Day 90 – The Beginning and the End

It is amazing how days seem to “fly by”.  It is another reminder how short life can be.  On February 01, 2012 I began this 90 day adventure reading through the Bible in the shortest period of time I have ever done so.  I was not sure that it was something I wanted to do.  It was going to require that I get up a bit earlier, and especially since I committed myself to writing about it everyday for that ninety days.

It was, however, a journey and adventure well worth the time and the reading.  Let me challenge you to do it; the reading.  It will be a blessing to you.  Even if you have read the Bible through 100 times or a 1,000 times, there is something about moving through it quickly that gives you a new insight into the Scriptures.  Whether you read it through in ninety days or 365 read it through.

My reading for the final morning of the 90 days was The Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters 13 – 22.  The title comes from Jesus speaking this in the first chapter verses 8 and 11, then again in 21:6 and 22:13.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”  Revelation 22:13 (KJV)

Life for man, according to the Bible, began in the Garden of Eden.  Let me say that I believe what the Bible says, because it is the very Word of God.  It has not failed, it will never fail.  Not one jot or title will pass away.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God will never pass away.  From the Garden of Eden in Genesis Adam and Eve were cast out because of sin.  They were cast out to keep them from the Tree of Life which was in the midst of the garden, and was the source of eternal life.

From Genesis we see God’s call of a man, Abraham, who believed God; God counted it to him for righteousness; and through Abraham all the earth has been blessed.  In the Old Testament we find a journey of the seed of Abraham.  We see their victories, their faults, failures, and their sins; most of all we see God in His grace and mercy preparing a people, for a Saviour, for the whole world.  In the New Testament that Saviour comes, dies on the cross, giving His life as atonement for the sins of mankind, making it possible for those who will believe to partake of the Tree of Life and live forever.

I mentioned yesterday on Day 89 that “Inhabiters of the earth”, “All that dwell upon the earth” is used to show those whose hearts and lives find their treasure in this world.  That phrase is mentioned again in chapter 13 four more times; in verses 8, 12, and twice in verse 14.  It is used again in 14 verse 6 and chapter 17 verse 8.  If I have not counted wrong or missed one that is eight times the phrase is used.  Every time it is used it has to do with those who will be judged because of their rejection of Jesus Christ.

There may be some who will say, “Well, I have never rejected Jesus Christ.”  If you have not received Him as your Lord and Saviour you are in a state of rejection.   What must you  do to be condemned?  Nothing.  You are already condemned.  What must you do to be saved from your condemned state?  Trust the Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross, His death, burial and bodily resurrection.  Depend solely on the grace given you through faith in Him.

It is mentioned in the Revelation of a “First resurrection”,

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”  Revelation 20:5-6

Just what is this “First Resurrection”?  First, let me say that we all want to be in the first resurrection; at least we should want to be.  Jesus is the “first fruits” of the first resurrection, making it possible for the dead in Christ to be raised to life again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Then at the end of God’s judgment upon the earth dwellers, and the redemption of Israel, those who died for their faith in Him during the judgment will also be raised, and counted in the first resurrection.  Those who do not have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life will have part in what is called the “Second death”.  At the great white throne (20:11-15) all the dead of all the ages of those who were not written in the book of life will be cast alive into the lake of fire.

When you read the Bible keep your eyes and heart tuned in to seeing Jesus, because it is about Him.  We human beings need to realize that this life is not about us, or even for us, but it is for God and for His glory.

The invitation is given.  The life of man began in the Garden of Eden.  When we believe God through His Son Jesus Christ we can live in the Heavenly Garden forever.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’  And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’  And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17 (KJV)

Hear the invitation.  Come to Jesus and receive eternal life.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  He is where new life begins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 89 – Blessings and Judgment to Come

It is quite pleasant to write and to speak of blessings.  It cannot be said of Judgment.  Nevertheless, judgment is a topic which must be addressed by those dealing with truth.  Truth is more than philosophy; it is of God; because God is Truth.

My reading for today, as we near the finish line for the ninety days of reading through the Bible, was The Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters three through twelve.  Though it is in yesterday’s reading I want to point you to chapter one verse three.

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”  Revelation 1:3 (KJV)

In the beginning of the reading of the Revelation we find that our Lord’s intent is for blessing those who will take the time to read this book, hear and obey what He says, and keep them as treasures in one’s heart.  The time at hand is that of the completion of the redemption of the world.  It is more than judgment it will be the final putting down of everything that is vile, evil, and morally reprehensible.

There is blessing for all those who will read, hear, and keep the the “words of this prophecy”.  It is quite clear also that there is judgment for those who love this world and all its principalities and powers;

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  Revelation 3:10

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:10

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!'” Revelation 8:13

It is  important to note that following chapter four; chapters 2 and 3 being specifically to seven churches; the Church is mentioned no more, except in chapter five around the throne of God as the “twenty four elders” (4:4;  5:8).  It is implied in chapters 21 and 22 for the Church to be in the presence of God in Heaven.

The judgment is not for those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.  The judgment coming on the world that the Revelation speaks of is for those whose hearts cannot be torn away from the riches, fame, popularity, politics, and power of this world.

Blessing is what God desires for you.  Blessing is what He has provided for all who will trust in Him, and the finished work of the cross of Christ.  Refuse Him and be judged.  Receive Him and be blessed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 88 – The Christian and Discernment

It has been said that the best way to identify a counterfeit is to really know the real thing.  It has been told to me by one who has experience as a teller that banks train them to get the feel for the real paper money, and when a counterfeit passes through their fingers it is almost immediately identified.  Do they study the counterfeit?  Not at all.  They get to know the genuine article.

There is a great illustration, even parable of sorts to that thought for the Christian.  I used to spend a lot of time studying  different religions; and I find no fault in doing so; but to use great caution, and know the true God and His Son Jesus personally.

My reading today began in the First Epistle of John the apostle; and ended with Revelation chapter 2.  The Epistles of John have been called “Love Letters” to the Christians; if they have not been, maybe they should be; because the First one is all about Christian love; first for God and His Son Jesus, and second the Christian’s love one for another.

In the First Epistle John covers much about love, loving one another, and he also deals with discernment in chapter four.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”  1 John 4:1-3 (KJV)

To hear some professing Christian leaders speak today you would think that any belief is alright, and get you to heaven; as long as you have “faith”.  John nails it down to what one believes about Jesus Christ.  There is strong implication in the above text that John is viewing Jesus as Deity “come in the flesh”.  God came down to man in the form of a man.  John says anyone teaches that is of God; if not they are not of God.  It is sad to say there are some religions, Christian cults who believe that Jesus came in the flesh and is deity; but they add to that by teaching that all of us can become Christ, and be gods.  That is a distortion of the truth.

My friends do you know Jesus, the one and only Son of God, who became flesh, dwelt among us, died for our sins, was buried, and bodily rose from the grave; and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father?  God has no other sons, but those who are born again through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In Second John he writes of the “doctrine of Jesus Christ”, and most likely is referring to His being God in flesh; warning,

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”  2 John 9-11

In Third John he writes of a man in the church who loves dominating others, even prohibiting  John even from speaking in said church;

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 9-11

A man name of Diotrephes is the guilty party.  Sometimes it is sad to admit but there are folks who call themselves Christian and pastor, bishop or elder who endeavor to dominate other people in the church.  Diotrephes was an evil man, keeping even the apostles of Jesus Christ out of the church, and excommunicating all who favored them.

I also read Jude.  Jude is believed to have been the half brother of Jesus, though he calls himself, “The servant/slave of Jesus Christ”.  In verse 11 he writes,

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Jude 11

If you would like to read more study on the book of Jude follow this link.

Mentioning three Old Testament personalities in this one verse; Cain the brother of Abel whom he killed and rejecting the way of God;  Balaam who led the enemy of Israel to cause them to sin; and Korah who was a rebel along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness journey (Numbers 16).  Still we see the need for discernment in the Body of Christ.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters one and two we see Jesus revealing Himself to John the apostle while he is being held prisoner on the isle of Patmos for his faith in Christ and preaching the gospel of Christ.  Oh, if there is ever a truer presentation of who Jesus is it is here.  Jesus says to John,

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.'” Revelation 1:10-11 (KJV)

And in verse 17 He says again, “Fear not; I am the first and the last”.  No one can honestly say that except they be the incarnate Son of God, God in flesh.  Know Jesus and you will be able to discern the true from the false.  Know the Word of God and you will know the Living Word of God.  Remember what John wrote in John 1;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

God has given us the ability, and power to be discerning; practice it for your life’s sake, for the Church’s sake; mostly for the sake of Jesus Christ Himself, and His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 87 – The Power of a Godly Life

The title of this reveals some inadequacy in my own life.  I do not believe that I exhibit the power of Christ in my life as I ought.  I fall short.  I read the Bible and for today particularly James’s and Peter’s Epistles; and I hear their calls to faith that works, and godliness.

My reading was James 4-5, and First and Second Peter.

James writes,

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  James 4:1-4 (KJV)

We Christians, especially today, and probably in every age do not realize the power we have with God in prayer.  Maybe I should say, at least I do not.  Part of the problem with the Corinthian church was jealousy over spiritual gifts.  Can you imagine us fighting over who is more spiritual?  The answer is “None”.  I was reading a book by E. M. Bounds, and a chapter about “Prayerless Praying”.  The following is a sentence from that chapter –

“Prayerless praying lacks the essential element of true praying; it is not based on desire, and it is devoid of earnestness and faith.”

When Brother Bounds mentions “Desire” in that sentence he is not meaning worldly, fleshly desire but rather the desire God gives (Psalam 37:3-4).  Our praying is more like rubbing a bottle for a genie, and getting three wishes; and that comes to nothing.

Notice James mentions also, the power of the prayer of the Old Testament prophet Elijah –

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.   And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”  5:16b-18

I look at Elijah, then I take a look at myself.  I have something greater than Elijah, yet not the faith or the power.  Sometimes it seems my prayers have an opposite affect than what I ask; at least from my point of view.  Why did Elijah have so much authority and power in his praying?  I believe it must have been because he was jealous to glorify the LORD of hosts.  He was outraged by Israel’s departure from God; and he was willing to risk his life to restore her back to God; even approaching the king Ahab, and Jezebel.

Now look at what Peter says of holiness –

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Peter mentions our being “Born again” (1 Peter 1:23), and that it is not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.  That it is “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”, that we are born again.  Born from above, born of God are similar phrases and trues given us throughout the Bible.

Peter gives men instruction concerning their wives,

“…Ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

A husband can be so out of fellowship with his wife, his fellowship with God is broken and his prayers hindered.  Peter has given previous instruction to the wives, to slaves (2:18 – 3:6).  They have their responsibilities in Christ as well.  Let no Christian think they can be holy unto God, if they are not following the direction of the Spirit of God and His Word.

The apostle Peter mentions Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, and this is what he says,

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  2 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV)

There had been some contention between the apostles Paul and Peter; yet in Christian love Peter acknowledges that the writings of Paul are part of holy Scripture, and need to be heard (See Galations 2:11-14ff).  Peter desires that the Christian “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (v. 18).  That is my desire for all Christians as well; even myself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 86 – A Better Covenant

When I began doing this 90 days of reading through the Bible my thinking on these posts were not to write commentaries on what I had read, but that is probably what they are.  They are more my thoughts on what I have read, and certainly not verbally inspired as the Scriptures are.  I had intended to write with more brevity, and in that I have probably failed.  Today; five days from the finish line; let me try and be brief with little word from me and more from the LORD’S Word.

