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Two Sides of the Father

Two sides of the Father

      We are told throughout the scriptures of the goodness of God. We are also told of the wrath of God and the severity of the punishment that will be inflicted on those who fail to serve God faithfully or refuse to serve Him at all. We have a passage in Romans 11:22 which speaks to two sides of the Father at the same time.    Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 

     I am afraid that many are willing to take note of, or remember the goodness of God and refuse to think of the severity of God as if that will cause them to be the recipients of only the good and possibly shields them from any punishment which they deserve if they do not do the Will of God.   That’s like thinking a tornado will not damage your home if you simply refuse to think about it, or that disease cannot afflict you if you don’t acknowledge it.

      Many want to point out the goodness of God by quoting verses like John 3:16 and then staking their soul’s eternal destiny on a misapplication of the verse. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  This verse in no way states that just because Jesus died, and just because one believes he or she “shall” have everlasting life.   It clearly states that He died so that those who believe in Him “should not perish, but have everlasting life”.   This shows He provided the means whereby those who believe in Him can be saved.   This is the goodness of God extended toward us. Eternal life is in Christ, and outside of Christ one cannot have the promise.  

     If one believes in one God, they will believe in the Christ. But, this belief alone still does not save. James 2:19, in the discussion of faith and works makes this abundantly clear. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. They do more than some people do; at least these devils tremble. Most folks go through life asserting that Jesus loves them and God loves them and hoping that this in itself will make a difference for them at the judgment.

     We do know that a certain amount of the goodness of God is directed to all of humanity.   The fact of creation itself attests to that. Also, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5:45 in the Sermon on the Mount, . . . for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.    Now, does it not make sense that since God shows His love for all of mankind in expressing His goodness upon us all that He will also punish all who refuse to love Him and follow that which He has directed in His Word?   No amount of refusal to believe on our part will nullify what God has said in His Word.   2Thessalonians 1:7-9 are Words given to Paul by the Spirit to write to these brethren which were troubled because of the persecution of the wicked.   These Words are still applicable today.   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 Christ9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 

          We are also told in Romans 12:9 that we need not worry about avenging the evil that is directed toward us because this belongs to God and He will take care of it. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. God will punish those who refuse to obey Him, and He will also reward those who follow His Word in faithful obedience. In Colossians 3:24-25 we are told that all will receive their “reward” in accordance to that which they have done in this life. God does not respect anyone’s person. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. 

              Let’s make the right choice; God has left that up to us to do. If we think only of the goodness of God we might think the Lord is on our side.   Rather, as Moses offered the choice to Israel in Exodus 32:26 let’s be obedient and be on the Lord’s side. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. Then let us look forward to the reward of God and not be on the receiving end of the severity of God.

                                                                                                             Dennis Strickland - Mooresville

MAKING CHRISTIAN PROGRESS

MAKING CHRISTIAN PROGRESS

   One of things the Christian is to focus on is choosing the better things in life. In fact, being a faithful Christian is the best thing in life. We made the choice to be obedient. The reason we make choices is so that we can make progress in various areas of our lives. This begins early in life as many young folks choose clothing to be in style or to make progress up the social ladder in school. We also often begin to select certain subjects to study while in school once we have determined we want to prepare for a specific vocation.   We do this to make progress as we become adults. And, as we become adults we continue to make choices so that we can make progress for ourselves and our families.

   The greatest choice one can make is to become a Christian. But, to become a Christian and not make progress is not acceptable in the sight of God.   As with life, when we become a Christian we are a babe.   In 1Peter 2:2 we are told by the Spirit we are expected to “grow” or make progress and how we are to do this. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:   Then in 2Peter 3:18 we also see that the growth is to continue so that we can remain pleasing to God. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.

   While we go through life, even as a Christian, it is sometimes easy to lose heart, especially when some of our choices are not what they should be or do not turn out as we wished. It is also easy to lose heart when once faithful brethren fail to remain so and depart back into the world.   Those who do so have not made Christian progress, but in fact have digressed. We can look into the Word of God to see He has clearly instructed that to return to the world is a mistake none can afford. 2Peter 2:20-22 is a warning to Christians ending with a rather graphic description of the condition of one who has once become a child of God and then again becomes entangled in sin.   This is the opposite of Christian progress. 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. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

   Below is a poem written by my Father-In-Law many years ago and is entitled

“MAKING CHRISTIAN PROGRESS” and shows how to choose to become a Christian and then to never lose heart is definitely choosing the best thing in life.

