Man of God – A Man of Prayer (1)

 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes…” Daniel 9:1-3 (KJV)

Read Daniel 9:1-18

 Daniel was first and foremost, not a prophet who could look into the future, but a man of God. He is even referred to as the “a man greatly beloved” (v. 23; 10:11). Being a “Man of God” means more than just being able to understand, tell, and know God’s will and plan for the future. It is first knowing God and loving Him.

This prayer shows us why Daniel was ‘a man greatly beloved’ – why he was a ‘man of God’. Many a preacher and pastor could learn from Daniel. Looking at Daniel we could learn to pray and know God, and know His heart. Every preacher and pastor who is leading a church, or group of Christians should be ‘a man of God’ first. Too many are now becoming “Men of the people” or “Men of the congregation”, and rather than praying they are playing. Rather than preaching the Word of God, they preach the words and philosophies of men.

In this study we will see nine different points. Six are related to the prayer, and the final three are answer to the prayer.

The first thing that we see was what brought Daniel to prayer, and that was HIS DEVOTION TO THE WORD OF GOD (vv. 1-2). It is quite evident that Daniel was devoted to the study of God’s Word – as much of it as he had – because he was reading very devoutly the writing of Jeremiah the prophet. It must have encouraged his heart as he ready Jeremiah 25:1-12 and 29:10 that his Nation would be held captive for only 70 years. He knew the time was getting close, and this got him on his knees.

That is how it should affect Christians today when we read the Scriptures, and see the signs the Word speaks of concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus again. Remembering that the signs are only of the Lord’s second coming – the time when Jesus will literally come to earth to rule and reign as King – should make us mindful that the rapture of the Church is nearer. Knowing this we ought to be in earnest prayer. Getting ourselves ready by confession of sin. Confessing how we have brought shame to the name of Jesus, and pleading the mercy of God upon us. The Word of God is the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17); and is the only weapon we hold in our hands. Of course, the only other weapon we have is PRAYER.

The second point we see is HIS CONFESSION OF SIN – HIS AND HIS NATION’S (vv. 3-5, 8-9,11,14,15). Note, how many times Daniel mentions, “We have sinned”. He does not say, “They have sinned”, but “We have sinned”, “We are a sinful nation”. Any time a preacher/prophet only points out “Their sins” he is failing to communicate the whole truth. “We have sinned” is the message of every prophet of God. If we are to get right with God it must be the confession of every prophet first of all. So many times we talk about the sins of the world, when in truth it is the sins of God’s people that hinders His work; if there is a lack confession, and not repented of.

Not meaning to jump ahead – take a look at verse 20. Daniel says, “And confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel”. We cannot blame others for our spiritual decay, and captivities. It is our sin that brought us to the place of captivity we are in.

Daniel confesses God’s righteousness. Without God’s righteousness He would not be God. In His righteousness He gave us His Son Jesus; He gave us the cross; that a holy, sinless person might die to pay the sin debt that was ours.

When we walk in disobedience to God we have “confusion of face” or “open shame”. In other words, “We have disgraced our God, our identity as the people of God, and have lost our power with God”. When that happens God will do whatever is necessary to get His people where He wants us to be.

Recognizing that our time is short here on earth. Recognizing there are many lost people who need Jesus we must dedicate ourselves to prayer, the study of God’s Word, that we might be equipped for service, and to witnessing of God our Savior to every one possible. We are going to glory. If we tell them of Jesus; they at least are warned of coming judgment, and possibly may come to faith in Jesus and be in glory also.

The third point we see is that DANIEL RECOGNIZES GOD’S JUDGMENTS (vv. 12-14). Daniel realized that the nation of Israel was being judged by God. That was the reason for their captivity.

The Christians of our day are not recognizing the judgments of God. “It’s the weather”, “It’s the way things are”, “It’s just a man-man leading mad men”, “It’s just the way of the day”. Why are Christians not recognizing the judgments of God on our nation today? They do not know God. It takes personal accountability away. After all, what can we do about what someone else is doing to us. We can do nothing about the weather.

What are some ways God is judging America – the good ole USA? Drought, flood, earthquake, tornado, storms that seem to be wreaking vengeance upon those it strikes, this would include Winter storms of excessive snow and ice. Power outages caused by these events. Terrorism from enemies. We were once protected from these things. Now, ie., in the past ten years we have had three noted terrorist attacks one of those was from a fellow citizen of our own country. One in 1993 on the World Trade Center that caused much damage, but not like the last attack on the WTC which completely destroyed it, and killed nearly 3000 people in conjunction with the attack on the Pentagon. According to some, “God is not judging our country”. These people who say such things very much need to WAKE UP from their sleep, and take a good look at God. We are also being judged by the influences of sodomy in our country.

