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Are We Willing To Give It Our All?

Are We Willing To Give It Our All?

                As a part of our lives in this realm, at some point, we begin to purchase and possess.   We begin to learn the value of items, and the means by which we might “hold” these things for a while. Surely, we understand the material goods of this life, although sometimes expensive, are temporary at best.   This is very well demonstrated in the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16-21.   Here we read of one who truly believed he had all that he needed to sustain him through the remainder of his existence. How mistaken can one be? We can see in Luke 12:20 he would have no need of material goods where he was going. 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?
         This man had been truly blessed, but he failed to realize the value of the intangible. He had labored only for the “goods of this world”. Luke 12:21 gives the point of the parable.   So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.  Christ, in Matthew 16:26, addressed the value of the soul, and asked a question similar to the title of the poem below, written by my wife’s father over 45 years ago.   The Lord said: 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 would you give for your soul?
          How valuable is your soul to you today?   Can we not realize the great importance placed upon the soul in God’s dealing with mankind? Are we not willing to sacrifice now to ensure that our soul is saved when it departs from our bodies?   In Luke 9:23, Jesus explained what “giving it your all” entailed as He spoke to the Jews of His day who would see the kingdom come.   And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  God gave His all, and Christ gave His all so we could have this great opportunity.   In the latter part of Romans 5:8 we are told: “. . . while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

What Would You Give?

What would you give, ever to live,
Free from a world of suff’ring and pain,
Where there’s no heartaches, wrongs to forgive,
No sad partings again?

What would you give to have a true friend,
When you cross the Jordan so wide,
One on whom you can ever depend,
When you must cross the dark tide?
Jesus is that friend, Who will ever be true,
Land you safely over the foam.
All that you need He’ll give unto you,
Then you can live in that Home.

If you are lost, think of the cost,
That the Lord paid for us on that day,
Gave His own life to save us from Hell,
When we like sheep were astray.
Think of such love, sent from above,
Now is the time to prepare.
Better obey the gospel today,
So He will welcome you there.

O.D. Wilson – deceased

         Perhaps, you’ve never stopped to consider that we too, have a price to pay to inhabit that eternal home.   Yes, God gave His all, and Christ gave His all, but is that the only cost?   While discussing the cost of discipleship, the Lord, in Luke 14:28-30 used the example of building a tower without counting the cost to show the fallacy of beginning and not finishing.   For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.   If we have begun our journey to heaven, having obeyed the gospel, and have laid hold on the promise of eternal life, have we truly counted the cost? Are we willing to “give it our all” to ensure that we make it to heaven?  
         We have a fine Bible example in Paul, of one willing to do his part while here on the earth, and also what reward was expected in 2Timothy 4:6-8. He paid dearly while laboring on the earth.   For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  Don’t you want that crown?
     If you have not obeyed the gospel, you can’t expect that “crown” the Lord will give to the obedient and faithful.   What are you willing to do to partake of that eternal heavenly home?   Are you willing to sacrifice now, and “give it your all”?   What Are You Willing To Give?   Obey the gospel today!

