit had the Psalmist write: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)    It is an inescapable conclusion that if we walk the wrong path, or walk the path of this life without the light of the gospel, we will reach a destination we do not wish to reach.   Think about it – Make the needed changes now. 

        Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

If We Do Nothing

If We Do Nothing

      Life itself is about doing something.   We are aware of this from a school or work standpoint.   If we “do nothing” while in school; put no effort into learning, or doing the assigned work, we will gain nothing.   If we, upon finding gainful employment, are one who “does nothing” on the job, we will likely be seeking other employment very soon.  

     Much has been said lately about the danger to our health in not getting the needed exercise.   Many folks are now struggling with obesity in large part due to “doing nothing” rather than walking, exercising, or participating in some activity designed to help them move about and get their blood flowing.   Sometimes when people realize the severe harm they have done themselves by “doing nothing”, it is way too late.

     In 2Kings 7:3-4 we read of four lepers, physically condemned by a dreadful disease, who realized the fallacy of doing nothing.   And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.    They were going to die anyway, why not do something? What did they have to lose? Perhaps by “doing something” their fate might not be as harsh as if they did nothing.

   The New Testament, written to Christians, also shows that doing nothing is not an option available to the Christian.   In James 2:17 the brother of the Lord was directed to write: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Much has been written about faith and the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews was dedicated, not only to faith, but the fact that every example of faith listed had “works” to go along with it.   This is very important, especially in the life of a Christian. If our faith is alone and has no works – it is dead and we are spiritually dead.

     As James was engaged of the Spirit to write to the brethren, he was directed to provide them an example in James 2:15-16 that has application even today. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?    These are folks that have “put on” Christ in baptism and are our brethren. If they need our help we should help them.   We are so instructed in Galatians 6:9-10. These brethren in the churches of Galatia were expected to “do something”.   And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 

       This “advice” applies not only to things of a physical nature. The same application can be made to one that has not heard, or has not been given the opportunity to obey the gospel. They are not yet “in Christ” and therefore are not brothers or sisters, but what if we “do nothing” toward them?   What if we fail to give them those things that are needful to their soul? What doth it profit?   

      We may even try to “justify” ourselves in “doing nothing” or even “doing little” in the claim that folks won’t listen.   We never know the reaction folks may have toward the Word of God when it is preached or taught.   In Acts 17, while at Mars Hill, Paul could have done nothing.   The whole city was “given to idolatry” per vs 16.   When this golden opportunity was presented to Paul, the Spirit gave him “Words” to preach and some even listened.   Acts 17:32 tells us: And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.  The final verse of the chapter says that “some clave unto him and believed”. Did not his efforts profit?

    The Spirit also had Paul tell Timothy some things to “do” while they were separated by miles, and until they were united. 2Timothy 4:13; 15-16 is where this instruction is found. Much of this applies to us today as well. 13  Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  (15-16) Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.   This is sound advice in any age.  

     Does Romans 10:14-18 sound as though the Spirit had Paul teach the Christians there to “do nothing”? How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 

     If we do nothing, we die physically, and we also will die spiritually. Don’t you think it is time to do something?   Wake up!   Get moving for the Lord.   Call the lost to salvation and the erring to repentance through the gospel. Or. . . do nothing and die!

                                 Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

An Ode To A Good Woman

An Ode To A Good Woman

                             

    Mother’s Day is celebrated by many on this date, all over our country.  No doubt there are many mother’s that deserve honor.   All mothers that deserve honor are those whom we would call “good women”.   While we take a moment honor our mothers, let us not forget that this day is the Lord’s Day.    It is God who created woman, placed her along side of man, and gave her a great honor in that she could bear children.   Then she, along with the father, are to bring those children up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.  This was always the plan of God.

     Some mothers are so, simply because they gave birth to a child.   Others are mothers who “chose” children to raise because the birth mother could not – or would not face this awesome responsibility.   Honor is to be given to all mothers who accept this privilege and rise to the occasion.   All who do so, are surely good women. 

     Below is a poem, written by my Father-In-Law, approximately 35 years ago which shows he had a good understanding of God’s plan for mothers and the benefit of being the product of, and the partner to a “Good Woman”.   

                                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

 

An Ode To A Good Woman

I was talking to a man the other day,

Who was trying to “explain” the creation away.

