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Getting The Devil Out

Getting the Devil Out

      As we travel the paths of life, we are often tempted and tried.  One who is struggling while facing these sorts of things, are often said to be “facing their demons”.  Some seek help and are successful.  Others succumb and allow them-selves to be led astray.   We need only the help of God as we bravely fight that “good fight of faith” and strive to win the battle.  

      It is clearly indicated in God’s Word, the method we are to use to overcome the evil one. In James 4:7 we are told that this is within the power of each of us.  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.   And, we read in Ephesians 4:27 that we also are not to allow the tempter a chance to trip us up.  Neither give place to the devil.  

     We are also directed, as were the brethren at Corinth, that we are to always be on guard so that the devil cannot get us.    2Corinthians 2:11 is where the Spirit had the apostle Paul warn us all.  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. Then, in 2Corinthians 11:14 we are told of one of these evil devices.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

     God has also given us the means to defeat the demon that so desires to keep our souls for eternity.   In Ephesians 6:11 we are told what God has provided so we can win the fight, if we will but use it.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  And we are also told in 1John 3:8 how those who don’t “get the devil out” can be identified, as well as why Christ was made known.   He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

     Perhaps my wife’s father was thinking of these scriptures in the early 1980’s when he wrote the following poem that bears the same title as this article.  We are all to do all we can to “get the devil out” while we can and before it is eternally too late.  

Getting The Devil Out

There are things about me that I don’t like,

And I’d be the first to say,

That it’s never been easy for me to do right,

And be what I should each day.

But I have some good features, somewhere, no doubt,

The devil knows this, you bet.

‘Cause he never stops trying to “root me out”,

But he hasn’t succeeded yet.

He can put bad thoughts inside of my heart,

And he knows all of my weak places.

When I don’t obey him, pretty soon he departs,

But returns in other forms and faces.

That “two-edged” Sword, that he knows so well,

Is the only weapon I need.

To believe and obey, it keeps souls from Hell,

Yes, there’s power in the gospel indeed. 

Friends, I don’t know a trick that the devil won’t try,

Nor one that he’s never used,

When it comes to Truth, he’s the father of a lie,

Which explains why so many are confused.

When you look at “beauty”, it may be him that you see,

Or, when you hear what the preacher just said,

When tears fall down, is this sincerity,

Or, just to make a point, instead?

Please remember dear one, you are being “disarmed”,

Like the story of the spider and the fly,

For, with no armor on, soldiers suffer great harm.

And victory won’t be by and by. 

Resist the devil and then watch him flee,
“It is written” are the words he should hear.

Insured and assured every Christian can be

Delivered from danger and fear.  

O.D. Wilson – deceased

     As we read the poem above can we “see ourselves” in some of these words?  Let us all diligently seek counsel in God’s Word and then follow that Word as if our eternal soul depends upon it, because it does.   One cannot succeed in defeating the enemy, Satan, unless the Word of God is followed.   As Jesus said in John 8:32: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 

    Don’t allow yourselves to become a servant to the devil.   Remember what we read in Romans 6:16. “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?”    Yield yourselves to God today.   Serve Him.

                               Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Our Excellent God

Our Excellent God

    The eighth Psalm is unique, not in that it is the shortest Psalm, as there are several that are shorter.  Neither is it the longest.   One unique thing about the eighth Psalm is that the first and last phrase in that Psalm is exactly the same.  That phrase is:  O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!  This occurs in the beginning of verse 1 and comprises the entirety of verse 8.  

    What a wonderful expression to describe our God!   Excellence by definition is: “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”.  One need only to look into the account of creation to see how “excellent” God is.   We know the first verse of Genesis tells us that God “created” the heaven and the earth, but we can surely see the excellence of His power when we read how God created.  In Genesis 1:3 we read: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”  

    As we continue to read the creation account, we see in verses 4, 10, 12, 18, 21 and 25 that God saw that what He had created was good.  Then, in verse 31 we read of the end of creation and “behold, it was very good”.  All of this “work of God” was accomplished in six days.  I don’t see how anyone could describe this in any way other than excellent.  In fact, in the prophecy of Isaiah, the Spirit had the prophet remind Israel in Isaiah 28:29 that all that comes from the Lord is wonderful and excellent.    This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

