Faith Living

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into different temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith works patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:  but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withers the grass, and the flower of it falls, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
Blessed, the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.
Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted of God:’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and overflowing of evil, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholds himself, and goes his way, and immediately forgets what manner of man he was. But who ever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, ‘To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, to keep himself unspotted from the world.'”  James 1:1-27

REFERENCES: 4:8; Deuteronomy 32:26; Acts 2:5; 13:26; 1 Kings 3:9; Mark 11:24;  Job 5:17; 14:2; Numbers 23:19; Jeremiah 2:3; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 15:2; Matthew 7:21; Romans 2:13; Luke 6:47; Isaiah 1:16; John 8:31-32

Break Down the Barriers

“And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD’S people. Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and brake it down, and brake his altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.” 2 Chronicles 23:16-17 (KJV)

Jehoiada was a priest of God who was zealous to bring back a son of David as king in Judah. Athaliah was an evil daughter of Omri who had tried to kill all the sons of David, because her son had died.

The proper thing to do for a Christian is to get back to God’s Word, and calling for our lives. That will mean breaking down every wall and barrier that keeps us from God, His Word, and His way for our lives.

The care of anything in our lives that distracts us from the love and worship of the only true God through His Son Jesus Christ is a “Baal”; a false god, and idol; that is used by the enemy [the devil] to ruin our fellowship with God.

If you have a “Baal” in your life destroy it. Put it away. Break down the altars and its images and go to the only One who is the image of the invisible God. That One is Jesus who bled and died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose from death. Check out these New Testament passages: 2 Corinthians 10:5; Ephesians 4:25, 31)

Walk with GOD

“Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there for ever: and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before Me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe My statutes and My judgments; then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.” 2 Chronicles 7:15-18 (KJV)

Chapter six records Solomon’s prayer to Jehovah (the LORD). In chapter seven God comes to Solomon and gives him this promise.

He is promised a continuing kingdom… “I you will walk before Me…” Of course we know that Solomon’s heart is turned by his many wives. However, God’s promise to David still stands.

To walk before GOD is to walk in obedience to His law, His statutes, His judgments, and to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

The promise of God stands eternally. It will never fail. If you have fallen, then He awaits your plea for help.

Christ Jesus is the descendant of David who fulfills the eternal kingdom promise.

Single Minded

“And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king. And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.” 1 Chronicles 12:31-33 (KJV)

These verses make up a part of a list of men of war who came to David to establish him as king in the stead of Saul (v. 23). These three particular tribesmen caught my attention.

The half tribe of Manasseh, came with one purpose “To come and make David king”. The men of Issachar had that purpose as well as having an “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”; and I take that to mean establishing David as king starting in Hebron. The men of Zebulon are “expert in war”, they also had “all the instruments of war”, and “could keep rank”. These all made for a strong military force.

There is one thing said of the Zebulonites that catches my heart, mind and thoughts; “They were not of double heart”. They had a singleness of mind and heart; and that most likely was to make David the king of all Israel.

One day Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son will be King; not just of Israel, but over the whole earth, and He will reign in Righteousness, Justice, and Peace.

In the mean time those of us who are Christians must live with singleness of mind for Him, His honor, His glory, and praise. We cannot be double-minded:

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8

You cannot glorify the God of glory with a mind on the things of the flesh and the world; and on the things of God. Like Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters…” (Matthew 6:24).

Trust Not In Lying Words…

In an economy which has lost many people millions of dollars for people involved in Wall Street, the stock market, investing, and housing you would think people would learn where to place their trust, but not yet; I guess. Trusting politicians; whether they be President, Congressman or woman, Senator, or dog catcher we need to constantly keep in mind that all things on this earth, of this earth are temporal or temporary; and do not endure forever.

The people of the prophet’s day were believing that the temple of Jerusalem would endure forever. Had they forgotten that it was made of earthly materials just as their own homes were made or were they vainly trusting the promises of God (Understand I mean their trust is vain; not that God’s promises are vain). In the prophet’s day the people would vainly worship God on the Sabbath day; then forget Him the other six days of the week.

The people of Judah would live for themselves. They would do their business and take advantage of the poor, the widows and orphans; and anyone else there was to take advantage of. During times of tragedy the merchants would increase prices on needed goods; and think they were doing God a service. They cheated people with weights and measures, and chalked it up to and would say, “It’s just business”. Their hearts were far away from God, godliness, and thinking Biblically. They thought rather of “business”, and making more and more.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us:

“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4 (KJV)

The prophet called by God, the door of the Temple, proclaimed to the people to “Amend your ways…” because they were going about their personal and business affairs as though they could get by with their evil deeds because God had promised that their kingdom, and the temple would be forever. Afterall they were the recipients of the word of God, the law of God, the ordinances of God; they need not worry about devotion to God or anything like that.

Lies, lies, and more lies is what the “gainsayers” were saying. “Gainsayers” could be those who are all for profit at the expense of godliness, Biblical living, and righteousness. They are out to make a profit at the expense of the public they supposedly serve. These false prophets are in the business for a profit, and to make as much profit as they possibly can, and to take advantage during times of trouble.

The prophet is calling for Judah to repent of neglecting godliness, repent of their listening to the lying words of the prophets for profit who would tell the people something like, “O, the temple will stand forever. Don’t worry about godliness, righteousness. We are sure and secure in the temple.” Lies, lies and more lies, and the people were perishing, headed for a captivity that would last for 70 years, and destroy the city of Jerusalem, and the temple.

Professing Christians, and deceived-sidetracked Christians of 2009, especially here in the USA can be found trusting in what we call capitalism. Capitalism is about profit; and the businesses of our country are in business to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with making profit; except when it begins to hurt others. When a profit making business does not pass its profits to its employees through bonuses, raises in wages, etc; or when they begin to raise their prices to make it hard or impossible for the poor, widow, orphan or lower wage earner to have a needed product they have become ungodly, and even greedy. Greed is not good. It may be American, but I personally want no part of greed.