My reading today was Hebrews 7 through James 3.

Hebrews 7 begins speaking of Melchizedek who is a mystery character of the Bible.  Hear what the writer of Hebrews says of Him –

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”  Hebrews 7:1-3 (KJV)

Who is this Melchizedek?  According to the writer of Hebrews, inspired by God; he sounds as though he is an eternal being.  He is the King of righteousness, the King of Salem – Peace; at least there is no record of a mother or a father, no genealogy.  He is one “Made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually”.

The priesthood of Levi, the Aaronic priesthood needed to make sacrifices daily, but the writer of Hebrews says of Jesus;

“For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.  For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”  7:26-28

In chapter eleven much is spoken of faith.  It gives us a clearer understanding of faith.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1)  We find examples of faith from Abel to David, Jepthah, Samuel, Samson, the prophets and many unnamed ones.  Samson and Jepthah were real rascals, yet we find them to be awarded in the roll call of faith.  Praise the Lord.

Have faith in God.  I will not say anything of James today.  That will come; the Lord willing, in tomorrow’s post.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 85 – Pastors, Brethren, and Priests

My reading today was Titus 1 through Hebrews 6.  A wonderful reading.  I read of Titus a faithful Christian pastor on the Isle of Crete (1:5), and his ministry to the people.  Paul’s call to Titus for the appointing of “Elders” which is another word for “Pastors”.  Titus is the third and final “Pastoral Epistle”

You can see that the words “Elder” and “Bishop” are similar; because of how Paul uses them in verses five and seven. Paul addresses several issues for Titus; and warns him of several thins such as “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (1:14).

“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.”  Titus 2:1-6 (KJV)

Sound doctrine is of much importance for the pastor of a Christian congregation.  Yet, in 2012 there are some who are more in favor of staying away from Biblical and Christian doctrine.  For fear of offense or offending others and driving them away from the “faith”.  People need Christ.  If we present not the cross of Christ and the correct doctrine of the cross no one will be saved, but will temporarily feel better, maybe.

Christian conduct in this world is given by Paul in chapter three; and he stresses the grace and mercy of God,

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

Philemon, a small letter written by Paul while he is imprisoned for the faith of Christ; is written to this man for Onesimus who was a slave of Philemon.  He had evidently left Philemon without consent, maybe even taking some thing or things that did not belong to himself.  Onesimus became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.  Onesimus has desire to make things right with Philemon, but fears for his life.  Philemon is a brother in Christ, now Onesimus is a brother in Christ, and the apostle exhorts Philemon to receive him as a brother.  I believe Philemon received Onesimus as a brother, and probably freed him.  I can see him grabbing Onesimus when he reads this letter and hugging his neck; forgiveness flowing from the heart of his brother.

“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?  If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.”  Philemon 15-17 (KJV)

The letter addressed to the Hebrew Christians is one dealing with the Deity and Priesthood of Christ Jesus.  The Hebrews were familiar with the issue of angels, Moses, and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110).  The writer of Hebrews points out that Jesus is greater than angels, Moses and is a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20)

Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross we have the power and authority to approach the very throne of God.  Hear the Word of God,

“Seeing then that we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16 (KJV)

Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God; crucified, buried, and bodily raised from the grave; ascended into Heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand, and is coming again to set things right forever.

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 84 – Instructions To a Young Preacher

The title does not mean that I am giving instructions to young preachers.  God knows I still need instruction.  There are many young pastors and preachers who are better instructed, than myself, and do so much better a job than myself, and some other older pastors I know.

Paul, in giving instructions to Timothy instructs all who will hear God’s call and follow Him.  My reading today was in the first two Pastoral Epistles – First and Second Timothy.  They are “Instructions To a Young Preacher” that we all need to hear and heed.  There is much sorrow on my mind and life for the many things I have not done according to these instructions.

First we can see that Timothy must have been struggling a bit with timidity and fear.  We hear Paul say to him,

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God…” 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (KJV)

As you can see this is addressed in the second epistle.  It was probably a problem with Timothy from the first, though it could have also have became a problem following some time in ministry.  Timothy needed encouragement from his teacher, the apostle Paul; and Paul was giving it.

In these letters the apostle addresses several issues; prayer, leadership, and praying for those in authority.  He addresses the matter of women teaching men.  Because of the cultural prostitution, there is even instruction for women concerning the way they dress.  Do not dress like prostitutes.  Which, still needs to be heard.   It is a matter of creation  order, not equality that we should realize.  It was not a cultural issue it is a life issue for every culture.   The apostle Paul addresses the qualifications of pastors and deacons.  Who can fully measure up to these, but by the grace of God?

The apostle reveals Jesus Christ as “the man” in Heaven,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6

The young pastor is also instructed to “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22).  The young pastor, preacher; and the old pastor/preacher needs to heed this cautions.  Youthful lust is not the only problem.  Old men can lust too.  There have been far too many pastors and preachers, young and old who have fallen to the seductive calling of applause, approval, and power.

There is much in these two letters for us to read, to hear and to heed.  Let me leave you with these last verses,

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”  2 Timothy 4:1-2

It is needed by the world of 2012 just as much; if not more than in the first century A.D.  Let us all be faithful to preaching the inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired Word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 83 – Living, Until Jesus Comes Again

Most of us can say we enjoy living.  Though Christians have a longing to see Jesus face to face, and that would mean leaving this life; the life we live in the here and now; we  too have a joy for living in this world and life.  That is as it should be.  My reading this morning was Colossians 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5, and 2 Thessalonians 1-3.

There are many who are believing that the freedoms we have in Jesus Christ means there are no laws or rules we must obey.  What it really means to be free in Christ is that we have even greater responsibility to live right, just and holy in this world for the glory of Christ our Lord and Saviour.  We have living within us the presence of the Holy Spirit; which is Christ in us.  He lives in us to make us more like Jesus.  We are no longer free to sin; we are, however, free from sin.

“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.  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power…”  Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)

The world we presently live in is out to pervert the gospel of Christ through the teachings of men [philosophy].  Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a life to live; a life to give; a fellowship with the One who gave His life for us.  Our lives are not our own.  Christ Jesus is the “Fulness of the Godhead bodily”.  Remember what Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was one about living in this world too.  In the Thessalonian letters he does address the second coming of Christ, even the rapture of the church; which I know some Christians do not believe in, or believe that Jesus has already returned; but so did some of the Thessalonians.

There are five chapters in the first letter addressed to the Church of Thessolonica.  Each chapter ends with a mention of the return of Jesus Christ,

“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”  2:19-20

“Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  3:11-13

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  4:14-18

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  5:23-24

In each of these letters Paul admonishes believers to live faithfully in this world.  He even addresses the issue of not working.  It would appear that some Thessalonian Christians had quit their jobs, because “Jesus was on His way” and they did not need to work anymore – so they thought.  The apostle has written,

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.   And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 (KJV)

How should we live until Christ comes?  As though His coming might be today; yet living in this world, working, faithful toward God, as though it might be a thousand years away.  Jesus’s words, were “Occupy til I come” (Luke 19:13).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 82 – Spiritual Blessings

It could be said probably, that, everybody likes a blessing.  Those who do not believe in God, however, may not call it “Blessing”.  What would you have to be thankful for?  Who would you thank?  I do not have the answer.  My reading this morning was reading through Ephesians and Philippians.  Two Epistles [Letters] written by the apostle Paul with words of encouragement to the church of Ephesus and the church of Philippi.

To Ephesus Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

It is one thing to bless God with words, such as the apostle does above; but how are we at blessing Him with our lives too.  Both are a part of the faithful Christian’s life.  We are to bless God by remembering His blessings to and upon us.

While Paul is addressing “Spiritual blessings” which involve the things that are in the following verses; “He has chosen us in Him”,  “Predestinated us unto the adoption of children…”,  “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…”.  He goes on and includes “…an inheritance”, and that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise…”.  The spiritual blessings go on and on.

Those spiritual blessing work themselves out into living in this world and life.  If we do not live with these spiritual blessings; having thankfulness for them, then, we will most likely be a negative, bitter, envious, carnal individual; probably not a true Christian.  Do you realize your spiritual blessings?  Are you thankful for them?  Particularly for the grace given to us by the Father, putting His own Son to death on the cross, and raising Him again bodily from the grave?

In Ephesians we are told about grace.  It is by grace we are saved; plus nothing, minus nothing.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10

In chapter five we are admonished to “…Be filled with the Spirit”, not spirits; how husbands and wives are to respect and love one another, especially how the husband is love his wife as Christ loves the church, and gave Himself for her.  Children are to obey their parents, parents are not to “Provoke” their children (chapter 6).  Servants, even employees, are to serve their bosses as though they are serving Christ.

In Philippians we see that Jesus Christ was a man of humility; humbling Himself even to the death of the cross;

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)

It is one of the greatest spiritual blessings to know the God/Man who came to be with us and without sin, offer His life as an atonement for our sin, that we might be like Him.  Because of Him we have great cause for rejoicing, which the apostle addresses in the letter (4:4).

Let me end with just a note concerning the passing of a man of God.  Charles Colson who was the founder of Prison Fellowship and aided in many prison reforms; and many men and women coming to faith in Christ who were in prison; has gone home to be with Jesus.  Reading his book “Born Again” was a blessing to me.  I have also read several of his other books.   Thank God for men such as Charles Colson who devote their lives to the name and cause of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 81 – The Power of the Cross of Christ

There have been some wonderful photo shots of lightening of late.  There is a whole lot of power in each one of those bolts of light.  The  one’s who know those things could tell you how much, but I am coming up without any trivia on that except to know there is so much power that just one bolt can kill a man with one quick flash.  I know that because I had a cousin who was killed by lightening many years ago.

I am fascinated by lightening, and its power; yet I know at least  one greater Power.  He is the One who formed the Universe, and placed everything in unison, and precision.  This post is not about lightening however, it is about the power of the cross of Christ.

My reading this morning was 2 Corinthians 7 through Galations 6.

The apostle Paul had written this letter as an encouragement for their agreement with him concerning the sin of the young man of 1 Corinthians 5; his correction of the matter, and the young man’s coming around to repent, and now Paul has told them to receive the man back again into the fellowship.  He then, however, addresses another issue.

It seems that they are gullible for any persuasive teacher who might come to them with a different message –

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (KJV)

He warns them of the deception of Satan who works through false apostles and teachers (11:13-15).  It seems to me that we live in the midst of many professing Christians who are believing and falling for anything in our day; and neglecting the power of the cross of Christ.  In the final chapter of Second Corinthians the apostle exhorts them to “Examine yourselves…” –

“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?”  13:5

Where Paul was concerned about the Corinthian church’s possibility of being deceived; we find that the Galatian church had fallen for the deception of the Jewish legalists. From May 18, 2011 through April 11, 2012 we studied the book of Galations at Carr Lane Baptist Church. Follow this link to the study notes for that Wednesday evening study.   Hear what the apostle says to the Galation church –

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.'” Galations 1:6-9 (KJV)

The Judaizers [legalists] had come in and were convincing the Gentile converts that they needed to practice Jewish law; especially the law of circumcision; or they could not be saved.  Paul is correcting this false teaching, this deceiving lie; and expressing with great conviction the power of the cross of Christ.  It is by the cross of Christ Jews and Gentiles are born again.  There is no law one needs to keep, no sacrament, no ordinance, one must keep in order to be saved.  By the cross of Christ you are saved.

