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How Fathers Are To Be Heroes

How Fathers Are To Be Heroes

     The following is an excerpt from an article written by a father, who also was a son, about his hero.   I’ll reveal the source at the conclusion of the article excerpt.

     All of us have been young. The young have no corner on that market, so what do I think is different today than when I grew up? My hero was my father and his hero was God!! My hero made sure that all the “rages” of youth were calmed by God’s Word, not the sheriff’s department.     It was not what WE WANTED, that took precedence, but what God wanted and what would make us God’s useful servants. He was not perfect, but his hero was and we were taught to look past imperfection to perfection.   It was not a tyrant, but a guide to God that molded my life; it was not what was popular, but what was right by God’s standards that decided.   And, he was ably assisted by a godly woman that allowed him to be our hero even when it might have been contested.   She stood beside him like a rock!!

       He installed us with a passion that abided in his soul (that’s where all children’s faith begins). He showed us an uncompromising love for the Word of God (one to be passed on to our children); an overwhelming, all encompassing desire to fill our lives with the desire of God, not those of some man, and it didn’t matter who they were!!   No, he is not perfect, and I don’t agree with him all the time on what he says or does, but I have tried all my life to follow in his steps as he has followed Christ, and sometimes I have stepped in real deep.   I thank God for having a father who is/was my hero.       I had a jump-start advantage most people had to earn in the study of the scriptures.   This was given me by his teaching and example.   It makes a real impression on a young man to see his father cry, spend sleepless nights, and give up the easy life because the church Christ died to save was more important to him than life!!    

     It became my help to fall back on when I needed it most, and I am trying to show my sons and daughter the same faithfulness. You may not have had a father like mine, but all those who have not been so blessed can be that type of blessing to their children!   Again, Dad, who is your hero? Who is the hero of your wife, your sons, your daughters, and your friends?   I hope it is you. I pray you will have the love of God in your heart to stand up for God in a perverse world and be counted; that you will have a wife that will allow you to be a hero. Your children need you!!

Joe David Wilson – deceased

     The author of the article from which this excerpt was taken was the brother of my wife, Linda.   He was a faithful gospel preacher, the son of a faithful gospel preacher and the father of preachers.   He finished his earthly mission two years ago as of the 23rd of this month.   While here, as his father taught him, he stood for God and he stood as hero in the lives of his family.   Examples like this are needed in the church today.  To whom do we look?  

     Many look to the mighty, the strong, or the courageous of the world. But we have an excellent passage from the Word of God in Hebrews 11:32-38, which shows that real heroes are those who serve God faithfully in this life. This is in addition to all the “heroes” listed in the “honor roll of the faithful” in the first part of Hebrews chapter 11.   And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

     Many fathers of the world are being honored on this “Father’s Day”, but how many fathers are concerned about being the types of heroes that God would have them be.   Christian fathers, make the on-going effort to become the hero of your children.   There is very clear guidance from the Word of God that is applicable to all Christian fathers.       Ephesians 6:4, instructs the fathers how to become their children’s heroes.   And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.   

     It is not too late to begin “molding” yourself into the hero your children, and your wife needs. Each Christian man has a sacred responsibility to their families.   The souls of those you love are depending on you.   If you are not a hero for them, you not only let them down, you let God down as well. Think about it!   Be a hero!  

                                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Seek and Ye Shall Find

     In Luke 11:1, one of Jesus disciples asked Him to teach them to pray as John had taught his disciples. Following this, the Lord gave them a basic formula for prayer which many have used from that time forward. In verses 9-10 we find some instruction from the Lord, which like much of His instruction to man, has been mis-quoted, misused, and abused.   He said: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Many have applied this saying of Jesus to His disciples to most everything one can imagine.  

   Our Lord was not saying this in regard to any and all things man might desire.

