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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

Self Examination

Self Examination

   Much is being said these days regarding self-examination, but most of it is of a medical nature.   Warnings abound this time of year about the adverse effects of the Sun in receiving too much exposure. In addition to this we all participate in a bit of self-examination from a health standpoint (if we are wise) as we inspect our gums, teeth, etc. in our efforts to maintain good dental hygiene. Other areas of our health are equally important and there are benefits of self-examination to find any lumps, bumps, or previously unseen oddities and such that could be indicators of areas of concern or disease that may have appeared.  

   Now, we all (whether we like to admit it or not) take an appraising look in the mirror occasionally to determine how our clothes look, or if we think we have added a pound or two, and how this affects our appearance. Many a person has set aside, or even discarded a garment for the time being based on how they made him, or her look.   I too have done this.  

   But how many of us follow the Bible directive found in 2Corinthians 13:15 and really take a hard look at ourselves in regard to how well we follow the Word of God? Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  Surely we are familiar with 1Corinthians 11:28 where we are told that self-examination is indeed part of our partaking of the Lord’s Supper. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  According to vs 27, failure to perform a proper, and honest self-examination before we partake and eat the bread and drink the cup unworthily renders us guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. None should desire this.

   We cannot “look” inside ourselves with a device as we do this.   Physically, the Doctor can view “inside” us with a myriad of scopes, devices and tools and even take pictures and images to see if some-thing is amiss, but this is not what the Spirit was alluding to when He had Paul write to the Corinthian brethren. A self-examination of our mind is what The Spirit had Paul say is required.   We can only accomplish a successful internal self-examination if we are honest.

   The Bible speaks of the mind as the “heart” of man. This is because what the body does is controlled by the mind of the man that possesses that body. In the Old Testament, the first part of Proverbs 23:7 tells us this. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: We can also clearly see this from Matthew after Jesus healed the man on a bed, sick of the palsy, having uttered the Words in Matthew 9:2: Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.  Following this in vs 3 the “scribes said within themselves” that Jesus had blasphemed in saying this. As we read vs 4 we find Jesus reply and what Jesus also knew. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  It is the mind with which one thinks, and not the “heart” or blood pump.   Leave the examination of the physical heart (pump) to the physician.    

   Then the question becomes: “How may I do a self-examination of my mind, the spiritual heart?” To do this one must look “introspectively” or inside to examine themselves and compare what is inside with what is found in the Word of God. We should also want to look good in the “inner man” and should make frequent and honest self-examinations to ensure that we remain ”in the faith.” We then need to make the needed adjustments according to the Word. Hebews 4:12  points out for us that the Word of God is the “instrument” by which this self-examination is to occur.. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.   This is most important as the Word will also be that by which we are to be judged.  

   Perhaps another way of looking at “examining ourselves” is to “take heed” unto ourselves. In 1Timothy 4:16 this is what Timothy was told by Paul, and is equally applicable to us today. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. Then there is Hebrews 3:12 which tells us what a lack of “spiritual self-examination brings. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. We cannot afford to NOT do these spiritual self-examinations, do them honestly, and make the needed changes.    

                                               Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

God Friended Me - REALLY?

God Friended Me – REALLY?

     I was sitting in my living room the other evening and a commercial came on about an upcoming Fall 2018 CBS sitcom named “God Friended Me”. My first thought was, and how I still feel, is that such is ridiculous. I decided to look into this upcoming series to see what its premise is. (I will not be watching)

     What I found was about what I expected. From Wikipedia, I found the following.   It was ordered to series on May 11,2018. (And so is now in production.) It is described as a humorous, uplifting series, that explores questions of faith, existence and science.  It centers on an outspoken atheist “Miles”, whose life is turned upside down when he is friended by God on Facebook.   Unwittingly, he becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him. Another character “Cara” is a leading writer for a leading online magazine who is under pressure for her next big story. Her life takes an interesting turn when she meets the main character “Miles” get this-  thanks to God’s friend suggestion.  

     I have seen and heard blasphemy presented in many different ways, but this is a new package entirely.   This irreverence for God is a work of the devil. He started his work in the Garden of Eden and all these years later man is still falling for it and indeed – embracing it. To speak of, or speak to God as if He were “one of us” is indeed blasphemy.   God is not the “man upstairs” nor is He the “big guy” or any other such nonsense.   From Psalm 111:9 we read that even the name of God is set apart. . . . “holy and reverend is his name.”   Even those who aspire to wear the name or title of “reverend” are participating in this same type of irreverence.   Those who do so are not showing wisdom at all. Wisdom is not doing what we want or being called as we wish to be called. If we continue reading in Psalm 111:10 one can readily see that there is to be a fear of God and also where wisdom begins. Fear in this sense means utmost respect, awe and reverence. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.   Those who do participate in such irreverence and blasphemy are much like those depicted in Romans 1:28 where we also see that God will allow them to make whatever decision they want and persist in whatever activity they so desire. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 

     Israel, having just seen the power and glory of God in His great deliverance of them from the Egyptians, sang a song in Exodus 15.     In verse 11 we find a proclamation that many have forgotten. Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?  Exodus 15:11   From this, one would think that the people of God would remain faithful and always serve God as He commanded.  But, we can see from Isaiah 55:6-9 that irreverence and disobedience also affected Israel.   God sent Isaiah to call Israel back to God and reminded them that He is not like we are. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

   No, God does not have a Facebook account! He does not “Tweet”! He is not a “social media” God!         He does not speak directly to us, nor communicate to us in any way except through His Word.   It has been this way since the miraculous ended with the completion of God’s Revelation to man.    He will not contact us by telephone, e-mail, fax or through any of the modern means of communication that have likely consumed way too much of our time.        

   God indeed “friended” all of humanity when He sent His Son to provide the means for salvation.      We are told what God’s power unto salvation is in Romans 1:16. It is 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.     Perhaps we would do well to simply follow the advice of 1Timothy 4:16 where the Spirit had Paul direct Timothy. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  This is also why the Spirit had Paul instruct Timothy thusly in 2Timothy 4:2.   Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

     While some may think this upcoming show to be cute and some may even be so bold as to say that it will introduce people to God or cause them to think about God, let’s not get caught up in that which relegates God to the position of a mere man.

   Let us know God as He is presented in His Word and seek to serve Him in accordance to His Word lest we be found to have missed the mark for which all Christians should strive.        Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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