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To What Do You Aspire?

To What Do You Aspire?

   When we were a child, we often made statements as to what profession we desired when we grew up. Some children want to be a police officer or a firefighter as they think that is a cool job.   Some want to be a soldier and others a teacher or maybe even a preacher as they look up to an adult that holds such job or position. As a child we did not know what “aspiration” meant, and some are not sure about the meaning yet. One definition given for aspiration is: a strong desire to achieve something high or great.  

   As children, sometimes adults would ask what we wanted to be when we grew up. It is possible that more than a few thought I was being smart when my response was “When I grow up, I want to be a man.” I had no idea what an aspiration was, but it seemed to me that I needed to grow up before I could determine what I would do as an adult. Like other young people, I thought some careers were more desirable than others were, and often changed my mind about what I might want to do, but as a youth, still not sure what I wanted out of life.  

   It should be apparent that our aspiration will be our priority. Jesus spoke of this about half way through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:33. He made this statement so that the Jews would know that they had spiritual needs that were greater than their physical needs. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  God has always provided for humanity.   He created man and gave him the ability to choose. Unfortunately, not all will choose to serve God as they should and not all will “aspire” to greatness in the kingdom. As sad as it is, even some children of God, Christians, do not aspire to be great in the kingdom of God.

   It should be a priority of each Christian to be great in the kingdom. This does not necessarily mean that all men in the church will be preachers, elders, deacons or hold some other position in the church.   In Mark 10:42-43  Jesus instructed the apostles in this regard after James and John made request that each of them set on the right and left hand of the Savior in the kingdom.   But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:    Of course, these disciples were thinking of an earthly kingdom, of which the Jews were improperly expecting.

     Many a faithful and concerned Christian mother has expressed the desire to their young sons, the proper aspiration they should have; not that they had to be preachers or elders in the church, but to be “good Christian men”. They also teach their daughters the need to become good Christian wives and mothers as they mature physically and in the faith. These mothers understand the importance of instilling in these young minds the proper desire of faithful service to God.  

     This is the same thing we find in Philippians 3:13-14 as the Spirit had Paul write to those brethren.   The Spirit was having Paul tell them that although they had “aspired” to go to heaven, they hadn’t yet made it, and must continue to strive to get there. 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.

    We cannot attain that which we aspire to do or become in this life unless we continue on the course that will result in our receipt of the thing which we desire. We cannot just “sit back” and wait for what we desire to simply happen. This is true in the case of a career, educational pursuits, and all other aspects of our life. Why would it not be true in the area of our spiritual aspirations as well? Perhaps this is why we have the admonition of 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.  Even salvation cannot be obtained without working for it.

   In Romans 2:6-7 the Spirit had Paul tell them that God will judge all based on their deeds in this life, but notice who it is that will receive the eternal prize. Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:    I don’t think anyone “aspires” to be in the group mentioned in the next two verses.   But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrathTribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 

     Let us all aspire to go to heaven and faithfully follow God’s Word in love and devotion to Him.                   

                 Dennis Strickland - Mooresville church of Christ

 

God Speaks

God Speaks

   Recently, on a local denominational sign, the subject of an upcoming study was announced.   It was: “Does God Speak To Us?”    Assuming that “us” indicates humanity, one needs only read two chapters of the Bible to see that in Genesis 2:16 that God did communicate with man by giving commandment and He gave it by “saying” it to man.   And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  What is there to “examine” as to whether or not God spoke to humanity?   The evidence is right there in black and white.

   The question should never be whether or not God still speaks to humanity, but “how” God speaks to humanity.   Also, it should never be “assumed” that God has always spoken to man in the same fashion or by the same means or continues to do so.   We know from Genesis 20:3 that God warned Abimelech against continuing to follow his desires with the wife of Abraham. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.   Then we read in Genesis 15:1 we see that a vision is employed by God to convey a message to Abram.   After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 

   When God speaks, man should always hear and listen to what God says.   If we read Genesis 3:8 it is apparent that man does not always heed what God says when He says it.   And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  We also know how that worked out for Adam and Eve. Their refusal to heed what God told them to do cost them paradise.  