Have you ever played “hide and seek” as a child? Even this innocent little game can teach us a valuable lesson regarding this instruction of the Lord.   When, as children we played hide and seek, there was a definite objective to our seeking. We were seeking the one who was hiding.   In Luke 11:13 the Lord showed His disciples what it is for which they should be “seeking”.   If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him

   One must also be aware that the four times the Lord promised the Comforter, He was speaking to His apostles.   In John 14:26 Jesus said: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.   Then, in reading John 16:13 we understand that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit.   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.  Again, this was spoken only to the apostles. They were to receive the Comforter, the Spirit, and the Words He spoke were from God and would show them things to come. That which was to come was the church.

     As the apostles received the Words of the Spirit, they would deliver them at the right time, to the right people, and at the right place. In so doing, the keys of the kingdom would open the doors of the church for the entrance of souls.   Before His ascension, the Lord, in Acts 1:4-5, gave instructions to His chosen apostles that would set things in order for them to carry out the work for which He had chosen them. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 

Then, in verse 8, the Lord told them what this work would be and all the places it would be carried out.   But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

     That which the Lord sent to the apostles and to others to deliver and also to record, is the New Testament Word of God.   It is that Word that instructs one how to be saved and the means by which one can have salvation. The Holy Spirit had given God’s O.T. Word to prophets that they might prophesy of the coming of the Son of God.   Jesus, in John 5:39 spoke to the Jews that would not seek Him or Salvation.  He said: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  Jesus also told some of the Pharisees in the latter part of John 10:10 what it was they should have been seeking.   I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  He was speaking of spiritual life which is “in Christ”.

     From these two passages, should we not understand what it is we should be seeking and where we will find it?   We should be seeking eternal life, and can only find it in the scriptures, the Word of God.   The Spirit had the apostle Paul write to the church in Rome regarding this very thing.   The plan of God had not been revealed in Old Testament times as the Law given to Israel, the people of God, was in force until Christ paid the price for salvation. In Romans 16:25-26 Paul wrote that God’s plan was now made known through the scriptures.  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

     What are we seeking? Are we seeking the treasures of the world? Will the things of the world save? Remember the Words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 as He cautioned His disciples? Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  All of the things of the world will perish when the world perishes.   Then in Matthew 16:26 Jesus told them that seeking the world and its treasures would cost them their souls. 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?    For what are you seeking? Where are you looking?   Look to the Word – Seek the saving of your eternal soul.   Do so before it is everlastingly too late.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Without God

WITHOUT GOD

God knows and He Loves like no other,

Understands when we’re misunderstood.

His all-seeing eye knows every reason why,

That we’re bad when we should do good.

God is no respecter of persons,

There is room in His Loving heart for all.

He’s what no one else can be, and is number one with me.

If I follow Him, I know I’ll never fall.

Without God, we’re as leaves in a strong wind,

Or raindrops the clouds release to fall,

Or the mourner who has lost his last friend,

And the stranger, who has no friend at all.

And, it’s not in man that walketh,

To direct his own steps for his good,

But to bridle his tongue, when he talketh,

And to do the good things as he should.

Without God, we must face death alone,

Find our way through the valley so dark.

When my time comes to leave for my long home,

May my Lord meet me, as I embark.

       The poem above, written by O.D. Wilson, my Father-in-Law in the early 1980’s.   In this poem, he expressed ideas about which all should stop and think.   In this world today there are countless numbers of people who have ignored God, forgotten about Him and have refused to receive or accept His Word.

     This is not a new thing in the existence of man. In Genesis 6:5-6 we can read how that man forgot God and lived their lives accordingly. God who sees all and knows all was fully aware of how man had forsaken Him.   And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  Because of this, God destroyed the world with the great flood and all those not on the ark God had Noah build perished without God.  

     Even following the flood and the “cleansing” of the world, God made Himself known to Noah and His Sons, and in Genesis 9:8-13, made a perpetual covenant with them and their seed that followed them, as well as with all living things. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.  Without God, there would have been no salvation from the flood, nor would there have been a world to be flooded.

