Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Eighty and Three

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matthew 5:33-37 (KJV)

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to live by the words Jesus has spoken above; that His name might be honored and glorified; so others might more desire to know the One who died, was buried and rose again; to know my Redeemer; I want my “Yes!” to be Yes, and my “No!” to be No without making a vow, or taking an oath.

The U. S. of A. Declaration of Independence

I want to wish all a wonderful, blessed, and safe Independence Day in the U. S. of A.  No matter what the events which have set many hearts to fears and tears this is still the land of the free, and the home of the brave.  Please take the time to read this declaration of Independence which was dated July 4th, 1776  239 years ago.

The Declaration of Independence
07/04/1776
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of governments. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative Houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasion on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to ren-der it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliance, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Signers of the Declaration of IndependenceNEW HAMPSHIRE: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
MASSACHUSETTS: John Hancock, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine
RHODE ISLAND: Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
CONNECTICUT: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
NEW YORK: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
NEW JERSEY: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
PENNSYLVANIA: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
DELAWARE: Ceasar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
MARYLAND: Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, William Paca, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
VIRGINIA: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
NORTH CAROLINA: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
SOUTH CAROLINA: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Authur Middleton
GEORGIA: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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.

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

Break Up Your Hard Ground

There have been times when a farmer has plans for a piece of ground for a certain crop. He goes and plows the ground, spends several hours doing it, and maybe a day or two, depending on the size of the piece of land, and the mode of power for plowing. Something happens; maybe too much rain, a family emergency, or just other duties come into play; and the ground goes neglected. That ground may have been plowed, harrowed, completely ready for seed, fertilizer, and all necessary preparations, but it goes neglected.

For a year maybe even two, or more, that ground lays there, growing grass, weeds, thorns -weeds and throns are mostly what will grow on “fallow ground”. “Fallow ground” is what that land has become. There is no good fruit coming from this land. It really has no beauty to it. It has become hardened and needs to be broken up in order for it to be useful, productive.

Productivity for this land will only come about when that ground is plowed again, or broken up. You would not want to just plow the weeds and thorns under because of their seeds. There will be some in the ground already. Then, you would want to burn the ground off before it is plowed. Burning it off might be all you would need to do before you plowed, with some cleanup following the burn. After cleaning up some of the thorns and weeds following the burn, then you would set about the plowing or the breaking up of the “fallow ground”.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.'” Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NKJV)

There is a portion of land, a couple of acres, on the farm where I grew up, that is called, “The Pickle Patch”. I have never seen any pickles grown there. I think my Dad has, but I never have. I have seen and helped pick corn from there for feeding cattle and hogs, but that was when I was a very small boy. Today that small amount of acreage has grown up into a thorn patch. It does have a good set of fescue grass growing under all those thorn trees, (also known as “thorny locust”; at least around this part of the world), and the it is there for wildlife to eat from. That has happened from years of neglect.

The hearts and lives of men and women can become hard, calloused, and of no use to God when they are neglected. That is what has happened with the people to whom Jeremiah is speaking. The men of Judah and Jerusalem are the main ones the prophet addresses.

Just how, does the heart of a man become likened to “fallow ground”? How can a man become hard hearted toward God, and unproductive? There is only one step toward a hard heart. There is only one turn toward that “fallow ground”. That step and that turn is away from God. It may happen gradually with the coming of many blessing, comfort sets in, then, a complacent, apathetic attitude. It happens by missing just one quiet time with God, then one more, then one more. Then, there is the missing of one assembling with the saints of God in the worship of God. It happens by getting too involved in the pleasures and comforts of the society around us.

Jesus uses a parable concerning four different soil conditions in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Jesus calls it the “Parable of the sower” (v. 18). It does deal with the conditions of the soil, however. The first is the hardpacked path area when people are able to walk through the fields (common for that day); the second was shallow soil – shallow due to bedrock directly under a very thin layer of soil; the third could be compared to the “fallow ground”, because it is weedy and thorny soil; and the final soil is “good soil” which means that it is soil that has been worked and prepared for the seed, and it is the only one of the soils which produces fruit.