Greed is officially taking trust away from God, His Word, and His ordinances, and putting trust in the power [seeming power] of wealth. Just as the people of Jeremiah’s day were trusting in the temple, because of the promise of God, they had made His promises vain by neglecting the right and godly things; trusting in the lies of the lying prophets. They did not amend their ways and ended up in captivity.

If the USA, and especially Christians, fail to amend her ways we too shall fall. We have received warning. We have fallen in status of world leadership to a small extent; but that will become greater. We are in captivity of sorts. Many are in captivity to debt.

The proper place to put our trust is in the Lord our God, the one who died for our sins on the cross of calvary, was buried, and rose again from the grave. He is coming again. Put your trust in Him. “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. He is your RIGHTFUL TRUST.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD Pleads…

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

I am beginning to see that the time ahead for Judah and Jerusalem is not going to be a very pleasant one. We may be “God’s people”, but that could mean, that when we are disobedient we will be punished. That seems to go with being His child. If He loves us He chastises us. His glory is what is at stake here.

The blessing of the land is going to be diminished. The bread – there will be drought and due to that there will be no grain for bread. The water for drinking and irrigation will be dried up. It will be a terrible judgment from God.

We have very much taken the blessings of my God for granite. His grace is as granite, His mercy is everlasting, but His blessing in this world are only temporal, and subject to His testing and chastisement.

The knowledge and education of our people will be at stake as well as, their protection, and entertainment; ”The mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them.” (Isaiah 3:2-4 ESV).

There will come a time when my people will even oppress one another. The rich will rob from the poor. The young will abuse the elderly and have no respect for them; will give no honor to them and completely insolent toward them. They will take the first person who may have any look of authority as their leader, and practically force them to lead, and he will say, “I cannot heal. I am no leader. I will not lead.”

The deeds and and speech of Jerusalem and Judah are against the LORD. They have fallen. They defy the glorious presence of the LORD. They boast and brag about their sin as though they were Sodom. They do not attempt to even hide it. They have no shame of their sin and rebellion. Woe to them! They have brought evil on themselves.

It will be well with the righteous. The righteous will eat the fruit of their deeds. The fruit of the righteous is sweet and hearty. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. O, my people – infants are the oppressors, and women are your rulers. You have trusted in lies, and you have gone astray. Your guides have destroyed the way of your paths.

The LORD is your judge. He will judge the elders and princes of His people, they have devoured the vineyard, and stolen from the poor. God says, “What do you mean by ‘crushing My people, by grinding the face of the poor?’”

Hear the Word of the LORD:
 

 

“For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,  The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.  And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.  And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.  When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:  In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.  For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.  Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.  Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.  As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.  The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.  The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Isaiah 3:1-15 (KJV)

It is sad, but I can see so much of this prophetic message happening in our own country of the United States of America. It is time we prayed, as God’s people, repented and seek His face for forgiveness, cleansing and renewing of heart and land.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

President of Harvard College

For the next few days I will be posting quotes from the books written by Peter Marshall, and David Manuel on the history of our Nation. The first is from “The Light and the Glory”, and is a quote from a sermon preached by the Reverend Samuel Langdon on May 31, 1775, following the taking of Fort Ticonderoga.

“We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected and set light by the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions. The worship of many is but mere compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from Him. By many the Gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism.

‘Wherefore is all this evil upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord? Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time… My brethren, let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of providence for our deliverance…

‘If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name and professing our trust in Him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land… May our land be purged from all its sins! Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about.

‘May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble… we will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banners…” From THE LIGHT AND THE GLORY pp. 277 & 278.

Can we see that this is a message that is pertinent for our day?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing for Backsliding

Healing for Backsliding

 In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backslidden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backslidden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backslidden condition. First of all backslidden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backslidden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. After all, I do need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backslidden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held against anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backslidden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogether; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Indifference Toward the King

Indifference Toward the King

“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” Matthew 11:20-24 (KJV)

It has been said, “God owes everyone a chance to repent and be saved”, or “God will eventually give everyone a chance to hear the gospel and be saved”. Not according to what I read in Scriptures. He does not owe anyone an iota of grace or mercy. He owes us nothing. To say it one more time in another way, God is indebted to no one. Period.

In His mercy He has given natural revelation of Himself. The creation declares the glory of God, and every one is held accountable for what they do with what they have been given.

In these verses we see indifference toward the King who has given life. Jesus had done wondrous works in these cities – Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, and they rejected Him. There was indeed a contrast of Light. How much light did Tyre and Sidon have? As far as we know they were given little, if any light or revelation of God, except creation itself. They were destroyed. Sodom was a city which had the capacity for light through Lot. Lot seems to have gotten too involved in the “culture”. There is plenty of evidence that Lot had become so much like the pluralistic paganism around him he was seen as a man with no convictions toward God, righteousness, or holiness. Lot’s light was a weak light. These cities would have repented; according to Jesus; if they would have received light. In this we can see that God is not obligated to reveal Himself to anyone. Also, that judgment is imminent for all, even if they have received no other light.

Jesus may have ministered in the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida after He had sent out the twelve, and He ministered alone (v. 1). Keep in mind that the works Jesus did are a testimony of who He is,

“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” John 10:37-38 (KJV)

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” John 14:10-11 (KJV)

Indifference to Jesus, rejecting Jesus; especially after seeing His mighty deeds, and especially His death and resurrection will be judgment in the eternal judgment of God. The judgment will be in accordance to the light which has shined. The judgment which will be harshest will be upon those who have heard the message of Jesus and continued to ignore it, refuse it, or just remain indifferent to it. The cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida had the very Light walking in their midst, and Capernaum housed the Light, and yet, they were indifferent. It seems by Jesus’s teaching here there will be degrees of torment in the place of eternal judgment.