   Since we all now live in the New Testament age, how God speaks to humanity now is what should concern us. While it is true that God, in the beginning of the early part of the New Testament age, spoke in various ways, including visions and dreams and such, He does so no longer.   In 1Corinthians 13:8-10 the Spirit had Paul address the duration of those things such as miracles and miraculous communication from God to man.   Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away     Hebrews 1:1-2 also deals with how God speaks to mankind in the past and now.   God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  But we need to understand that the “method” or “mode” of doing so is through the Word of God.   “That which is perfect” (above) is the fully revealed Word of God. How does speak to us today?   Only through His Word.        Below is a poem written by my father-in-law which can also be sung to the tune of the hymn: “Let Him Have His Way With Thee”, the last verse serving as the chorus. It may help us all understand how God speaks to us today and why Jesus stated what He did in John 8:32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  Know that truth and be free – Listen to what God has said to us and do it!

God Speaks Only Through His Word

I believe the Scriptures are inspired and wholly true,

In them God has said, what he wants us to do.

And He has no double standards, makes no difference who,

God speaks only through His Word.

There are those who say the Lord speaks in a quiet voice,

And this inner peace, inspires them to rejoice.

Jesus said the written Word is that we may believe,

I have made His Word my choice.

Others say the conscience is a safe and trusted guide,

But it’s uninspired, don’t trust what it decides.

It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Jeremiah ten, twenty three

The Lord is speaking unto men today,

But through His written Word this is the way.

The Holy Spirit said what He must say,

So God speaks only through His Word today.

                                                                       O.D. Wilson - deceased

                                                                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Much Do We Murmur?

How much do we murmur?

     It is likely that many folks are not completely aware of the difference between complaining and murmuring. While these are related there does seem to be differences in the two. These differences are important to know and understand. But, before any differences can be explained the terms need defining.    Complain = to express grief, pain or discomfort.   Murmur = a half-suppressed or muttered complaint; or a low indistinct but often continuous sound. The word “complain” and its various forms are only found in the O.T. Scriptures, while the word “murmur” is found in both the O.T. and N.T Scriptures. Also, in the whole Bible we don’t read admonitions against complaining, but we are taught against murmuring. This shows that there is a difference in these words.  In the Hebrew language of the O.T. the word “complaint” indicates a petition or a prayer.

   In Psalms 102:1-2 we read inspired Words that show that a complaint can be clearly understood by the one hearing the complaint.   A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.  Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.  Then in Psalms 142:1-2 we have another prayer offered to God by David as he was in hiding from those who were persecuting him.   I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.  Of course God is all knowing and is fully aware of our situations, needs and complaints. But, murmuring is always shown in a negative light in the Scriptures.  

     Why do we not find an example of murmuring that is acceptable to God? It is because murmuring is a sin.   In Matthew chapter 18, the Lord Himself offered the acceptable formula for dealing with issues between brethren. Notice: 1) the solution is progressive in nature, and 2) does not allow for murmuring.  Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that we should go to, and tell the issue to the one with whom we have issue. This instruction was given directly by Jesus to His own disciples.   Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  To take this “complaint” to another would be gossip, and to just mutter and gripe sullenly solves nothing, but just makes the “murmurer” more miserable, and makes the folks around them miserable as well.  

    Another reason murmuring is a sin is that when one participates in it, others are likely to be drawn away also.   God’s people of the O.T. also were drawn away when murmuring was going on. The Words given to Isaiah in Isaiah 29:24 show that those who murmur are those who have not learned, or have forgotten doctrine.   They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.  Perhaps if we stay in the doctrine of Christ, the N.T. Word of God, we as Christians are less likely to murmur.

   Jesus had spent most of the time of His earthly ministry teaching His disciples, twelve of which would become His apostles.   John 6:61 tells us even some of the Lord’s disciples in His day murmured. He then asked if the “hard” sayings He brought to them “offended” them.    When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?  They and we have nothing for which to be offended as Christ came, suffered, and died so we can have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) What is there to murmur about?   Jesus gave His apostles all explanations needed as He spoke in parables as Mark 4:11 teaches. 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:   They would also later be guided into all truth by the promised “Comforter” when He was sent to them. (John 16:13)     But He has also given us all we need per 2Peter 1:3. Have we any reason to murmur?     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:    Let us all serve God faithfully, patiently, and lovingly, and not fall into the sin of “murmuring”, nor afflict others with it.   We will all be a lot happier as we serve God in this life.