     But God was there, and He still is.  God provided deliverance from the flood so man, God’s crowning creation would still exist and so that God’s great plan for the Salvation of souls could come to fruition.   God formulated that plan even before creation, and all of God’s Promises are carried out.     Even after God’s Great rescue of Noah’s family, when Noah had been obedient to the directions God gave about the ark, it was not long before sin again raised its ugly head.   James 1:14 tells where temptation originates, and verse 15 informs as to the end of those who ignore God and try to make it through this world without God.  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

   In the carrying out of the plan of God to bring Salvation to man, He separated out a people, the Jews.   It was through them that God’s Son, Jesus was to be born and He would live His life under the Law God gave to those people, to bring them to Christ.  When that was accomplished, and the church was begun, God directed that His Word be preached to all men everywhere.   Those who would receive and accept it would not be “without God”.   In Ephesians 2:11-12 the Spirit had Paul write: Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

      Don’t be like the Ephesians before their conversion. Don’t be without hope and without God in the world.   Obey the gospel today.   We can help you!

                                                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

CPR For the Soul?

CPR For the Soul?

     Ever taken a CPR class?   Those of us who have, know that one of the first things one learns is that CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.  The purpose of CPR is to restore partial flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart when an event has interrupted that flow. The objective is to delay tissue death and extend the brief window of opportunity for a successful resuscitation without permanent brain damage. The heart (blood pump), lungs and brain are all parts of our physical bodies; therefore, the term CPR cannot be rightly applied to the soul of man.  

     There is however, a Biblical principle in which the soul can be revived when sin has been allowed to do severe damage to that soul.   This can only be fully understood in light of scripture. In Genesis 2:16-17 we find the Commandment of God to Adam in the Garden of Eden.   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.    We are also told in 1John 3:4 that breaking God’s Law is sin. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.     When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they broke God’s Law, but did not experience immediate physical death. From this, we can surely conclude that they died spiritually.  

   James 2:26 tells us death is a separation. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  So, when one is “separated” from God by sin, the soul needs to be revived by bringing it into a proper covenant relationship with God in accordance to His Word. God’s plan from before time began was to redeem the souls of men. All of God’s dealing with man from the time of Abraham was to bring His Son to earth through the descendants of Abraham so that in the fullness of time, the souls of man could be revived and through His Son have the promise of eternal life.

    Jesus, in the latter part of John 10:10, states His whole purpose for coming to earth. . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  The means for this was to be provided by Christ and His death on Calvary’s cross.   However, none were “automatically” saved upon the event of Christ death. Jesus taught that this could not occur until the kingdom came for which He died. In John 3:3 the Lord explained to Nicodemus that one must be “born again” which shows that this is a spiritual birth. This is when the soul is revived. 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.  Then in John 3:5-6 Jesus also explained the way in which that birth would occur would be in baptism “for the remission of sins”. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  When one is “born again”, one enters into the kingdom and a proper covenant relationship with God. When something is new, it usually works as it should. 2Corinthians 5:17 tells us: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

     But what happens when a child of God no longer functions as they should and their soul has need of reviving?   Again, Spiritual CPR, is not taught in the Word of God, but there are things we need to do to maintain our spiritual health so drastic measures aren’t required. 2Corinthians 4:16 clearly indicates that our soul needs to be “renewed” daily for optimal performance. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. How is this accomplished? 2Timothy 2:15 is a great place to start.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

     The idea of spiritual exercise for the benefit of our soul’s well-being had been previously addressed in 1Timothy 4:6-9 as the Spirit had Paul write.  Timothy was to help his brethren to remain fit spiritually.  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. 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. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

     Because CPR for the soul is not a real thing, we are to help our brethren to do all they can to maintain a strong and healthy soul. Hebrews 3:13 is one of the scriptures that shows that we are to encourage each other before souls are irreparably harmed.   But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. We don’t want any Christian to become as those described in 2Peter 2:20. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  If you are a child of God, and your soul needs to be revived, repent and pray as Acts 8:22 tells an erring Christian to do.   If you are not a Christian, you’ve not been born into the kingdom and your soul is in danger of eternal separation from God.   Obey the gospel today.          