Because we have gotten away from God we have become tolerant of all forms of evil. Because of the philosophies of men we have an excuse for every vile affection. We call ‘adultery’ an affair. We call an unborn child ‘a mass of tissue’. We call sodomy ‘an alternative lifestyle’. There are no drunks anymore they are all ‘alcohol dependent’. If a young man murders someone, it is due to their environment in which they were raised. Why can we not quit mealy mouthin’ around about sin, call it sin, and admit we have sinned, get right with God and get God’s people and His churches back in touch with the One who created us. When God’s people get right, then there will be a much better chance of reaching the rest of the Nation, and the world.

It will begin the healing, growing, and strengthening process with God when we get on our knees and pray fervently concerning our sin, seeking forgiveness, repenting, and seeking God’s power again.

In the fourth point we see DANIEL RECOGNIZES THE OFFENSES AGAINST GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 16-19). When the people of God are disobedient to Him we become a reproach to Him and to the nations or people around us. The Israelites lost their witness to surrounding nations, because they were rebellious to God, His prophets, and His Word. They began living like the world around them, they built and worshiped idols, they practiced temple prostitution, and by doing these things they committed spiritual adultery against God. Notice what Daniel prays. First, that God’s face might shine upon His desolate sanctuary; second, to purpose His ear to hear this prayer; third, open His eyes to behold the people’s desolation; and fourth, that God answer them according to His own righteousness and mercy.

Prayer is for the purpose of the glory of God. It is not a wishing well, a genie in a bottle where you get three wishes. It is not akin to tea leaves, tarot cards, or palm reading. Knowing God’s will, then praying for it to come to pass is the prayer that glorifies God. Daniel knew God’s will. He prayed God’s will, then, what he prayed came to pass. This gets us in on God’s will; rather than expecting God to get in our will. David Jeremiah said…

“Our prayers really ought to be prompted out of our deep understanding of what the will of God is”.

From ‘THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL’ pg. 175. He also went on to say…

“The biggest waste of time in Christendom is praying about things that God already said we shouldn’t do.” IBID.

God will answer the prayers that are prayed to glorify Him. That is how Daniel prayed. NOTE; Daniel prayed, “For we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies…” We do not deserve it, O God, but remember Your promise. It was God’s integrity Daniel was concerned with. He knew Israel did not deserve to go back to Jerusalem; but God must keep His Word. Daniel simply knew God never broke a promise. He was demanding nothing. He was merely standing on God’s own integrity and power.

HAVING RECOGNIZED, FROM READING JEREMIAH THE PROPHET, OF THE SEVENTY YEAR CAPTIVITY; DANIEL PRAYS FOR GOD’S WILL TO BE DONE ACCORDING TO GOD’S MERCY (v. 18).

The Kingdom’s of Men and Bible Prophecy (2)

 “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the Pleasant Land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:9-14 (KJV)

Please read Daniel 8:9-27

In the first installment we looked at Daniel, Cyrus and Alexander – the first of three of the personages of Daniel 8.  In this final installment we look at Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Antichrist who will come during the final week of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES (vv. 9-14). One ‘great leader’ comes from out of the four heads. Antiochus (Epiphanes being a name he gave himself who ruled from 175 B.C. to 165 B.C.. Known as a very cruel tyrant. He called himself ‘Epiphanes’ because he believed himself to be god. Epiphanes means, “Manifestation of Light”.

The cruelty of Antiochus was he would not allow worship to any god but to himself – not even the Jews could escape giving him worship. He prohibited the Jews from honoring the Sabbath, practicing circumcision, and from obeying the Levitical dietary laws. Any Jew found with a copy of the Mosaic law would be slaughtered.

Antiochus helps us to better understand the text of Daniel’s prophecy. He attacked the Jews in their ‘Pleasant land’. He stopped their religious practices. He declared himself to be god. He desolated the temple by offering a pig on an altar of Zeus – THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. He foreshadows the fearsome, last Gentile leader of the earth [Antichrist].

Judas Maccabeus and his followers defeated Antiochus in 165 B.C.. Because of Antiochus’s words and actions he was afflicted with a dreadful disease which ate away at his body, causing him to have a stench he himself could not tolerate. The cleansing of the temple took place as it was predicted. The twenty three hundred days is most likely numbered from the time Antiochus replaced the legitimate priest of the temple until the temple was cleansed. With the cleansing of the holy place began the “Feasts of Lights” what is known today as “Hanukkah”, and takes place around the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Antiochus is most definitely an antichrist of his time. He was not the Antichrist. The evil one to come will make Antiochus (Make Believe Epiphanes) look like a Sunday School teacher.