The apostle has written,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  2:20

and also we read,

 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galations 6:14-16 (KJV)

For anyone who adds a sacrament, an ordinance, a law, unto grace; it ceases to become grace, and becomes a debt which God owes.  God owes no man anything.  He has purchased us with the blood of His own Son.  That is the power of the cross of Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 80 – Forgiveness

Yesterday’s post was about “Sin in the Church”.  Looking in First Corinthian at the Corinthians church was not much different than looking into the world; maybe even worse.  The apostle Paul confronted a situation which grieved his heart.  These were his spiritual children, and they were in the midst of tolerating the evil in their midst.

In a letter he confronts them; and tells them they need to deal with it, by putting the man out of the church.  In our day I have heard of lawsuits for such actions.  In my mind and heart the person who would file a lawsuit against the godly actions of a church, particularly if it is done with love and for the correction and return of the believer; that person is an unbeliever, and should be treated as such.

The second letter to Corinth is written on a much more encouraging scale.  It appears that the Corinthians have confronted the sin, and the man has indeed repented, and returned to right fellowship with God and now it is time the church forgave him;

“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.  For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?  And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.  For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.  But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.   So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (KJV)

He reminds them of the first letter, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears…”  They had also disciplined the man, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many” sounds as though the whole congregation, or at least most of them were up to the discipline.  That is a good thing.

Paul also  tells them to “forgive him” and welcome him back into the fellowship.  Forgiveness is awesome.  In John 8 the religious hierarchy catch a woman in the act of adultery and present her to Jesus to see what He would do with her – to condemn Him.  He tells them, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, that was according to the law for stone throwers; that the witnesses be the first to throw the killing stones.  The accusers all went away, probably a feeling a bit foolish, maybe some a bit ashamed; we would hope.

“Where are your accusers?  Has no man condemned you?” Jesus asked the woman.  “No man , Lord”, she says.  Jesus tells the woman the words every sinner needs to hear, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”  Is there forgiveness in those words?  Most certainly.  If Jesus, the only one who could stone her, did not condemn her, then He forgave her.  Note the admonition, “Go, and sin no more”.

“There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 79 – Sin in the Church

There is probably nothing more sure and clear than the title of this post.  “Sin in the Church”.  To ask, “Is there sin in our churches?” is a very unnecessary question.  Where there is a church without sin; it is of their own confession; and not the truth.  Besides where there is people there will be sin.  By that statement I do not mean to lessen the gravity and seriousness of sin in the church.

In my reading this morning of 1 Corinthians 3 – 12 it was quite apparent that the apostle is writing this church to confront a major problem they have.  First of all they seem just a bit proud of their “Spirituality” and “love” since they have tolerated an adulterous affair to continue to go on in their midst (chapter 5).

The apostle addresses their immaturity at first,

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV)

We see there are other problems of sin within the congregation as well, “strife and divisions”, arguing and debating over who is the best preacher, and probably other things.  Too many times in today’s society Christians “wear their feelings on their sleeves”, are easily puffed up, easily knocked down,  and easily offended.  That is the height of immaturity.

Paul’s intent for writing this letter is not to shame or offend this people,

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”  4:14-16

We live in a time where “Tolerance” is king.  At least much of laws are written with tolerance in mind.  What is the idea of tolerance?  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Tolerance” –

1. the act or practice of tolerating; esp. : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own  2: capacity for enduring or adapting (as to a poor environment) 3: the allowable deviation from a standard (as of size).

Today’s tolerance police would be proud of the Corinthian church.  They loved this couple so very much, and were so very tolerant they were about to bring the wrath and judgment of God upon themselves, and the whole church.  The apostle was not pleased when he heard of this, and this very well could be the main reason for writing this letter; the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.  Hear what Paul told the church to do with the man:

 “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  5:4-8

If you will notice Paul’s concern was at least  in part for the man to be delivered from this grievous sin.  He was also very concerned with what it was doing and would continue doing if the rebelliousness and evil were not dealt with.

There is much to learn and hear for the guidance of the post modern church.  There is sin in the church today that needs to be dealt with.  I hear of adulterous affairs going on between couples within some local congregations; and if these sins and others are not dealt with then those churches will fall.

The first step in dealing with sin in the church is for each individual to keep their accounts short with God.  Read the Bible daily, hiding the word in your heart that you sin not against the LORD.  By taking heed to the Word of God their is cleansing and forgiveness.

To tolerate sin in one’s own life is not love; that is arrogance.  To tolerate sin within the church is not love, nor is it spiritual; it is pride and rebellion.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 78 – Paul, the Jew, the Corinthian, and the Christian

My reading today was finishing up Romans, reading chapters 8 – 16, and then beginning the Corinthian letters; reading chapters 1 and 2.

The apostle goes to great lengths in chapter 8 of Romans to show what the Christian has in Christ Jesus.  There is no condemnation.  It is such a wonderful thing to know that because of Christ death, burial and resurrection God does not condemn us.  Jesus said, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).  The human race is already condemned due to sin, but God sent His Son.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Romans 8:1 (KJV)

The Christian is “joint-heirs” with Christ, and though it does not sound too pleasant, and it is not to be; that includes suffering with Him-

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  8:16-18

In chapters 9-11 the apostle speaks of the nation of Israel and where they fit into God’s plan of salvation.  He even asks some questions which were probably being asked concerning Israel, and Jesus.  These chapters basically tell us that God is not finished with the nation of Israel; but that their initial rejection of Jesus and His crucifixion was in part to bring the Gentiles into the faith of Christ.  There is a promise that “Israel will be saved”,

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.   And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.’  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:25-29 (KJV)

In the First Corinthian Letter we find that the wisdom of the world is not sufficient to know God, nor to understand spiritual things.  In fact those who are hung up on knowledge, understanding, and in unbelief will not believe, because they cannot understand;

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (KJV)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.    For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 2:14-16

The  only hope for Paul, a Jew; the Jew, and the Corinthian (Gentiles) is to know Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Christian you need to grow more into the image and likeness of Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 77 – Shipwrecked, Sin, and Slavery

The world we live in with all the conveniences, comforts, and wealth is not often viewed with slavery, or sin in mind.  As a matter of fact most of the human race would just as soon forget the idea of sin and chalk it up to being an antiquated idea.  An ancient superstition or fear that was in the hearts and minds of people of times long ago.  We are beyond that are we not?  We are a civilized, educated, knowledgeable and technological society free of this “sin idea”.

We better back up and rethink this thought of sin.  My reading this morning of April 17, 2012 was Acts 26-28 and Romans 1-7.

In the reading we find Paul on his way to Rome by ship and the lives of the people on board are in great jeopardy, fear, and loss of life is seemingly imminent.  (I use the word “seemingly” because there is a divine factor involved.)

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, ‘Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.’   Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.”  Acts 27:9-11 (KJV)

The godly wisdom of Paul told him, and I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit gave him enlightenment in the situation as well, that there was great harm awaiting the people and ship if they set sail at this time.  The “Centurion” (Roman soldier) did not listen to Paul, but rather to the captain of the ship.  That seems like the logical thing to do, but it was not the right thing to do.

The ship ends up in a storm.  For fear of their lives cargo, much of the ships gear is cast overboard.  They were in this storm for many days, going without food, and began losing hope of ever seeing land again (Acts 27:20).  Paul has received a visit from “the angel of God” and gives them assurance,

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, ‘Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, ‘Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.  ‘Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.”  Acts 27:21-26

It was just as Paul told them.  They shipwrecked upon an island, are served by the people, and Paul preaches the gospel to them.  Paul goes to Rome, and it is from Rome we receive the Roman Letter.

In Romans 1 Paul deals with the issue of the sins of the nations.  In chapter two the sins of Israel, including the Jewish religious leaders.  We are told that our sins have brought us short of the glory of God (3:23), and that is God’s intent for humanity, ie. to glorify Him.

The idea of slavery comes into this post by way of  chapter 6 and verse 16 through 18,

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”  Romans 6:16-18

Some people do not like to think about, and there may be some who honestly do not even know it; but there is slavery in our technological society.  There is still evil in this world.  There is a slavery where women, children and some men are kidnapped, and taken and sold for outrageous prices (Of course selling people at any price is outrageous).  These are often sold as sex slaves, placed on streets in foreign cities and in the United States.  However, there is a slavery which we all need to deal with on a personal basis; and that is slavery to sin.

Apart from Jesus Christ there is no real freedom.  If sin has dominion of your life you are in bondage.  People say things like, “Religion is bondage” or something like that and try to present the picture that freedom is “Doing as one pleases with their lives”.  One’s who are in Christ Jesus are truly free to do as they desire, because it is God who gives us our desires when we are walking with Him (Psalm 37:4).

Paul says at the end of chapter 7,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  Romans 7:24-25

Turn to Jesus Christ.  The only source of peace, joy, freedom and forgiveness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 76 – The Spirit of God and Paul

I often see that my walk with God is not what it ought to be.  Sometimes I am not so sure that I have ever really walked with God in the same way the apostle Paul, or even John Mark may have.  I read the gospels, the New Testament, and even the Old Testament and see many of those saints with such strong faith that mine falls so short.  There are times I have the thoughts, and I know they only come from the enemy, “What is the point of all this?”  The answer is  the FAITH of Jesus Christ.

My reading this morning was Acts 16 – 25.  The reading deals much with journeys of Paul; his missionary journeys.  There are others who are with him in his travels.  Luke is the one writing, so we know he is with him.  Timothy, a young man, comes into the picture as well.

The question could be asked, “How does Paul know where to go on these journeys?”  Let us look at some events that took place:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’  And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”  Acts 16:6-10 (KJV)

The way I am seeing this is that Paul, being led by the Spirit of God, believed he should go to Asia, but there was some event, or circumstance which the Holy Spirit placed in the way to prevent it.  They “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia”.  I find it rather odd that many missionaries pay no attention to circumstances or events, and wade right into situations, because “We have a call”.  Could it not be that the Holy Spirit is trying to prevent you from doing it?

We must go by the leading of the Spirit of God, and I am certainly not one to give advice in this matter; however, we do need to pay attention to circumstances, events, and counsel from others, as well as our own calling from God.  Where God calls he leads and provides.

By the time we reach the 25th chapter we find Paul arrested, and getting ready to go to Rome.  Paul had felt a need to go to Rome, but the opportunity had not presented itself.  He went to Jerusalem where he is accosted by his peers in the Jewish religion, falsely accused arrested by Roman soldiers; witnesses to the governors Festus and Felix; telling them of his faith in Christ, and his experience on the road to Damascus to capture and chain Christians for the return to Jerusalem.

If you will notice Paul is about to be tried in Jerusalem –

“But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, ‘Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?’  Then said Paul, ‘I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.  For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.’  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.'” Acts 25:9-12

Paul was going to see the fulfillment of what the Lord Jesus had promised in a vision,

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Acts 23:11

When the Spirit of the Lord is leading God will bring it about; in His own way, His own time, and it will be accomplished with glory to Him, not to the flesh.

Let us walk in the Spirit of our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 75 – Loving The Lord Unto Life

We have heard it said, “I will love the Lord, even unto death”; Peter said something similar to that; even as the Lord told him “You will deny Me three times”.

My reading this morning was in Acts 6 through chapter 15.  These events give us some details of the work of the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives.  Even the life of a young Pharisee who was intent on killing those Christians has his life dramatically changed when he meets Jesus Christ as he is on his way to Damascus to capture, chain and return to Jerusalem with them for trial and death (Acts 9).

