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Double Vision?

                                                               Double Vision? 

         Many of us know the difficulty in dealing with vision issues.   We wear the required devices (accoutrements), also known as glasses or contacts, so that we might see as we should when our sight is altered by age, disease, or just the simple fact that we have eyes that don’t work as effectively as they once did.     We probably all as children, have crossed our eyes in order to see double.   This seems innocent enough because as soon as we allow our eyes to return to normal, our double vision dissipates.  This all is something that takes place with our physical being.    
      But, have we ever considered one can have “double vision” spiritually?  It is not something the Lord sanctions.   In the physical and spiritual realm, one must have light for vision to occur.   In Luke 11:33-36 Jesus spoke of both light and sight.  
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.  The light of which Jesus spoke at this point was a candle.  The vision to which He referred was “single”.  He was contrasting the “single” eye with the “evil” eye.  He then pointed out that the “light” is necessary to keep the evil at bay.   The one who lacks the light – the proper kind of light – are the ones that suffer from “spiritual” double-vision.   Those who have 20/20 spiritual vision are those who keep the “light of the world” in them. 
      In John 8:12, Jesus said:  I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  He was speaking to the Pharisees following the episode in which the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman supposedly caught in the act of adultery to test the Lord.  Then we also have the record of the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew.  Just following the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:14-16 we find the Lord stating that His disciples were the “light of the world”.    Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 
     This is not double-talk as in both of these passages, Jesus is speaking of the same light and the same source of light.   As long as Jesus was on earth, He was (is) the light of the world.  When He finished what His Father sent Him to earth to do, His disciples were to be the light.   We know this is true because in Acts 13:47 Paul and Barnabas were “light” to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.   Then we see in the following verse what this “light” is. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 
      God is the source of light.  He sent His Son to earth to shine the light. The Lord sent the Spirit to deliver that light to the apostles to deliver to all men. In John 16:13 Jesus promised them the Comforter to “guide them into all truth”.   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.     We also know from Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commissioned the apostles to begin to preach the message of truth.    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.  This was to continue with all the Lord’s disciples in the church. 
      If His Word is truth, and the truth is light, then His Word is light.  If we will walk in the light we shall have “single” vision.   Our focus will be on seeing as God would have us see.   This is the message of 1John 1:5-7. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 
        Get your “spiritual vision” checked today.   Walk in the light – Walk in His Word.   Obey His Word.   Don’t walk in the darkness of sin – Don’t suffer with spiritual double vision.   See things as God would have you see them. 
                                          Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

There Is A Way

There is a way

    As we arrive on this earth, we begin a journey. Each has to walk the path of his or her own choosing. The problem is that there are many different “opinions” as to the “way” one is to go.   Some think their way is the best, but the Spirit had Solomon the wise man, in Proverbs 14:12, tell us that not all “ways” are the same and not all lead to the same place. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.   The Spirit also had the suffering servant Job, in Job 24:13, describe those that walk not as God would have them, and why they lived as they did. They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.  To live in this way certainly leads to spiritual death.

   Those who “rebel against the light” are evil men, described by the Spirit through the pen of Solomon in Proverbs 2:13-15. These are men that are “wicked”, “froward” and “crooked”. Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:  These are much like those of God’s own people, Israel, who when admonished by Jeremiah and given the Commandment of God in Jeremiah 6:16-17, refused to heed it. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.

       But God, in His infinite wisdom saw to it that there was a remnant of Israel saved. There were those that loved God and followed Him. God’s plan was carried out. We are reminded of this in Romans 9:27, where the Spirit had Paul write of this to the Romans. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:  This is because God had a plan – a way – that was set up before the world was created.   That plan was that His Son was to come through the lineage of Abraham as promised in Genesis 22:18.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. 

   The fulfilment of that plan -the way- is explained in Galatians 3:16 which shows that Christ is the means for the Salvation God provided for humanity.  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. This also helps us understand what Jesus told Thomas about Him going to the Father in John 14:6, and that we also could “come to the Father”. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

     Notice how specific this way is. Jesus said: I am “the” way. This means there is only one way. This was not new in the days of Jesus. As mentioned earlier, this was always part of the plan of God. The Spirit directed Isaiah to inform Israel of this in Isaiah 35:8.   There we also see that this “way” is not so difficult that we cannot find or follow it.   And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. The meaning of this is provided by Foy E. Wallace in Number One Gospel sermons, page 101. The wayfaring man is the man who fares by the way, and is not acquainted with the territory through which he is passing. Therefore, he must have someone to inform him, to instruct him, and to guide him. In being truly guided he will not be in the way of error--he will not err in that way; because he will have received the instruction that would lead him right; therefore he would be in the way of truth and not in the way of error. The fool and the wayfarer here are the same man.