Since Tyre, Sidon, Chorazin, Sodom, Bethsaida, and Capernaum is mentioned in this text let’s look at the leaven of their existence. The evil of Tyre and Sidon was that it was one of the vilest in pagan religious practice, their licentious behavior, and Baal worship. The pagan worship involved sexually explicit dances, and ritual lude behaviors. We are well acquainted with Sodom’s behavior (Genesis 18:16-21; Ezekiel 16:48-50). The very name “Sodom” has been used to describe deviant behavior of the day – “Sodomy”. The city was so perverse in their behavior that when struck with blindness they persisted in doing evil (Genesis 19:4-11). The city was destroyed from off the face of the earth. Chorazin’s, Bethsaida’s and Capernaum’s evil? Jesus walked in their midst, did many “mighty works” and they did nothing. The mighty works of chapters eight and nine were done in Capernaum. The greatest evil of all is having the Light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and rejecting it, not walking in it. The evils of lewd behavior can be repented of, and turned from, but there is no repentance of continual rejection, indifference to Jesus Christ.

The hottest spot in Hell is reserved for the one who remains in rejection and indifference to Jesus; having had the greatest amount of light. You may believe, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, if you believe in something”, or “That is okay for you, but it’s not for me”, or “Jesus may have been a good man, but He can’t help me”. Indifference, indifference, indifference. Your punishment on the day of judgment will be according to opportunity. The judgment will still be Hell.

Why live in indifference and rejection? The way of salvation is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. There is a judgment day coming.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

At The Entrance of the Gates

Judgment From The North

For the nation of Israel it seems that the North was the direction from which judgment would come. I think it interesting to note a Psalm that directs our attention to the North without naming the North. It is Psalm 75, and it says, “Do not lift up your horn on high; do not speak with a stiff neck.’ For exaltaation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” (vv.5-7). You notice the silence concerning North? Does Judgment come from the North? In the case of Israel and Judah it does.

Hear what the LORD spoke to Jeremiah:

“Then the LORD said to me: ‘Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ says the LORD; ‘They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” Jeremiah 1:13-16

The judgment of which Jeremiah warned was coming on all the inhabitants of the land. It seems that the noble people, those of notable birth, or those who have great wealth sometimes think, “Oh, that won’t happen to us” or “We can become a part of the upper society people, and we can just fit in”, but the prophet’s message from the LORD is judgment on “all the inhabitants of the land”. Judgment is not a pleasant thing to talk about, but when the LORD calls you and gives you a message to proclaim, and tells you not to withhold a word, then you better obey.

Every preacher, and especially pastors would love to spend all their preaching, preaching of the goodness, love, grace, mercy of God. We would be thrilled just to always be preaching about the good we see in our fellow human beings, because there are good things done, there are good lives lived, and people saving physical lives; and encouraging others. The preacher, the pastor is not the man of God he should be, if he preaches not that we are sinners; condemned, dying and that our only hope of salvation is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. To preach the cross of Jesus you must tell why He died on the cross, that means talking about our darkness of sin. We must tell why the Father had to judge His own perfect, sinless Son, turn His back on Him; and why Jesus went through that horrible three hours of total darkness while He was stretched between heaven and hell. We must preach that God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The judgment coming on Judah was coming from the north. It was in fact, coming from God. It was the plan of Jeremiah’s father, his family, and Jeremiah that he would be a priest in Jerusalem. That was a ministry that was much respected in Jeremiah’s day, and that of his family. Jeremiah even had plans of marriage, but that was not to come about. We will see that in a later word from God to the prophet. Prophets of God do not choose to be prophets; they are called by God to be prophets. That is the prophet Jeremiah. Prophets who call themselves serve themselves, lead others astray, and despise God’s prophets.

The judgment coming to Jerusalem was like all the kingdoms of the north were coming to set up quarters, homes, or shop right in the gates of the city. They would be encamping all around. The people of Judah would no longer be free. Not only is this against the city of Jerusalem but all the cities of Judah. This would include Bethlehem and Bethel.

The coming of these people of the kingdoms of the north was God’s utterance against their forsaking the LORD. There were those who were worshipping the LORD, but few and far between. Those who were worshipping were probably remaining silent. The priests who were praising God in their hearts and worshipping him, must have been silent concerning the condition of the hearts and lives of the people; thus were allowing them to continue to live in their sin and rebellion. Therefore, they were not the priests of God that they should have been. Take the offering the people bring no matter the true condition of their heart, or that they had been to the temple of Baal, and participated in those rituals. They will be okay as long as they are faithful to the temple of God. LIES, LIES, LIES. God is not glorified except with total devotion, commitment, and worship to Him and to Him alone.

Even though a man and/or woman may attend worship on Sunday morning, evening, Wednesday evening, and anytime the church house door is open, but they live for themselves the other days of the week, the rest of the time, and glorify not God with their life and living; they worship not, and love not the LORD with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They have, in fact, forsaken the Lord, and “worship the works of their own hands”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Curse of Beverage Alcohol

A SHAMED GLORY

“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!  Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.  For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.” Habakkuk 2:15-17 (KJV).

This whole prophetic message seems to be presented in song. The prophet has been angry because in his way of thinking God is letting evil go, and not doing anything with it. He is firstly upset because he sees the evil of “God’s people”, then when God tells him that punitive judgment is coming for God’s people in the form of the ruthless, evil Babylonian kingdom, he begins questioning God’s wisdom in the matter. I do not know about you, but I see where the prophet is coming from.

There are some who tend to believe that since this is only a song, then the words are not literal, but are allegorical, or poetic imagery. I could see it as an analogy; at least in some of the words that are presented. The definition of “analogy” is, “Inference that if two or more things agree in some respects they will probably agree in others” MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY.

The picture given here is of the Babylonian horde persuading their neighbors to come along and aid them. They woo them with big promises of treasures, wealth, and great popularity with their people, etc. They become “intoxicated” by the thoughts and dreams of the bounty; then when the battles were fought and they head home their help leaves with less than they entered the battles with. Babylon leaders made great promise, then, take all for themselves.