Stephen was one of the men who were chosen in chapter six by the church to be a servant, feeding the Greek widows among them.  Stephen was also an evangelist proclaiming the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and showed his love for the Lord even unto life.

Hear what Luke writes in his accounts of the work of the Spirit of God –

“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  Then they suborned men, which said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.’  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, ‘This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.’   And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”  Acts 6:8-15 (KJV)

Stephen was full of faith and power, by the Holy Spirit.  He stood strong for the gospel even though it could mean the loss of life for him.  His love for Jesus Christ and the gospel was stronger than his love for this world, and the life he now had.  He stands in chapter seven with conviction and proclaims the word of God from the Old Testament; and they fall under conviction.

Do we know what “conviction” is today?  The conviction I speak of is where you feel some guilt for your sin; and shame for your behavior; there is repentance; and you are drawn to see that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God; and that through Him alone there is forgiveness, peace and eternal life.  Sometimes this conviction, with those who hate God, will cause them to do cruel, evil and vile things; in rebellion against God and His children.  Just as it happened with Stephen.

Luke records the sermon Stephen preached, and records these final words,

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”  Acts 7:51-53

This was the final straw for this rebellious crowd.  They were “cut to the heart” then they ran upon him, and Stephen saw  “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (v. 56).  In the home going of Stephen we can see traits of the Lord Jesus in him.  As he is being stoned by the mob he says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (v. 59).  Then as he breathes his final breath on earth Stephen cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (v. 60).

There is another who loved not their life unto death, and that was that young Pharisee; who has now become a Christian, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His name was Saul and he was from Tarsus.  His name became Paul and he has written 14 of the New Testament Epistles.

In a place called Lycaonia Paul and Barnabas were believed to be gods, because they had healed a crippled man, but Paul and Barnabas rejected the worship and tried to convince them they were not gods, but only men.  When some Jews came from Antioch they stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city, believing him to be dead;

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.  Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”  Acts 14:19-20

The apostle Paul did not quit; nor did he soften the gospel message.  He got up from where they left him, went back into the city, shook the dust off his feet (Matthew 10:14;  Mark 6:11;  Luke 9:5), and went on preaching the gospel; loving the Lord unto life.

Let the Christians of our day Love the Lord unto Life.  Eternal life.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 74 – The Crucified, Buried, and Resurrected Lord

From Day 1 of my 90 days of reading through the Bible I have endeavored to stress in this post the message of Jesus.  In the first 14 chapters of Genesis we  can see Jesus and through all the first five books of the Bible.  The books of History we see Jesus.  In the books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, etc.) we see Jesus.  In the Prophets we see Jesus; and we see Him coming the first time to suffer, to be buried and to die, and be bodily raised to life again.

We recently began reading the part of the Bible that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and that is the New Testament and beginning in Matthew we have gotten to the last of the gospels which entail the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us accounts of the life of Jesus.  None contradict the other.  They complement one another.  Together they give us the complete account of the humanity, deity, power, purity, holiness, love, mercy, and grace of the Incarnate God.

My reading today was John 17  through Acts 5.  That is right only ten chapters.  Just to let the reader know.  I did some calculations of the numbers of chapters remaining, along with the numbers of days, and in order to give myself some reading through all 90 days; I will now be reading a minimum of 10 chapters with an eleventh every three days or so.

The reading today began with our Lord’s Prayer.  It is the one I call the Lord’s Prayer.  The one that has the title “The Lord’s Prayer” is actually a model prayer which He used to teach His disciples how to pray.  John 17 is the Lord Himself praying to the Father.  He is praying for the glory of the Father to be done.  He is also praying for His followers to be one, as the Father and Son are one (vv. 11, 22-23). I have written more thoroughly on the Lord’s Prayer at this link.

In the final chapters of the gospel of John, just as in the other gospels, we read of the trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; with some differences in each account.  Some who seem to have an agenda on disproving the Scriptures and that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and God the Son try to tell us that these differences are contradictions; but that is not so.  When there is an automotive accident on a street corner, and there are witnesses – let’s say there are four witnesses, one at each corner; each witness will have a different view of the accident, and will have a different way of telling their eye witness account of the accident.  When there is a difference in their testimony is someone lying?  Not necessarily.  When you put all the testimony together you will come to the full account of the story.  The same is true with the gospel of Jesus Christ; only the best part about the four Gospels is that they are inspired by the Spirit of God.  Thus, completely without error.

We get into the Acts of the Holy Spirit, often called The Acts of the Apostles, and we see by the hand of Luke that Jesus is ascending into the presence of the Father.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

In the Acts we also see Peter with a new found boldness, and courage, that can only be explained by the evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He has witnessed the resurrected Christ; his life has been changed, and that is true of any one who ever meets the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  Your life is changed.  You were a sinner, and you are now Just in the eyes of God, and declared by Him to be “Saint”.

The apostles, as well as Jesus, had only one set of Scriptures to read; and that was the Old Testament.  When someone tells you, “I believe only the New Testament” or “I live only by the New Testament”; then, they are telling you really that they have a problem of faith.  Hear what Peter declares concerning Moses and the Prophets,

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.  Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.  Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”  Acts 3:22-26

That is right.  The only Bible Jesus and the apostles, and the early church had to read was the writings of Moses, or the Law, the Prophets, the History, and the Poetry of Scripture.  We are blessed to have the continued Scripture of the New Testament – the revealing or unveiling of the Old Testament.

Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, and be saved from your sins, death, hell and the grave.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 73 – Born Blind, Now Seeing

There are many religious folk in the world.  Many of them think they are seeing, even though they are blind.  My reading today was John 3 through 16, and what wonderful words I read this morning.  It was mostly the words of Jesus.

When Jesus spoke in chapter 6 of “eating” His flesh, and “drinking” His blood many of those who were following Him went away.  The sayings were too hard for them.  They were blinded by their dull and unbelieving minds.

In chapter 9 Jesus heals a man who was born blind.  This, at least by human standards, just did not happen.  If a man such as Jesus did it on the Sabbath day that made matters even worse.  Hear the act as the Scriptures declare it;

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.  And His disciples asked him, saying, ‘Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’  When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam,’ (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  John 9:1-7 (KJV)

It all began with the disciple’s question about “Who has sinned?”  He then, made clay, and anointed the eyes of the blind man then, told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.  The man did just as Jesus had said, and now he sees.

Then the religious folk get upset, again, because this took place on the Sabbath day.  These men, just do not get it.  You do not do good on the Sabbath day – you do nothing.  Now, that is my sarcasm coming out.  These men confront the blind man who now sees, and they ask him “how he had received his sight”.  “He put clay on mine eyes, and I washed, and do see” (v.15).

This now seeing man is not intimidated at all by this religious mob.  He speaks very forthrightly of God, and His healing.

“Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, ‘Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.’  He answered and said, ‘Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.’  Then said they to him again, ‘What did He to thee? how opened He thine eyes?’  He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be His disciples?’  Then they reviled him, and said, ‘Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.  We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is.’  The man answered and said unto them, ‘Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes.  Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.  Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  If this man were not of God, He could do nothing.’  They answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?’ And they cast him out.”  9:24-34

I just love this part in here where the man tells them, “Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.  Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.  Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  If this man were not of God, He could do nothing.”  In looking at this he puts them in a very unbecoming situation.  Because of His faith they cast him out of the temple and worship there.

When we read the gospel of John we ought to very clearly see that Jesus is the incarnation of God – God in human flesh, the God/Man, the Ancient of Days.  Who is Jesus to you?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 72 – The Son of Man and The Scriptures

In reading the gospels, especially Matthew, one cannot help but notice the importance the writers place on showing that the Scriptures are fulfilled.  One cannot help but notice, also how much Jesus Himself refers to the Scriptures, the prophets, and in Luke 24 Jesus even mentions the Psalms.  I am going to post a few of those verses concerning the Scriptures today, pray you will look them up and read the context of their writings.

This first excerpt of Scripture is from the story of the rich man and Lazarus,

“Abraham saith unto him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.’  And he said unto him, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.'” Luke 16:29-31 (KJV)

The next quite obviously is of Jesus’s coming crucifixion,

“Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.  For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” Luke 18:31-33

The next excerpt is as Jesus appears to the two on the road to Emmaus and explains the Scripture to them;

“Then He said unto them, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?’  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

The final one in Luke is when Jesus has appeared to all the disciples together in one place, and it is here that He mentions the Psalms;

“And He said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.  Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.  And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49

We need to ask ourselves, “Do I put enough relevance upon Scripture?”  After all the Scriptures are they which testify of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 71 – Son of Man

As we looked at the gospel of Matthew we saw Jesus as the King.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords at which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…  In the gospel of Mark Jesus is a servant to men.  In the gospel of Luke He is the Son of man.

Matthew had a genealogy of kings.  Mark has no genealogy.  Luke has a genealogy of man showing Jesus is human, yet the God/Man.  Someone put it this way, “The Son of God became the Son of man; that the sons of men, might become the sons of God”.

My reading today was Mark 15 – 16 and Luke 1 – 12.

In the genealogy of Jesus we find in the beginning of it these words,

“And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli…”  Luke 3:23 (KJV)

That same genealogy ends with,

“Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” 3:38

Matthew’s genealogy begins with Abraham, and goes through Joseph and Mary, through David.  Luke’s account begins with Jesus and goes backwards all the way to Adam.

My reading this morning took me a little longer than it has, due to the length of the chapters in Luke.  Great reading.

Let me leave you with these words from Jesus, the Son of Man,

“Also I say unto you, ‘Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.  And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”  Luke 12:8-10

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 70 – Servant To Many

As we begin reading the gospel of Mark we see no genealogy.  We do see Mark’s short declaration “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” (1:1).  My reading today was Mark 1 – 14.  And as we look at the gospel it can be quite apparent that this gospel presents Jesus as  the Son of God, yet a servant to all who will believe Him.

In the era of the life of Jesus servants had no genealogy.  I believe that is much for us to contemplate.  We see Jesus, even when He needs to get away for prayer and rest; people coming to Him and He still meets their needs.  That is at the heart of being a servant.

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, ‘Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.’  And He said unto them, ‘What would ye that I should do for you?’  They said unto Him, ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.’  But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’  And they said unto Him, ‘We can.’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.’  And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.  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.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.'”  Mark 10:35-45 (KJV)

In the above account of James and John coming to Jesus seeking positions of authority with Him in His glory; we find Jesus also telling them that being one of authority means to be a servant to the people.  Jesus was one who was that type of servant; even to the point of sacrificing His own life for the world.

In the 14th chapter we find Jesus in one of His final acts of service.  Giving Himself to the religious leaders to be tried.

“And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with Him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.” 14:53

How can men try God?  And be successful at it anyway?  It seems to me that men still put God on trial everyday.  In many hearts and minds He is still found guilty.  Yet, He serves us with His enduring mercy.

Much could be learned by the religious and political leaders of our day by following the pattern of Jesus.  Rather many if not most of them demand others their service and attention.

Jesus served us all the way to judgment by a mock trial, with lying witnesses, and trumped up charges.  Yet He gave His life for those same people.  He gave His life for you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 69 – Discourse Unto Death

Christians the world wide celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday.  We often fail to remember that Jesus was more than a martyr though.  He was more than a man dying for a cause.  He was the Man sent to fulfill all the law and the prophets.  He was the God/Man sent and set to fulfill the Scriptures.