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Strength In Christ

Strength In Christ

     Throughout our lives, and in various areas, we all become aware of the weaknesses we possess.   In the physical contests of our youth, we likely were “bested” by some of our childhood competitors.   Some seek to be “stronger, better, or faster”, by incorporating strength training into their regimen. As some grow up, they still continue to worry about physical weaknesses and inabilities, and some even turn to certain drugs or other synthetic substances to “enhance” their performance.
     Unfortunately, there are many who are unaware that spiritual strength is of greater importance than physical strength. The Spirit had the apostle write in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.   But, before one can be strengthened by Christ, one must be “in Christ”.   When one is “baptized into” Christ, they become “in Christ”.   We are told this is when spiritual life begins in 2Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
       We are aware that physical strength diminishes when muscles aren’t used. This type of strength also is reduced with age in most cases. This is where the differences between physical and spiritual strength becomes obvious.   We do need to be mindful that strength in Christ must be maintained, or we can lose it as 2John 1:8 admonishes. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.    However, our spiritual strength need not diminish with age. It is true, we can become “spiritual weaklings” if we allow it, but Ephesians 3:16 does remind us we can remain strong spiritually. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;   We are also told this in the latter part of 2Corinthians 4:16. . . . but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
         We shouldn’t have to be told that just because someone builds a gym near our house, it won’t benefit us if we don’t go in and exercise.   However, it seems that some Christians have to be reminded that just because they own a Bible, or just because they happen to attend services occasionally, this is not a guarantee of spiritual strength.   The “spiritual muscle”, the mind, must be exercised in order to remain strong.  In 2Timothy 2:1-2, the Spirit had Paul tell Timothy how to maintain his spiritual strength. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 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.   The same applies to us today.
        We are taught in Titus 2:11-12 what the grace of God is, and what benefit we can derive from it. 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;   From these verses, it should be obvious that God’s Word is what is meant by the grace of God. It is God’s Word that teaches, if we will take it in and learn from it.   In 1Timothy 4:7-8 the Spirit had Paul direct Timothy (and us) in the way in which is most important to “exercise” and also showed the difference in physical and spiritual fitness.   But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
        The Christians of Jewish nationality were reminded in Hebrews 5:12-14 that they were expected to grow and mature. Rather, some of them had not and were in danger of becoming apostate.   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. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But 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.  Some of them had not participated in the “spiritual exercise” that promotes growth and strength in Christ.  
       To ignore the need to exercise results in muscle atrophy and weakness. This is true in both the physical and spiritual part of man. If, and when we are weakened because of inactivity, we are much more likely to fall, and become injured. It seems the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can apply in both realms of life. Physically, through proper exercise, we can perhaps avoid injury and maintain health. Spiritually, we can best avoid apostasy, and also maintain our strength in Christ through the exercise of reading, studying, meditating in, and living by the Holy Word of God.  
        The Spirit had the apostle Peter write this to Christians in 2Peter 3:17-18, and it is equally applicable today.   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. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.   Christians, now’s the best time to start that spiritual exercise program and maintain spiritual strength.   Then we can also lead the lost to Christ, and help the erring to find their way back to the fold. Let’s all strive to be “strong in the Lord”.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

We Are Christians

We Are Christians

     Throughout the world, there are many claiming to be Christians. This is because of a misunderstanding of what a Christian is, and how one becomes a child of God. Various denominations declare several different ways in which one is entitled to wear this most honored name.   A perusal of a dictionary to determine what a Christian is, or how to become one is futile. There, one finds only the “generally accepted” definition or meaning of the term. The adjective form of the word is: relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings. As a noun, we find: a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity.   These are quite misleading as the terminology of many “self- described”, so-called Christians bears out. Many of these claim to be a "born-again Christian".   One who is a Christian is “born again”.
       We know this to be a reference to John 3:3 as Jesus expressed the soon to be revealed plan of God for Salvation. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus didn’t understand it then, and many fail to do, even today.   This is most apparent when some claim to be Christians and are still looking for a future kingdom.   Didn’t Jesus Himself say that the Kingdom was imminent in Matthew 4:17?   From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
        We also know that the kingdom has indeed arrived, as Colossians 1:13 shows that those who had been “born again” were in the kingdom. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:   Acts 2:47b also tells us where God placed these “born again” people.   And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. This has to mean that those who are “translated into the kingdom” are in the church. So, when one is “born again” he/she, is added to the church for which Christ died, and are become citizens in the kingdom of God.
        The question that must be answered is “how” is this accomplished.   We read in 1Peter 1:23 what produces a Christian.   Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.   Only when one follows the Word of God, and does what is directed can one be “born again”.   Perhaps this is what was on the mind of my wife’s father, many years ago when he wrote the song below. In it, he properly warns that the present is the time to obey the gospel, as well in song format, lays out God’s plan for saving the soul of man.  

We Are Christians

We are Christians, and there is just one reason,
It is because we have obeyed God’s Word.
No more or less, can guarantee finesse,
When the final verdict has been heard.
No need to ponder about that home up yonder,
Unless you’re sure you’re on the narrow way.
So, open up God’s Book, and do more than take a look.
Be sure that you are saved today.

Do not delay. This is the day, to make things right with God.
Believe in Christ, repent of sins, forsake the way you’ve trod.
And with the mouth confess the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
And be baptized, remit your sins according to His Word.
He’ll make you whole, and save your soul,
And you can sing this song.

We are Christians, and there is just one reason,
It is because we have obeyed God’s Word.
No more or less, can guarantee finesse,
When the final verdict has been heard.
No need to ponder about that home up yonder,
Unless you’re sure you’re on the narrow way.
So, open up God’s Book, and do more than take a look.
Be sure that you are saved today.