                                                                                      Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

In Your Patience . . .

In Your Patience . . .

     Frequently one hears the Words of Jesus from Luke 21:19 repeated, especially when one is frustrated and aggravated with the issues of daily life. He said: In your patience possess ye your souls.  But have we ever stopped to think what this means?   In the direct context Christ is telling His apostles of the pending destruction of Jerusalem as verse 20 affirms and instructions are given in that particular case in verse 21. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.  

   Patient – by definition is: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or stain; or not being hasty or impetuous. Therefore the statement of Jesus in Luke 21:19 to His apostles did not mean for them to just sit calmly by and let things unfold and all would be alright.   This is why in the context listed above, Jesus gave direct instructions of something they had to do for their own good to avoid being killed in the destruction of Jerusalem.

     In regard to Christian living, the Hebrews Christians were told the same thing in Hebrews 10:36 rather than succumbing to the temptation of forsaking the Law of Christ in returning to the Law of Moses as the Judaizing teachers were urging them to do.   For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.   Lack of patience would have caused the Hebrews Christians to reject the New Testament Law of Christ and cost them their souls.

     But how does this apply to us today?   The New Testament Word of God is written in such a way to show that the need of patience is for all, and gives examples from life itself. In James 5:7 we see the example of patience in the example of the husbandman and his need to wait for the development of fruit before the harvest can occur.   Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.   If the farmer has to learn patience regarding his crops, should we not also learn patience regarding our souls?  

   Perhaps this is why in 2Peter 1:5-8, the passage known as the Christian graces instructs us as Christians to “add” to our faith, and for what reasons all these things are to be added. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that patience is in that list, so it too is something we are to add.  

   Patience is something we sometimes have to be reminded of when things are not going so well. When things become problematic; situations are hectic and it seems that all in which we are involved is going badly, that is when patience is most needed.   The Spirit had Paul write the Roman brethren that the trials they were to endure was to help them. (Romans 5:3-4) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

     This should help us all see that patience is something that must be learned. It is not a trait that comes as part of the package when we are born. The ability to learn it is there, but it has to be developed. But how is it to be learned?   As young children, perhaps our parents tried to teach us patience by having us wait for something we desired.   That helps, but this is simply an application through which we learn patience. Where does patience originate? It originates with, or comes from God.   We find in Romans 15:4-5 that God had His Word written so we might learn and then patiently hope for the promises given once we obeyed what God said to do to become His children. But it also tells us God is the God of patience.   For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

   Let’s spend more time in the Word of God, do the things He directs therein and develop more patience for this life and live it so that we will spend eternity with Him.   (2Peter 3:9)

                                    Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

An Interview With God?

An Interview with God?

   I recently saw an advertisement for a movie that opened in various theaters on 8/20/18.   The name of the movie is “Interview with God”.   I have no idea what this movie is trying to prove, but I know what it is doing. It is bringing God down to the level of man.   This is yet another work of Satan, and is blasphemy.   On 7/7/18 I wrote an article about an upcoming T.V. show named “God Friended Me”.   The article was named: “God Friended Me, Really?”   As with the T.V. show, I will not be watching the movie.   Both ideas are ridiculous!  

   Because of the apparent similarities between this upcoming series and the new movie, I decided to do a little research so I can be prepared if someone asks me about this movie.   I went to imdb.com to find out the storyline of the movie.   It states: “Paul Asher, an up-and-coming journalist, returns home from covering the war in Afghanistan and finds his life falling apart – his marriage is failing and he’s in the grips of a personal crisis he doesn’t yet understand. Even more pressing, a soldier that Paul befriended in Afghanistan is struggling at home and Paul is desperately trying to help him. But, Paul’s life takes a strange twist when he’s offered an interview that he finds impossible to resist – an interview with someone who claims to be God.”   NOTICE – “claims to be God

   Has man lost his mind?   Have not they read in Exodus 33:20 what God said to Moses after Moses asked God to “shew me thy glory” in vs 18?   God cannot be seen by man, let alone be interviewed, because the interviewer would not survive the interview.   And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.  This verse alone shows the foolishness of such a project or even the idea for such. Then, there is what we read in John 1:18 which states: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 

     The genre for this movie is DRAMA / MYSTERY. I have no doubt that this is indeed a “mystery” as one could not possibly know what it be like to conduct an interview with God. Of course it would also have to be a “drama” as nothing in one’s existence will be as dramatic as when they stand at God’s judgment bar and receive the just sentence that will be handed down based on how each individual responded to the Word of God while they lived their lives on this earth.  