There is many a time in Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus where we read something like, “That the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, even up to His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Matthew records several discourses which Jesus spoke.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7).  The second was in chapter 13 and was short messages dealing with the kingdom.  One had to do with Him sending forth His disciples with the message of the kingdom (chapter 18).  The final one is called the Olivet Discourse, and deals with the last days, and His return following His death.

My reading this morning took me from Matthew 15 through 28.  Today’s reading took me a little more than an hour, and I struggled with the length, and time spent;  however, I was blessed in reading the Scriptures; especially since they were spoken by my Saviour and Lord.

In chapter 17 of Matthew we have an event that is also recorded in Mark 9 and Luke 9; and that is the event of Jesus’s  Transfiguration.  It is a meeting that takes place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  We read,

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, ‘Arise, and be not afraid.’  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

In the appearance of Moses we have the representative of the Law.  In the appearance of Elijah we have the representative of the Prophets.  Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, thus the voice out of the cloud which spoke was that of the Father, declaring that His Son holds all authority of the Law and the Prophets.  He says,  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

At this transfiguration the three disciples; Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His glorified state.  This event of itself, then with the testimony of His Father gives the disciples assurance, that this truly is the God/Man, Son of God and King of kings.  They would need to learn to trust that now was not the time for His reign, but the time of His sacrifice.

With these several discourses of Jesus He went to the cross,  presenting Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people; laying His own life down on the cross, forsaken by the Father, buried in a borrowed tomb, rising again victoriously from that grave.  After His resurrection He gives another short discourse,

“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life of Jesus the King of kings was to give His life.  In His life we have many teachings on how to live, have faith, trust, and pray.  He did not come at this time to rule, but to serve us and to die for our sins.  He did, and He rose again.  He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 68 – From Kings to The King

I have spent the last 67 days in the Old Testament.  In the OT we learn of God’s plan for the human race, their departure from Him – in sin and rebellion – and His grace and mercy extended to all who will come to Him believing Him.  We learn in the OT of a Savior and King of kings who is to come.  We read prophecies of One who is to come.

When I attended Boyce Bible School, I had a Professor who told us, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”.  A verse in the Revelation of Jesus Christ says, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10b).  That meaning that all the Bible is the testimony of Jesus.

It is with great interest and growing love for my Saviour, Lord and King that we enter the New Testament today; and we hear from Him as He walked among men, as a man, yet, more than a man.  He is the God/Man.  Fully God; Fully Man.

We enter the beginning of the testament of our Saviour and King with a genealogy of kings.  I will not post the whole genealogy of Jesus, but the last two verses of that tell us,

“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”  Matthew 1:16-17 (KJV)

In Matthew 5 – 7 we have what could be called the Kings Constitution, or His Kingdom’s Constitution.  How many times have you heard, “I live by the Sermon on the Mount”.  I am telling you, that the Sermon on the Mount as it is called is more condemning than is the 10 Commandments.

It is within the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus says,

“For I say unto you, ‘That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 5:20

I can only long for the day that I can adhere to every detail of these Beatitudes (5:3-12), commandments, and expectations.  I cannot; though my heart desires it very strongly.  My only hope for heaven is the grace of God through His Son Jesus.  These are in me because Christ lives in me.

In chapter 13 we have a chapter of parables where the King gives us the layout of His kingdom and who is in it.  It is basically those who hear the Word of God and keep it.

How can one have the assurance of spending eternity with the King of kings?  By giving one’s life totally over to Him, believing that He bled and died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave conquering the power of sin, death, and hell.

I pray all will have a glorious Resurrection Sunday.  This is the day when once per year the resurrection is remembered by Christians the world over.  However, every Christian also knows that we remember the Resurrection of our Saviour every Sunday; every Sunday is resurrection Sunday.  That is the day He bodily arose and came out of the grave, and appeared to many.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 67 – Words of Warning and Promise

Some people will never listen to a “negative” comment.  They always want the positive stuff.  Let me ask this question;  What good is a battery with only a positive pole?   There is no battery with only a positive pole.  They all; from automotive – cars and trucks – to batteries for electronic gadgets, fire alarms, etc.; they all have a negative and positive pole.

My reading for the 67th day of my 90 day journey was Zechariah 10 – Malachi 4.  Yes!  I only read nine chapters today.  There will still be time for catch up reading.  Besides, I did not want to read only the first five chapters of the New Testament and Matthew to begin the NT.

The reading was mostly positive, yet there are some words of warning, yeah!  Negative stuff.  How good can the positive be, if there is no negative.  How powerful can the electric be without the negative.  I have an electric fence around my yard/lawn to keep cattle out.  I can assure you that without the ground wire (the negative), there would be no jolt on that wire.  You get my point.

One of the first negatives I will point out is,

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.”  Zechariah 11:17 (KJV)

The shepherd or pastor of whom the prophet is speaking is one who leads his people or followers in idol worship rather than the worship of the true God.  To me this has a positive message for the follower of God and Christ.  It tells me that there is coming a day when all idol worship, and worshippers will cease to be and that all will worship the one true God.

There is also coming a day when all Israel will look upon Jesus who was judged guilty by the angry religious leaders of that day; and He was without guilt.  His only guilt was that He was guilty of being holy, righteous, without blemish or spot; He claimed to be and is the Son of God.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”  12:10

All will turn out just as the LORD has said.  Just as He has promised.  His Word will be fulfilled word for word.  Not one word shall fail.

Malachi is a prophet who sees the people who are “bored” with worship; yes, the worship of the LORD.  He confronts them with it.  More negativity is coming.  Do we not need to hear the negative to get a positive outcome?  you can close your ears all you want to negativity, but that does not help you or any others who may be actually perishing in their sin, and decrepit attitudes.

“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is My fear?’ saith the LORD of hosts unto you, ‘O priests, that despise My name. And ye say, ‘Wherein have we despised Thy name?’  Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar; and ye say, ‘Wherein have we polluted Thee? In that ye say, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’   And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person?’ saith the LORD of hosts.”  Malachi 1:6-8 (KJV)

The people of Judah were going through the motions of worshipping God, but were not living the worship.  They had in affect departed from the worship of YHWH, and “wearied the LORD with your words” (2:17).  The prophecy of Malachi ends with a word of hope and promise of one coming to prepare the way;

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” 4:5-6

The Lord GOD calls all people to worship Him.  He is holy, righteous, and just.  He will not hold the sinner guiltless.  However, when the sinner receives His offering for sin we put on the righteousness of His own dear Son who bled and died for our sins on the cross, was buried – carrying away the sin, guilt and condemnation; and He bodily arose from the grave justifying forever all those who will believe on Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 66 – Consider Your Ways

Do we really stop to consider the way we live our lives?  Are we a society that is consumed with doing our own thing; out for self fulfillment?  It seems that way at times.  Whether we like to admit it or not there is evil in the world.  The only thing is who determines what is evil?

In our look at people we often see people joining in to help others.  There have been many storms, tornadoes, tsunamis, as well as fires and earthquakes; and multitudes of neighbors come and help one another recover.  That is a good thing.  Right?  I certainly see it as good.  Yet there is something wrong.

The something wrong is how people react toward God and His Word.

My reading today was from Zephaniah 1 through Zechariah 9.  There is a two chapter prophet within this reading by the name of Haggai where I got the title for this post.  Four times Haggai uses the word “Consider”.  Twice is to the returned people from Babylon to “Consider your ways”, and that is in the first chapter.

Though the words are not used in Zephaniah or Zechariah the cry is still with both of these prophets as well.

Zephaniah sees there is a departure from the LORD and calls for the people to return or suffer judgment.  The prophecy takes place during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah; and Josiah was one who did right in the eyes of the LORD.  Yet, even taking away the idols themselves does not remove the idol from the heart.  They were still practicing the evil of their hearts.

“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.  I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.   ‘I will also stretch out Mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; and them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; and them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for Him.”  Zephaniah 1:2-6 (KJV)

The LORD defines “evil” much different than man does.  Evil in God’s view is when His people turn from Him to serve and trust other things, such as gold, silver, friends, family; comfort and pleasure.  Evil is also when the unbelieving refuse to believe in Him.  The LORD desires those who are His to seek Him, to inquire of Him.

The prophet Haggai writes during the time of the return of Israel to the land of Promise, and they need to rebuild the temple, but they are neglecting doing so.  They have their own houses built, but neglect the temple.  Meaning, that they are neglecting the worship of the Most High GOD.  Hear the word of the LORD through Haggai,

“Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,  ‘Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?  Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; ‘Consider your ways.  Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6

The implication and clear message is that they are lacking due to their neglect of worshipping the LORD.  That was their reason for being returned to Jerusalem; that is to rebuild the temple; yet they were neglecting the very One who was fulfilling His Word to them and for them.  Notice the following word from the LORD;

“And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:7

Even before the temple is completed God gives the people promise and hope for days to come.  The “desire of nations” is the Messiah of Israel.  He is the Savior of the world.  The seed of David.  The Prince of peace.  Wonderful Counselor.  Mighty God.   Everlasting Father.  He is the Son of God.  His name is Jesus.  He is the desire of nations.

Zechariah speaks of this One as well;

“And speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, ‘Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD: even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”  Zechariah 6:12-13 (KJV)

So, you may think that you are a “righteous person”, but by God’s standard you nor myself measure up.  We fall short.  There is only one hope to be rid of the evil in our hearts and lives.  That is by believing and receiving the gift God gives in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  That gift is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  He was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave.  He cares for you.  God cares enough to give the very best.  Consider your ways.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 65 – Who Is Like the LORD?

We hear many people speak of “Justice”, “Right” or “Rights”, and the world is filled with injustice, and unrighteousness; and none of us are completely innocent of either.  We love seeing the hungry fed, the poor and/or homeless given shelter and even finding prosperity in their paths of life.  Is it injustice that makes people poor; or unrighteousness that causes a family to go hungry or  without shelter?  My answer to that is NO!  Circumstances in life can have an affect on an individual’s misfortune; or that of a families homelessness and poverty.

One thing we can be certain of and that is that there is no injustice, or unrighteousness in or with our GOD, the Lord of creation.  My reading began in the Minor Prophet of Micah, and concluded with Habakkuk with Nahum in between.  My reading only consisted of 13 chapters today.  That is where those five extra days at the end will help make up the difference.

Micah is a prophet who calls for his listeners to “Hear”.  In verses 1:2; 2:1, 9; 6:1 the prophet Micah calls for the people to “Hear”.   He calls on the religious leaders to hear, the political leaders, and the people to “Hear”.  We need to hear what Micah has to say.  Micah’s name means, “Who is like the LORD?”

“The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.  Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.  For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of His place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.  And the mountains shall be molten under Him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.” Micah 1:1-4 (KJV)

By the first verse we can tell that Micah was a contemporary with Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos.  The LORD is a witness against all injustice and unrighteousness.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Life is not fair”, or “That’s just not fair” or some other “fair” statement.  NO! Life is not fair.  God is however Just and Righteous; and we can depend on and trust Him to do what is right, just and holy.  He calls on His people to live that way too.  The LORD is not pleased when He sees injustice and unrighteousness, especially in those who call themselves “children of God”.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.  And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:1-2

Micah is a prophet with a prophecy of promise.  A day is coming when nations will “flow” unto the “Mountain of the house of the LORD”.  “Flow” seems like a thing that a river would do within its banks.  It is a natural thing for a river to flow.  It is a natural thing for the people of God to flow to the place where God is, yet it is by the power of God that we are able to flow there.  Who is like the LORD?