There is still a lesson of the evils of alcoholic beverage here. A woe is pronounced upon the people who purposely sell beverage alcohol, knowing they will buy it, drink it, get drunk, then, not even know what their day or evening was like.

We live in a day when there must be a policy of abstinence from beverage alcohol. For some reason people are enticed by beverage alcohol, even from a young age. It is advertised as the way of getting the pretty girls, the handsome guys, and having a great time. When the party is eventually over they will be left without anything to show for it, except decay and death. It is an evil in our society which has and is poisoning our lives, killing our children, and mothers and fathers. Beverage alcohol has been and is a source of physical abuse between spouses; husbands abusing their wives; wives abusing their husbands, and all due to this poison that kills and does so legally. Both parents when inebriated have been known to abuse their children. We certainly know the numbers of deaths from accidents on the highways due to beverage alcohol. There is cost associated with lost time at work. Costs in health care due to beverage alcohol. Why is it worth having around? Unless of course it is because some profit at the expense of the dead man on the road.

The judgment of God fell on Babylon because of their arrogance, in particular of the king. They had stripped the forest, frightened the wild animals, and all for the sake of taking the lives of men, and for the sake of gain. That dish would be returned upon them and with their own entrails.

ANALOGY? You could say that, but it makes a good point. There are those who argue, and I believe without merit, that the Bible says nothing against the drinking of beverage alcohol. Here are some references. Proverbs 20:1; 23:29:-35; 31:1-9. Then, here is a good illustration of the blessing of God on those who choose to be temperate Jeremiah 35:1-19.

In a culture, such as ours here in the United States of America it seems quite foolish to be defending the use and abuse of beverage alcohol. What is there to guarantee that you will never become drunk? There is only one answer. Do not take a drink of beverage alcohol. Drunkenness can also come about by doing drugs. That too, should not be tolerated by Christian America.

“Well, I only drink a glass of wine with my evening meal”, that would mean you keep it in a closet or some place in your home. You have children seeing you drink. What will guarantee they will not become an alcoholic or drunk? If you do not have the poison in your home, and if they never see you take a drink, they will be less likely to begin the process toward alcoholism and drunkenness.

The message of Habakkuk is a “Woe” to those who put it to their neighbor’s lips, that they might look upon their nakedness. The analogy being; taking advantage of their neighbor for personal gain. The literal rendering is “Don’t sell alcoholic beverage or disperse it in any manner“. God help those who do not follow God’s Word.

I know there are arguments and debate all around these references, but I just trust what the verses say. Unless we want the judgment of the Babylonians on us we who profess Christ as our Savior better begin living a life of temperance. Others are watching you. The best way to avoid becoming an alcoholic is to never take a drink of beverage alcohol. Let us, especially not take part in causing others to become drunken and alcoholic. Let us rather show them the New Wine of Jesus.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Receiving the King

Receiving the King

“He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Matthew 10:40-42 (KJV).

We have all heard Jesus use the phrase “In My name”. We are to pray in His name. I think it would be safe to say that He teaches us to live in His name. We are not praying in His name when we ask Him for selfish things that will magnify the flesh, and does not glorify Him. If we live for ourselves, to gain public notoriety, or material gain, then, we are not living in His name. The life in His name is lived by faith. When we live and walk by faith we will receive His rewards.

Jesus tells us that when others receive His disciples into their homes, lives, and communities, then, they are receiving Him – the Sender. They receive the disciples and receive the message they are proclaiming as well. The message is heard, and is activated, or at the least sincerely considered.

The rewards that are given have nothing to do with eternal life or salvation. It cannot be earned. It is a free gift of God. When a true prophet of God is received by the household, then he receives the faithfulness of the prophet, and is faithful to God as is the prophet, and any other blessing of the prophet. The one who receives the righteous man, will become righteous themselves. This not their own doing but the decree of God. Those who receive a disciple, and giving them refreshment, becoming a disciple of Jesus will also not lose their reward.

To reject the messenger [Ambassador] of the King is to reject the King and His kingdom.

There is no other name as powerful as the name of Jesus. This name alone caused the Universe to come to be. By this name men are set on thrones, and taken from the thrones. By this name, the name of Jesus, men and women, boys and girls, are bound or free. By the name of Jesus every soul of man can be set free from the bondage of sin, resurrected to eternal life, and live eternally with Jesus Christ in the portals of heaven. What you and I choose to do with this man named Jesus will determine our eternal destiny.

– by Tim A. Blankenship

Answered Prayer

A great illustration of answered prayer:

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the
men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island. The two
survivors, not knowing what else to do, agree that they had no other
recourse but to pray to God.

However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to
divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first
man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat
its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a
wife.
The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a
woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island,
there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next
day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man
still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could
leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of
the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to
leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man
unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been
answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven
booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,”
the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does
not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer,
which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of
my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I
should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone,
but those of another praying for us.

When Jesus died on the cross he was thinking of you!
AUTHOR UNKNOWN

For Love of the King

The King Separates

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:34-37 (KJV)

When we take up the cross of Christ to lay down our lives with Him, there will be a separation which takes us away from the fellowship of an ungodly family. Jesus is our chief joy; loved above all people and things of this world. Even your family’s rejection of your faith will not stop your love for Jesus. Because they reject your faith and Savior, they may even reject you, and some have been known to command their sons or daughters to leave the house.

The very faith that saves takes away any peaceful existence. There will now be no peace with the enemy of God who is Satan. There will be no peace with anyone who is opposed to Christ. There will be no peace with the old friends you used to party with. Many of them will turn their back on the follower of Jesus Christ. It is because there will be a definite change in your life. There will be no peace with sin. Once you were at peace with sin and at war with the Savior; but now you are at peace with God and His Son Jesus – your Lord and Savior – and a now at war with sin, satan, and death, and all who are opposed to Jesus Christ.