     The Spirit previously had the Psalmist in Psalm 73:1 tell us that God had been good to Israel.  It is also written that those of a good heart could know the goodness of God.  Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.   God surely was good to Israel.   He provided for them when there was no corn in Canaan with the excellent plan God had to sustain His people, the descendants of Abraham.   Gen 42:2 shows that Jacob took advantage of God’s providence for his family, although he did not know at the time it was God who had done it.  And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

       After his brethren made a couple of trips to Egypt to buy corn to sustain the family, Joseph, whom they had sold into bondage, revealed himself to them.  He did so without malice, but to show them the excellency of God.  Genesis 45:4-7 gives us this record and tells why the events transpired as they did.  And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

      God had separated out the Jews as His People and had given them a Law.  The purpose was to bring His Son into the world to carry out that plan to save souls from sin.  Much later, after Israel had been delivered from Egypt through God’s plan, Israel forgot how excellent God is and as a result of their sinful ways, were again in bondage.  Our excellent God had a plan, and no one was going to prevent that plan from being fulfilled.   God’s excellent plan to save the Jews for this purpose was to be carried out by Esther while Israel was again in bondage.   Mordecai advised Esther in Esther 4:13-14 that her presence in the palace was part of God’s excellent plan for the nation.    Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?   The nation was spared, and God’s plan moved forward.  

     And move forward it did.  In Gal 4:4-5 we see that God’s excellent plan had come to fruition.    But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.   We know that the gospel was first preached in Jerusalem as prophesied, when the Spirit came on the apostles on the first Pentecost after Jesus ascended back to the Father after His death, burial and resurrection.   We are also told in Romans 1:16 that 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.  Therefore, whosever will obey the gospel will become a child of God.   This is the reaction we see of those Jews gathered for Pentecost in Acts 2:41 after they heard the gospel.   Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  According to Acts 2:47, these who were baptized were added to the church by God Himself.   How excellent! 

     Our excellent Savior brought man the excellent plan of Salvation as He did His Father’s Will. Our excellent God has preserved that plan for us in His Holy Word.  In Ephesians 1:8-9 we read how God has demonstrated His excellence and His Providence for all humanity.  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:  You can obey God’s excellent plan today.   Let us help you save your soul. 

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Fear

Fear

      Much is happening in our world today that has caused fear among many people.   The news agencies seem to only promote stories that produce fear and unrest.   This is a problem.  Fear then becomes our “ruler”, meaning we become “bound by fear”.  

   This is especially harmful to a Christian. When a Christian allows themselves to be bound by, or controlled by fear, they have “submitted” to fear. We are told in Romans 6:16-18 that we are not to “yield ourselves servants” to that which is detrimental to our eternal soul.   Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 

   However, not all “fear” is the same. Fear can be a positive thing, and fear can be negative. Solomon was directed by the Spirit, in Ecclesiastes 12:13 to write the conclusion of the whole matter. “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” This is very positive. This type of fear is the reverence one is to have for God.   If this type of fear exists in your life, you will subject yourselves to God and His Word. And, if you do this, you’ll not need to fear where your soul will spend eternity.   Jesus alluded to this in speaking to His disciples in Matthew 10:28 when He described two fears. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

     Below is a poem Linda’s dad wrote for her to use when she was leading a ladies class on fear when we lived in Florida.    It took him about forty-five minutes to write this little poem, and since then He has departed this life to await the judgment, but the message in it is important and much needed today.

Fear

The fear of God, is at reverence for Him,

which leads men to obey,

and access the values of right and wrong,

no matter what others say.

Such awareness motivates the trusting heart

To walk where we fear to tread,

And to cast out fear along the way,

for all will be well just ahead.

“There is nothing to fear, but fear itself”,

the inevitable will surely be,

and a well-founded faith will buoy us up

as we wrestle the storms of the sea.

“Oh, ye of little faith, why are ye afraid”?

we hear the captain say.

“This ship won’t sink in this troubled sea,

I sail this way every day.”  

And yes, when we walk thru the valley of death

we won’t be traveling alone.

We’ll have no fear, for our captain is near,

to safely guide us home.

Fear God and keep His Commandments we’re told,

This is the whole duty of man.