   The problem that brings about such shows and movies is that people fail to read and study the scriptures.   In the first century we see that “iniquity” was already active . For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  (2Thessalonians 2:7) Then in vs 8 we are told what the outcome will be for all who participate in iniquity. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:    Previously, in this same letter, in 2Thessalonians 1:8-9, the Spirit had Paul inform these brethren as to the fate of all the disobedient. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  If folks would read and study the Word of God, they would be less likely to commit such blasphemy.  

   In doing my research I came across a book with the same name which may have been the “inspiration” for the movie. It was written by F.W. Shannon in 2015. In this book the interviewer was named David. He asks a man claiming to be God, in an apartment in Soho, wearing flip-flops, jeans, tee shirt, and a ball cap, answering questions that mankind has been asking for centuries. A review of the book also states that “the answers might just blow your mind and open your heart.” Pathetic!       Another similar work touted as a “self-help” book was uploaded in 2001 by Reata Strickland (no relation) to her local denominational congregation’s website with the title “Interview With God.”   This was done with no advertising or promotion. This particular volume has simple text and nature photographs.   Reportedly, within a week a half a million people had visited the site and within a month it had over 13 million hits.   While God did provide nature for humanity, it is not the way He communicates with us. In Ephesians 3:5 we see how His Word is delivered. Which 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;     Then, in Hebrews 1:2 we see that God now speaks through His Son. Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

   We need to be concerned about the interview Jesus will have with us when He judges the world in righteousness. This is an “interview” Jesus will be conducting and we will have to answer some questions.   GET READY!    Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 

                                                                                                                                  Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Beware ! ! ! !

BEWARE ! ! ! ! !

   Life is full of warnings. These warnings are provided for us for our own safety or for our benefit. Often the potential for danger is not readily apparent, so a sign, barrier or barricade is placed so that we hopefully become aware of the harm that can befall us and that we will take the correct evasive action.   When we see the need to quickly warn someone of an unseen pending calamity, we are likely to shout: “Watch Out!” or something like that.  Some warnings we observe, some we don’t. That seems to be part of human nature.   Most folks don’t want to be told what to do or not to do.   But when the things we are told are for our benefit, should we not take heed?  

   God has provided a number of warnings for man in His Word, all of which need to be heeded as He has given us these for our spiritual well-being.   He too, has used a number of different ways to warn us as well as instruct us as to what to do and also what not to do. Unlike man, God does not place a sign in front of a place or action which is detrimental to us.   He has used “Words”, His Word to warn us, guide us, direct us and to protect us.  

   In Acts 20:31 we read the Words the Spirit gave the apostle Paul to warn the Ephesian elders. He spent a great deal of time and effort in warning all of the Ephesian Christians. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  Three years of error free instruction from the Spirit would contain the types of warnings they would need to remain faithful to God. They would be dealing with the same types of persecutions and temptations that came upon all Christians during that time.  

   These same elders were cautioned in Acts 20:28 as they were charged with “feeding” the congregation which they were to oversee. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. These presbyters needed to beware because vs 30 tells us that even some of them would stumble and fall.   Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 

   In the passages we have used, we have seen the Ephesians elders warned using the words “watch”, ”warn” and “take heed”. There are other passages that utilize these same terms. When one “watches” they are supposed to be alert, or on guard, which means that they are to be aware of the dangers around them.      

     In 1Corinthians 16:13 the Corinthian brethren were admonished to “beware” of the potential of falling. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.  This is much the same warning as was given earlier in the same letter.   The words “take heed” are used in 1Corinthians 10:12 to warn these brethren. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 

   In addition to the Corinthians and the Ephesians being warned, other brethren have been informed by the Spirit about the problems and pitfalls the world would

put before them. In Colossians 2:8 we read the counsel provided to them so they would not be ruined by the world and what the world offers.   Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

   Even in this day we need to “heed” the warnings God has provided us in His Word. We cannot successfully overcome the temptations that are placed before us if we don’t read, study, and learn the Word of God.   Just like the brethren in Corinth, we have been given a way of escape when we are tempted. They were told this in 1Corinthians 10:13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  But, none of us can expect to escape these if we don’t “heed” His warnings and “watch” out for the dangers.    