       The singular nature of this “one way” which is provided in Jesus is again taught in Ephesians 4:4-6.   There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  Those today who refuse the “one way” offered by God, are traveling their own way, or man’s way.   Man’s way is not the way of holiness. Only in Christ, can one have “spiritual blessings”- Ephesians 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 

   Your journey is not complete. There is “existence” beyond this life. You’ve not been there before.   Won’t you seek the one way?   Obey the gospel today.            

                                                                                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

      What is happiness anyway?   Upon looking up happiness, one will find several definitions and examples.  Happiness is a mental or emotional state of a positive nature.   The definition is: “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.”  The problem with such a definition is that it is subjective.  One must determine for themselves what it is that makes them happy, content, or from what they derive pleasure.  

     Other ways of understanding the idea of happiness are found in the way the idea of “happy” is used.  It could mean having a sense of confidence in, or satisfaction with a person, arrangement, or situation.  It can also mean being satisfied with the quality or standard of something.  Or, willing (happy to) to do something, etc.  So, the question should be: “What is it that makes you happy?”     What is it that will provide you the long-lasting contentment, pleasure or feeling you so desire?  

      Thus, the quest begins.  Many seek happiness in the things of this world or the things of a physical nature.   These can only bring “temporary” pleasure or a fleeting feeling of contentment. The Spirit had the wise preacher, Solomon, the son of David, write in Ecclesiastes 1:14 so that all could know the fallacy of seeking happiness in the “works” of the hands of man (the things of the world).  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Vanity and vexation of spirit does not fit the definition or examples of happiness at all, do they?    

     Many seek happiness throughout life, and when the initial feeling of euphoria or contentment of their present quest passes, they move on to something else.  They are seeking and never finding that which can and will make them happy in this life and the one to come.  As we read Proverbs 28:14 we can see that true and lasting happiness only comes from serving God.   Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.  “Feareth” here means a continual respect for God and His Word and following it.   Those who do not, are not happy.  They will “fall into mischief” while seeking true happiness elsewhere.

      While speaking to His disciples (apostles elect) and teaching them a valuable lesson in humility in John 13:17, Jesus said: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”   All of the teaching of Jesus and all that was sent to messengers by the Spirit (the Bible) is designed to produce happiness in the adherents thereof.  Another way to say “happy” is to say “blessed”.  We know this as the same Greek word (makarios) pronounced mak-ar’-ee-os, is used for both happy and blessed here in all the translations of the Bible.   There is another Greek word translated “blessed” (eulogetos) yoo-log-ay-tos’, found in places such as Ephesians 1:3 which means “adored”.    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

     This fact being established, we look to the “beatitude” of Matthew 5:6 to see what the Lord stated in these “Pentecost Pointers”, which would cause one to be happy or blessed. Blessed (happy - makarios) are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.   As we seek true happiness, we can only find it in righteousness.  The word righteousness means justification. It is so used in Romans 1:16 and 17: “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. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” The righteousness of God is that justification which God imparts to man through obedience to the gospel. (Number One Gospel sermons – Foy E. Wallace, page 105).       Therefore, for one to be truly happy (blessed) one is to seek righteousness.    This means to obey the gospel and continue in it.   

    This is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:33, still in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount.  He was teaching the Jews that would listen about the coming of the promised kingdom; that which was to begin at Pentecost A.D. 33, therefore pointing to Pentecost.     But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; (justification – which is only in Christ) and all these things shall be added unto you.  Jesus wanted all the Jews to be “happy” or “blessed”.    He wants us to be happy as well.  He wants us to be obedient and remain so, and because of that we will have happiness here on earth, and if we remain faithful, we will have happiness for eternity.  

     In John 2:5, we have an inspired record of some very sound advice given by the Lord’s mother that leads to happiness.  Jesus had arrived at the marriage in Cana of Galilee and His mother made the observation that the beverage for the marriage feast had been depleted.  Then as the servants awaited direction, Mary gave this sage advice: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.   If we would make “doing what” the Lord has said in His Word an integral part of our lives, we will truly be happy. 