God is not pleased when His people are hardened by their neglect of their hearts. We know Jeremiah is dealing with their heart conditions when he writes of “circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts…”. The study not from the MacArthur Study Bible says,

“4:4 Circumcise. This surgery (Gen. 17:10-14) was to cut away flesh that could hold disease in its folds and could pass the disease on to wives. It was important for the preservation of God’s people physically. But it was also a symbol of the need of the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. The really essential surgery needed to happen on the inside, where God calls for taking away fleshly things that keep the heart from being spiritually devoted to Him and from true faith in Him and His will. Jeremiah later expanded on this theme (31:31-34; cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Rom. 2:29). God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners.” MACARTHER STUDY BIBLE, p. 1067, (NKJV).

The child of God must never forget to maintain His walk with God. Why are some Christians so cavalier about their relationship with God? Could it be that they really have no relationship with God? Therefore, if that be so they don’t even know Him. God’s call through the prophet is for the people to break up the “fallow ground”. In other words, “Take those hardened hearts of yours, and plow them; do what is necessary to break them and humble yourselves before Me.”

The following is a quote from John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible:

“break up your fallow ground; this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat. 13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk_9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:”

It is a hard and evil heart that will not follow the path of our Lord. It is a hard and calloused heart that refuses to hear the Word of the Lord. God holds us, yea, even keeps us from falling. O, how God yearns for His children to continually walk with Him, and those who are His have the heart to walk with Him, but too often are turned aside by the allures of the world, thus the heart can grow fallow.

The prophet calls for a circumcision of the heart, or as it is worded, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD…” This requires a conscience act of the men to whom he speaks. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Well! I am only human, you know.” We are human, and we do sin and make mistakes; however; that is no excuse for the child of God. He has equipped us to overcome the temptations which lure us from our walk with Him. We have His Spirit within us. This is that same Spirit which is in Christ Jesus. That is right. You have the power in you, as a Christian to resist temptation, the hardening of your heart to God, and anything that will turn you away from Him. One thing I might add here concerning things that can cause the heart to grow hard toward God would be the satisfaction and pride, even an arrogance that you are the child of God, leading to an attitude that you are better than anyone else. God forbid we ever do that. That is a hardened heart.

This circumcision of the heart [of yourselves] is taught by Jesus and the apostle Paul. Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2. This requires that the power of the Spirit of God be in you. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. When God is on your mind your thoughts will be on the things of God. When God is your treasure your heart will be set on Him, and in neither one of these can there be “fallow ground” or a hard heart.

This message is to the people of God. This message is to those who once had a thriving relationship with the LORD, but have grown hard of heart. He is calling you back. Plow the ground. Get into His Word, seek His face, repent of your sins, confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Return Unto ME

The nation has been a wayward nation. It has deliberately turned its back on God, and served its own gods which are idols; a means of worshipping devils or demons. It is a sad thing for a nation, in this case the Northern kingdom to walk away from God. It is, however, joyous to see that God is gracious, forgiving and still He is just.

YaHWeH [God] has been calling the spiritually adulterating nation to repent. He has been pursuing her. God will have His way with His people. Let us never forget that. He will be glorified through His people as well.

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto Me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2 (KJV).

This call is clearly to Israel, the Northern kingdom. What is it to “return unto ME [the LORD]”? It is clear from these verses what the LORD expects. “Put away thine abominations…” is one of the clearly sought after things of the LORD. According to Strong’s the word “Abominations” has to do with the filth of idolatry.

    H8251 – shiqqu^ts shiqqu^ts; shik-koots’, shik-koots’; From H8262; disgusting, that is, filthy; especially idolatrous or (concretely) an idol: – abominable filth (idol, -ation), detestable (thing).

You will notice that the word “disgusting” is used, and “abominable filth”. That only shows us the way God sees this adulterous relationship between His people and the gods of the nations. There must be a “Putting away” of all that is vile, unclean, detestable and idolatrous in God’s sight before there can ever be cleansing, renewal and a return to God. When will the people of God come to the place to learn that to depart from God is about the easiest thing we can do. It can happen just by dropping our attention away from the LORD, and putting it someplace else.

In calling the Northern kingdom to return God intends for a true repentance in returning; not as the Southern kingdom of Judah who gave acknowledgement by words, but not in action. Judah gave a lip service to the LORD, but in truth their hearts were far from Him. That is why earlier we see God referring to Judah as being treacherous (Jeremiah 3:11). God does not approve of hypocritical lip service or pretense. Even Jesus says, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Those who have a true love for our Lord do not serve Him to gain anything from Him; however we do serve Him with love knowing who he is, and because of His wonderful gift of grace.