For from where we are, it may not be far.

‘til we enter the PROMISED LAND!

written 8/28/1994

O.D. Wilson deceased

     One of our past presidents, many of whom are being vilified in the news by many who are featured in the news of late, in his first inaugural address stated: “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself”. (F.D.R. 1933)   He went on to say that fear was: “a nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”   This is the type of fear the Christian cannot afford to have in his or her life.   When one is “paralyzed” with fear, they cannot be “galvanized” to do the work of the Lord. This work is very much needed in the societies that makes our world today.  

     One may fear rattlesnakes, alligators and other outdoor creatures (and for good reason), yet one does not refuse himself the pleasure of enjoying nature God gave us! We simply use the appropriate caution, and means for protection so we can enjoy these things.   The same should be said of the joy and pleasure we derive from gathering to serve and worship God as He has directed in His Word. Use caution, prevention, and common sense as needed in this physical realm. But most of all, use the “spiritual armor” God has provided in His Word.   We’ll all need it to be ready to face the inevitable, as we make that final journey to await our final abode.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

God's Great Providence

God’s Great Providence

     Isn’t it amazing that the only time the word “providence” is found in the entirety of the Bible, it is applied to a civil ruler, Felix and not to God, who is the creator of all things?   In Acts 24:2, a certain orator named Tertullus, on behalf of the high priest, “buttered up” this civil ruler. He did so to besmirch a faithful soldier of the cross; an advocate of truth, the apostle Paul. And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,  Then in vs 3 this governor was offered gratitude and was given honor for doing what was his job to do in the first place.   We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.    I think it goes without saying that if that governor’s actions were contrary to what these people wanted, they would not be so grateful.   Such is the way of man.  

     Man will invariably live in the present, and so long as things are going well for him and his, will be grateful to someone for it, although that gratitude is often left unspoken. However, when things don’t “go so well” for someone, they are most likely to forget previous provisions, or blessings and seek a place or person on which to “hang the blame” for their wretched situation or condition.   Often, just like nation of Israel in Bible times, many fail to understand that despite the great providence of God, their own actions, or sins bring about their present state. In Isaiah 59:1-4 we see it was Israel’s fault it had become the way it was. Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.  None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

     Even in situations beyond our control, we often fail to realize that God has a plan for mankind and that the actions of men cannot thwart His providence or plan. Israel demanded a king. God “provided” them one. God even chose the one to rule over them per 1Samuel 9:17. And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my peopleSaul was made king, and later made some very unwise choices.  The choices Saul made led to his own destruction, and yet did not prevent God’s providence for Israel. Samuel was not responsible for Saul’s actions, but Samuel was deeply troubled for Saul’s actions. This likely prevented him from seeing the providence of God at work for Israel and for the carrying out of God’s plan to save the souls of men. In 1Samuel 16:1 we read God’s message to Samuel about this.   And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.   God also provided for Israel in many ways down through the years, so that God’s plan to send His Son would come to fruition.

     And come to fruition it has.   In Acts 2:36 the Spirit had the apostles declare to Israel how God’s providence had benefited them spiritually, if they would only listen and obey. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and ChristThis obviously affected them, as Acts 2:37-38 tells of their reaction to this as well as instructions how to be recipients of this great providence of God. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Then vs 41 tells us which ones of that multitude benefitted from God’s providence at that time.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  God’s great plan had been fully realized, and souls were saved from sin.   This friend, is God’s great providence for man. 

     True, God’s Providence in the general realm is extended to all. In the great Sermon on the Mount, in the latter part of Matthew 5:45, Jesus said: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.“ This has been true since the beginning of time and is something that has never changed. God’s love for man is evident in all that He has given to man in the “earthly” or physical realm. God’s Providence extends beyond the physical and into the spiritual realm. As Jesus directed those who heard Him in Matthew 6:33, He directed that all should look for the “spiritual” blessings and that God has taken care of the physical. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

     We are quite blessed in that we live in the New Testament age. This means that the church has been established, and that Salvation to all men is available to “whosoever will”.   1Timothy 2:4 tells us what God’s Will is. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  Will you not seek the kingdom, and receive Salvation according to God’s Providence? His Word directs all how to do this.   Let us help you become God’s child.

                                                          Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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

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