     Still, we are the only one that can make the choice regarding what makes us happy.  Additional advice to Christians was issued by the Spirit and penned by the beloved apostle John in 1John 2:15-17.   This will help us avoid seeking the world’s happiness and keep us on the path to true happiness for eternity with God.  Love not the world, (sin) neither the things that are in the world. (sinful things) If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  Are You Happy? You can be!       Be obedient today, remain faithful and prepare yourselves for eternal happiness.     

                              Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

What Are You Doing?

What Are You Doing?

     This question has been asked many times over the years. The answer to this question has varied at times based on the situations in the life of those of whom it was asked. If you are asked this question relative to your service to God, what would your answer be? Often when this question is asked in a generic sense, the answer is likely to be: “nothing”. If asked specifically: “what are you doing for God?”   What would your honest answer be? Would we say: “nothing”? If we were required to make a list of the things we do in service to God, would the list be very long?  

   I am afraid that many in the church today have become much like the rich man of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:16-21. These “Christians” indeed are busy, but in what?   Some were “busy” in the Lord’s Work for some time, but have now decided to “take their ease”. This is when they begin DOING NOTHING! How did that work out for the man in the parable? And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 

Indeed, this man in the parable was busy for a time. He worked hard, but at what? For whom was he working? He labored to gain worldly goods. He was of a mind that these goods would sustain him through all of life. While it is true that one must have certain material things to live in this life, to do so without the spiritual needs being fulfilled is not life at all, and leads to the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

       One must look to God’s Word and do what it says. One cannot sit back and “Do Nothing” spiritually and still be pleasing to God.   Matthew 6:33 points out that we are to put first things first.   Believe it or not, there will always be time for all else that is required for life in these bodies. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.    Christianity is also not like our jobs in this life.   We can never “retire” from our service to God. We are to “retire” spiritually when we “expire”. We cannot “work” 20, or 30, or even 40 years, and then sit back and “draw our pension”. That pension only begins when we finally have completed the whole journey. Notice how the Spirit had Paul address this in 2Timothy 4:6-8 as he was drawing close to the end of his time here on earth.     For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  Paul had “continually” labored since his conversion, and would do so till his death. Notice also, only then is the “crown of life” laid up for him. He will not receive it until the Lord disperses these “crowns” at the judgment.   Those who retire in place, from the service of God while here on earth needn’t even expect that crown of life, nor the rest that comes from the end of this life till the trumpet sounds.

    Christians that have “retired” from service to God while in this life should heed the warning God provided for His O.T. people through the prophet Amos. It is here that God’s people came to believe they had “done enough”.   They were, after all, “God’s people”. He would love them and provide for them, wouldn’t He?   All they had to do was set back and receive.   In Amos 6:1 this solemn charge is offered to break them from their complacency. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!  God did love them.    He also instructed and warned them in His Word. Those who failed to heed that warning paid the price.   Need we be reminded again what the Spirit had Paul write to the Roman brethren in Romans 15:4 so they would have an example to follow, albeit it under a previous Law of God?   For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. They are written! We are warned!

     What are you doing?   You might say: “I do my part”, but what is “your part”?   Who determines what your part is?   You? Can you provide for your spiritual needs? Can you provide the “reward” or “retirement” at the end of this life?   I dare say: “None of us can”.   What does God say our part is?   Romans 12:1-2 is a great place to start. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  It sounds to me that God expects us to give Him our all.

      In Luke 17:10 Jesus told His closest disciples – the “apostles elect” – that the bear minimum is not acceptable. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.    Does what you are doing consist of the minimum?   Are you putting God, and His kingdom first in your life?   What Are You Doing?      

                                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Where Are You Headed?

Where Are You Headed?  

     The question with which this article is titled, is one that has a great deal to do with the context in which the question is asked.   For example, if one is walking along the highway and another pulls up in his or her vehicle, and asks this question, they are doing so to solicit information to determine if they can be of assistance. There are many other scenarios which could be offered, but this one will suffice.  

     Fact is, we are all “headed” somewhere.   In Genesis 37:28 after Joseph was put in a pit, rather than kill him, his brethren “sold” their brother to some folks who were “headed somewhere”. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. 