   Another way we are told to “beware” and to be “watchful” is found in the warning we find in 1Peter 5:8-9 as well as why we need to be watchful, and that we are not the only ones receiving this warning. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

     Heed the warnings – Your soul’s destination depends on it.

                                               Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

Wake Up Sleepy Head

Wake Up Sleepy Head

   The title of this article sounds like what we may have heard in our youth as we sought to remain in our beds rather than go to school or arise and take on a task in which we would rather not be involved.   No doubt many of our parents used this phrase to urge us to get up and get going.  

     We all know sleep is necessary for proper mental and physical growth and to maintain a certain level of clearness of mind for the tasks of the day. But, too much sleep or sleeping when more pressing issues need to be addressed is problematic to say the least. I think we are all aware of the need to remain awake and alert while driving a car or working with power tools. But it seems that some are “sleeping” their way through life and not taking care of the most pressing issue of life, which is making provision for the final abode of the soul.

   Sleep is mentioned a number of times throughout the KJV Bible. The first time we see it is in Genesis 2:21 when God caused Adam to sleep deeply and God performed the first surgery in the Bible in which He took one of Adam’s ribs and made a woman for Adam. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;  One would certainly want to be asleep (knocked out) during this kind of operation.   The final occurrence of sleep in the Bible is found in 1Thessalonians 5:10 and deals with something other than our retiring for an evening.   This passage is speaking of Christ and the sacrifice He made so we can be in Him, whether we remain alive or are sleeping the sleep of physical death. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 

      As we compare the two verses above, surely we can see two different kinds of “sleep” being referenced.   One is a sleep in which Adam was awakened to live another day; the other sleep is the state of waiting until the Lord returns and the judgment occurs.   This is why one must always consider the context before one can understand what is actually being put forth.   This is true of any passage of the Word of God.

     Not all “sleep” within the Bible is the same. As we live here on the earth, we sleep to recharge our bodies. As we leave this earth, our bodies will sleep in death. Those who are not “in Christ” will also sleep the sleep of death, but will not live afterward with Him, as they have not lived for Him in this life.  If one does not live with Christ when they are awake, how can they be “in Christ” while sleeping? This applies to the sleep of rest as well as the sleep of death.  

   In 1Corinthians 11:30 we find that the Spirit had Paul address a problem with the group of Christians that met in Corinth. He was directed to write: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.    Surely the Spirit was not having Paul write of normal restful period of nighttime sleep as the context in that part of this chapter is that of the proper partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Also, those referenced as being “asleep” were not physically dead, because dead people cannot partake of this memorial feast. Therefore the Spirit must have directed Paul to speak of being asleep spiritually.  

     Too sleep spiritually means one is not ready for the coming of the Lord. This is why the 1Thessalonians 5:6 admonition was written for those brethren as well as for us. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  And, there are several other passages within the New Testament which also remind us to “awake”.   These are not as frivolous as the call of our parents when we were young and when they said: “Wake up sleepyhead”. Their call was to arouse us so we could get on with our day. The warnings given by God in His Word to awake spiritually and remain alert and ready are given because our eternity depends upon staying spiritually awake.  

    As the Roman letter was penned, some there needed to awake from sleep as

Romans 13:11 points out. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.    Then, in 1Corinthians 15:34, the brethren there were told unto what they were to awake and informed them that it is a shame to not have the knowledge of God. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. One way for us to be “awakened” spiritually is to have our minds stirred up by the Word of God as 2Peter 3:1 tell us. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

   Let us, as children of God, strive to be “mindful” of the Words spoken by the prophets and the fulfillment of those things when the church was established.   One must not only be a member of the church, but they must also remain awake spiritually to continue to be in favor with God and productive in the kingdom.