                                       Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Art of Overcoming

The Art of Overcoming

    We live in perilous times. There are different difficulties to be faced now than there have been in our recent past.   It seems to be the mindset of some that we will not be able to overcome “if” we get the virus.   Of course, this life offers many other areas in which we need to overcome as well. Every kind of evil is contrary to us and we must be careful not to allow evil to overcome us.   In Romans 12:21 we find the Spirit having the apostle Paul warn the church of Rome, (as well as we), that we can know the “Art of Overcoming”, and also how to accomplish it. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

     This idea of “overcoming” had already been addressed with the brethren that assembled in Rome. That which we allow to control us is that which we allow to overcome us. Romans 6:16-18 shows that the Roman Christians had indeed overcome.   Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousnessThese people had once served the world, but had now yielded themselves to the Lord and His Word and were, at the time of this writing, faithfully serving God.  

       Jesus, in speaking to His apostles elect in John 16:32-33, informed them that they were to going to face some severe situations, but also encouraged them by telling them He had provided them with the example to follow. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world

      John 6:38 also provides us another example from the Lord that we might be successful in overcoming while here in this world.   He said: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.If we expect to overcome, we too must do the Will of God.   God has provided His Will for us in His Word.   In His Word, God has also richly supplied us with the needed instruction and encouragement, so we will know how to fulfill the Will of the Father.  

       When things are difficult, when times are tough, and when it seems that we may not be able to overcome, there is much in God’s Word to help us.   Often when folks read about the “armor of God”, they seem to stop reading at verse 17, and not take into consideration the fact that we have to not only put on the armor of God, but we also have to persevere.   Notice this passage, and pay particular attention to the 18th verse (Emphasis DPS). Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saintsEphesians 6:13-18. Just putting on the armor does not provide on-going and continual protection. If we are to overcome, we must also persevere.  

     Often, we need encouragement in the various areas and activities of life. The Lord has also provided for this. Although the word “encourage” is not found in the N.T., there are plenty of scripture to help us to overcome. We might look to such well-known passages as Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  This has often been used as a mantra by many and applied in every aspect of life, and often otherwise is misapplied, but was spoken for the encouragement of the Christians there.       

     There are also many N.T. passages that encourage Christians to “stand fast”. These are given so Christians, even in the face of persecutions and tribulations will remain strong in the faith. Again, in looking to the Philippian letter, we can read in Philippians 1:27 that a person, or congregation’s manner of life should indicate that they are indeed persevering.   Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; Then, there is the assurance we receive from 1Thessalonians 3:8 that we can only “live”, if we continue to persevere.   For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.  This is stating that to persevere is a condition of continuing to live spiritually.

     We know from 2Peter 1:3 that the gospel supplies us with all we need, but even that which is supplied is ineffective if it is not applied.   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:    Use God’s Word as it should be used to 1) become a child of God. 2) Exercise the Art of Overcoming.   Your soul’s eternal destination is at stake.

                                Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Teach Me, O Lord

Teach Me, O Lord

       It is quite interesting to me that the only place in the Bible one can find the phrase “Teach me, O Lord” is found in the book of Psalms. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. (Psalm 119:33) There are a number of passages within Psalms (and one in Job) that have the phrase “teach me”, but none are found in the New Testament, or elsewhere in the Old Testament.    However, it is equally interesting that teaching by the Lord was in place long before the Spirit had the Psalmist pen the Words “Teach me”.   We read in Exodus 4:12, when Moses made his final excuse, God refused this and all other excuses Moses offered when He told Moses:  “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

     Moses was given what to say, what to do and how to do it. God successfully led Israel our of Egyptian bondage by teaching Moses what to do.   Moses then, as directed by God, taught Israel so they would know what to do and how to do it when they entered the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 4:1 we can read God’s directives to Moses for the people.   Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.  Then in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 we read how this instruction from the Lord was to be perpetuated among Israel. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 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. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.    We all know what happened to Israel as they continually refused to adhere to God’s teaching.