MAKING CHRISTIAN PROGRESS

(1)

Closer and closer Lord would I be,

I’ve found the answer, learning from Thee

Where would I be if I’d never heard,

How would I know Thee, without the Word?

(2)

Stronger and stronger Lord would I grow,

With Thee beside me, I can, I know,

One single cross I don’t bear alone,

You help me bear them like they are Thine own,

(3)

Purer and purer Lord would I be,

More of Thyself and far less of me.

Crossing the River, I’ll have no fear,

For I know my Savior will always be near.

(4)

Longing and hopeful of wearing a crown,

When faith is sight and the sun has gone down,

Reunion with those who have crossed to that Shore,

Rejoicing in knowing we’ll part never more.  

                                                  O. D. Wilson - deceased

   Choose the best opportunity of life. Learn God’s Word, obey it, and as a faithful Christian, never lose heart.   Look forward to being with God forever in heaven when time is no more.  

                                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville

 

Should The Gospel Still Be A Mystery?

Should The Gospel Still Be A Mystery?

   There are many mysteries in life. Some of these are part of the course of growing up.   As very young people there is much we cannot understand and as such, these things are a mystery to us.   Many a young boy has found himself in trouble by trying to solve the mystery of how something works by dismantling it to see, and in so doing damage it beyond repair.   The very young don’t know how the car works, but do understand it to be the means of going someplace.    By the same token, the young cannot fully understand the love a young man has for the young woman and some unfortunately, in trying to unravel the mystery, have found themselves in a heap of trouble.   Some mysteries must remain so until it is the time to understand.  

   There are many things in life that are mysterious, yet this does not mean that they cannot be known or understood.   Having trouble with your remote?   Hand it to a child of 10 or 12 and in short order they will likely show you how it works. MYSTERY SOLVED!   The same could be said about a number of electronic devices.   That which can be understood should not necessarily remain a mystery.   I suspect I will never understand quantum physics or advanced mathematics, and so, such will remain a mystery to me. I have enough difficulty with “regular” mathematics. We all have areas of learning with which we are unfamiliar, or about which we have no interest.   Because of this these are likely to remain “mysteries” to us.

   Often, that which is a mystery to us is so because we chose to allow it to remain a mystery. If we do not “seek” to understand, we cannot expect to do so and we recognize this in areas of academia or vocation and just about all other areas of life, yet many still are quite comfortable in this life allowing the gospel to remain a mystery.   God did not intend for it to remain so. God intended that the gospel was to be delivered at the right time, following the sacrifice Christ made for mankind. This was all according to His divine plan.  

   Did you know that the word “mystery” is not found in the Old Testament? The first occurrence of the word “mystery” in the Bible is in Mark 4:11 where Jesus was asked by His twelve disciples to explain the parable of the sower. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:  This is parallel to the accounts found in Matthew 13:11 and Luke 8:10 which employ the word “mysteries”.

   The Old Testament is the preparatory state of that which we find in the New Testament. This is divinely supported by Romans 16:25 which the Holy Spirit had Paul write to those brethren. 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, The gospel had remained a mystery as long as it was in the preparatory stage, but is now fully revealed and should no longer be a mystery. Romans 16:26 assures us of this and also shows for whom and how it was provided and the purpose for doing so.   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:

   So, why is the gospel a mystery to so many?   I think we have already hit upon the answer to this question.   It is because so many are unfamiliar with God’s Word or have little to no desire to know what it says. To some it is easier to say: “I just don’t understand it” or “It’s too hard to understand”.   That is a cop out!   As the Spirit directed Paul to write in Ephesians 3:4-5 we can see the means by which we can understand is plainly laid out.   Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of ChristWhich in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit

   Should the gospel still be a mystery?   NO! In accordance to Romans 1:16 the gospel is God’s power to save.   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.  Would God want the means of Salvation He provided for mankind to remain a mystery?  I think not. It is also to be understood that God desires that all be saved. 2Peter 3:9 makes this abundantly clear. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God provided the gospel to inform us of our sinful state, but also so we could know how to be washed clean by the blood of Christ.