Jehovah’s call to Israel to return is for them to turn from their sin, and to Him. We are to worship God and Him alone. There can be no honor given to other gods, which are not gods, but demonic representations of men’s desires. “If you will return, O Israel, then return to Me” is the desire of God’s heart. This could be for their return to God’s land from which they have been carried away captive. There will be no return to the land unless they return to Him could be the meaning.

“Return unto me; with thy whole heart, and not feignedly and hypocritically, as Judah did, Jer_3:10. Some render the words (and the accents require they should be rendered so) “if thou wilt return to me, O Israel, saith the Lord, thou shalt return” (l); that is, to thine own land, being now in captivity; or, “thou shalt rest” (m); or “have rest”; so Kimchi interprets the last word; see Jer_30:10, and these words may very well be considered as the words of Christ, and as spoken by him, when he entered upon his ministry, who began it with calling the people of the Jews to repentance, and promising to give them rest; and all such who return to God by repentance, and come to Christ by faith, find spiritual rest for their souls now, and shall have an eternal rest hereafter, Mat_4:17,” FROM JOHN GILLS EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, e-Sword edition.

If you will put away these abominations, “Out of My sight” then you will not be moved from the promised place. God would speak to the prophet concerning the return of the people in seventy years (25:12; 29:10-14; Daniel 9:2). This time in captivity would be a time of chastisement, cleansing, and bring glory to the LORD. During this time the Babylonians and the Persians would mistreat the captives, and in this God would be glorified by His wrath and judgment upon the nations for thier evil doing on the people of Israel; both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

If you will now, notice what happens when the people do return. It is first to be a speedy return, ie., when they realize that they are away from God, they are not to merely speak of returning, but quickly return, and not to the land, but to God, then they will go to the land, after the seventy years have been fulfilled. When they have returned to the LORD, then they will “swear, ‘The LORD LIVES’…” This “swear[ing]” is more than an oath. It seems to be a very full and genuine heart change, realizing the greatness of the LORD our God. Strong’s gives us this concerning the word, “Swear”:

    H7650 – sha^ba‛; shaw-bah’; A primitive root; properly to be complete, but used only as a denominative from H7651; to seven oneself, that is, swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times): – adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for H7646], take an oath, X straitly, (cause to, make to) swear.,/ul>

The people of Israel will truly see the living LORD, and they will see that He is truth, and He is righteous in all His ways and truly just. When the nations of the world see what God has done for the people of God they will rejoice in Him, and “In Him they shall glory”. They will boast only of the LORD, and His greatness, they will celebrate in His glory, they will shine for His name. John the Revelator wrote,

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27 (KJV).

“And the nations…” is the phrase we need to see in the previous verses. The nations of the world; those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb; will gather in that new city, and will celebrate the glory of the Lord.
The word that is needed for our day of 2008 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” JESUS (Matthew 4:17). Will you find peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ or will you for all eternity be in the bath of flames which never go out?

-Tim A. Blankenship

    Married To A Backslider

    There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

    Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

    You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

    Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

    “Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

    What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of apostasy, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backsliden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

    Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

    This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backsliden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people can go astray. We can get out of the will of God, but that God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in completer agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backsliden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desparate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

    It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God.

    For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

    God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

    The Christian of our day (2008) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

    O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

    -by Tim A. Blankenship

    Of More Value???

    The prophet Jeremiah’s heart is grieving for his people to see their lives as the LORD does. They don’t and won’t. At least for some time to come. The generation the prophet is addressing is one who has refused to see and hear the Word of the LORD.

    The LORD ask a question, “Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of darkness?” Their is a contrast the LORD desires them to see. Have I been barren and left you with nothing or has My witness to you been that of darkness and not light?

    Hear the Word through the prophet:

    “O generation, see the word of the LORD! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of darkness? Why do My people say, ‘We are lords; we will come no more to you? Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:31-32 (NKJV).

    The people had become self dependent rather than depending upon the LORD God. Some people have said and believe that faith is a crutch, or that God Himself is a crutch. Some have said things like, “Only the weak need God.” I need God, and I can only have God in my life as God gives Himself to me through His Son Jesus Christ. Am I weak? You better believe it. When it comes to the things of God; when it comes to pleasing God; when it comes to getting into the very presence of God; when it comes to having a relationship with God, and fellowship with Him; yes! I am weak. None of those things can be mine on my own. They are given to me as a gift of God.