     Even after God showed His great mercy and brought Israel into the Promised Land, He sent many different prophets to warn Israel repeatedly. God’s great plan for the salvation of souls began to be fulfilled when, in the fullness of time He sent His Son, born of a virgin in Bethlehem.   He lived His life doing God’s Will as the latter part of John 5:30 tells us: . . . I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.   And, in the ultimate expression of love for His Father and for mankind, gave His life on the cross of Calvary.

       God has continued to teach man throughout history. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we see the means by which God’s “teaching” was delivered to man.   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;  And Jesus, while here on earth chose twelve men who would deliver His message after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. In John 14:26 we read the promise of the Lord to these twelve that ensured that the message would be taught and have no errors.   He said: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you

       As the “teaching of the gospel” was delivered first at Pentecost A.D. 33 in Jerusalem as God had planned, those who were taught, and obeyed the gospel were saved. The way the message was delivered was preaching as the Spirit (Comforter) gave it to the apostles.   Not everyone appreciated the message and some even persecuted folks for teaching others how to be saved.   We read in Acts 8:3-4 of one who tried to destroy the church and what those that were scattered abroad did. This ensured that even more folks were taught. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word This means they were teaching the Word of God even as they fled the persecutions.

     What about today? Can we not see the pattern established during the early years of the church for which Jesus died?   The gospel was preached and folks heard, believed and obeyed it. Having become Christians, and upon receipt of more teaching, these people sought others to teach.   Is this not what the Great Commission teaches?   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. (Matthew 28:19-20)

     We cannot just “sit back” and expect God to teach us. I am afraid that is what some expect.   In 2Peter 1:3 we see that God has supplied the material and the means by which we can access His teaching. 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:  We need to heed the Spirit’s advice to Timothy from Paul in 2Timothy 2:15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  This is how Words of Jesus which are found in John 6:45 can be best applied.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.  Learn His Word – Obey it.   Be taught of the Father.        

                                                 Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Honoring Mothers

Honoring Mothers

      On this Sunday, more than any other during the year, folks pay tribute to, and honor mothers in this country.   This is in part due to the holiday so named in the 1900’s to recognize mothers for their love and devotion throughout the year.  It is my understanding that this “holiday” is observed in some manner in over forty countries of the world.  

     There is a real good reason to honor mothers, as God instituted marriage when He taught Adam and Eve, who would be the first parents, in Genesis 2:24 even before Eve had borne a child.   This was just after God had created Eve from the rib of the man, Adam.   Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.   He told them how the world was to become populated.   Following the exile of the man and his wife from the Garden of Eden, Genesis 4:1 tells us when the fact of motherhood came to be.    And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 

      When God began to carry out His plan to bring a Savior to mankind, He had separated to Himself a people, the descendants of Abraham, for the purpose of bringing His Son so He could die on the cross to bring about the remission of sins.    God gave these people, Israel, a Law (His first written Law) soon after He delivered them from Egyptian bondage.   In the fifth commandment of the decalogue, Exodus 20:12 where the Ten Commandments is first found, is the directive to “honor” their parents.   Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.   God was leading these errant children of Israel to the Promised land.  These “Laws” were repeated in Deuteronomy chapter five as well as in Mark 10:19 by the Lord as Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler under the O.T. Law. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  

      The Spirit also had the apostle Paul address this in the N.T and repeat the same commandment in Ephesus 6:2-3.   Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.     As God has given and repeated this “commandment” in both of His Written Laws to His people, we should see the importance of being keepers of these Laws.    The mothers in this, the N.T. age have a solemn responsibility when it comes to their children.  In 1Timothy 5:14 we see part of what they were to be doing. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.  Those who had already raised their children still have a serious charge as they are to help the younger mothers and set the right example per 2Timothy 2:4-5That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