                           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

An Inspired Guarantee

An Inspired Guarantee

   Isn’t it a good feeling to have a guarantee? I know when we are forced to buy a new appliance, tool or even a new car, it is very comforting to know that if the product quits working properly, provided I didn’t do something to cause it, the repair or replacement would be covered by the provider. These guarantees are usually in writing and often times there are qualifications that must be met for the guarantee to remain in effect.   In the case of the purchases mentioned above, the buyer must have purchased the item, or keep the payments up if it is a large purchase. The seller, or the one that provided the product is the one that offers the guarantee. With these types of guarantees, the seller or provider promises that the product will work as it should or give the service for which it was designed for a specified period of time without problem or defect.

   The single greatest “purchase” ever made was made for us by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   He came to earth, born of a virgin, and lived a prefect life with one focus throughout. That focus was to do the Will of His Heavenly Father. Part of doing that Will, was to die on Calvary’s cross. It was upon the cross where He shed His life’s blood to provide Salvation for all who would follow Him and be obedient to the gospel which was first preached on Pentecost following the resurrection and ascension of Christ. When He ascended, Christ took His precious blood to the Father to purchase the church.   Acts 20:28 is where the Spirit had Paul admonish the Ephesian elders, then remind them of what Christ purchased when He shed His blood on the cross and took it to His Father. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

   John 1:12-13 shows that Christ’s blood gave mankind the power to become the children of God. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.   Once the blood of Christ is contacted in baptism, one is “born again”, and they become a child of God. This is where the guarantee comes in.

     When one becomes a child of God by contacting the blood of Christ, they have been given the promise of eternal life by God in 1John 2:25. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. Then in accordance to 1John 5:13 we read that we can “know” we have eternal life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.   But as we have already read, we have eternal life in promise.   It is promised to us only if 1) we have been born again 2) if we remain faithful.

   We also have been given instructions which, if followed, guarantee us that we will receive that which God has promised.   Space here will not permit the listing all the things required of us, but they are found in 2Peter 1:5-7. Then we read in vs 8if these things be in us and abound” we will “neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of” Christ.   If we lack them we are “blind and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten” that we were “purged from” our “old sins”. (vs 9)   Then in 2Peter 1:10 we find the inspired guarantee.   Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: There you have it; the guarantee of God to man in writing!

   As we pointed out earlier, we – the end user of the product – in our case, what God has promised, eternal life, have the responsibility to not forfeit this “inspired guarantee” by misuse or improper handling. The Christian Jews, the Hebrews were in danger of doing so when tempted to return to the Law of Moses by the Judaizing teachers. The Spirit had the writer of Hebrews admonish them in Hebrews 10:23 and also remind them that God is faithful of His promise to man. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) We are also aware from 2Timothy 1:13 that this same admonition was given to Timothy as the Spirit directed Paul to write.   Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. The written “guarantee” of God is the Word of God, delivered to man as promised by Jesus, beginning when the Comforter was sent to the apostles on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 33.  

     If we are Christians, and if we are faithful as directed in the Word, we have that “inspired guarantee” of the promise of eternal life. If not, we are promised an eternity of destruction in accordance to 2Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;    This too is an “inspired guarantee”. Which guarantee do you want?    

                             Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Attitude and the Bible

Attitude and the Bible

   There is not one single occurrence of the word “attitude” in the King James version of the Bible. This does not mean that attitude is not taught in the Bible or is not important. One dictionary definition of attitude is: “a position assumed for a specific purpose”.   This is fitting as we have to take a position when it comes to the Word of God.   Jesus made this abundantly clear in Matthew 12:30 following the time when some accused Him of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub. He said: He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.  When Jesus said this He knew that not all would have the same attitude toward Him or His Word.

   In John 12:46 Jesus stated that He came as a light into the world so that the world could make the choice as to which “position” or “attitude” they would have toward Him and His Word while in this life.   Then in John 12:47 He stated His “purpose” for coming to earth and in vs 48 why having the right attitude toward His Word is so important. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 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.    Knowing that Jesus came to be light to man so that man could be saved may help us to understand the “position” Christ took for our benefit as Philippians 2:7-8 tells us. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.   Christ had the right attitude as He came to do the Will of His Father in heaven. He also set the example for us and we are instructed in Philippians 2:5 to have this same attitude or “mind”. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 

     This admonition is important because not all have the proper attitude toward the Lord and the purpose for which He died.   One excellent example of this is presented to us in Acts 26:9-11 in the life of Saul before his conversion. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 

11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 

     But one that has an “honest” heart, upon hearing the truth, will be obedient to it and their life will change. Then their attitude toward the Bible should change and be as God would have it.   In 2Timothy 3:10 we see the change that was made in Saul (Paul) after he was taught the truth and was obedient to it. His attitude regarding Jesus changed and he then became a diligent supporter and preacher of truth.   But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,. This too was an example for all to follow that knew Paul.