His efforts to uphold the Evolution Theory,

Were quite a “bore” and made me feel weary.

He called it a theory, but to him it was fact,

And, theories never offer anything, exact.

So, I said to him, “Time about’s fair play.

I’ve listened to you, let me have my say.

God made the mountains, the hills and the trees,

The lakes and the valleys and the seven seas,

He made the morning and He made the night,

And everything He did came out just right. 

The last thing He did was to make a man,

From a little ball of clay that He held in His hands.

But He saw that the man shouldn’t be alone,

So, He made him a help-mate from one of his bones.

While Adam slept, the Lord took a rib

And made the first member of women’s lib.  

Now this lovely lady I will introduce,

Her name was Eve, and never was Bruce.

She was the last thing that the Good Lord made.

And the blame for all sin at her feet is laid.

But, let me ask you friend, now listen to me,

If it hadn’t been for her, where would I be?

I’d have no father, no sister or brother,

In fact, I wouldn’t even have a mother.

And who would have given the Savior birth,

When Jesus was born, to die on this earth?

Of all God made, both large and small,

If He hadn’t made a woman, He’d have ruined it all.

I know that my speech is a little long,

And, if you’d rather, I’ll sing a song.

But, first let me say, that we knobby-kneed men,

Shall never be pretty, and never have been. 

The woman has the looks, the “curves” and the smiles,

That turn every head as she walks down the aisle. 

If she would desire, we’d eat from her hands,

And if you have any doubts, ask a married man.

She “births” her babies and tends them with care,

And all good women are champions in prayer. 

A lot of us men would have never been saved,

Had it not been for women who were strong and brave.

Well, friend, thanks so much that you listened and stayed,

But the woman’s the greatest that God ever made.

Yet, while she’s so great, the Lord in His plan,

Never made her equal or the head of the man. 

Yes; God’s the creator and the woman did fall,

But if He hadn’t made her, He’d have ruined it all.” 

                                                                                     O. D. Wilson – deceased 

What Think Ye?

What Think Ye?

    The capacity to think, reason, and contemplate is something God saw fit to give only to humanity.   While the four-footed beasts may very well be trained, or seem to understand as owners/masters give commands and such, not one of them can reason.   Whatever “selections” these animals make as situations occur will not change their state after the breath of life exits their bodies for the final time. Much of what they do in life is dictated by instinct.  

     This is one all-important difference between us and our “dear furry friends”. Our choices have eternal consequences. We are sometimes asked to “opine” or give our opinion on religion or various other subjects. But does our opinion ever really matter?   We all have an “opinion” of ourselves, but we are cautioned in Rom 12:3 as The Spirit had Paul write that we are not to think of ourselves improperly. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  This should help us see that the Word of God is the standard, and not our opinion or what we think.

     Christ, while living on earth, used the phrase “what think ye?” to solicit a response from those whom He taught.   In Matthew 21:28 He asked the people to reason as He presented a situation to get them to reveal their thinking openly after they asked Him by what authority He did things.   But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  If they had really given thought to their answer, they would have realized that what Christ had done was to expose their hypocrisy.

     Unfortunately, like many today, they failed to grasp the idea the Lord was putting forth. He already knew what they thought and was aware that some of the Jewish leaders would rely on their own thinking about Him as they had done regarding the baptism of John, and as they were doing in regard to the Law of Moses.  While speaking with the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-42, Jesus used the same phrase “what think ye?” to put an end to the myriad of questions being asked which were designed to trick or ensnare the Lord in His Words. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.  He asked them what they thought about the messiah.   After their response, and a follow-up question by Jesus, vs 46 tells that none could answer and from that day the questions ceased. And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. 

     As our thoughts come from inside, they reveal how we feel or understand a situation. Often these thoughts are converted to words to express our desires in regard to that being contemplated.   In Matthew chapter 26 following the arrest of the Lord, He was being interrogated by the council, the chief priests and the elders. False witnesses were sought against Jesus so He could be put to death.  Initially none were found, but at last some were found who repeated something Jesus had indeed said, but “twisted” what He had said to make it an accusation, to suit the desires of the Jewish authorities.   When Christ made no response, the high priest asked Him directly if He claimed to be the Son of God. Christ’s answer in Matthew 24:64 caused quite a stir.  Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.  He was speaking of His authority.  