      All parents are included in this all-important aspect of child rearing.  We have already mentioned Ephesians 6:2-3 (above), but as we see this verse in the full context of Ephesians 6:1-4, we can readily affirm that both parents are responsible to see that the child being properly reared.   As the husband is head of the wife, the wife (mother) has a large part in what is taught in the home.   Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

      We see in 2Timothy 1:5 that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had not only attended to his physical needs, but saw to his spiritual needs as well.   This is what God intended so that children would be properly instructed.  When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.  The instructions Timothy received as a child were provided by these godly mothers as they kept him in “the scriptures as 2Timothy 3:15 tells us.   And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.   Timothy was surely brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” due to the efforts of these dedicated mothers.   They definitely deserved honor.     

     In John 19:26-27 we see Jesus on the cross, not long before His death, give an excellent example of what it meant to “honor” His mother.    He provided for her after His departure, even before He left.   When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.    This is what it means to “honor” the parents that raised you and provided as God intended.   They “took care of you” – You are to take care of them.  

      Let us honor our mothers on this day as tradition has taught us.  But let us also give even more honor to those faithful mothers who have brought up their children to love God and serve Him in full obedience to His Holy Word.  

                                                Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ 

The Power Of Decision

The Power of Decision

Today, I stand on the top of “Mt. Achievement”.  It is truly a scenic and beautiful place, one that gives to me a certain feeling of peace and relaxation after the long, rugged climb.  It satisfies every dream and aspiration that were mine at the foot or the mountain and many miles and years below.     You see, Mt. Achievement is a rather distinguished “plateau”, reminiscent of the distant past, and is honored as the meeting place, and famous intersection of several popular and greatly traveled highways of life’s varied and exploratory wanderings.

I have traveled the highway of “Hope” all the way up the mountainside.  Ah, the optimism and expectancy of hope.   Hope, for all that which is good and right, maketh not ashamed, but, is rather a welcome guest in the reality in every God-given promise.   Although it has no definite prophetic finality, it does inspire the farmer as he plows, the expectant mother as she awaits the joyous arrival of her first new-born, the resurrection of a penitent believer from the waters of baptism to walk in the blessings of forgiveness and a new and rewarding life in Christ, and ends in fruition when faith becomes sight at the end of the trail. 

The highway of hope intersects with a winding road called “Choice”.  This is indeed the highway of beginnings, and I needed to consult my “road map of experience” before making a turn.  I noticed that no “arrows” pointed to the direction I was to follow, but since it is my responsibility to make a choice, the use of an arrow would be inconsistent.  

On this superhighway called “Choice” there are many road signs: “Travel at your own risk”; “Watch For Falling Rock”; “Winding Road”; “Meditation”; “The Right Decision”.  And, there were many side roads: “Believe God’s Word, But Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide”; “The New Testament Church Meets One Thought To The Right”; “Yield Not To Temptation”; “One Drink Won’t Hurt You”; “Don’t Let The Facts Confuse You”; “Millions Of People Can’t Be Wrong”, “No Hell Advocates – This Way”, and many others.  

Well, today I must make a decision, and the urgency of the hour causes my very soul to tremble at the mere thought of it.   Legion is the name of the wrong decisions I have previously made, and I have far more confidence in my “behind sights” than in my “foresights”.   The future, and the possible short projection into it is invaluable.  I must give thoughtful, prayerful, and precautionary consideration before it is made.  

O.D Wilson – (deceased)

    The above article was written in July 1981 by my Father-in-Law.   In the years he was granted from that time until his death in 1995, he had many choices to make as opportunities became available.   No doubt he consulted his “road map of experience” on many occasions to ensure that he made sound decisions as he continued his journey.   Each of us must do the same.