We can see this question; though not stated as we read Nahum and Habakkuk.

In Nahum we have written,

“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.  He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.  The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.  Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.  The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in him.   But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.” Nahum 1:3-8 (KJV)

The prophecy of Nahum is written to Nineveh, that same city that God had sent the prophet Jonah to about 100 or so years previous to Nahum’s prophecy; and the city had repented, and God withheld judgment.  However, now judgment was coming because of their sinful brutality and wickedness;

“Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; the noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.  The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.  ‘Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; ‘and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.  And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.  And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?'” Nahum 3:1-7

Though Habakkuk asked the timeless question, “How can a holy God allow evil to continue?” he still comes to the conclusion like the others.  “Who is like the LORD?”  This prophecy is a debate, of sorts, between the prophet and the LORD.  Of course in a debate such as that there is only one winner of the debate; however the one who yields to the LORD’S wisdom is a winner too.

Habakkuk’s conclusion of the matter,

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV)

Habakkuk has reached the conclusion that all of God’s people will reach.  God is God.  There is no other.  I will trust in Him when there are no crops; when the blessings are all dried up; when the flocks and the herds are no more.  Who is like the LORD?   There is none like Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 64 – Prepare For the Glory of the LORD

All of creation is for the glory of the LORD; even the one’s made in His image; yet we have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), and because of Adam’s sin have brought a curse on the created order.

My reading this morning took me through three of the Minor Prophets – Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah.  These are called “Minor Prophets” because of the shortness of the prophecy, not its measure of importance in  prophecy, and the Word of God.

God, in His Word, shows us quite clearly that He will be glorified; and will spare nothing to make it so.  He who spared not even His own Son, to bring us back into His glory.

There are a couple of verses in Amos I want us to consider this morning.  God shows us His glory in the creation;

“Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name…” Amos 5:8 (KJV)
“It is He that buildeth His stories in the heaven, and hath founded His troop in the earth; He that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name.”  9:6

In Amos the prophet shows us God even in the everyday things that we take for granted; such as the stars, and the rain which nourishes the ground and our crops.  Note, the prophets awareness of where the rain comes from – how it comes from the “waters of the sea”.

Now note how the prophet Obadiah, the shortest prophetic book of the Old Testament ends his prophecy speaking of the kingdom being the LORD’S;

“And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.”  Obadiah 21 (KJV)

Now as we consider the prophet Jonah we see a very reluctant prophet.  We first hear of Jonah in 2 Kings 14:25 where the prophet had spoken in the days of Jeroboam.  When the LORD calls Jonah to a foreign land, Nineveh, the prophet becomes disobedient, rebellious and flees.  God has something else in mind.  He prepares five different things to bring the prophet to where He wants Him to be; and it is not just to Nineveh;

“But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.”  Jonah 1:4

“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”  Jonah 1:17

“And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.  But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.  And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.'” Jonah 4:6-8

Notice the five things God prepared for Jonah.  1) “a great wind into the sea”;  2) “the LORD prepared great fish…”;  3) “the LORD God prepared a gourd…”;  4) “God prepared a worm…”;  5) “God prepared a vehement east wind…”

Sad to think that he was more concerned with his own comfort than the souls of these people; most of all the glory of the LORD God.  How am I with that today?  I am afraid that far too often I am like Jonah.

May God help me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 63 – A Bad Marriage and Restoration

How would you describe a “Bad Marriage”?  For some men it might be described as “Having a wife that does not do what I tell her”.  That would be domineering, power crazed husband.  To some women it could be having a husband who “doesn’t put his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper”.  Men, how would you feel if you had an unfaithful wife?  How would you feel if every time you turned around she was hanging out at the brothel, and participating with the prostitutes?

Most men would cry “Foul!” on that one I am sure.  Women frown on a husband who takes on multiple women too.  Women like their men to be faithful too.  It is, as a matter of fact, part of the Marriage vows, to have no other.  That goes for the husband and the wife.

My reading this morning was Hosea 3 – 14 and Joel 1-3.  Hosea was a prophet who was told by God to marry “wife of whoredoms”.  Now this is a little difficult to understand seeing how God forbade his men from marrying unclean women.  However, we do see God in some places telling His prophets to do strange, and unusual things.  Isaiah was to parade “naked” through the streets (Isaiah 20).  He had Ezekiel laying on his side for several days eating food prepared with cow dung, and had first told him to use human dung (Ezekiel 4).  Now God tells Hosea to marry a whore.

Hosea is to be a picture of Israel’s departure from the LORD.  Israel has committed adultery, whoredom against God, and God in His love, mercy and grace calls out for them to come back to Him.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.   And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)

I realize this was not part of my reading today, but it is part of Hosea.  If you will, remember the “valley of Achor”.  It was the place where Achan had hidden contraband under his tent and brought judgment upon the nation of Israel after they had conquered Jericho (Joshua 7 and look at verse 26).  You could even say of the word “allure” above that God had in mind, “romancing” Israel back to Himself.  He has loved her with an everlasting love.  What better romance can that be?

I have heard the prophecy of Hosea referred to as the Old Testament’s “gospel of John”, particularly “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

One of the things we can see in the reading of Hosea is that God does not love blindly.  You have heard the phrase, “Love is blind”.  God’s love is not blind.  I believe it is in front of our National Justice Department that there is an statue of what is often referred to as “Lady Justice” (Probably showing my ignorance here), and it is of a woman holding scales in her hands while blind folded; giving us a picture of justice being blind.  God’s love nor justice is blind.  He loves seeing clearly the sins, faults and failures of the one He loves.  He judges justly as well without a blind fold.

That is what makes His love so powerful and wonderful.  He loves despite our sin.

God says to Israel through the prophet Hosea,

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him.  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.   His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” 14:4-7

Yes!  You could say Hosea had a “Bad Marriage”, but he also followed God’s plan and restored that marriage.  It was based on open eyes, seeing clearly, and loving his bride anyway; alluring her back to himself.  What a wonderful, holy, love.

The gift of Christ on the cross is the marvelous gift of God’s wonderful love.  Jesus Christ bore our iniquities on His cross, took our sins upon Himself, and paid the price that was owed to God for our sins.  By His bodily resurrection we are justified by God forever.  You cannot find a stronger love than that.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 62 – The Wisdom and Knowledge of Daniel

That is right.  My reading today covered all of the prophecy of Daniel, and the first two chapters of Hosea.  We will look at Hosea in the next post.  God willing of course.

Daniel was one of many Jewish nobles who were taken by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon as captives.  Daniel and three of his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were chosen by the hand and appointment of God.  They were four young men who were willing to risk their lives for the sake of the commandments of the LORD God.

“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”  Daniel 1:17 (KJV)

These were not young people who would be given to pride with the power and authority which was given them by God.  Many might say, “It was Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon who gave them their power and authority”.   Not so.  All power and authority comes from the God of heaven and earth.

One of the first test which came to Daniel was the king wanting the “wise  men” of Babylon to tell him a dream he had dreamed and its interpretation.  Of course the Chaldeans of Babylon had no clue as to the dream he dreamed.  Daniel, however, called on Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to pray and seek God for the answer, and God gave it to them  (2:17-23).  Daniel went to Nebuchadnezzar and told him the dream and its interpretation.  It was a dream showing how the end of the earthly rule of the Gentiles would come about.

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.  Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” 2:44-45

All the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled just as Daniel foretold them; or are yet to be fulfilled.  The earthly kingdoms of men yet stand, but they will one day fall to the rule of the One who died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying our guilt and sin away, than three days later He bodily arose and came out of the grave justifying forever, those who will believe in Him.

God tells Daniel to “seal the book, even to the time of the end” (12:4), and it seems to me that we are near the end, and the wisdom and understanding of the prophecy is becoming clear to those who will hear and believe.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God will soon return, and set up His earthly kingdom.  Know the wisdom and knowledge of Daniel.  Know the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 61 – Vision of the Glory of God

In the reading of the Bible one thing that stands out to me is that God is about His own glory.  Now for a man or woman to be about themselves we call that arrogance, pride, no good even.  Yet, for the Creator who has made all things, and seeing how He also loves the people He has made; and also seeing Him as holy, righteous, and just; we can see that He has every right, even right or power, to promote Himself.  There is no other like Him.

In my reading this morning I only read 11 chapters rather than the usual 14.  I finished the prophecy of Ezekiel.  The judgment which God brought upon Israel/Judah is due to their rebellion, worshipping false gods, erecting idols along side the only God, and the  people being downright unholy, unjust, and unrighteous with God and other people; even their own people.

In chapters 38 – 39 we read five more times, and a sixth which is not worded quite the same;

“Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 38:23 (KJV)

“And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.   So will I make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let them pollute My holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.”  39:6-7

“So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.”  39:22

“Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.”  39:28

“And thou shalt come up against My people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against My land, that the heathen may know Me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” 38:16

Ezekiel is taken by the LORD in a vision to the city of Jerusalem and to the temple.  There he meets a man with measuring rod, and measures the city and the temple.  One of the things we can see about this is that in the worship of the LORD our worship is to be patterned after His design not of our own making.  It is measured out to give God glory, honor, power and blessing.  He will receive no worship which is not after His fashion, in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

In the vision the LORD also gives Ezekiel the land allotments for the twelve tribes, for the city, and for the temple.

The final verse of Ezekiel tells us –

“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” 48:35

“The LORD is there”.  What a wonderful name for the place where people of all tribes, tongues and nations will be able to gather to worship the Creator of all that is; both the seen and the unseen.  He has made a way for you to be there by way of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Only through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Christ will you be able to attend and receive blessing, and rest in His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 60 – Knowing the LORD God

Reading the prophecy of Ezekiel can lead a person to only one good conclusion, and that is that GOD wants people to know Him.  Some of the reading sounds harsh, deadly, and judgmental; however we are speaking of our Creator; and who are we to question how He works.  Can the clay say to the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing”.  Not at all.  The God of creation has one thing in mind, and that is the glory of His name; and He will accomplish what He has started to do – that the people of the earth know Him.

My reading this morning was Ezekiel 24 – 37.  I have mentioned it in passing, but today I will spend some time with the phrase, “…Know that I am the LORD”.  In looking at this phrase and its use in Ezekiel we find it at least 24 times in today’s reading.  I will only give you a few of those references.

First in today’s reading I read these words being spoken to Israel of Ezekiel’s service,

“Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 24:24 (KJV)

Ezekiel’s wife had died.  He was not to weep or mourn publicly because of her death.  By this Ezekiel was a sign for Israel and their captivity; no time for grief and mourning over the dead.  The second time in my reading this morning is in verse 27,

“In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.” 24:27

Previously, Ezekiel had been unable to speak, but now the LORD was going to open his mouth, and he would speak, and by this the people would know that Jehovah/YHWH is the LORD.  Remember the LORD is proper and just, Righteous, and holy and can do how He pleases to bring people to the one conclusion the human race needs to know; and that is that He is the LORD.

“And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  25:11

The LORD of hosts speaks these words through Ezekiel and to other people; not just to Israel.  He desires the nations to know Him.  He desires Moab to know that He is the LORD.  One day at the final day of judgment the world will know that He is the LORD.  That however does not mean, that all will be with Him in His glory.