     The response of the Lord here elicited a demonstration from the chief priest that swayed the council to bring formal charges.   The priest tore at his clothes and leveled the charge of blasphemy against the Lord, a charge which under the Law was punishable by death. The chief priest then sought affirmation by the council. We read this in verse 66. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.    Oh, the indignities heaped upon our Lord, the Son of God by that council! The things done to Jesus were not even permitted by the Law of Moses.   The chief priest had gotten the council to “think” like he did and now they thought their desire to put an end to Jesus and His teaching would come to fruition.  

       What they could not know was that even death would not put and end to Jesus or His teaching. Previously in Matthew 16:13-15 Jesus had asked His disciples whom did man say He was and then asked the disciples (apostles elect) whom they said He was. In verse 16 we read of the response of Peter, which the Lord stated in verse 17 had been revealed by God. Then in verse 18 Jesus proclaimed death would not “end” Him, but following His death the long-awaited kingdom (the church) would come. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

     Then in Matthew 28:18-20 following Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, He met with the eleven, told them of His authority, and commanded them to teach and observe all He had taught them. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.    Now, the question for you is: “What think ye” of Jesus?   Will you submit to His authority and be obedient to the gospel and then live for Him faithfully until death? Remember, your choices have eternal consequences.  

                                                                                                     

                                                                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Disciples Indeed?

Disciples Indeed?

   When Jesus went about speaking and teaching, He made disciples. This means that there were many who believed in Him as well as many who decided to follow Him. There are 30 or so passages that reference folks who followed Jesus.  Some did so because of the miracles, some for other reasons. Some did so because they heard Jesus and accepted His message. These followers became His disciples.  Some were affected in other ways in what Jesus said and how He said it.    We read about this in John 7:45-46 when officers were sent to arrest Jesus, but could not.   Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this manThese officers did not become disciples of the Lord, even though they were affected by His Words. 

    The difference between these folks and His disciples per John 8:31 is explained by Jesus while speaking to some who believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  Then He told them in the next verse what benefit this would provide for them.  John 8:32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.   Notice that “continuing therein” is a condition given by Jesus whereby those who became His disciples could remain so.  This is how one is a “disciple indeed”. This means reading, studying and living that Word.  We read of this not only in John 8:31 (above), but also after the church was established the Spirit had Paul write in 1Timothy 4:15-16 to Timothy.   He had become a disciple by obeying and following the Word of God.   Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  He could only be a “disciple indeed” if he kept following and remained obedient to the Word.   The same is true for us even today.  

     There are those who begin being disciples and then fail to continue.  Why is this?  These surely are not “disciples indeed”.  When one questions what the Lord said, or what He had delivered to us through His Word, or begins to choose which Commandments to follow, can they continue to be disciples?   Jesus experienced this while He was still on earth.   In John 6:60 after hearing Words of Jesus that offended them, some began to question if they could remain His disciples, not considering the “spiritual” application of which Jesus spoke.  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?    Note also that when people begin to question the Word, this is when their discipleship begins to become unstable.  

    We read that even after the explanation Jesus offered, many still could not see that He was speaking of the spiritual nature of His kingdom.  In John 6:63-65 He again told them that which was given by the Father (the Word) was what would make (and keep) them disciples.     It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.  It is only through the Word that one can find the formula for being a disciple.  The Word is what calls us to Christ as we read in 2Thessalonians 2:14. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. But alas, in John 6:66 we see that some could not remain “disciples indeed”. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 

    Then, as we read on through John 6:67, we find the question that Jesus asked of His closest disciples in that day, and that all disciples need to ask themselves.  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?      As this is being pondered, we should always consider the inspired response of Simon Peter which is found in vss 68-69.    Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.    The fact that Christ is God’s Son is the very beginning of becoming a disciple indeed.  But, it takes more than just believing that Jesus is the Christ.      Jesus Himself addressed this in Mark 16:15-16 when He taught the eleven after His resurrection.   And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

     When we read of another account of the Great Commission, we find that the Lord, in Matthew 28:18-20, told the eleven what “disciples indeed” were to do after the Lord returned to His Father and the promised Comforter came.  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.    Go, teach the truth, baptize, and teach is what disciples indeed will do.  Living according to the Word of God makes one a disciple indeed.   Is that what you are doing as a disciple?             

                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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