     One of the things he impressed on me was the benefit of having the proper attitude in every area of life so that the decisions we make don’t take us down the wrong roads or the paths that lead to destruction.  Remember, there are no “arrows” on the road of life to “make you” take the right roads.  One must make choices and must bear the consequences of the choices made.  The decision to become a child of God is the most important one can make.   But, if one does make that decision and begins that journey, and then fails to maintain a proper attitude, the road becomes awful “rocky” and difficult.   One with an improper mindset is much more likely to take “side roads” in life that lead away from Christ and the proper relationship with God.

    The Bible does not contain the word “attitude”, but the concept is very clearly taught in the Sacred Writ.  In the Galatians letter, we find the Spirit having Paul, in Galatians 5:7-9, pointing out that 1) these folks had obeyed.  2) some were later hindered.  3) the “attitude” maintained by the hindered brethren was not from the Lord.   4) And, left unaddressed, this would likely adversely affect the entire church in that region.   Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.  It seems quite obvious that an “attitude adjustment” was badly needed.  

    Sin, of any form is “leaven” in that it will affect the whole if not properly dealt with.  This is why the Spirit, in 1Corinthians 5:6-7a had Paul write brethren who had a situation among them, about which, some had the wrong attitude.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.   When times are difficult, decisions still have to be made.   We all are to maintain the proper attitude toward God and our fellow man whether the times are good or bad.    Choices are often made dependent on one’s state of mind.   The state of mind is the attitude.  

    We all have “time on our hands” during the present situation.   Let’s use some of that time to reflect on, and examine our own attitudes and how these will determine the “paths” we take and where these paths and roads are leading.  Our journey is ours to take – Let’s not allow our attitudes make the trip harder.

                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Getting Ready For the Harvest

Getting Ready For The Harvest

     I recently read that there are a larger number of people than usual that are preparing gardens this year.   The author of the column in which this is stated surmises that folks are doing so this year because of the coronavirus and the requirements to participate in social distancing as well as the fact that many are restricted from going in to work.   This gives them “something to do” with their free time.  This is also the time of year to plant gardens and such.   All of this is in anticipation of the harvest in the fall and enjoying the “fruits of their labor”.  

    The idea of the “harvest” is not foreign to the Bible.  Harvest is mentioned 48 times in 43 verses in the O.T.   The first occurrence of “harvest” in the Bible is when God is promising to never again destroy the whole earth with flood.   In Genesis 8:22 God made this solemn promise:  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.   Of course, this “harvest” is in regard to the harvest of the field and the produce of the land.   This is what Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve was doing with his time – planting and harvesting – sowing and reaping as Genesis 4:2 points out. 

     As we move into the N.T. portion of the Bible, we find the first time “harvest” is used, was when Christ spoke of it.    In Matthew 9:36, we find that Jesus was moved with compassion toward the multitudes “because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”     Then in verse 37, Jesus turns to His disciples and said: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” and then gives them the instruction we find in verse 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.    We were told in verse 35 of the same book and chapter that as Jesus was going through the area, He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom (the church) for which He would give His life on the cross, and the application is one that extends to us – even today.   

      In Galatians 6:7, after the church had been established, the Spirit had the apostle Paul write about a “harvest”, but has him use the word “reap”.  In this passage we also read that the “sowing” and “reaping” is not dealing with crops, but how we live our lives in response to God’s Word.    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  This is readily apparent in verse 8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.   Then, as we read Galatians 6:9, we see a principle that is true in all applications of “planting and harvesting” or “sowing and reaping”. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

       These verses may help us to understand that our labor must continue until the time of harvest.   In the realm of gardening or horticulture, one has to continue to cultivate the plant until the fruit or the desired result is produced.   Another important aspect of this is that whatever seed you put in the ground, you can expect the result to be the same fruit or vegetable when harvest time arrives.    As applied to our lives, I cannot see how Galatians 6:8 could possibly be more plain.    One cannot live a life of sin and debauchery, or even one of failure to serve God, and expect to “reap” something different than that which is different than what was sown.   Sin sown does not reap Salvation!