If you deny Jesus because the family rejects you is not the love which Jesus gave you, nor the love He requires. Your faith, your confession, your profession, and change of life will cause them to see Jesus Christ in you. The disciple of Jesus specializes in the love of Jesus and Jesus alone. There is no room for another.

Love your family in the Lord. Don’t give up on them. Pray for them to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t waver in your faith in Him, no matter what their reaction to your faith is. Be strong.

Man of Mystery

Man of Mystery

“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” Genesis 14:17-24 (KJV)

It is with fascination that I notice that when one has his treasure in this world he falls with its kings and is captured like all the possessions. However, if the heart is on the Lord you will never fall.

Lot, backsliden, his heart drawn away by the pleasures of the world, worshipped the material, and went into captivity with the material. Abraham worshipped the God of Heaven and delivered all the people and their possessions from the captivity.

It is also interesting to notice that when Bera, the king of Sodom shows up, that Melchizedek king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God [El Elyon] comes to Abraham’s aid. Bera comes offering Abraham great material wealth as a reward for his victory. Abraham has, however, vowed to God that he would not take any reward from these perverse and rebellious people, lest they claim they have made Abraham rich (vv. 22-23).

Mechizedek’s appearance is reward enough for the “Friend of God”. Who is this Melchizedek? He is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament – here in Genesis and in Psalm 110:4; and the most mentioned of him is in the New Testament book of Hebrews. This scarcity makes him somewhat of a mystery character. Who is he? This Old Testament account calls him the king of Salem [present day Jerusalem]. He is called “the priest of the most High God [El Elyon] = “Possessor of heaven and earth”.

It seems that we are given license in Scripture of Melchizedek as a “type” of the Christ. “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” is written in a messianic Psalm (110) prophesying of the throne at the Father’s right hand, and His judgment on the nations.

There are good and godly scholars and pastors who believe Melchizedek to be a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus Christ. The problem with that is he appears as an earthly king to Abraham – a highly honored one to be sure – yet he is the king of an earthly city. Another problem is Paul spaks of him in Hebrews 7:3 as, “…Made like unto the Son of God”. This certainly implies “type” or “Shadow” rather than substance.

In understanding who Melchizedek is we must first realize the mystery involved. Understand also, that, Scriptures were “God breathed” inspired by the Holy Spirit, and sometimes what is missing is, or can be a clue to correct interpretation. In Melchizedek’s case we have no record of his genealogy; “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life”. Yet, the Holy Spirit gives us a genealogy of our Lord’s human birth.

Let’s compare the two. Melchizedek: “Without mother or father”; no birth, nor death; A gentile priest of God; King of righteousness; King of Salem; A priest continually. Now let’s look at the One who is the substance of the shadow – Jesus Christ: without mother or father – in his deity only; no birth, nor death – also in deity only; a priest of God from the tribe of Judah (Both Melchizedek – Gentile priest of God, and Jesus – are declared by God to be priests); King of righteousness; King of Jerusalem; a priest continually – “after the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16).

The comparisons are many. The one, however, is a shadow of the substance.

Abraham worships the “Most High God” by giving “tithes of all”. A tithe is one tenth. It is encouraging to notice that the tithe was initiated before the law of Moses. Not being subject to the law makes it a wonderful starting place for giving. To give less would be to insult the grace of God. Giving God ten percent of all acknowledges Him as Lord of all. We are to give willingly, cheerfully, proportionately, and promptly. Ten percent is a good starting place, but as God blesses the one’s who have a giving spirit will want to increase their giving for the glory of our Lord (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This is proportionate giving, “…as God has prospered him”.

The true worshipper of God gives all to God, and withholds nothing.

Backsliding Lot

Backsliding By Looking Only On the Surface

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV).

When Lot heard the words of Abram he was thrilled. What ever land he would choose was his. Lot, like most people looked only on the surface of things; he looked at the fertility of the land without looking at the ultimate price that would be paid. He did not know what was in the future, however, it was evidently known by him of the depravity, perversity, and immoral behavior permeating the area. He was only considering the material without any consideration to the destruction this could bring to his family.

Lot did not even consider the Lord in the choosing. he “lifted up his eyes” guided by his desire for the material and led his family to destruction. Finally, now Abram was “Separated” from his kindred as the Lord had directed when He first called.

The infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have a story and a history that warns all who will read and hear it. It is hard to imagine a man, whom God calls “Just” (2 Peter 2:7), would become a part of the wickedness. Maybe it should not be so hard, because many Christians put themselves in situations similar to Lot, because they have been carried away by the lust of their hearts, rather than being led and controlled by God’s Spirit.

Lot may not have been an actual participant in their sin, though by his silence, and his “leadership” he condoned the behavior. He could have warned the people of their wickedness, but instead he adapted.

The phrase “Pitched his tent” means to make his abode; his habitation with. We know from God’s Word we are not to “Dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10b); but to “…Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Lot bore little fruit. Maybe the only fruit he had was faith, and it was small because he did not exercise it. The way to bear fruit is to abide [make our habitation] in Jesus. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4

Why I Preach Expositionally

For several years following God’s call, and my surrender to His will in preaching, I struggled with how I would preach.  I grew up in an environment where notes were frowned upon for a preacher. “Any preacher who uses notes can’t be led by the Spirit” was and in some cases still is the argument against notes.  I use notes most of the time and have no problem taking some heat for it.  But, there is another thing that I struggled with and with that same environment is the idea of sermon preparation and the message itself.

For some time I struggled to find a message for the following Sunday morning.  Direction of the Holy Spirit was a necessity, and it still is, but there was something that had to change.  I could spend all week long praying, seeking a text which I believed to be Spirit inspired, and then prepare the thought of the text, or even insert my own idea.  You wind up preaching a lot of “Topical” sermons that way.  For me topical sermons are built from an idea, then you find a text to fit the idea, and that requires a lot of human flesh – at least on my part.