THE ANTICHRIST (vv. 23-27). What Daniel learns and writes for us to read in these verses relates to the end times when Antichrist will oppose God and His people. The “king of fierce countenance” is the Antichrist, not Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus does parallel those of Antichrist;

Both begin modestly, but increase in power and influence;

Both blaspheme God;

Both persecute the Jewish people;

Both claim godhood and place images in the temple;

Both impose their own religion upon people;

Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God;

Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers;

Both appear successful and seem invincible;

Both are finally defeated by the coming of a redeemer – Judas Maccabeus defeated Antiochus; and Jesus will defeat the Antichrist.

This beast; disguised as a man; will be so vile, and evil that he will try to defeat Jesus Christ as He descends to earth with His saints, but notice what the prophet says in verse 25, “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand”. This beast will promote evil, witchcraft, demonism, and will demand that the world worship him.

As Jesus descends upon the earth this devil incarnate will raise his hand against the one who created hands, and no hand of man will defeat this beast. How will he be defeated? By the Word going forth from the mouth of our Savior, and this is what the apostle John sees, and describes for us, “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” Revelation 19:15 (KJV). If you will remember when Jesus was beginning His ministry, being led by the Spirit into the wilderness He was tempted by the devil. How did Jesus defeat the devil? By the Word of the Lord (See Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13).

This “Prince of princes” (v. 25) is none other than Jesus Christ – also known as King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods. The Antichrist will oppose Jesus. He [the Antichrist] will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire. The fire which burns forever and forever.

These prophecies are given to show us that “…The LORD is God”, and there is no other.  He knows the beginning from the end.  He alone is Alpha and Omega, and there is no other. When you familiarize yourself with Scripture you will begin to see and realize that Jesus Christ is seen from before creation to the final sentence of the Revelation.  Do you know Him?  To you, who is Jesus Christ?

Prophecy is, also, to equip God’s people to live for the Lord as a vibrant witness for Him. To warn many that do not know of the soon coming of Jesus in judgment upon a wicked world. To call God’s people to repentance and the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.

Receiving Wisdom

As I study the book of Proverbs I realize just how short of wisdom I really am.  That is why I so trust the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the real Giver and Teacher of wisdom.  If wisdom could be Personified it would be in Jesus the Christ Son of God, God the Son.

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of His saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.” Proverbs 2:1-9 (KJV)

At least three times the word “If” is used.  Meaning that wisdom is dependent upon us receiving it from the giver.  It is dependent upon our desire for it. Or do we just want to live meaningless, ungodly, unenlightened, dark, doubting, fearful lives?

A father giving instruction to his son.  That is so needed in every family.  The first “If” is calling for the son to hear, and hide the father’s commandments in the life.  Does the son have a burning desire for wisdom?  “If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding…”  is an earnest desire, strong passion to have what the father is endeavoring to teach his son.

Then, there will be understanding of the “Fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God”.

For us to have wisdom begins with a great desire to have it.  To have Godly wisdom begins with the desire to know God, and doing what God says, believing what He has said.

God sent His only begotten Son because of His great love for us, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:15-18).  Believe this and that will be the beginning of wisdom.

Christmas Day One Hundred Ten and One

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want the children returning to school today following Labor Day weekend to arrive at their Schools safely; I want those who are driving their automobiles to work, home from work to be alert and aware of School Buses with the stop arm’s out, the overhead flashing red lights mean “STOP” there are children exiting buses; I do not want to see another child hit by an un-attentive, distracted motorist;  pay attention or you could kill, maim or injure a child.

A Song to Sing

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 89:1 (KJV)

A Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite is the title of this Psalm.  A song of instruction; and surely there is not much else to sing of than of the LORD and His mercy.

The mercy of the LORD is everlasting.  There is another of the Psalms which magnifies the mercy of the LORD.  Psalm 136 has every verse ending with “For His mercy endureth forever”.  The mercies of God.  Let that be your song for today.

Part of His mercies is also that He is faithful.  He is faithful to every generation.  He is faithful to all the earth, and to all His creation.  He is faithful to His own glory, power and praise.

Sing a song today; and let it be a song of His mercies.  The greatest display of His mercy was by the judgment of His Son Jesus on the cross for your sins and mine.

Words for Instruction

“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” Psalm 78:1 (KJV)

We all need instruction.  Some of us are not always open to instruction.  We can see that as we read the first five books of the Bible; the writtings of Moses as he is inspired by the Spirit of God.  This Psalm is once again the writing of Asaph.  Called a Maschil of Asaph.  Of this Psalm Spurgeon has written of the title:

“This is rightly entitled an instruction Psalm.  It is not a mere recapitulation of important events in Israelitish history, but is intended to be viewed as a parable setting forth the conduct and experience of believers in all ages.  It is a singular proof of the obtuseness of mind of many professors that they will object to sermons and expositions upon the historical parts of Scripture, as if they contained no instruction in spiritual matters: were such persons truly enlightened by the Spirit of God, they would perceive that all Scripture is profitable, and would blush at their own folly in understanding any portion of the inspired volume.”

from the title. –Maschil of Asaph. THE TREASURY OF DAVID

Even though these are Asaph’s words to the people of God they are also God’s word for His people of all ages.