   In John 1:12-13 we are told that He gave us power to become sons.   It is only through a proper understanding and following of the gospel this can occur.   But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

   Don’t let the gospel remain a mystery to you.   Read it and study it and do as it directs and you too can become a child of God and be with Him for eternity.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville

Is There Any Stick-to-it-iveness In Your Christianity?

Is There Any Stick-to-it-iveness in your Christianity?

     Stick-to-it-iveness is probably not a word we use on a regular basis. We may not have been aware that such is a word.   It is; and the definition given is: a dogged perseverance; a resolute tenacity. I am sure we do know what perseverance and tenacity mean.    And, one does have to persevere and be tenacious to be well pleasing to God as one of His children.  

    The Spirit directed the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:13 to instruct the Ephesians to take unto themselves the “whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” This is another way to say they were to have stick-to-it-iveness. Notice the phrase “having done all” in this verse.   Are we doing “all we can” to stand and to overcome the ruler of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places?   One can indeed make the required preparation for something and fail to succeed by not seeing it through to the end. We can see this application in our jobs or as we seek to further our education, or in other aspects of life. Why can we not see it in our service to God and the lives we are to live for Him?   We made a commitment to God when we were baptized into Christ; can we not see that we will fail if we don’t continue faithfully and fulfil the whole commitment?   That commitment is to be life-long.

     The verses following this one in the sixth chapter of Ephesians describe that whole armor of God and leaves no doubt as to the protection one has when they put on that armor and use it as indicated.   After we have donned the armor, we are also told in Ephesians 6:18 in what we are to continue as we bravely fight. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

     Do we not recall the Words written to the church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:10, the latter part of which is still applicable to all Christians? . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.     The church was going to have to endure near unbearable hardships and persecution during the time of the fall of Jerusalem and adequate warning was given in Revelation so that the church could escape the ravages of the Roman armies upon all who called upon the name of the Lord.   How do you think they would have fared if they did not have some “stick-to-it-iveness” in their Christianity?  

     Throughout the writings of the apostle Paul, the Spirit directed Paul to encourage four congregations, six times, to stand fast.  Some of these same brethren are admonished to “be strong”. One cannot “stand fast” or “be strong” if they fail to honor the commitment they made to the Lord upon obedience to the gospel. No less is expected of us.   Those of the Old Testament were also expected to live in accordance to the covenant God made with them.   In Romans 15:4 we are told that the things that were written (recorded) were done so that we might learn and through the scriptures have hope. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Examples are also given showing those who did not have “stick-to-it-iveness” in the Old Testament in regard to the covenant God made with them.   In 1Corithians 10:5-10 we read of the actions of those who failed to be faithful under that Law while they journeyed in the wilderness. Then in 1Corinthians 10:11-12 we are informed as to why this is of such great importance to us. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 

     This shows that it is indeed possible for one who has escaped the contamination of the world to again become entrapped in sin. 2Peter 2:20 proves that this can happen; and it also shows the end state of those who have allowed this to happen. This verse also points out that it is only through the knowledge of, and obedience to the Law of Christ can one be saved.   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.  All are lost who have not escaped the pollutions of the world in obedience to the gospel through the knowledge of Christ.   But, one who has been baptized into Christ and then gone back into the world are those who have no stick-to-it-iveness in their Christianity.

      Perhaps the Spirit, in 2Peter 1:10 after listing the Christian graces called us to have some stick-to-it-iveness. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:                                  

                                                                                                                     Dennis Strickland - Mooresville                    

 

How Does Truth Affect You?

HOW DOES TRUTH AFFECT YOU?

    Truth is something that affects everyone.   The way it affects each one is up to the individual.   Truth has been around as long as time itself.   Truth is that which God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:16-17. This is when the commandment was given regarding what was allowed in the Garden and what was not.    What God said also provided the penalty for breaking His commandment. 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. 

   What was the truth here? Actually, there were a number of truths spoken by God in these verses.   1) It is truth that God told the man that He had provided the man with all he was permitted to eat.   2) It is also truth that God told the man what man was not allowed to eat within the Garden. 3) And, it is truth that God warned Adam of exactly what would happen if he broke the Commandment of God. The outcome of the situation was completely dependent on the man and his choice to obey or disobey the Commandment of God.