O.D. Wilson – deceased

       We are told in John 1:12 that those who “receive” the Lord are given the “power” to become sons of God (be born of God). But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Then in Romans 1:16 we read what that “power” is. 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.   Will you not obey the gospel today?   You can be a child of God, be a part of the kingdom, and a member of the church for which Christ died and a soldier of the cross.   All these terms mean the same thing.  
       If you’ve not done these things, you’re not “born again”, and have not become a Christian.   Let us help you become as God desires you to be. Let us show you in Gods’ Word what He says to do.   Don’t gamble your soul’s eternity, you’ll lose.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Free To Choose

Free To Choose

       As we arrived on this earth (were born), we were free. This means we were free of sin, as we are born innocent. When Adam and Eve were created, they were without sin. Genesis 3:5 clearly indicates that the serpent knew of Eve’s innocence, because he told her, 1) she would not die if they disobeyed God. 2) That if she ate of the forbidden fruit, she would then know the difference between good and evil. He also knew that man was created with the freedom to choose. 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. Satan had placed temptation before Eve, because he knew she was free to choose. From that time forward, Satan has used temptation against man, because it worked so well against the first man and woman. This temptation placed before Eve, brought about sin because she made poor choice.                    The eldest son of Adam and Eve also made poor choice. Cain chose to bring an offering contrary to what God had Commanded. We read of Cain’s first recorded sin in Genesis 4:3-5. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.    Then in Genesis 4:7a, we see where God told Cain how man’s choices lead one of two ways. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.   We see that Cain didn’t learn, as he let his anger rule over him, and as a result in Genesis 4:8 Cain killed his brother. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.   This choice also caused Cain to “depart from God’s presence” and make his own way in the world. He chose to not follow God.
      When God delivered the nation of Israel, His Old Testament people, from Egyptian bondage, they also were given the same choice.   Because they failed to serve God faithfully, they were sentenced to wandering in the wilderness for forty years.   All those above the age of twenty when they departed Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in that wilderness because of their choice. The faithful servant Moses led Israel as the Lord directed, all the way to the edge of the Promised Land, and had also delivered them God’s Law. We can read in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, not long before Moses died, God had him tell Israel how they could benefit from making the correct choice. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. Then, in Deuteronomy 30:19 the Spirit had Moses tell them what their choices were. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  
         This same choice is available today, in this, the final dispensation of time.   Christ came and died on Calvary’s cross, that we might have life. This is shown clearly in John 10:10b by the Lord Himself. He said: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. However, before anyone can have that life that Jesus promised and died for, one must make the right choice. In Matthew 11:28, we again read the Words of Jesus as He extended the invitation. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. This “rest” that the Lord offers is only available if we choose properly.   One can have the Salvation Christ promised, but only if they obey the gospel, and then continue to remain faithful to God in accordance with His New Testament Word. This is clear from Romans 1:16. 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. The simple fact that Salvation is offered to “everyone” proves each is free to choose.  
     John 3:16 is another well-known passage declaring that all have choice.   It is frequently misquoted, and often misapplied. 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. It is also stated in 1John 4:9 that one may have this life “through Him”.   In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  In John 3:5, before the great Sacrifice of Christ’s blood on Calvary’s cross was offered, Jesus told Nicodemus how one can be “born free” spiritually. He said: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
       Make choice – the right choice today – be “born free” in water and the Spirit, (be baptized), and then faithfully serve so you can remain free. We read in Romans 6:16 that choice of whom we serve, leads to a destination. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Be born free, and then continue to follow the Word to remain free.    

                        Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Am I Become Your Enemy?

Am I Become Your Enemy?

     Who is a true friend?   Would it not be someone who has your best interest at heart?   I am certain that one who is a friend will do all he/she can for the good of the ones they consider friends.   The same is true of God as He dealt with Israel and guided them toward the Promised Land.   This can be clearly seen as God made promise to them in Exodus 23:20-22 and also gave them the conditions of the promise.   Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. God was clearly their friend and He is ours as well.

     Can anyone be an enemy, while at the same time providing everything one needs to be successful in this life and also that which will prepare them for their eternity beyond this life?   Through His infinite Wisdom and Mercy, God has indeed provided these things for His children. 2Peter 1:2-3 is one passage that springs to mind.   According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

     In Galatians 4:16, the Holy Spirit had the apostle Paul ask the brethren in this region if because he told them the truth, was he no longer their friend? He was directed to write: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Should not one be considered a friend rather than an enemy simply “because” they tell you the truth for the good of your soul?  