    You may be your own lord, but you do not know God; nor can you as long as you have that attitude and heart. If God wants you He will have you. You will submit to Him and He will have His own way in your heart and life.

    The virgins of Jeremiah’s day wore special ornaments, which was a reminder of their virginity, and their purity. Brides, as always, seem to greatly admire their wedding gown, ang may even become quite prideful in that attire. There is something quite beautiful about a bride in her gown, coming down the aisle, and it causes the groom to take a deep breath, and gasp at her beauty. “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?”, seems to indicate that these had more care for their ornaments and their gowns, than they had for the Word of the LORD. They had not forgotten their ornaments, nor their beautiful clothing, and gowns, but they had “Forgotten” the LORD; “Days without number”.

    Christian, may we never forget the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. May we always be reminded of the body and the blood of Jesus; broken and shed that we might know God. The only true and righteous One who loves us, and gave Himself for us.

    He is coming again. How will He find us?

    God’s Answer To The Prophet’s Questions

    GOD’S ANSWER

    Habakkuk 1:5-11

    The prophet has asked, ‘How long?’ He has even insinuated, possibly, that, the LORD was slack in His duties of being God – particularly Judge.

    God gives Habakkuk the answer, but not one he wants to hear. For seven verses God describes to the prophet what He has in mind for the people of Judah.

    Basically, God says to Habakkuk, ‘The work you are about to see is going to be beyond your belief’. Notice what God tells the prophet –

    Regard – or ‘look intently at’ – this would be a pleasure to those who Judah would call the ‘heathen’;

    Wonder marvelously – amazed to the point of confusion.

    Really take notice of what I am about to do, what is coming to pass. Mouths will drop open in wonder. Shock will accompany the wonder.
    “Though it be told you” How could anyone who knew God think that God would use an unholy people to judge His unholy people.

    It seems to me, that we see God’s sovereign hand here. God had intended that His people Judah and Israel be messengers to foreign lands; messengers of His grace, mercy, and goodness; but they had not only failed in that, they had become just as sinful and lawless as the ‘heathen’.

    God was going to send some of His holy servants into the very jaws of the lion, the fires of Babylon, for judgment of Judah, and inform Babylon of the one true God.

    In verse six God says the Chaldeans are a “Bitter and hasty nation”. By bitter it seems they have a hatred for Judah and ‘hasty’ seems to imply swiftness without much hesitance. They would possess what was not theirs and they would do it with all speed at their beckoning. It would seem particularly speedy since God was initiating the attack.

    In our day we tend not to understand how God could use people like this to judge His people. It happens when God’s people have not lived up to the standards He lays out for us, and those standards are in His Word. God is not so concerned with our happiness or health, as much as He is our holiness, and most of all His own glory. He will do whatever it takes, within the attributes of His character, to make us holy. That is what He is doing in the nation of Judah.

    The Chaldeans are said to be frightening, and they would put fear in your heart according to verse seven. The New Living Translation says, “They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like and no one can stop them”. They would be the source of God’s judgment upon Judah, however, they would get theirs too (See Daniel 5).

    In the eighth verse we find that the Chaldeans/Babylonians will come with power and speed. They are also fierce, not only in countenance, but temperment.

    Verse nine, violence and conquering is what they have in their minds and heart. They thrive on blood, the blood of their enemy, and that was anyone who got in their way. When you pick up sand in your fingers all of it cannot be kept there. This is almost like a randomness in some ways, but most likely means taking captives in great numbers. Captives of Judah.

    Mockery will be on their tongues and in their hearts (vv. 10-11). Captured kings and princes – leaders will be scorned and some will die.

    Walls built to resist their attacks will be overthrown by mounds of dirt laid against them. Because of his victory Nebuchadnezzar will attribute his victory to his god.

    How pitiful it is when God’s people do not live by God’s Spirit and His Word. We bring shame to His name and pain and reproach to our name. O, how this must have pained the heart of Habakkuk. Do you think he liked the answer? May God forgive me.

    Reminder of His Love

    In the last article on this chapter of Isaiah, the final verse of our text was the last part of verse 19 which tells us, “And the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts.” That is usually the reason for departure from God.