   In John 8:32 we read some Words of Jesus regarding truth. He said: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Unfortunately, many fail to read the verse before it to see that Jesus was speaking to the Jews that believed on Him, then He told them where they could find the truth. John 8:31

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  Truth is not going to change just because some fail to obey it.   Those who reject the Word of God are rejecting the truth in this life and will have to deal with that truth at the judgment. We are told this in John 12:48 by the Lord Himself while He was on the earth.   He said: He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 

     But, many are confused as to what truth is and what is not truth. Even Pilate, while interrogating Jesus in John 18:38 asked such a question, and then immediately told the Jews that he found no fault at all in Jesus. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.    How could Pilate possibly find any fault in Christ?   There is none to find because Jesus is “the truth”.  In John chapter 14 when Jesus told His apostles He was leaving to prepare a place for the obedient and faithful, He said they knew where He was going and how to go there. This is when Thomas said: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus response, which we find in John 14:6 tells us what Jesus said to Thomas.   I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.    Then in Jesus’ prayer for His disciples (apostles) in John 17:17 we see how all the disciples of the Lord are to be sanctified (set apart). Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

     But, truth will not set one apart unless the person embraces the truth and applies it to their lives. The only way a person can be “sanctified” or set apart, as we see in 1Peter 1:22 is to obey the truth. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:   And, according to 1Corinthians 12-13 the saved have received the truth which has been given us of the Father through the Spirit. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 

     Way back in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 29:29 we see that what God wanted His people to have was given to them and was theirs forever, and why it was provided for them, but that the secret things belong to God.   The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.  Then, in the New Testament we are also told in 2Peter 1:3 that all things that pertain to life and godliness has been provided for us by the divine power of the Lord.   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 are to do these things.

     Based on the fact that truth is God’s Word and God’s Word is truth, perhaps we should ask a different question than the one which is the title of this article. We should ask: HOW DOES GOD’S WORD AFFECT YOU?

                                                                                                       Dennis Strickland - Mooresville

Proper Paths

Proper Pathways

   We don’t seem to think of pathways much anymore.   It used to be that one walked a path to get from one point to another.   Many of these have been replaced with roadways and highways as the preferred mode of travel is no longer walking.   But it is important to remember that in whatever way we travel or convey ourselves from one place to another we are walking a path as we continue through this life.

     God spoke to the prophets through His Spirit to warn His people so they might always strive to walk the path that leads to God.   Sadly, some of God’s people refuse to remain on the right path.   In Jeremiah 6:16 we find the inspired directive to God’s people of that time and their refusal to walk the path God had chosen for them.   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 therein.   Even today there are those that are supposed to be God’s people that no longer desire the “old paths”, or the “good way” in which to walk, and yet they still want rest for their souls.  

    Perhaps today, folks should look to the example of those of Jeremiah’s day and see what happened to them because they refused to walk the proper path. We see in Jeremiah 18:15-16 that they were to become a shame and a reproach. Notice that these folks made the choice wherein they would walk and therefore chose to be a reproach to God.   Let us not be so today. Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; 16 To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.    Being a disgrace to God will not result in one being with Him for eternity.   None desires this for himself. 

      Proverbs 14:12 advises that, just because a path seems to be right, doesn’t mean it is. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.    This perhaps was the idea my father in-Law, O.D. Wilson had when he penned the words to a song he wrote. He pointed out in this song that there are Three Highways one might travel.   I have copied the three verses and the chorus below and perhaps these words might help to choose the proper pathways. This song can be sung to the tune of “There’s A Garden” by J.H. Filmore and is entitled:                      

THREE HIGHWAYS TO ETERNITY

(1)

                                                                       Are you walking the highway that seems right?

There is sorrow and death at the end.

Is your conscience considered a safe guide?

Do you offer this way to your friends?

(2)

There’s a beautiful broad highway leading,

In destruction it pays off some day.

The multitudes travel unheeding,

Any warnings we give on the way.

(3)

There’s another highway on the road map.

It is narrow, uncrowded and strait,

It’s the one of the three Jesus traveled.

It alone leads to where saved ones wait.