Well, finally to the point of this posting; here is WHY I PREACH EXPOSITIONALLY:

First of all to preach expositionally you need to start with a book of the Bible.  The Bible, then sets the path and plan for which the messages will take.  Since I am not a Hebrew nor a Greek student, I am dependent upon Strong’s Concordance in many cases; upon others who are more knowledgeable, and scholarly than myself; prayer, and the rest of Scripture.  Scripture must ultimately be interpreted by Scripture. 

Secondly, preaching through a Book of the Bible, you never wonder what you will be preaching on the next time, and you are most likely to be better prepared.  You have more time to pray on that particular topic, spend more time in study and preparation, and you always know you are  preaching the Word of God to the people.

Thirdly,  when I preach expositionally it is much more difficult to get off onto pet subjects, than when you preach topically.  There is nothing wrong with “Pet subjects”, but sometimes we may bore our people to tears with the continued rhetoric. 

Fourthly,  preaching expositional sermons keeps you in study.  I have found times when the Lord has pointed something out that may be a pet subject, that needs to be dealt with, and He will give me time to do it.

Fifth, expositional preaching will be a verse by verse, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, or chapter by chapter explanation of the Scriptures and how we may apply their teachings to our lives.  We are more assured by this that God is speaking through His Word.

There are times where we may need to preach a narrative sermon, a topical sermon or however God may lead, but I believe, and I know it to be extremely so for myself, that the best form of preaching is through the exposition of God’s Word, Book by Book, chapter by chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and verse by verse and maybe sometimes even, Word by Word.

There are more reasons than these.  These are ones which I have found helpful.  There are others who have given reasons, and some of them as I have listed.  If God has called you to preach His Word, then do it with all your heart.  When you become a pastor that is the time to begin expositional preaching of the Word.  That is what our people need.  They do not always like it, nor appreciate it, but in the long run it is for their benefit, and yours.

Making Judgments

Making Judgments

As we look at this portion we find a phrase which many use to tell us we are not to judge. Jesus does say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”. However, if you read the several verses following we see that He tells us to make judgments concerning variety of issues.

The very first instance of a judgment we must make is concerning what is holy, and the casting of that unto the “dogs”. Would we not be making a judgment decision concerning what is “Dogs”. The other in this same verse concerning the throwing of pearls to “swine”. Again, there would be the need to make a judgment. There must be a greater meaning for “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, than the normal tendency. One of the things concerning judgment that we will see is that of the heart.

As human beings we do not know the intents of other human hearts. We have hard enough time knowing the intents of our own hearts, if indeed we can know that. It would seem to me that that is one thing the Lord is addressing in these first five verses.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Matthew 7:1-6 (KJV).

We are too often too quick to judge others. One way we judge others and often very wrongly is for their motives. Christians, sad to say, often judge one another’s motives for their actions. We say things like, “The only reason he did that is to work his way to that cushy office job”. O, really, and how would we know this man’s or woman’s heart? We do not.

We are also too quick to judge by the traditions of men. That was the problem Jesus was addressing for sure. The Pharisees and scribes had certainly judged Jesus wrongly. They had accused him of breaking the Sabbath on several occasions for healing on the Sabbath, for working in the grain fields on the Sabbath, etc.. That was according the their traditions of the law, not according to the law. As Jesus says, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” Mark 2:27. After they had added their traditional understanding to it and added a few loopholes for themselves it became a switch for the wearing out on the people.

It is probably safe to say too, that this command is for the benefit of not condemning others with our judgment. People, without Jesus Christ, are already condemned. How can we, and why should we add our condemnation? “Therefore thou are inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest another, thou coondemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1. Condemnation and vengeance is Gods. Only He has the final say in judgment, and for one I am so thankful for that.

As Christians we are to first examine and make judgments of our own lives; “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” 1 Corinthians 11:31 (KJV). If we look intently into our own selves we find we have no place to accuse or condemn; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:23-25 (KJV). To rightly judge self is to depart from sin and become compassionate to the sinner. We must first, have our eyes cleansed from obstacles before we can help others. Anything less is hypocrisy.

We are to discern the hardness, and lack of reception of filthy hearts. We are to recognize the dogs we come in contact with. The dogs are the scavengers on the streets content with their unscrupulous lives, spreading disease and are vicious. Paul writing to the church of Galatia says, “…‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another” Galations 5:14b-15, and he is using the animals of the street to illustrate the point of Christians needing to love one another, rather than “devour the other” in judgments. We should not take what is holy – from the altar – and give it to those whose lives despise holiness. This takes some discernment, ie., judgment. The swine are those who love their filthy mudhole better than being clean, better than the bathtub of being clean before the righteous and holy God of all creation. Why should we in foolishness throw the beautiful pearls of righteousness to the swine only to have them trampled in the mudhole. Surely judgment is needed to know when to stop, pack your bags, and leave.

The Spirit of God Moves

The Spirit of God Moved

On the second month; which appears to be of that present year; Noah, his wife, their sons and their sons wives went into the ark, at God’s invitation, after all the animals had already been boarded. You can find this in chapter 7:11. We read in the 24th verse of chapter seven that the “Waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days”. The word “Prevail” according to the MERRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY means, “To win mastery: TRIUMPH”, and “PREDOMINATE”. According to Strong’s it means pretty much the same – “Gaw-bar” is the pronunciation in Hebrew, and meaning “A primitive root; to be strong; by implication to prevail, act insolently: – exceed, confirm, be great, be mighty, prevail, put to more [strength], strengthen, be stronger, be valiant.” (From E-sword).