     God would have all to have the same attitude toward truth. The Spirit has given a number of scriptures that show that all should follow God and Christ.  Ephesians 5:1 reminds those brethren they were also “dear children” so they were to follow God. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; This means they were to have the right attitude. One cannot follow God and have a wrong attitude toward truth. In 1Thessalonians 1:6, the Thessalonian brethren became followers because they “received the word” even though it may not have been in the best of circumstances. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:   There is also the inspired direction to the Corinthian Christians in the first letter the Spirit gave to Paul to write. In 1Corinthians 11:1 we see that they were also given an example in Paul the apostle. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. That means that all should have the same attitude toward the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word.

   In Jesus prayer to the Father in John 17:17 He prayed that the apostles be “sanctified” (set apart) by the Word. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  Even the apostles and all disciples or (followers) of Christ could not be sanctified through the truth if they did not maintain the proper attitude toward His Word, the Bible. If a right attitude, and obedience toward the Word is maintained, we shall all be blessed, now and when Christ returns.  

                         Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

 

Stewardship

Stewardship

   Often, when the topic of stewardship comes up, folks tend to focus upon how well they handle the money with which they have been entrusted. The word “steward” is found only in two books of the New Testament portion of the Bible. Luke contains the word or title “steward” five times and in each of these as Jesus was speaking, He spoke regarding the handling of the material blessings with which God has richly blessed. Jesus used the idea of stewardship to help those He taught (Israel) see that everything God has provided should always be used as God intended that it be used.  

   When Jesus was here and taught these lessons, He did so that Israel might learn to properly use all with which God had blessed them. They were so taught that they might also be beneficiaries in the “Christian” age which would soon be ushered in following Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and His ascension to the Father.  It is true that monies, and all other physical blessings given us of God are to be used properly, but God has “delivered” spiritual things to man as well.

   The only other New Testament occurrence of “steward” is found in Titus 1:7 and conveys a deeper meaning than just properly looking out for the physical things of this life.  In this passage we see part of the qualifications of an “elder” (bishop) in the church addressed. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;  Notice here that an elder, serving God in that capacity, with other elders within a congregation of the Lord’s church, have a very serious obligation and responsibility toward the souls they “oversee”. They are to truly be “stewards of God” regarding God’s people - Christians.

     In Hebrews 13:17 we find the Spirit having the penman instruct the Hebrew Christians to submit to those “elders” that watch for their souls. Those elders in the congregations of the Hebrew Christians had the solemn responsibility of “stewardship” over those whom God made them overseers. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.   This idea of being overseers and the stewardship of this office is also conveyed in Acts 20:28 where the Spirit had Paul address the Ephesians elders.   Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.    Indeed, all elders, in every congregation are to be stewards.

     But, lest we shirk our own responsibilities, we need to be reminded that all of God’s people are also “charged” to be good stewards.   This includes all the material substance with which we are entrusted, but it also includes being good stewards of the Word of God. In 2Timothy 2:15 we read of an admonition given to Timothy, but is also applicable to all Christians.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  Study is required by all, but if we are to be “good stewards” we must also “rightly divide” or handle the Word rightly.

   In the Philippian letter, the Spirit had Paul speak of the defense of the gospel. This is part of handling it aright.     In Philippians 1:7 Paul was “set for the defense” of it. I don’t think any could honestly say that Paul was not a good steward of God. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 

   Part of “defending” the gospel is to “stand up” against all who are against the gospel of God, which is His Word.   Jude, through inspiration, was directed to exhort us (all Christians) to “earnestly contend for the faith”. (Jude vs 3) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  To do so is being a good steward of the Word of God, which in itself is a blessing and a treasure.   He was also to tell us why this is necessary.   It is because some are not good stewards of God’s Word and even deny the Son of God. (vs 4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 

     Let’s strive to be good stewards of all God has entrusted to us. The material blessings only last through this life, but the Word endures forever. Take care of both while living here.           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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