Chorus

Yes the conscience approval the Lord may reject,

It deceived Eve and Adam that day.

At the end of this road, you’ll miss Heaven’s abode.

Only God’s Word is safe to obey.

      As we travel the highways in our journeys and to and from work and such, we tend to choose carefully the routes we take.   Of course there are multiple routes to many of the places to which we might travel here, but there is only one route or path that leads from earth to Heaven.   As Jesus neared the end of the Sermon on the Mount He spoke to the multitudes in Matthew 7:13-14 and encouraged them to take the proper path. This requires that one stay off the forbidden paths the world offers. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 

     We cannot save you, but we can help guide you to the gate, path and the way that leads to Heaven. Choose your path carefully. Your soul’s eternal destination depends upon it.                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dennis S – Mooresville

How To Overcome Our Goliath

How to Overcome Our Goliath

   Like many Americans and other folks all over the world, we have spent some time enjoying the Olympic games that have been televised this past week. As the athletes compete, some take on daunting challenges. I am told the pressure these people are under is intense.   We know they have trained and practiced, but even then some of the things they are able to accomplish seem almost impossible.

    The events themselves are difficult, but what about having to compete against the greatest of other countries in their respective sports, some of which hold world or Olympic records? The physical nature of these things are incredible and we all must admit that the mental aspect could present a nearly insurmountable obstacle.

   This is likely what Israel felt when challenged by the giant of the Philistines. In the 17th chapter of 1Samuel, vss 4-8 we are told of the great might and incredible size of this formidable warrior, as well as the massive nature of his weapons and his armor.   He truly dwarfed the Israelites and knowing he could easily defeat any of their soldiers one on one, still offered a challenge of “mano a mano” or hand to hand battle with any single Israelite of their choosing.   We then see in vs 11 how that made the Israelites, from the king on down feel.  When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. 

   Often when we face perceived or real obstacles we may feel we are facing our Goliath. Our thoughts sometime lead us to defeat. Our fears are realized and we find it nearly impossible to fight on or to think we can overcome the various things that present themselves as hindrances and impediments to the goals we want to achieve.  David did not allow improper thoughts to allow him to consider defeat.   He stated in 1Samuel 17:37 that he knew God would deliver him as long as he followed the Lord.   The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

   What a lesson for us! How soon we forget that our strength comes from God and

His Word. This is the same message the Spirit had Paul deliver to the Philippians brethren in Philippians 4:13 so that they would know the source of his strength and also could be the source of their strength. The same thing applies to us. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 

    Can we not see that the means by which David was strengthened was the same in his youth as when he was king of Israel? The Spirit had the Psalmist record this in Psalms 119:9-16 so we can know how to stand strong in the face of adversity and opposition. This is also how we can overcome our Goliaths. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

    As the Spirit had Paul encourage and instruct Timothy in 2Timothy 3:14-17, He pointed out how we all can overcome as obstacles are placed in our ways. This advice is something we all need to heed. By following this instruction we can also overcome the things which stand in opposition to our faithful service to God   But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works

   The entire 11th chapter of Hebrews is dedicated to the many who endured pains, sufferings, trials and tribulations, and overcame the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that were placed before them as they strove to serve God and do what was right to do. As time passed on and the church was established, these folks and their dedication to God and doing what God directed them to do, stand as a great example to us.   They had great faith in God, and obtained a good report according to Hebrews 11:39, yet did not receive the promise. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  Then in verse 40 of Hebrews 11 we are told God has provided something better for us. That something is the church. Then in Hebrews 12:1 we see the advice the Hebrews Christians were given and we also should heed it as we strive to overcome all the Goliaths this world presents us. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,. Overcome your “Goliaths” – Be faithful to God and His Word.  

                                                                                     Dennis S - Mooresville

Meeting Our Full Potential

Meeting Our Full Potential

   2/9/18 marked the start of the Winter Olympic games held in PyeongChang, South Korea. Those with the aptitude for greatness in their sports were chosen, some at a very young age and much preparation has gone toward their participation in these games. When those of certain abilities are identified, these athletes are coached, encouraged and in some cases self-driven to seek their fullest potential. Then they are selected to compete to determine who is the strongest, the fastest, the best in their respective sports.