    As we look into the following verses we see the Lord having them recall their deliverance from bondage, then playing turning against their deliverer.

    For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,’ says the Lord GOD” Jeremiah 2:20-22 (NKJV).

    One of the things that we can see throughout God’s dealings with the chosen people is that He loves them. His grace is everlasting, and His mercy endures forever. That is a theme for His people throughout all of Scripture.

    God had delivered His children from the bondage of Egypt, and burst the bonds which held them. He had done this in just a matter of days while working in Egypt throught he plagues upon the land and the people. They witnessed the mighty power of God. Not just Israel, but Egypt witnessed this awe-inspiring events which turned the heart of Pharoah, at least for a time, to let God’s people go.

    The people had promised God they would not transgress His law. They did. That is why the declaration is made, “When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down playing the harlot”. The pagan, Gentile altars were on the high hills, and under the trees. God is charging the people with spiritual adultery. That is, the forsaking of the true Husband for an imposter. They had turned away from holy God for unholy pleasures. They had forgotten the attitude of Moses. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way –

    “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoah’s daughter, choosing rither to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV).

    The prophet Isaiah in a previous time had spoken of Israel as a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). He speaks of the Husbandman planting the vineyard, but all He received were wild grapes. God says through Jeremiah, “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality”, and now they have turned their backs on God and are worshipping stone, wood, flesh. They have in fact become an “alien vine”. That is not what God planted. That is the picture we see.

    When they have made themselves unclean before God, they then, evidently feel guilty, try to wash themselves clean with the strongest cleanser they have available that day. They would go and worship the false gods, taking pleasures that should not have been their’s to have. After their violation of holiness with God they would then seek to make themselves clean before God, and without true repentance.

    Thus God says, “Yet your iniquity is marked before Me”.

    The lesson for the follower of Jesus Christ is that we have been delivered from sin. Our sins have been forgiven. The law of the Lord is written in our hearts. We are free to live righteously, holy, and undefiled lives through the power of the Spirit of Christ who lives in us. When we sin we have an advocate with the Father. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9. There is need for repentance and that is a turning from sin and to the Lord Jesus.

    Your Own Sin and Wickedness Will Correct You

    In our world today we hear parents saying things like, “I want the best for my children”, or “I will do whatever I can to protect them from harm”, while at the same time let them live in immorality. Parents putting their daughters on birth control pills, so they will not get pregnant is one good example of what I refer. Another is the new vaccine which supposedly protects young girls from getting a cancer which can only be contracted by sexual intercourse prematurely. That is another example.

    One of the things I have noticed about God is that He does not prevent us from sinning, in most situations. He does let our sin cause us grief and sorrow.

    Therefore do parents do their children good by trying to protect them from means that should teach them responsibility.? It is my belief that it is harmful to their eternal well being to try and protect them from the means that could be used to bring them to God, or to become right in fellowship with Him

    Here is God’s Word from the prophet Jeremiah:

    “Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he plundered? The young lions roared at him, and growled; They made his land waste; His cities are burned, without inhabitant. Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this one yourself,in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts.”

    God is not as concerned for our physical health or wealth as He is our holiness. He despises sin and wickedness. He despises even more His own people turning away from Him. When we look to other means for safety, such as the people in the prophet’s day were doing in “Take(ing) the road to Egypt…” and “…the road to Assyria” we have turned from the Lord our God.

    God is greatly grieved when His own people turn from Him to serve other gods, which are not gods, but only stone, wood, metal, or flesh. Why would the people of God do such a thing? One of the things that was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day was they had grown comfortable, wealthy, fat, and satisfied with themselves. They had the attitude, “We can never fall. We are a God blessed nation. We have the temple of God, and He will never let anything happen to it”.

    I look around our Nation today, and I see much of that same attitude. Even though there is the imminent threat of terrorists infusion, bombings, and destruction we still are not trusting our Lord. We have placed more confidence in our economy, our bank account, our government, but where is our faith in God?

    Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 we have been under the merciful hand of God. Our Nation has not been attacked within our borders since that time. Is that because of our great government, our President, our wonderful Congress, and Senate? No way. It is due to the mercy and grace of God. However, that mercy and grace protecting us from terrorists attack will be removed. It has been the hand of God. He has been calling us back to Himself, and giving time for others to come to Him. That time may soon be over, then we will see the worst of terrorism.