With the water prevailing upon the earth means that it has the rule. It seems that it is progressing upward in depth after the rain stopped, and continued up to 150 days. There is nothing stopping it. For those who advocate a local flood, I would ask, “Where is the dam? How is it holding when God says the waters prevailed upon the earth?” In the Hebrew reckoning of months there were 30 day, and 29 day months. Their year would have had only 354 days, and about every three years there would be an extra 29 day month. It is uncertain if Moses wrote this with the Hebrew calendar in mind. It would be most likely, but I am not dealing with the months. I only point this out due to the time of departure, and arrival at the destination of the ark. One hundred fifty days would equal to about 5 months that the waters prevailed upon the earth.

Assuming this 150 days included the forty days and forty nights of rainfall that means they have been in the ark a very long time. Noah and the family could have began to get very discouraged, and just plain ole cranky with one another. Who knows, they may have even began to think that they had been forsaken by God. We just do not know what was going on on that ark. Hear what God says.

“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.” Genesis 8:1-5 (KJV)

It is with much comfort we are told, “God remembered Noah…”. Though it is not that he forgot him, this is a reminder of God’s covenant promise with Noah and all that went into the ark (Gen. 6:18-21). Noah was the intelligent one of God’s creation. He was the one who bears the image of God. He is the one to whom God for the salvation of the human race and the animal kingdom.

Noah is the one for whom the window was built for the beholding the heavens, and speaking with God the Creator. God remembering has more to do with Promise and with God’s faithfulness. He is the faithful God.

God also remembers every living thing on the ark. Those things which many of us would just as soon never had in the earth. There were serpents, creepy crawly things, flying insects, like, mosquitoes, flys, etc. According to something I read sometime ago; it used to be thought that the common housefly was made by spontaneous generation, but that has been proven wrong. In these things we must realize that God knows best. All of these things have their purpose in God’s ecology. He is the All Wise One.

We are also told that God remembered the cattle. Surely this text goes through all of this to assure us that God does not forget his promises. His covenants are part of who He is. His Word will not fail. The cattle; these livestock which we be closer to home; these are the source of their food, and the food of the world, and the means of clothing, using the skins.

God made a wind to pass over the earth, and it was because of that wind that the waters began to recede. They were no longer prevailing upon the face of the earth. The LORD God showed He was still in control. Noah certainly needed this assurance. His family needed this assurance. The wind came as it was made to do. It began to dry away the waters. The mountains began to show. The ark settled, and came to rest upon the peaks of Ararat.

The word “Wind” in verse one is the same word as “Spirit” in chapter one verse two. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”. On the third day of creation the land came forth in a day. On this day with Noah and his family it took time. It was not until the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month that the earth was dry. They would be on the ark until the second month and twenty seventh day when the earth dried, and God would command them off (More on this later).

There must have been such joy and rejoicing as the ark settled into a crevice in the rocks, and rested there. They must have felt that surely we can leave this boat soon. Encouragement, though, comes only in pieces. We should know that this prepares us with patience. When it seems as though the storm is never going to end. When it seems as though the waters of trial and tribulation rush all around you. When it seems the rocking and twisting of your salvation is never going to stop. You can rest assured it will. The storm will end the rush of the trial will cease. Your faith will be made stronger in your salvation. God will come through.

Where Your Treasured Treasure Is

Where Your Treasure Is

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-24 (KJV).

“The principle is simple and sobering: the way we look at and use our money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition” John MacArthur from Vol. 1, p. 414 of Matthew Commentary.

One verse of this seems to be the key to the rest, and that is verse twenty one. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” That begs the question: What is your treasure?

If our hearts are right with the Father through Jesus Christ we will have the right attitude toward wealth, or even the lack of wealth.

Jesus warned us about living for the things of this world as being sin. To live for the gain of wealth is covetousness. Covetousness is idloatry – “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Colossians 3:5 (KJV). Anything you use to try to fill the emptiness of your life, which only God is meant to fill, is idolatry.

When we are not guarding our hearts we can become enslaved to covetousness. Slavery to things means certain loss of our heart and mind (vv. 22-23). If our aim in life is wealth there will only be darkness within. We cannot serve two masters, there is only one worthy of our service and that is the Master, Jesus.

The Waters Prevailed

The Waters Prevailed

“And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.” Genesis 7:18-24 (KJV).

I personally believe that there are judgments of God upon the earth today. Some of those being in the form of destructive storms; such as tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes. Does that mean that God hates us, or hates those who are killed, or injured during these things? No!! It actually means that He cares for us, is giving us warning to turn from our sins, and that worse judgment is coming. God does hate sin and its evil. These judgments are especially taking place on our Nation of the United States of America. Someone may be asking “Why?” It is because we have turned our backs on God, and turned to our own abilities, our own good deeds and works. We have forsaken God, and turned to idols. Idols, such as the economy – comfort, convenience, and entertainment are three of the more popular idols of this nation. These are all tied to wealth. Money/Finance, Science/technology, and Global unity and peace are three which are really involving those other three. Then we have the affliction of the AIDS virus. That is judgment upon us for the sexual perversion in our land.

The reason God judged the earth by the flood was because of the corruption on the face of the earth (See chapter 6:5, 11, 12, 13).

These verses show us how God actually used the flood waters to raise the ark above the judgment, and how He cleansed the world of its corruption for that time.

This flood covered the whole earth. it was not just the area of Mesopatamia as some have purposed. Even the scientists who deny a worldwide flood admit and tell us that the world was covered by water at one time, and they say it was a cataclysmic cover. They simply want to deny the Bible’s version of the worldwide flood. The flood was so massive and great that the waters covered the tops of the highest mountains. Verse 20 even gives us the exact depth over the highest mountain to have been 15 cubits or about 22 and one half feet. With a twenty four inch cubit, that depth would have been thirty feet over the highest mountain. This would, of course, allow no place for any living, breathing thing, to hide from God’s judgment and survive. When God judges, His judgment is complete.

We can rest assured that when God judged our sin, by killing His own Son Jesus Christ, that judgment too, was complete (Isaiah 53:4; Romans 5:8, 12-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21). When we hear God’s invitation to enter the ark of safety, who is Christ, and enter we are safe and secured for all eternity; lifted up above this earth and its watery, fiery grave.