    Those who participate in and excel in their sport to a degree greater than their fellow competitors receive a prize commensurate to the level of their excellence in the particular discipline.   Those who are judged as the best receive the Gold metal; the second best receives the Silver Metal and the third place winner is awarded the Bronze metal.   Often times those who receive these metals in their events go on in life to be successful in their lives after the games.  

   This is likely because they have learned the benefit of hard work, dedication and determination. Those who succeed in the games often apply these principles to the other aspects of their lives and thereby become and remain successful as the world measures success.   Can we not see that these same qualities are beneficial in the spiritual realm?  

   God, knowing the hearts of all men, knew that Saul, who was persecuting the church had these same qualities that would make him quite beneficial to the spread of the gospel throughout the known world at that time.   Ananias was directed by the Lord to inform Saul so he would know how to become a Christian.   Following the excuses made by Ananias, we find in Acts 9:15 what the Lord said to Ananias and what great work was planned for Saul. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 

     But Saul was not instantly “transformed” into a great preacher of the gospel upon his obedience to the gospel. We read in Acts 9:19 that following his baptism, Saul spent certain days with the disciples in Damascus. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.       While Saul did indeed receive the Words to preach from the Spirit, he had to first “give up some things” before he could be on God’s team. This is not unlike the athlete that competes at the games.   Each sets a goal and then must work toward reaching that goal. The Olympic athlete often gives up time with friends or other social activities to train and prepare. He or she willingly sacrifices to reach the goal.

   Saul (Paul) had much in his life that he had to forfeit to do what the Lord wanted him to do. Yet, he gladly gave them up to please God. In Philippians 3:4-8 we find a list of things Paul was willing to give up. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 

    He gave these up to gain a prize that can only be gained by first starting the race and then continue while keeping the rules and striving for that prize. The Spirit had him describe the way we can reach our full potential in the kingdom of God and the race we run in 1Corinthians 9:24-27. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 

     This is possible only if we keep that goal before us and make the necessary sacrifices in this life. This also can only be done if we have great love for God and His Word. Let us all bring our bodies into subjection and strive to reach our full spiritual potential and reach for the prize of eternity with God.  We are to do this willingly to gain that incorruptible crown. We also should be reminded that we have not yet received the crown.  

     Past victories are but stepping stones to receiving the great and final prize as the Spirit had Paul write in Philippians 3:12-14. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                Dennis S – Mooresville

What is the Ideal Life?

What is the “ideal life”?

     As we sojourn here on this sphere God created for our existence, we no doubt have determined, or at least imagined, what would be the “ideal life”.

   Perhaps a long life is what we would consider an ideal life. The Spirit had James write in James 4:14 that the span of time given is uncertain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  Therefore, what matters in making an ideal life is not how long we have, but what we do with the time we are granted.

   For those who think that material wealth makes an “ideal life”, Jesus responded to a question of one’s physical inheritance in Luke 12:15. This has to mean that an ideal life is not dependent on one’s physical attainments. And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.  This also does not mean that we are to shun the physical things God has provided for all earth’s inhabitants.

   To those affected with the abject poverty that many face in this world today, an “ideal life” would probably consist of the basic needs of life like food to eat and proper clothing to wear. But even this fails to fit the bill according to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.   In Matthew 6:25 we find Jesus saying: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?    Again, this does not mean that we are to ignore these basic needs and not seek to provide for ourselves or our own, but it does mean that there is something that is of more importance as we spend our time on this planet.

   We have some insight to this question of an “ideal life” in the Luke account of the temptations placed before Jesus when He was led to the wilderness by the Spirit.   In Luke 4:3 we are told of the first temptation.   And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.  Jesus’ response in the next verse shows clearly that the “ideal life” results from abiding in the Word of His Father.   And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.  All the other temptations presented to our Lord are met in a very similar manner and in every case God’s Word provides the formula for overcoming the tempter.  

   Upon reading about the life of Christ, His suffering, His pain, and His death, hardly anyone would call His life ideal.   But, this is perhaps because we often focus on the physical aspects of His life and fail to pay proper attention to the spiritual purpose for which He came.   Even though His life was filled with pain, physical suffering and all sorts of indignities by His fellowmen, Jesus stated in John 6:38 His reason for being here. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  Because Jesus did His Father’s Will He lived an ideal life and also provided the means for us to do the same.