     God has provided for this in a number of ways.   Before the New Testament was completed, the Holy Spirit was sent to give the inspired Word to men to record it and distribute it orally and in written form.   This is never so clear as it is in 2Peter 1:13-15 as the Spirit had the apostle write to the scattered brethren in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

     This is accomplished through the gospel, and the preaching of it. The Holy Spirit had Paul direct his young protégé thusly in 1Timothy 4:6. 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.   Again, in the second letter to this preacher, we find out how this is possible in 2Timothy 2:14-15, even in this present day after inspiration has ceased. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

       When the Word is studied, preparation is made and the message is to be declared. The admonition of 2Tim 4:2-3 was given to tell what to preach and why. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 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;   Then verse 4 states what happens that makes others consider the preachers and teachers of the gospel enemies rather than friends.   And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

     If indeed we study, learn, meditate on, and preach and teach the Word of God as well as live by it, should we not be considered as friends rather than enemies as we take this Word to others?   It is a fact that one cannot truly be a friend and an enemy at the same time. This is well demonstrated by the Lord Himself in His Words we read in Matthew 6:24, which is still under the Old Testament Law of God to Israel. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

   One New Testament application of this is found in James 4:4 as this was written to the church that was scattered abroad. God has never been an enemy to mankind. He sent His Son to die so we could have life. Will we not be a friend to Him and to Jesus? Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.   Don’t call the one who delivers God’s message an enemy.   They are trying to help you see what God has stated within His Word that you might save your soul from eternal condemnation.   Will you not consider God’s Message of Salvation, the gospel today? As Romans 1:16 states: “. . . for it is the power of God unto salvation . . . ”     He who sent it and He who delivers it are indeed your friends.

                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Does Your Diary Read?

How Does Your Diary Read?

        I know, I know, a diary is often kept by young girls, and perhaps mothers, and only sometimes by the males of the species. Perhaps the guys think the keeping of a diary makes them less masculine.   I suppose that’s why the ones who do, call their record of happenings a “journal”.   Whatever one calls the written evidence of their doings, it will likely be read by others at some point.  
        But, isn’t life itself a “diary”? God sees all and knows all.   We are assured of this in Psalm 33:13-14 as the Spirit guided the pen. The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.    We are also informed of this by what the Lord said to Samuel in 1Samuel 16:7b, as a king was chosen by God, at the insistence of Israel. . . . for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
        Even the Old Testament’s suffering servant was aware that the Lord knows everything that occurs here on this mundane sphere.   In Job 16:19, as he was in the midst of myriad tribulations, compounded by the stern rebuke of his so-called friends, he made this profound statement. Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. This is also supported in the New Testament in 1Timothy 5:24 which shows that either here, or in the hereafter, the record of one’s sins will be exposed. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
       Recently, I stumbled upon an anonymous article about a Bible’s diary.   We know a book can’t keep a diary. You might not even keep a diary. But, if you do, how does your diary read?   If your Bible kept a diary, how would it read? Would you be ashamed if someone read your diary?   Would you be ashamed if your Bible could keep a diary and someone read it?   Hopefully, it would not read like the one in the rest of this article.

Diary Of A Bible

JANUARY:
A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year.
They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now.

FEBRUARY:
Clean-up time. I was dusted yesterday and put in my place. My owner did use me for a few minutes last week.
He had been in an argument and was looking up some references to prove he was right.

MARCH:
Had a busy day first of the month. My owner was elected president of the
PTA & used me to prepare a speech.

APRIL:
Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading

from 1Peter 5:5-7. He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household.

MAY:
I have a few green stains on my pages. Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages.

JUNE:
I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings - one of the girls got married.

JULY:
They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish I could stay home;
I know I'll be closed up in this thing for at least two weeks.

AUGUST:
Still in the suitcase.

SEPTEMBER:
Back home at last and in my old familiar place. I have a lot of company.
Two women's magazines and four comic books are stacked on top of me. I wish I could be read as much as they are.

OCTOBER:
They read me a little bit today. One of them is very sick. Right now, I am sitting in the center of the coffee table.
I think the Preacher is coming by 
for a visit.

NOVEMBER:
Back in my old place. Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook.