In the Ark and Safe

In the Ark and Safe

“And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.” Genesis 7:10-17 (KJV).

For seven days Noah and his family were on the ark, and that was before the rains started to fall, and the waters under the earth burst forth.

For seven days there was no more preaching, no more warning of God’s wrath to come. All hope was gone for the fearful and unbelieving element outside the ark.

Remember, according to chapter two, verse six, up until this time the earth had been watered by a mist. It had never rained. Now, suddenly the skies break forth in a deluge of water; drops falling like pebbles to the ground. The shock, to those outside, must have been unbearable. Not only did it rain, but the ground erupted with water shooting into the sky hundreds of feet, maybe even thousands of feet, and falling back to the ground with massive erosive impact. Homes, cities, markets, even centers of worship are completely destroyed. The water having no mercy on anything. The people and animals running to high ground trying to flee the disaster, even clawing, crying, and pleading at the sides of the ark as it began to jostle from side to side, as the waters rose, and picked it up from its resting place. Cries for mercy coming much too late. Once the judgment has begun, it is too late.

The rain fell, it pounded, its sound reverberating over the ark, upon the land and echoed through the canyons and valleys. The lightning, thundering were as deafening as the water which burst forth from the ground (v. 11).

While all of this was going on, Noah and his family were safe inside the ark protected by God’s own hand. They were sealed within the ark of safety. It is awesome and glorious to know that we are sealed in Christ Jesus for all eternity;

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV).

We can also see that it was the LORD God who “shut him in”. While the rain was pouring, and the floods were raging Noah and his family, safe in the ark, were “lifted up above the earth”. God’s saving power is awesome

The ark provides us with a two-fold typology. It represents Christ and the believer being called to abide in Christ and His atoning work. It also provides us with a type of the nation of Israel during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) also called “the great tribulation”.

Those who during this ‘time of trouble’ are marked by God (Revelation 7:1-8) to proclaim the message of the kingdom, and are protected by God from the raging of the antichrist king (Revelation 12:6). We might make note, that Enoch, being translated, pictures the rapture of the church before the time of trouble.

Fast With Joy

Matthew 6:1-34 continuing…

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:16-18 (KJV).

This third characteristic of the kingdom heart and life should be when you are fasting FAST WITH JOY. It seems that the religious leaders very much wanted to be noticed for their fasting, and would have very somber and sad faces, so everyone would know when they were going without food. Let me say that there are several forms of fasting. One can fast from food to find God’s will in a certain need; one can fast for the purpose of seeking God for personal and national revival and renewing; but these must be done with the right heart and motive.

Fasting is right and good with the right motive. Jesus fasted. We have the most notable account of Jesus fasting in Matthew four where He fasted for forty days and nights (4:3). Members of the early church fasted – “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” Acts 13:2 (KJV).

Fasting is a means of disciplining the appetites of the body. It helps us keep our spiritual priorities straight. We focus more on God, His Word, and His will for our lives and living for Him, than on when the next meal is due. One of the most useful fast that I have found is when you are so involved in your study of God’s Word and prayer, that you do not even think of eating, the time passes, and you are into the Word so deeply, that it does not matter.

Fasting is more than depriving ourselves of food. It is time for the worshipping of God. A time for devotion to Him and giving all to Him.

True fasting is not for the purpose of drawing attention to one’s self, as did the hypocrites. To do so fits us into that category. Hypocrisy robs us of reality in Christian living. It substitutes reputation for character; it substitutes mere words for true prayer; it substitutes money for devotion of heart. Hypocrisy also robs us of spiritual rewards. Instead of God’s eternal approval we receive the temporary approval of men; We pray and receive no answers; We fast, but the inner man does not improve; We miss the blessing of God; and we lose God’s rewards when Jesus comes again. The first steps in overcoming hypocrisy: 1) Be honest with God in your secret life; 2) Fast seeking God with all your heart; 3) Pray from the heart; 4) Please God alone.

We will remain in hypocrisy if we tend to offer God pretty, lace and flower prayers, and fast to be seen and recognized by men. We will remain in hypocrisy if we pray only from a form or liturgical prayer that has been offered by someone else. We will remain in hypocrisy when we fast and pray to please others and do not care whether God is praised, honored and glorified or not. The purpose of fasting and prayer is to glorify the Lord, and then it matters not whether you get what you asked for yourself.

Friends of Israel

The nation of Israel is often denied their rights.  They have given up land in order to maintain peace in the Middle East.  They are a peaceful nation.  To the  Christian Palestinians let me say this.  Israel will own the land.  That is according to God’s promise.  Accept that and believe the whole counsel of the Word of the Lord.

Dr. Thomas Ice writing in Midnight Call Magazine, the November 2003 edition has an article titled “Christian Zionism”.  In his conclusion he writes this:

“In spite of our critics, who unjustly attempt to cast us in a bad light, dispensational premillennialism has always been the best friend the Jewish people have ever had within Christendom.  For many years, many in Israel have recognized this.  Amazing is that in the last few years, even the Orthodox community has come to realize that it has friends and supporters within the conservative Christian community.  At the same time that we support Zion, dispensational premillennialists have been the leaders of evangelizing the Jewish community during the present Church Age.  I believe that such support  of Zion by Christians will continue to be the case from now throughout all eternity. Maranatha!”

From p. 33, MIDNIGHT CALL, November 2003.

Israel is so often, too often maligned, and accused of being the aggressor, when the truth is she has often shown restraint, and even withheld in attacking when she has been attacked.  May the leaders of our country begin taking a stronger stand for Israel.  Are we truly standing with them, supporting them when we advise them, that, for the sake of peace give back the land?  Not in my estimation.  It is their land.  God gave it to them, and one day it will all be theirs again.  It will be more then, than what they have possessed since 1948.  God’s will will be done