To the land of Tyre [Tyrus] God says,

“And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.  It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.  And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  26:4-6

Many an arrogant nation have exalted themselves over what GOD had for them.  Many of these nations will be removed from the earth, their lands left desolate; and never restored.  It is to the king of Tyrus that we find him to be filled with the evil of Satan himself (28:12-15).

The Nile River is a very important river in Egypt.  However the nation’s leader had exalted himself to the point of being Egypt’s god, claiming to have made the river himself and it being his river.  To this arrogance the Lord says, through the prophet,

“And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.”  29:9

God is especially grieved when His people; the one’s He has chosen to be His light, and the glory of His name; when we turn our backs on Him to other gods [idols made by the minds and hands of men in their own images].  This was the guilt of Judah and Israel. God says to Israel again,

“For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through.   Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.”  33:28-29

God will not leave His people without judgment.  In fact He will judge His people first and foremost.  The arrogance of Israel was so bad, so gross they had been secure in the temple, also made by the hands of men; in thinking and saying, “God will never destroy this nation, or this temple.  It is the Temple of  the LORD”.  They found out differently.  God is more involved and careful that we might know Him, than He is in our security, survival or success.

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.  As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  36:37-38

God will not leave His people without hope.  In their captivity He continually reminds them of their return to the land.  It will of course be after the land has been restored its sabbaths lost by the years of neglect of sabbaths by her  people.  A final promise I want to leave with you is that,

“And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.”  37:24-25

“David My servant” is none other than the King of kings, born in Bethlehem, died on a cross in Jerusalem, buried, and bodily raised from the dead; justifying all who will believe in Him.  The world will know that Jesus Chirst is LORD.  Bow now; or bow later.  It is your choice.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 59 – GOD and the False Prophets

Someone might say, “There are no false prophets today.”  My action toward that remark would be to tell that individual to remove the blindfold.  In reading the prophets of God we find the example of false prophets, and they are quite plentiful today as well.

The true prophet of God seeks first, to glorify God and His message; and second to warn God’s people of their sins; and third to call them to repentance; at whatever the price – even his own life.  The false prophet seeks to ease the hearts of the people through encouragement in their trials and pains that are actually for their chastisement.  I agree that there are times the preacher of God needs to encourage the people; the encouragement we give needs to be according to the Word of the LORD, not fanciful, psychological, mumbo-jumbo seeking to the ease of pain and trial.  The encouragement from God will be to get people to love the Word of God; and loving Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

In my reading this morning – Ezekiel 10 – 23 – I noticed several instances of God’s rebuke of the false prophets and teachers, and this is what I believe needs addressing.

One of the things I read in Ezekiel is the continued use of a phrase, “[they, you,] shall know that I am the LORD”.  Throughout the prophecy, beginning in chapter six, that phrase is used over sixty times.  The reason, Ezekiel stresses, for Israel’s captivity and judgment is so that they will know that God is the LORD.

God says to the prophet Ezekiel,

“Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.  Therefore say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘There shall none of My words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done,’ saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 12:26-28 (KJV)

Also hear what the LORD says of the prophet who is deceived, and deceives the people,

“And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of My people Israel.  And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from Me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be My people, and I may be their God,’ saith the Lord GOD.” 14:9-11

If you will notice the people who went seeking the false prophet and his prophecy would be held to the same end as the prophet himself.

At least twice God tells the elders who come to Ezekiel to inquire of him, “I will not be inquired of by you.” (20:3, 31)

Also notice what God says to the priests and the prophets in chapter 22.  I will let you get out the Scriptures and read that for yourself.  Notice the “daubing… with untempered mortar”.  Have you ever seen whitewash.  Can you imagine laying brick, or even patching brickwork with whitewash, yet that is what the false prophets do.

The LORD will not long tolerate the wickedness of the false prophet/preacher.  He will not hold him guiltless who leads people astray, making the evil believe they will live, and making the righteous feel they will die.  The false preacher calls evil good, and good evil.

Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ today.  Repent of your sins, believe and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 58 – A Different View

From a different setting of things two people can see the same thing or event in a slightly different way.  That is the way of the gospels of the New Testament.  It is also the way of the prophets we will look at today.  Jeremiah and Ezekiel were men in two different locations.  They are contemporary with the other.  One, however, Jeremiah is in Judah or Jerusalem preaching and calling the people to repentance; while Ezekiel in in Babylon as a captive of Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom; along with king Jehoichin.

Jeremiah’s message in Lamentations seems to have taken place after the city of Jerusalem is defeated, the walls broken down, the temple destroyed, and the precious articles for temple worship taken away.  We can see Jeremiah’s being known as “the weeping prophet” as we read the laments that are written there.  Ezekiel speaks to the people as God gives him visions, and acts for illustration.  Ezekiel’s message would be mostly to the people who are captive in Babylon, or the written message to be taken back to those still in Jerusalem.

My reading, if you have not figured it out by now, was Lamentations 1 – 5 and Ezekiel 1 – 9.  These prophets being contemporary with the other are coming from different perspectives, yet pretty much with the same message.  Jeremiah wrote his prophecy trying to save as many lives in Judah as possible, calling people to turn from their idolatrous worship, by turning back to the LORD of hosts.  Ezekiel sees the need for the people of Israel/Judah to realize that the LORD is the LORD.

Jeremiah was allowed to stay behind with a remnant of people, and the laments are written as he sees the city broken down, destroyed and forsaken;

“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!  She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.  Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.   The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.  Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.  And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.  Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths.   Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward.   Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself.  The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation.   All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.”  Lamentations 1:1-11 (KJV)

The prophets heart is grieved because of the cities destruction, but he knows it is due to her transgressions.  She has sinned against the LORD, been given many opportunities to repent and change, yet has continued in debaucherous rebellion against the loving, merciful LORD of hosts.

The prophet Ezekiel is taken by the hand of the LORD, in a vision to Jerusalem, and sees the wickedness going on there in the face of judgment,

“And He put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.”  Ezekiel 8:3 (KJV)

By way of a vision the LORD took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem and showed him the evil that was taking place at that time in their previous “glorious city”.  The “Ancients of the house of Israel were saying, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”

We do see in these to priests and prophets that there perspective is different, their views are different, but  the message of God is still the same.  The people of the land have forsaken the LORD.  There is a need for cleansing, healing and renewing.

A different view?  One was viewing from Jerusalem [Jeremiah].  The other was viewing from Babylon [Ezekiel].

The LORD of hosts, who holds the world, the universe in His hands will not tolerate evil in His people.  He will not allow His children to live successfully in sin.  He will judge our sin.  It has already been judged in His Son Jesus Christ.  However, when a Christian sins willfully, there remains no more sacrifice for sin.  As it is written, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 57 – The King, Whose Name is the LORD of Hosts

The reading of the prophecy of Jeremiah can be a difficult read; and even difficult to write about; especially if you focus on the judgment part of the prophecy.  Jeremiah lived through much of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, Judah and Israel.  He also wrote many promises of God.

My reading today was Jeremiah 38 – 52 finishing up this portion of the prophecy of Jeremiah.  I say this portion, because we have Lamentations to read yet, which is part of his prophecy.

“As I live,’ saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, ‘Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.'” Jeremiah 46:18 (KJV)

One of the things I learn as I read the Bible, and that I am reminded of everyday is that God is the Supreme Ruler over the earth.  The phrase in the verse above, “…the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts” is used in two other verses in today’s reading – 48:15 and 51:57.

The LORD of hosts is King of every nation, tribe and tongue, and His will will be done.  His name will be glorified.  Egypt of the above verse was prideful.  The remnant of Judah who had been left behind by Nebuchadnezzar, had asked Jeremiah to seek the LORD and they would follow His guidance about what they were to do.  They were to stay in the land of promise; yet they disobeyed the LORD, and chose to go into Egypt seeking security from Babylon.  They would, instead of finding security, find themselves a part of another captivity, because Babylon was going to come to Egypt conquering them.  He is the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

In the second verse the word is against Moab,

“Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” 48:15

Moab, thinking themselves strong, mighty, and secure would fall by the “King, whose name is the LORD of hosts”.  Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Bozrah, Edom, and even Babylon would fall by the decree of the King; “the King whose name is the LORD of hosts”

No king or president or senator or congressman or any leader can stand long against the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.  He is the King of kings, and the LORD of lords.  One day every tribe, tongue and nation will bow before Him.  The One whose name is above every name.  The One to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 56 – Diminish Not a Word

The prophecy of Jeremiah the prophet to Judah and Israel was a hard word to preach.  It was especially so for a man who loved his people, and his nation; however, it was the word of the LORD, and Jeremiah was going to proclaim it, and it would be better for the people to have listened.  It is still so in the 21st century among God’s people; good to listen to the Word of the LORD.

Just as the LORD told Jeremiah,

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: if so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.”  Jeremiah 26:2-3 (KJV)

He was also to never cut short or lessen the words of promise given by the LORD.  This prophecy is full of promises from God as well as warnings.  There are so many who lessen the promises of God to Israel.  Make them only good for them as long as the nation believes like they think they ought to believe; lives as they think they ought to live.

Let us look at some of those promises.  My reading this morning took me from chapter 25 – 38.

The nation had forsaken the LORD and His Word refusing to hear the words of the prophets, including the warnings of Jeremiah; and they would suffer for it by going into Babylonian captivity, Jerusalem being burned to the ground, the temple being destroyed, and defiled.  It happened just as Jeremiah, by the Word of the LORD, said it would.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, ‘that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.  And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.'” 31:27-28

Despite the fact that God was going to judge them, He wanted to assure them, that just as surely as He was going to tear down, He would also bring them back,and build them up again.  He goes on and says in verse 34, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Just how good, how strong, how enduring is the covenant of God with Israel/Judah?

“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the LORD, ‘then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.’  Thus saith the LORD; ‘If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,’ saith the LORD.” 31:35-37

And the prophet by the Word of the LORD says again,

“And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying,  ‘Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My ministers.  As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me.” 33:19-22

Just as the Word of the LORD for punishment, chastisement cannot be diminished so too is it true of His promises.  Hear again,

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.'” 33:25-26

The Word of the LORD is sure, it is true, it is eternal; and not one word shall be diminished.  The LORD will accomplish every word of it.  He will be glorified, and all the world shall know that He is GOD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 55 – The Unsocial Prophet

“The preacher who does not mix with people will never make much of a preacher;” at least that has been said or thought by many.  One thing needs to be understood by many preachers of the 21st century; if a preacher has been called by God to preach the Word of God, then we just do not make our lives, or build our lives around social activities, nor what the people may expect of us.  The preacher is God’s preacher, not man’s smooth talking, easy listening, socially active, friend to everybody servant.

Rantings of a mad preacher?  Maybe.  My reading today was from Jeremiah 11 – 24, and I guess I noticed some things that got a fire burning.  Jeremiah is one of my favorite Prophets of the Old Testament to read, study, and I have rarely preached from the book.

In my title I call it “The Unsocial Prophet” for a couple of reasons.  Jeremiah was a man called by God from a family of priest to be a prophet to the nation of Judah; during the days when Josiah was king, then his son Jehoiakim, and finally the king Zedekiah when Jerusalem was carried away captive by Babylon.

Why I call him “The Unsocial Prophet”.  One of the things God says to Jeremiah is “Do not pray for this people”.