DECEMBER:
The family is busy getting ready for the holidays. I guess I'll be covered
up under wrapping paper & packages again...just as I am every Christmas.

Author Unknown

     The Bible is a valuable tool the Lord has provided for His people. Use it as He intended that it be used. Don’t let it tell a story about you that reveals how little you read, study and meditate upon its contents.   Remember what Jesus said in John 12:48 about His Words? He 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.  Your life is a diary. Live it in full accordance with God’s Holy Word.   How Does Your Diary Read?  
Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

 

    

On Your Mark . . .

On Your Mark . . .

     One usually hears the above words just before the start of a race. This is to call attention to the contestants to get ready for the start of the event in which they participate, as well as to inform the observers of the beginning of the contest.   This seems apropos as we are all entering a New Year and as such, are all combatants in the “race of life”.   When the call is made to take your marks in a foot race, the course has been laid out, the direction is set, the lanes are indicated and the rules have been established and studied. This ensures that all “play by the rules” or be disqualified.
       Often when races are organized, the length of the race is established and often broken down into “laps”, or trips around the track or course.   Couldn’t we say that each year constitutes a lap in this race called life?   Those who are running this race are at different places on the track and therefore are on different laps, or years.   The analogy of a race is also used in Scripture as the Spirit utilized things from human existence, to guide us spiritually.
        When it comes down to it, the “race” which is of most importance is not a foot race, or some physical contest in this life, but that which determines where one will spend eternity.   The Spirit had the wise man of Israel pen the Words we find in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 to show that all races, including life will end. I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.   We’re all going to die. We just don’t know when.
         Since we don’t know when our “race” in this life will end, does it not make sense to always remain ready, committed, dedicated, active and working, so we won’t be weighed in the balances and found wanting?  
         But how does one remain ready?   Much in the same way an athlete stays in shape and ready for the physical contests of their particular discipline. The athlete must exercise, work and develop to be able to excel in whatever sport or contest they enter. In the same way, the Christian must remain prepared as the “race” each runs from earth to heaven begins when one is baptized into Christ and ends at the conclusion of life.   Of course, the award ceremony, when the reward is given takes place after the judgment.  
         Man has come up with a number of maxims for life, most of which have their origins from the Word of God. One that seems most fitting for this time of the year is: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.   In other words: “On Your Mark!” This race begins anew every day.   The Holy Spirit had Paul pen the Words of Philippians 3:13-14 to convey this very idea, and also that we might know for what we should strive. 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, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
          Another passage of note is 1Corinthians 9:24 which should remind us that if we are not on the team (not a Christian), or if we’ve “dropped out”, due to laziness or lack of effort, we needn’t expect to win the prize.   Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   We must first become a Christian through obedience to the gospel, and then continue to “press” toward the prize. To do this one must remain fit spiritually. This can only happen if the effort is put forth to do so.   2Timothy 2:15 provides the needed formula and routine to keep us in shape for the race.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
        Of a truth, the modern or ancient participants in the games do not, or did not just “show up” and soundly defeat all contenders, having had no training or preparation. Nor did they begin preparation the day before the contest.   The Lord, while here on earth, gives us insight as to how often we are to train. In Luke 9:23 we find this admonition. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. In John 9:4, in regard to His own work, Jesus explained why one cannot wait, else time may run out.   I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (Death)
          Perhaps that is why the Spirit had the apostle Paul write in 1Timothy 4:8 about focusing more on Spiritual fitness than on bodily exercise. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. How can we apply this?   Much like the Christians to which Hebrews 12:1-2a was written. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; . . .
            Christ spent His entire life on earth pleasing His Heavenly Father by doing His Will.   He set the perfect example before us and made the way to Salvation possible in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.   On which “track” are you running the race of life?   Where does it lead?   Do you need to change the path you are on?   The race is now.   On Your Mark . . .