     Even Satan has “places to go”. In Job 2:1-2 Satan even came among the sons of God, who came before God.   Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.  And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it1Peter 5:8 tells us what Satan desired to do, therefore where he was headed.   It also tells us what we are to do because of what Satan sought to do.   Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

     Jesus was “headed” somewhere, even when He came to Earth to do the Will of His Father and carry out His plan to provide Salvation to humanity. In the prayer of Jesus in John 17:12-14, Jesus, soon to be crucified, buried and to be resurrected said He was coming to the Father. He was praying for His apostles. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.  13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 

     We know where He was “headed” as Acts 1:9-11 shows, and also provides the promise of His glorious return to receive His own. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 

     Christ had paid the price; purchased the church, and set the conditions whereby we can choose where we are headed. We are all headed somewhere! The Spirit had Solomon; son of David pen the Words found in Ecclesiastes 12:7 that show that we are all headed to the realm beyond the one on this mundane sphere.  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.    This does not mean that all will spend eternity with God.   We are clearly taught in 2Thessalonians 2:7-9 that some will be punished forever. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  Why is there a Hell if no one is to go there?

       Every soul will spend eternity somewhere. But, Luke 16:22-23 makes it clear that 1) the soul of one that dies does not go straight to Heaven or Hell.  2) Souls go to an intermediate place to await judgment.    In these verses two men died. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom (Paradise) : the rich man also died, and was buried23 And in hell (Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  They went to a place like unto where they will spend eternity to wait until death is no longer.   1Corinthians 15:24-26 makes it clear when the end is. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.    Hebrews 9:27 also provides information regarding this.    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:  When death has ceased – The Judgment will occur.  

     But, where will you ultimately go?   Where Are You Headed?   Are you, like the rich man, going to be tormented after your death, and then be forever separated from God?   Or, will you do as God Commands in His Word, be obedient to Him, and be as Lazarus – comforted from your death until you enter into heaven with all the redeemed?  Where you are headed for eternity depends on what you do now. You Need Divine Direction!  Obey God’s Word.   Start today, before it is everlastingly too late.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

You Make Me Sick!

YOU MAKE ME SICK!

     No doubt we have all heard this at some point in our lives. This statement is often used by children (and sometimes by adults) when someone has done something they deem repulsive. The statement is usually understood to be taken figuratively in most situations. It is a way to tell others of the disgust they have caused.

     We also understand that “sick” can mean physically impaired in some way, as there are about 80 or so verses in the Bible that indicate such a condition. As the fame of Jesus spread around Syria, Matthew 4:24 tells us the friends and relatives of those that were ailing brought their loved ones to Jesus to be healed. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.  The proof that people don’t want to be sick is evidenced by the fact that in the next verse, people followed Jesus from all over, no doubt to be healed and to hear Him teach.   4:25  And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan We know this as Matthew 5:1-2 begins the Sermon on the Mount as the disciples (followers) had come to Him.   And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

     But, one can also have the spiritual condition of “sickness” if they have not, or will not follow the Word of God.   This is what Jesus indicated in Mark 2:17 when the Pharisees and scribes questioned with whom Jesus shared a meal. When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  Those who are spiritually sick are sick inside and out.  

       While Jesus did much healing while He lived here on earth, and even raised the dead on several occasions, that was not the main purpose of His coming. The Jews, in John 5:18 wanted to kill Jesus after they had accused Him of blasphemy as well as breaking the Sabbath when He had healed the infirm man on that day. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.  Then, as we move down to John 5:39-40 we find that Jesus, in His defense, told them His real purpose for coming to earth as well as why they should have known this. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

       In Isaiah 1:4-5 we see how sick Israel had allowed themselves to become long before Christ, the Messiah was sent as prophesied. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  As we can see here, the spiritual sickness that is depicted here, was of their own doing. NOTE: The sinner is not what “sickens” God, but what the sinner does. We can also see that this spiritual sickness continued into the days of the church.   As Paul spoke to the chief of the Jews in Rome in Acts 28:27, the Spirit had him remind them of what else Isaiah had been inspired to say about Israel. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 

       Because it was always God’s plan for redemption to be offered to all, the Spirit also had Paul to tell these spiritually sick Jews that there were those who would readily receive the “healing” Words of the gospel in Acts 28:28.   Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it

     But have we ever thought how a Christian’s infidelity affects God?   When one becomes a Christian, they are not guaranteed to be free from “spiritual illness”. When a child of God sins, and fails to repent, it definitely produces a reaction from God. At times when we are “sick” we throw up.   The church of Laodicea sickened God by their lackadaisical attitude.     Revelation 3:15-16 shows the reaction this would produce if the attitude and actions on the part of that congregation did not change.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouthThey were being duly warned.  