“For thus saith the LORD, ‘Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away My peace from this people,’ saith the LORD, ‘even lovingkindness and mercies.'”  Jeremiah 16:5 (KJV)

The  people of Judah have refused to listen to the Word of the LORD through the prophets He has sent; they have violated the land in not giving them their sabbath rests every seven years, they have violated the weekly sabbaths by continuing to do business, conducting deals and selling as on the other six days, and they have brought idols into their worship, and continue to act in worship to Jehovah/YHWH.

The prophet is sad concerning the plight of his people (9:1), however, his sadness is because they have forsaken the LORD.  He knows that God’s plan for them is the best plan for them.  He is even attacked and hated by his own family, and people.  Another reason I call him “The Unsocial Prophet” is;

“Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.  For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; ‘Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.'” 16:8

The prophet is to be an influence to the people; not letting the people influence him.  He is to be led by the Spirit of God, His Word, and not the social activities of the day.

Let me give a clear Biblical definition of a “Prophet”.  The prophet of God is a preacher, an expositor of God’s Word.  He is first and foremost a student of Scripture; a man of prayer; an obedient servant of God.  He proclaims what God declares to Him, and then proclaims it to the people.  That in itself can make him an enemy to the people.  Who is going to invite a guy like this to their parties, or even to preach their funerals, or invite him to mourn with them?  In the last verse above we see that God tells Jeremiah that joy and gladness will cease.

Men and women are so deceived today.  Even professing Christians live as though any belief is okay as long as you believe something; have faith in something; as though “faith” is all you need.  There is only one way to approach God according to His Word, but the heart of men have devised alternative ways which lead to death and destruction.  These are other gods, false gods, which lead to death.

God spoke to Jeremiah saying,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” 17:9

You can continue believing as you believe, contrary to God and His Word, and you will receive the just judgment of God. “According to the fruit of his [your] doings” you will receive all that you have coming to you.

Many of the people of Anathoth hated Jeremiah because of his preaching.  They plotted against him to do him harm, but God’s hand of protection was on him (1:19);

“Then said they, ‘Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.'” 18:18

Jeremiah even says that the problem of Judah is due to the smooth talking false prophets who had the hearts of the people;

“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.'” 23:15

Pastors and preachers of today need to hear the Word of the Lord. Stand and preach the word, not the desires of the hearts of the people.  It is not a popular opinion that matters to the preacher of God, but rather a saved, cleansed, pure live that will glorify God.  God is the center of the preacher’s preaching.  Are you afraid of being called “unsociable”?  Would it not be better to be deemed “unsociable” by the masses than to be deemed an unholy, false preacher by God? And receive the judgment that comes from God for such activities?

Most of this post today seems somewhat negative, but I pray instructive, correcting, and guiding to many who read it.  There is hope and encouragement within what I read today.  Hear the encouragement of God’s Word –

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.  In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  23:5-6
“For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.  And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.” 24:6-7

The hope for Judah and Israel is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS; and that is none other than the Messiah who was to come, and give His life a ransom for many, and then return one day and establish His eternal kingdom.  The people of Judah will return to the LORD with their whole heart.  Because of Jesus their is hope for all have a “wicked heart”, and that is all of us.  “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10)  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  However Christ died for our sins.  Trust Him, and believe.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 54 – Judged by Sin

I find it very sad that so many have tried to change the definition of Biblical sin.  According to God’s Word – the Bible – sin is a transgression of God’s law.  Sin is failure to measure up to God’s glory; His requirements of the law.  Nowadays, we hear things like, “Sin is whatever keeps me from achieving my personal goals”; or “Sin is when somebody else does me wrong”.  So there is a wrong?  Who determines what is wrong or right?  You?  There is one absolute gauge for what is right and wrong; and that is God and His Word.

If God says it was a sin in the Old Testament; it is still a sin in the New Testament; and today.  When I say that I am not speaking of Old Testament rituals, sacrifices, and offerings; but the moral issues having to do with the way we live our lives.

My reading this morning was finishing the prophet Isaiah 63 – 66 and Jeremiah 1 – 10.

Isaiah ends the messages of his prophetic writings with wonderful words of a great and glorious future for Israel, and the world; for those who will trust and believe in the LORD.  Jeremiah begins his prophecy telling about his calling as a young man, his short debate with God about his inability to speak, and God’s promise to hasten to perform His word (1:12).  Jeremiah is told by God,

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV)

The prophet of God, or the preacher of God cannot afford to preach to appease the people, for fear of retribution from them.  He must preach what God declares unto him.  The prophecy of Jeremiah, like Isaiah is not all “doom and gloom”; there is also much promise and hope.  The first hope is that God is giving the people a chance to repent and change their ways; but they will not.  They are in love with their sins, and thus Jeremiah tells them,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” 2:19

The children of Israel/Judah have chosen their own way and will go into captivity because of it.  They have forsaken the LORD God and turned to the idols of foreign nations. They have even gone so far as to think that because the Temple is in Jerusalem then they are safe from destruction and captivity, but the prophet says to them –

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  ‘Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.  ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Trust ye not in lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.'” 7:1-4

It could justly and rightly be said that what the children of Israel were practicing was plain ole hypocrisy.  Sure to “worship” the LORD on the sabbath day, but practicing the behaviors of foreign gods the other six days.  God created the heavens and the earth. He does not need a defiled place to worship Him.

Our hearts today should be like that of Jeremiah weeping for the people; why he is often called “The weeping prophet” –

“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” 9:1

We must be sure that our own sins are gone, cleansed, forgiven, and that we are walking with GOD daily.  Every moment of each day we need to be dependent upon the LORD God.  He is our Creator, our Strength, our Hope, and without Him we are nothing.  Weep for our own sins, and for the sins of those who perish; and pray for their redemption through the cross and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 53 – The Word of God Shall Prosper

There are many times there is debate over the meaning of God’s Word.  Even Christians, at times, debate over whether something is “Literal” or “Figurative” or allegorical.  For me if God was speaking literal about the first coming of Jesus, and He came just as He has proclaimed; then when He speaks of the second coming of Jesus; it too will be just as He proclaimed.  There is no argument, or debate about it; it is already sealed.

My reading this morning was Isaiah 49 – 62; and my what an exciting read it was; and it is.  By the time I was finished with my reading I was anxious for the return of Christ, and I am waiting and living just as if it might be today.  How about you?

My verse of thought today is,

“So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)

I have heard people; even some preachers tell that the second coming of Jesus is when a person is has their new birth experience with Jesus Christ; or maybe when that person’s body ceases to live, “Jesus has come again to take them home”.  Now that could partially be true; however, if that is all there is to the second coming of Jesus we have truly missed something.

I know people and religions which believe that Jesus Christ is already ruling and reigning on earth, He has returned.  My question to those who believe that is, Where is Jesus?  Where is the Righteous rule of the King?  Where is Justice that is promised by the verses I read today?  Why is Israel still being threatened and attacked, almost daily?  Why has Israel not repented, believed in Jesus Christ and followed Him if Jesus is here?

The LORD’s purpose in casting Israel away, was not to forsake them but to redeem them.

“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,’ saith the LORD.  ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ saith the LORD; ‘My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed,’ saith the LORD, ‘from henceforth and for ever.'” 59:20-21

“Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.  Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” 60:15-16

When Jesus Christ comes again what a wonderful blessing God has in store for Israel and the whole world of those who will humble themselves before Him, trust Him and believe;

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.  For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” 57:15-16

We can look at our world today and see that there is no peace; and if we are honest in believing the Word of God we can also see that there will be no peace on earth until Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace comes, and fully redeems His people, for all time and eternity.  The word of God shall not return to Him void, and it shall prosper in the thing where He sends it.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 52 – The Sovereign Holy One of Israel

There is one phrase which keeps coming up in the prophecy of Isaiah.  It is more than a phrase, it is a statement of the character of God.  In Isaiah, as well as in other parts of Scripture we hear of “the Holy One of Israel”.  It is a good term, a great reference to the character of the Creator of all that is; both seen and unseen.  As I read chapters 35 – 48 of Isaiah this morning I noticed the presence of God in the nations around the tiny nation of Israel.  You really cannot help but notice that God is God of the world when it gets right down to it.

If God reigns, and he does, in Israel; then, He also is reigning throughout the whole world.  He is, though, not often recognized as being the one who is reigning.

In chapters 36 – 39 we hear about Hezekiah, and his struggle against the pride, and arrogance of Assyria, and her king Sennacherib (36:1).  No army had been successful against the Assyrian army, and the king wanted Hezekiah to know it.  In his arrogance he blasphemed the God of Israel, seeing Him as nothing more than the idols of the fallen nations he had conquered.  However, since God is defensive of His own glory, and Hezekiah had a heart for God, then God was not going to let this arrogant king get by with it.

We also see in the reading that God is not at all well pleased with Israel, and that they are going into captivity because of their rejection of God, His Word, and His ways. Babylon was God’s source of captivity and judgment upon Israel, however Babylon showed them no mercy, and in their arrogance they brought judgment of God upon themselves to destruction;

“I was wroth with My people, I have polluted Mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.  And thou saidst, ‘I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.’  Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: but these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.  For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, ‘None seeth me.’ Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me.’   Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.   Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.  Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” Isaiah 47:6-13 (KJV)

If you will notice this announcement of judgment is due to “thou didst shew them no mercy”.  Because of this Babylon would fall to a king that God names in chapers 44 and 45;

“That saith of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, ‘Thy foundation shall be laid.” 44:28

“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut…” 45:1

The LORD is THE SOVEREIGN HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL; however He is Sovereign of the whole world, yea, even of the Universe.  A final word in the reading for today says this,

“There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22 (KJV)

The wicked are all those who refuse to submit to the Lordship and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, and His finished work on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 51 – The Cornerstone

It has been said, that in the building of a building with stone that a “cornerstone” is needed.  The size of the cornerstone determines the size of the building, the shape of the building and so forth.  So without a cornerstone there is not much direction.

My reading this morning was Isaiah 21 – 34.  In reading these verses there is much “Woe” presented to nations; Israel, and Judah included, but to them, also very much hope.

In chapter 28 God speaking through the prophet shows how the leadership has fallen.  Where they had been known for their beauty they were seen as a “fading flower” (vv. 1, 4), and the day was coming when the LORD of hosts would “be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty…” (v. 5).  The present leadership to whom Isaiah was speaking were drunken with wine and strong drink, making faulty judgment, and hating the word of the LORD.

The word of the LORD was not hidden to them.  The prophet had made it known to them over and over again “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little there a little…” (v. 13) where it seems they had grown tired of hearing it.  That did not stop the prophet.  He kept on preaching.  Go get ‘um Isaiah.  Go get ‘um preacher.

We need to understand; God’s Word does not promote us, our comfort, our peace, even our salvation.  The center, the promotion of the Word of God is God, His glory, His salvation.  I do not want to burst your bubble…  wait a minute – Yes I do.  This world is not about you.  This Word of God is not about you – it is not about us.  It is about Him, and He tells us,

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.'” Isaiah 28:16 (KJV)

These words are referenced in the New Testament describing the person of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:33; 1 Corinthians 3:11-13; 1 Peter 2:6; Matthew 21:42-44).  This is truly a “precious corner stone”.

There are a couple of final verses I will leave with you today;

“Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for My mouth it hath commanded, and His Spirit it hath gathered them.  And He hath cast the lot for them, and His hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.” 34:16-17

Though these words are spoken for the previous few verses; they are also true for the whole of God’s written Word.  Particularly, “…No one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate…”  God’s Word will come to pass just as He has said,  not one word will fail.

Jesus is the Corner stone.  He is coming.  He will reign.

-Tim A. Blankenship