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Way, The Truth, And The Life

The Way, The Truth, And The Life

       Much has been stated over the years about the Christ. Most know only what they have been told by others and have never read the Bible, the only source of truth about Christ, and what Jesus would have people do today.   Additionally, there are those who are embracing the ideas of “his truth”, “her truth” or “their truth” as though truth can be altered to accommodate a mood or situation. This type of allusion to truth is not Bible truth, nor is it the truth about the Christ.
      In John 14:6, we find a recorded passage, spoken by the Lord Himself to convey what He is, as well as His purpose for coming.   When Thomas asked “and how can we know the way?” Jesus replied: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. It is important to fully understand what this means as each of these describe the Christ, and none can have the blessing of the Father except through the Son of God.
       This was prophesied in Isaiah 35:8, long before the Word became flesh while God was still guiding Israel through the prophets till the Messiah should come. This was the only reason Israel was separated out as a nation. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. This was necessary as man has never been able to guide himself as Proverbs 14:12 shows. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Therefore, we all need a “way” and Christ is the only way that we can be directed to the Father that we might be saved eternally.
         The Lord also stated that He is “the truth”. In John 8:31-32 we find Jesus speaking to the Jews which 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; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Even these were not fully aware of the impact of the statement of Jesus here.  Verse 33 shows their misunderstanding and verse 34 shows unto what they were “bound”. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. (John 8:33-34).   Considered in conjunction with the Words the Spirit gave Paul in Romans 6:16 shows that we have choice in the matter.   We can choose to sin, or we can be obedient. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Obedience to the truth, and it alone, puts one on the right way.
         Jesus also stated that He is the life. Only the way of truth leads one to life. We are aware that we are “alive” now in the flesh. When Christ spoke of being life, He was not speaking of physical, fleshly life, as all of God’s creatures have been granted this.   In John 12:24-26 Jesus explained what true life is and how one is to walk the way of truth to have life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 
         This is also more fully explained in Romans 8:13-14 as the Spirit had the apostle Paul write. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.   We must “put to death” the deeds of the flesh to walk as the Spirit directs in the Word of God.   To be “led of the Spirit”, means to be guided by what the Spirit sent to mankind as promised by the Christ in John 16:13: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. The Spirit showed the apostles the only way of truth that leads to life.
        The “things to come” at the time of the apostles was the church.   After Christ died, was buried, and resurrected, He ascended back to the Father with His precious blood, the only atoning Sacrifice that was able to give life.   When the Lord was on earth, He told us in the latter part of John 10:10 why He came. He came to show us the way, give us the truth, and provide the means for eternal life. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.   That abundant life is eternal life.
        This is why He spoke the Words we find in John 6:63. This is also why He sent the Spirit to give us the Word. It is the spirit that quickeneth (maketh alive); the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.    I challenge you today to do as Moses directed God’s O.T. people, Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  Both you and those who follow you (your seed), can lay hold on that eternal life, if all will just follow the truth and travel the way God has provided through Christ and His Holy Word.   Christ is indeed “the way, the truth, and the life”.   Won’t you obey Him today? Let us help you find the way of truth that leads to abundant and eternal life.

                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Compromising Your Soul?

ARE YOU COMPROMISING YOUR SOUL?

   Many, upon being asked such a question will often seek to justify the way they live rather than admit they have compromised. A definition of the word compromise is: “to make a concession”.   Another is: “to accept standards that are lower than desired”.   When one compromises their soul, they have indeed made a concession. They are accepting standards of the world, and these are much lower than those set by God in His Holy Word.
       One point that must be made is that God does not compromise. His Word has not ever, now will ever change.   Psalm 119:89 is where the Spirit had the psalmist assure us of this.   For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. We can also see in Joshua 1:5 that as God did not abandon Moses, neither would He leave this new leader of Israel. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. God has also never compromised on His plan for His Son to come through Abraham’s lineage, then to die on the cross and be resurrected, offering Salvation for all men.   Even when many of Israel compromised and followed their own desires and served other gods, there was still a remnant that believed God’s Word and looked for the Promised Messiah. Some disciples followed the Christ when He came, and some were chosen to be His apostles.  
       The Spirit had the penman of the Hebrew letter inform the Christians of the Jewish nation of the same thing in Hebrews 13:5. This also tells us how we are to live our lives. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Then in verse 6, these same brethren were told that not even fear of what man might do unto them was to cause them to make compromises. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. The Spirit was encouraging them to not compromise their souls in any way.  
       How are some Christians compromising today?   Any, and every time the Word of God is ignored by those who have become children of God, through obedience to the gospel, they have compromised their soul. When the time to bring our offerings come and if we “stingily” give, or offer a pittance out of perceived necessity, we are compromising our souls. The Spirit had Paul address this in 2Corinthians 9:6-7 so those brethren would not compromise. This applies to Christians today as well. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 
        Some of the Hebrew Christians that were being enticed to return to the Law of Moses were compromising their souls by forsaking the assembly.   In Hebrews 10:25 they were being told not to compromise, but to encourage one another.   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.   Some Christians today are putting their souls in jeopardy as they forsake the assembly and “sin willfully” because of fear or for any other reason.
      Rather, in Romans 12:2 as the Spirit had the apostle Paul inform the brethren at Rome, all Christians are to avoid compromise in their lives in the same manner. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.   To “conform” is to comply with rules, standards, or laws.   In this case, the rules, standards and laws are those of this world.   To be “transformed” is to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.   Psalm 19:7 is one place we see how God’s Word “transforms”.   The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The Word of God makes wise he who hears or reads the Bible today and learns the true value of their soul. They will believe and obey the gospel.  
        Because some had obeyed the gospel, they knew what the Spirit had Peter write in 1Peter 1:18-19 to the scattered Christians. 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: Therefore, they strove to avoid compromise. This is also one reason Christian’s today are to never compromise.  
     James 1:25 tells how this was accomplished by the early Christians, and how it can be achieved even today. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. Notice this message instructs: (1) Look into God’s Word. (2) Continue in His Word. (3) Do what the Word says to do. (4) Receive blessings in this life and eternally. One who understands this also realizes one of the benefits a child of God receives as a result is the strength needed to not compromise.  
         Don’t compromise your soul. If you haven’t obeyed the gospel, look into God’s Word to see how to do so. Then never compromise. If you are a child of God, don’t compromise.   Your soul’s eternal destination is at stake.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Let's Talk About It