    Our own wickedness, our own backslidings will correct us. God gave a message to the two and one half tribes of Israel who were to settle on the East side of Jordan. After telling they they were to go and give aid to their brethren who were going to settle on the West side, He said through Moses,

    “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.Numbers 32:23 (NKJV)

    If your life is filled with fear; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are trusting in things for security; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are looking to any thing other than to God; your own sins will correct you. If you are His He will make you holy, and He will do whatever it takes to make you so.

    Is God Missing…???

    The Word of the LORD is important to the prophet of God. Without the Word he has no message. No message of any importance anyway. The most important message the people need is that of what God says.

    It is sad when we hear news reports of missing people. Here, of late, we have heard especially of young women, wives, and mothers missing. Some of them end up being found dead. No one enjoys hearing of a missing individual, but how would we feel if God were missing? Would we even notice?

    For the second time in the second chapter of Jeremiah we have a “Thus says the LORD…” (vv. 2, 5). Jeremiah realized that since God had called him to be a prophet, and not just a prophet of men, but a prophet to proclaim only the Word of the LORD, with promise of protection, keeping, and power in the words He would proclaim (1:17-19).

    In verses two and three God reminds them of their early faith, and holiness. Now the prophet addresses, at God’s direction, their forsaking God. They had gotten to a state of comfort, which led to a lethargic, complacent mindset, and then, completely turned their backs on God.

    Hear the Word of the LORD:

    “Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.” Jeremiah 2:4 (NKJV).

    There seems to be a message of warning in this phrase alone. The name “Jacob” was a name of self-dependence; of one’s using their own methods to accomplish their own ends. Jacob had trusted the LORD God, and God changed his name to Israel. “Jacob” actually meaning ‘Heal catcher’ because he had a handhold on Esau’s foot when they were born. “Israel” meaning ‘Prince of God’, or ‘He struggles with God’. (NOTE: You can find this history in Genesis 32:22-32). So in addressing them as “House of Jacob” could it be that the LORD, through the prophet, is reminding them from whence they came; that they have forgotten their faith?

    “Thus says the LORD: ‘What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” Jeremiah 2:5-8 (NKJV).

    Easy living, comfort, the fatness of the land, or a good economy, are some of the things that lure people away from faith, and trust in the LORD God. It can happen so easily. For a Christian today it starts by neglecting your daily quiet time with the Lord. It continues as you neglect your prayer life. The next thing you know you missed a Sunday morning worship gathering due to being up too late Saturday night – you were out with friends, went to a movie, or just did not take an initiative to be in bed to get to church as usual. It really does not take much effort for a child of God to get away from godly practice.

    The worship of Baal can be as simple as seeing other things as more important than that personal quiet time with God. Be careful. Be careful to maintain that quiet time, that special time you have with the Lord Jesus each and every morning. In this quiet time you receive strength, and encouragement for the day. You may not think so at the time, but that strength will be there as you need it.

    When we start neglecting that personal time with God, the next thing to go will be our worship of God, and fellowship with other believers. The house you live in, the boat, and going to the lake for water skiing or fishing begins taking the place of God, fellowship with Him and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When this happens; you have become a modern day Idol worshipper. Just a thought – is an idle worshipper and Idol worshipper? My answer to that is YES!!!

    The prophet Jeremiah reminds the recipients of this message of the work the LORD has done for the Nation (vv. 6-7). God had indeed brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, where no one lived. Though it is not mentioned, per se, He also provided them with water from the Rock. He is our Water in a dry and thirsty land where no water is (Psalm 63:1).

    Twice it is mentioned in this text; the question, “Where is the LORD?” First it was the “fathers” (v. 6), then it is the priests (v. 7). They were not even missing the presence of the LORD. Why would you ask, if you do not even notice that God is missing from your “worship”.

    The one’s who saw to the keeping of the scrolls of the law were doing it, and not even knowing the Person of the Law. The Living Word of God appeared to these in His day, they saw His works, they heard His teachings and testimony, and they still rejected Him. They did not know what they had been copying. It was just a job, a task to perform and keep them busy. Something upon which to boasts.

    The rulers turned their back on the LORD. They had grown to despise the true prophets of God and chosen the false prophets of men, ie., Baal. That way they heard only what they wanted to hear. There is no profit in the false words of the profit [prophet] makers.