       As Jesus spoke those Words in Matthew 9:37-38 (above), He was speaking to those who followed Him during His earthly ministry.   These were folks who would have the chance to be part of the kingdom and become “laborers” in the church and be able to plant and water.   The Spirit had Paul speak of this great opportunity each Christian has in 1Corinthians 3:6.   The laborers were Paul and Apollos.  They were preparing the “hearts” of the people; implanting the seed and then watering (nurturing) that seed.   When the seed produced, it was God that provided the increase.    I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  The latter part of Acts 2:47 tells how this increase takes place.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  This means God saves all who were baptized into Christ in obedience to His Word. 

      Jesus often spoke to the people of His day in parables.   In the explanation of the parable of the soils in Luke 8:11-15 we are told what that seed is and where it needs to be planted to produce the harvest God desires.   Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience

      All the laborers need to be diligent is sowing the seed of the kingdom, the Word of God, and watering as needed.  At the same time, we need to prepare for the harvest; for the time when we as individuals will reap what we have sown.    What have you “sown” in your life?    That is also what you will “reap”!    For what kind of harvest are you getting ready?  Think about it!

                                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Don't Worry - Be Happy!

Don’t Worry – Be Happy!

     Who doesn’t remember the 1988 fun song written and performed by Bobby McFerrin?   I’m surprised that someone has not “revived” this song to help us as we all deal with the difficulties associated with the current virus.  Perhaps this song is not being sung due to the fact that things are still difficult in so many areas.   Things will likely remain tough and may even become worse.   But the words of this cute song might very well, at least bring a smile to our faces, even in tough times. 

Here's a little song I wrote

 You might want to sing it note for note

 Don't worry, be happy

 In every life we have some trouble

 When you worry you make it double

 Don't worry, be happy

 Don't worry, be happy now

      Life is full of worry, but that does not mean happiness can’t be ours.  After the Lord taught His apostles the lesson of humility by washing their feet, He also gave them another valuable lesson.  In John 13:16-17 He told them the secret for true happiness.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.  

     Even when times are tough and when we are afflicted, we can still be happy.  In James 5:10-11 we see what the Spirit had James write on this subject.  Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

     There is the chance that we may suffer for doing what God has Commanded. If that proves to be the case, perhaps we should be reminded of 1Peter 3:14 as it also informs that even then, while we suffer, we can be happy.    But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;   This was so important that something very similar was also stated in 1Peter 4:14, and that God is glorified in this.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.  In verses 15-16 we are instructed in the things in which we are to NOT be involved and that we are to never be ashamed for serving God, but that we are to glorify God in our tribulation.    (1Peter 4:15-16)     But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  

     Happy and Joyful are often used interchangeably.  There is no doubt that one who is happy exhibits joy.   In 2Corinthians 7:4-5 we can see that Paul was joyful even in times of tribulation.    Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.   Then in verses 6-7 we can see that consolation exists even during times of mourning.  Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

     Perhaps people allow themselves to “block” their happiness because they are too prone to worry.   But the Bible also deals with this.   Philippians 4:6 tells us how we are to deal with worry.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   The word “careful” here means “anxious”.   Anxious by definition is: experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.       The truth is, there is no need to worry about things over which we have no control.  There is also no real need to worry about the things over which we do have control.   For instance, we have full control over our Salvation if we but do what God has Commanded in His Word.   We needn’t “worry” about it, but we must “work” at it. 

     In Philippians 2:12 the Christians there had to maintain their Salvation which is in Christ.  We too must “work out” our Salvation.  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.   The way of true happiness was revealed to the Psalmist by the Spirit in Psalms 144:15 and still applies today.   Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.   The people of the Lord are those who obey His Word.   

       If you have been obedient and are a child of God, “don’t worry – Be happy”.   If you have not obeyed the gospel – Seek that happiness today. 

                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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