Let’s Talk About it

     All over the world, in many different languages, people are discussing, conversing, engaging in dialogue, exchanging ideas, or chatting about any number of different things.   All these are ways to convey ideas, or debate the differences in ways of thinking, or to educate others to the truth or a certain set of facts.   Some have even come up with fancy ways in which to describe a “one on one” discussion by calling such communication a Tête-à-tête.
     Talking is one way God directed man, and one of the ways mankind has to keep information flowing back and forth among themselves to educate, inform, govern, and guide society to live together in harmony, as much as is possible in this world.   The first recorded account of God speaking to man can be found in Genesis 1:28 following God’s formation of man, where man is told of his initial function as part of God’s creation.   And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
      The second recorded account of God directly speaking to man is found in Genesis 2:16-17, where God had prepared a paradise for man and placed him in that Garden. However, this time, when God “talked” to man, He did so by giving them a commandment to rule them.   Man was not “left to his own devises” or allowed to decide for himself how to exist. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
       The Commandments of God – His inspired directives to man for man’s own good are not subject to question or debate, nor are they too hard to follow as we are informed in 1John 5:3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.  
      Hebrews 1:1-2 explains that God has “spoken” to man in a variety of ways throughout man’s history.   Again, these directives are for the good of man and for the fulfillment of the plan of God for humanity.   God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;   But just because God once spoke to man directly, and later through the prophets, then by His Son through the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean that we don’t have some responsibility in the spreading of that Word.  
         God, in His infinite mercy, has within His Word, provided instruction that we are to “talk” about the directives of God to man. The children of Israel, in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 were “Commanded” to do so. This passage also instructs as to the regularity of so doing.   And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.   One is not to “pacify” him, or herself with reading, hearing, or even talking about God’s Word only when gathered to worship.    
        The suffering servant Job, in rebutting his so-called friends who had come to accuse him of wrongdoing, used a different term to describe his thoughts about that which had befallen him.   In Job 13:6-8 the word “reasoning” was employed.   Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips. 7 Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? 8 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? Job’s thoughts were put forth as words to express that which was on his mind.  
       The term “reason” can also be used to indicate “thinking” and “talking” as can be seen in Matthew 16:6-8. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
       This use of the term “reason” is also found in Isaiah 1:18.   The Lord wants us to think on, and talk of His Word and “reason together” as well as take it to those who desperately need it. Within that scripture, we also see that as we reason with others, from and regarding God’s Word, how they and we are to benefit.   Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
       In 1Peter 3:15 we find where the Spirit had that apostle pen the Words so we could know that we are to continue to “reason”, study, teach, preach, and spread the Word of God.   Souls are at stake.   But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
     As we read in Romans 1:16, the gospel is God’s Power “unto Salvation”. 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. Let’s talk about it!   Let’s reason together from the Scriptures and learn them and let’s follow them in all areas of life. 
                                                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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