    Is God missing in your worship, or have you even noticed?

    BF&M – God: The Holy Spirit

    There seems to be many professing Christians who are not seeing the Trinity of God in Scriptures.  The teaching is clearly revealed throughout the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit is the one that many want to leave out of the picture.  They only see Him as a power, an influence, but not a person of the Godhead, or the final person of the Trinity.

    We Baptists believe in the Trinity, because it is a doctrine of Scripture.  Many will say, “That word ‘trinity’ is nowhere used and the Bible”, and they would be correct, yet the idea is clearly presented as I declared in an earlier post.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all at work “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1-3); the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are again clearly seen at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3).

    The following is from our Statement of Faith concerning the Holy Spirit:

    C. God the Holy Spirit

    The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

    Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.

    It was by the Spirit of God, also known as the Holy Spirit, that we have Holy Scripture and by these we can know God, His Son Jesus, and the power of the Spirit.  It is because of the Spirit that we are “Sealed until the day of redemption”,

    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV).

    Without the Holy Spirit of God moving there is no one who would ever be saved and delivered from sin and its temptations.  Jesus was dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  It was the Spirit who led Him into the wilderness and strengthened Him for those 40 days and nights.  It is by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we know we are the children of God.

    Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  Romans 8:9b (NKJV).

    The Spirit of Christ is, of course, the Holy Spirit.  It is also the Holy Spirit who equips Christians to serve the Lord Jesus.  He points all to Christ, glorifying Him and Him alone.  He does not call attention to Himself, but to Christ.  We can know that anytime anyone is magnifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives they are completely out of line with Scripture, and out of fellowship with God.

    We as Baptists have often been accused of neglecting the work of the Holy Spirit, but that is not really the case.  We see Him as being quietly, peaceably, behind the scenes glorifying our Savior, giving us power to live for the honor and glory of Jesus, and calling no attention to ourselves, but Jesus alone.

    I am Tim A. Blankenship

    BF&M – God: The Son

    One of the very basic doctrines of Baptists is the belief and Biblical teaching of the deity of Jesus Christ.  The Bible is quite clear on this teaching, and it is clear from much of Jesus’s own words.

    Here is our Statement of Faith concerning Jesus Christ:

    B. God the Son

    Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

    Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.

    Jesus was with the Father in the creation of all that is.  It is even said of Jesus, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” John 1:3 (KJV).  Then, again in Colossians the apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”  Colossians 1:16-17 (KJV).

    When you follow the ministry of Jesus through the Gospels you see much more than a man.  You see God who became flesh; “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NKJV).  We see Him changing water to wine (John 2); we find Him walking on the water (John 6:15-21);  we see Him feeding five thousand people with only “five barley loaves  and two small fish” (John 6:1-14);  we also, see Him stilling a storm on the sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27).  That is only a small number of the mighty things which Jesus did as the Son of God, God become flesh as He walked among men.  Only God can do these mighty things.

    Jesus, also claimed deity for Himself. “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.  Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbat, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”  John 5:17-18 (NKJV).  There are many who will admit that Jesus is the Son of God, but will not confess that He is indeed God incarnate.  If indeed He is the Son of God, that in itself declares He is God.

    It is in Jesus Christ alone by which we are saved.

    I am Tim A. Blankenship

    BF&M – God: The Father

    There are many beliefs about “God”, and some could and would say, ‘gods’, but there is only one God.  The one God is the LORD.  He is the Creator of all that exists.  There is nothing that exists which He did not create.  He created all things, even that which He made in His own image, and after His likeness; for His own glory.

    The Baptist Faith & Message statement:

    II. God

    There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

    A. God the Father

    God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

    Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

    This statement of faith is just that, and it gives we Baptists a means of cooperating together.  Most Christians can agree with the statement given above, no matter what their denomination is.

    In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (NKJV).  The name “God” given here is in Hebrew ‘Elohim’ a plural name for our Creator, and tells us that He is One yet has a plural personality.  Most Christians believe that is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  That is where we stand as Baptists.  He is God.  We can actually see the Persons at work in the creation.  “God said”, that is His Word going forth to create, ie., the Living Word; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1.  Then, we see the Spirit, “Hovering over the face of the waters” Genesis 1:2.