   God’s Will is clearly stated for us in 2Peter 3:9 and Jesus died so we could be recipients of the ideal life God provides in Christ. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  In the latter part of John 10:10 Jesus explained the benefit we may have because He did His Father’s Will. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 

   But for us to have the possibility of an ideal life Christ had to die and offer His blood as a sacrifice for sin, then was raised from the dead as the scriptures had foretold.   We are reminded of this in 1Corinthians 15:3-4.   For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:    But the fact that Christ died and was raised from the dead saved no one.  In giving Himself in death, He fulfilled the Will of His Father and made it possible for us to lay hold on the promise of eternal life.  

   For us to have the “ideal life” we not only have to be obedient to the gospel, but we must also do our part in maintaining that commitment we made to God.     The Spirit had Paul to write of this in 2Corinthians 5:15. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 

   Let’s all strive to live the “ideal life” by obeying the gospel and then remaining faithful by reading and studying God’s Word and always following it. John 6:68 shows that Simon Peter had the right idea when Jesus asked if the disciples would also go away.   Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.   

                                                                                Dennis S – Mooresville

                                                          

                                                          

To What Are You Committed?

To What Are You Committed?

   Upon looking up the word “commitment” one will find: to put into charge or trust or entrust or to carry into action deliberately. These definitions are important as we need to fully understand what we have done when we made commitment to God.   When we were baptized into Christ we entrusted our soul’s salvation to God. At the same time we are also making a commitment to God to live according to His Word in order to receive the promise that He made to all humanity at the beginning of the New Testament age.  

   In Acts 2:38 The Spirit had Peter respond to the question asked by the Jews gathered at Pentecost after they had been informed that they had indeed killed the Son of God and were condemned by their sins.   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.   Following this, we read in vs 39 of the commitment God has toward all from the beginning of the church to the end of time as we know it. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.       We also know in accordance to 2Thessalonians 2:14 that all are called by the gospel. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Then in 2Timothy 2:19 we can read how the plan that was before the foundation of the world has come to fruition because of Christ’s commitment to His Father. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  And, in accordance to that plan, God has done His part, but have we done ours and are we doing it?   We are His if we have been obedient to the gospel, but we have an ongoing obligation in this situation.   God has committed Himself to His creation and showed it in His giving His Son.   John 3:16 affirms this for us. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Then vs 17 of John 3 provides the reason for Christ’s coming. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  This, along with God’s Word delivered to man through the Spirit is God’s part in His commitment of saving the souls of men.

   But what is our part?   Are we really committed to God? Many Christians seem to be fully committed to family, job, or whatever pursuit they embark upon, yet fall way short of the commitment they made to God when they became a child of God.   Could it be that they were not instructed regarding the requirements associated with this decision?   Those who fall into this category are usually the ones that want the benefits of being a child of God and the promise of a home with Him in heaven, but refuse to fully carry out their part of the plan.

     Again, we make this commitment to God when we are baptized into Christ. But, are we not aware that this includes following all the commandments God has made to His children in the New Testament?   Jesus, in John 15:10 set the example for us and showed how we can follow that example. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 

   Many Christians today seem to be like the young man in Matthew 19:16-18 who asked the Lord about eternal life and then wanted to know what the minimum requirements were. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which?   Did he not realize that Christ was speaking of all the commandments which were in the Law?     Do we not realize that all God’s Commandments given in the New Testament age are applicable to Christians?   This includes His directives regarding attendance, singing, giving and all other acts of worship as well as all other aspects of Christian living.  

     What are we saying about our commitment when we are not in attendance for all the services of the church?     What about when we do not give properly as God has prospered us?   To what are we committed when we don’t sing or if we sing songs that are not scriptural?   To what are we committed when the way we live our lives does not align with what God has directed in His Word?     I suspect that we would lose our jobs, our families, or our other endeavors if we exhibited the same level of commitment to them as some Christians exhibit toward God.  

     We must be careful to totally fulfill our commitment to God and His Son based on something our Lord stated while He walked among men. In Matthew 6:19-21 He said: 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. To what are you committed?   In this, I think actions speak louder than words. What are your actions saying?      

                                                                                                                                                                                             Dennis S - Mooresville

 

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