       Do we ever think that we, in this day and time, could possibly make God feel the way He did toward the church at Laodicea?   This must be addressed now lest we suffer the ultimate fate of the spiritually sick who seek no healing. Matthew 25:41 is where we see this fate. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

     Even today, we need to do what God says in His Word that we do not “sicken” Him. One can’t be “lukewarm” if they do as Paul directed the “Christians” in Philippi as guided by the Spirit in Philippians 2:12.   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

     Don’t give God reason to “spew” you out of His mouth. If we sicken God it is our own fault.   If we are “cursed” it is we who will have caused it to happen.  

                             Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

MEMORIALS

Memorials

     Memorials, worthy of remembering, demand a certain reverence and profound respect. The words “remember”, “remembrance”, “memory”, “memorials”, are closely related and their meanings often overlap, but each has a “hot-line” to the prestigious past and the “Hall of Memory,” that repository of our dearest treasures, laid up in the enamored archives of a sacred antiquity.

     Some “memorials” are “established” memorials, that is, they appear in the pages of both profane and inspired history. They are “marked” on the calendar of Time and are remembered nationally, internationally, legally and scripturally, and no red-blooded, American patriot would dare despoil their sanctity either by the slightest gesture of silent, or expressed irreverence.   Such disgrace is intolerant to the individual whose personal pride and each heartbeat concurs, with the raising of Old Glory and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, and each Christian, on the first day of every week, as he bows in prayer and thanksgiving to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in remembrance of His only Son, who freely died that all men might live.   Thank God for memorials with such inestimable values to which we have become “rightful” heirs.

     We know that this great nation of ours did not come about through perchance or accident, and, that human intellect and nature are so designed that tangible memorials are indispensable to the practice and preservation of the Causes they represent, nevertheless, July the fourth is never observed by thousands of otherwise loyal Americans who consider it “just another day”, or a “day off from the job”, and many who celebrate the fourth, do so with a “fifth”.   Our “founding fathers” kept it on their knees in prayer and thanksgiving to God for His Providential support and leadership.   The Declaration of Independence is an unquestioned master-piece, which gave to this “nation under God”, a government of Democracy, the epitome of fairness and freedom to all of its citizens, because brave, and committed men gave their very blood to make it all possible.   If we would “remember” the price that has always been paid for freedom, and keep these “memorials” properly, it would strengthen us, eliminate the “Leftists”, and those “on the fence” would take a decisive stand for the right. Thank God for such a day of memory.  

                                    O. D. Wilson – deceased

   The above “excerpt” is from a booklet printed by my Father-in-Law, around 1973.    I think it is suited to the time in which we now live as well as the present “holiday” weekend.   Mentioned in the article, is the most important memorial God ever gave man – the Lord’s Supper.  It should be to a Christian, an honor and a privilege, to remember the Lord as we gather around the table to keep the commandment on the first day of the week.   This also gives the Christian the chance to keep the request made by our Lord, “This Do In Remembrance Of Me”.  

    Memorials are important reminders for many aspects of life. Man has made or

created many things by which to remember.   God has also given us memorials so we aren’t likely to forget.   He also provided that man be reminded weekly by use of words. This is to be done in preaching. If done properly, folks will be reminded of all that God would have us know. 1Timothy 4:6 is where Paul was directed to tell Timothy how to be a good minister.   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.   

     Let’s not forget the Memorial God gave us to Remember His Son, and the death suffered on the cruel cross of Calvary.   As we partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine -every Lord’s Day – Remember – and take it reverently. That is why this “feast” was given.

                             Dennis Strickland -- Mooresville church of Christ

By What Do You Live?

By What Do You Live?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   So, how does this work?   In Galatians 2:20, Paul was directed by the Spirit to reveal this to the church there.   I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.    Christ died on the cross so we could have life.   One is “crucified” with Christ when they are baptized into Christ and die to sin. Then they are risen to walk in “newness of life”. Where does life originate? With God and His Word.   Follow God’s Word, obey it and live by it. By What Do You Live?     You must live by Faith if you will live forever.

                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Hungry Are You?

How Hungry Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

A Father's Love

A Father’s Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ.  

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