    In the New Testament there are at least two instances we see the trinity manifested, one of which is at the baptism of Jesus.

    “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17 (NKJV).

    This clearly shows the presence of the Father, the One who spoke from heaven; we see the Spirit who descended in the form of the dove; and the Son is the One who was just baptized.  This is not only a Baptist teaching, but clearly a Biblical teaching.  We are a Biblical people.  Let’s continue to stand on the Biblical principles and teachings.

    I am Tim A. Blankenship. 

    Habakkuk the Embracer

    WHO IS HABAKKUK?
    The meaning of the name “Habakkuk” is derived from a Hebrew word which means “embrace” or “embracer”. It seems in my mind that this is a name which fits him to a tee. He may have been a Levite engaged in the temple choir, and had a great concern for the direction his people were taking, away from God.
    Let me quote here from the Criswell Study Bible. “Realizing Israel’s iniquity and need for punishment, Habakkuk is perplexed with the moral dilemma of how a holy God could employ the more deplorably wicked Chaldeans to chastise His Children.” I can understand his dilemma. In looking at God’s holiness, though, I would have to say, that He is more concerned with His glory, than He is with how things may appear to us. To continue the quotation from Criswell – “God responds by asserting His sovereign prerogative as to the choice and the timing of His retribution. Though it may appear unreasonable, His way is best. Thus the prophet learns that to believe what God says and to heed His warning is to be numbered among the righteous who shall live by faith (2:4). Consequently, Habakkuk’s theme is faith triumphant over apparent difficulties.” Habakkuk was a prophet who had a heart for God’s people, and a heart for God. That is after all what a prophet. He speaks with God about the people, their sins and problems. He speaks with the people of God, His Word, His way, and the direction of their lives.The prophecy of Habakkuk was a “burden”, ‘a heavy load’, and that is due to the message contained here. The prophet prophesied near the beginning of the Babylonian exile. The people were going to face severe judgment. Habakkuk did understand that judgment was coming by God from an unholy source.
    Are we, who are Christians, in the United States of America not also facing judgment from an unholy source?
    Habakkuk was a prophet who cared, yet spoke the truth. Bless the Lord. May every pastor and preacher of God’s Word, and the gospel do the same.

    God’s All-Knowledge

    The prophet, at least about to be, is sharing his call from God with us as we look at the rest of chapter one. Our verses today will just be verses four and five. I want to keep these articles relatively short. They are usually the ones which will be read, if most people are like me in that respect.

    “Then the word of the LORD came to me saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NKJV).

    While Jeremiah was serving as a priest with his family it surely grieved his heart to see the wickedness in the land. Many times this is the way God moves and works in calling men to serve as pastors, preachers, teachers, and other works. He places a burden upon the heart, and you go and grow in that as you hear the Lord and see Him work you just find yourself enjoying what He has called you to do.
    The Lord had this planned for the prophet from the time the world was established. One of the things that the man of God needs to know and realize about God is that He is Omniscient, and that simply means that He is AllKnowing. There is nothing that God, the Creator of all that is, does not know. Someone has asked the question, “Is there anything God can learn?” Well the answer to that, if God is AllKnowing, is NO! Because He already knows everything there is to know.
    That means He is never surprised by events, “accidents”, incidents, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, car wrecks, bombs exploding, or wars. You could put just about anything in there that you could think of.
    God knew Jeremiah before he was conceived in the womb, and you could say, it was God who gave the seed that caused Jeremiah to be. There is a good thing we can see from this and that is that none of us are an accident. God made us to be.
    These verses are often used by those who are pro-life, which I am, to show that there is human life in the womb of the mother, concerning the baby. It is not just a blob of tissue, a mass which has invaded the body of the woman. It is a special, ordained by God, individual whom He has plans for; whether the woman does or not. I guess her plans; the woman getting an abortion; are extinction.
    The prophet is “Sanctified” which is set apart to be clean, appointed, prepared to do a task, and that task as we shall see is to proclaim the word of the LORD to God’s people of Judah, and to the nations.
    He is “Ordained” by God to proclaim the message God puts in his mouth, and upon his lips. He is to speak what God tells him to speak, and not withhold one word. That is the work of the prophet of God. Speak the word of God and do it with all one’s strength, and then the strength of God.
    God knows you. He knew you before you were conceived. Yield your life to Him.