Asaph’s law would have been God’s law for Israel.  The “words of my mouth” which Asaph writes would have been the words of God.  Asaph speaking according to the word of God.  Christians are to give ear to the law of God.  The Christian is to always have an ear to hear the words of God which proceed from the teachers and preachers who preach the whole counsel of God.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This could even imply that we are to hear the wise, godly, Biblical counsel of the founding fathers of our nation.  Something to think about.

The Scriptures speak clearly of who Jesus is.  He is more than a teacher. He is more than a prophet.  He is more than a good man.  He is the Son of God, and God the Son.  He is the Lord and Saviour of all the world.  Hear His word.

Looking At The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12 continuing…

We will be looking at each of the Beatitudes individually through the next few posts.

LOOKING AT THE BE-ATTITUDES

Matthew 5:1-12

When we begin looking at the Sermon on the Mount we see how Jesus expects His dedicated followers to live. There are far too many professing Christians that are saying and believing, “We are not required to obey the law any longer”, thus we have a bunch of reprobate professors of Christianity. There could not be anything further from the truth.

Where the law only told us the way, but did not provide aid in the way; Jesus came fulfilling the law and because of His Spirit living within also enables us to live the law in our lives. The law which once was only written in cold hard stones, and could not reach stone cold hearts, is now written in hearts of flesh.

Anyone professing today that they live by the Sermon On The Mount had better read it before they make such a bold announcement. It is far more binding, and has much more it requires than does the Ten Commandments. We will look at some of those things when we get to those areas.

In this lesson of the ‘BE-ATTITUDES’, using a little play on words; we find the attitudes the individuals who are in the Kingdom of Christ Jesus the King, are to have.

There are nine “Blessed(s)” given. The meaning of the word “Blessed” is ‘happy’. That is a “Beatitude”. Each “Blessed” is a reference to more than happiness – it has most certainly to do with spiritual joy. Happiness (as often defined or thought of) is determined by circumstances; events which take place in one’s life which can either add great excitement and temporary happiness, or great distress and sorrow. If it is an event which brings temporary happiness and excitement, it is only fleeting. Spiritual joy is an attitude attainable only by faith in Jesus – having a close personal relationship with Him. The happiness of which these Bible Blessings speak of is an enduring happiness, an inner joy, which is everlasting, and cannot be taken away.

Matthews Gospel tells us that it was the disciples whom Jesus taught. After having multitudes following Him He probably felt a need to get away. If not only for His disciples sake. This is the first major teaching of Jesus in this Gospel. It covers chapters five through seven. It could be called PRINCIPLES FOR KINGDOM LIVING. This was the King’s way of setting up His kingdom, and preparing the hearts of His people for what was to come. It was a different kingdom, than what the religious rulers had heard and taught. For some reason they missed the part of the “Suffering Servant” (Isaiah 52-53), dying by the hand of God, and taking away our transgressions. We see by these that there is happiness, fulfillment, and joy in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior.

Heaven’s News – Praying in the Kingdom

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”  ~Jesus  (Matthew 6:5-8)

 

The Making of The Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“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. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

If we as preachers neglect to preach Jesus; His death on the cross; His burial; His bodily resurrection; and His promise… “I will come again” then we fail to preach the Word of God.  That is the essence of all of Scripture.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living – Use Words Wisely

“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 7:6 (KJV)

When I was a teenage boy, and first got my driver’s license I was probably like a lot of other boys.  I liked to spin my wheels, smoke my tires, stir the dust when I was in the pasture; and such wasteful things as that.

It seems these days many Christians are good at “Spinning their wheels”, “Smoking their tires”, and “Stirring the dust” when it comes to “Debate” or discussing the issues.  Some of those issues; such as the Evolution/Creation debate is one I see as a waste of our time.

The atheist; the non-theists argues for evolution; and I for one can see their argument.  They do not believe in God, and evolution relieves them of any responsibility to the Higher Power.  Many atheist have their minds made up.  Prayerfully many Christians have our minds made up concerning Creation; I know I do.  There is nothing the evolutionist or atheist can say to change it.  I believe the Word of God, and without God or His Word there would be no Science or atheists.  If there was no God, there would be no argument.

The point I want to make is from the verse above.  As Christians we have a calling to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, contend for the faith; but once we have done that, and seeing an individual set on ignoring the Spirit of God, and His Word; we need to move on.  To continue in that “Debate” is fruitless.  Deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ, then leave it in God’s hands, pray for the individual and watch God work.

After all; do you think you are more persuasive than God’s Spirit?

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Words for Christian Living – Better than Burning

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”  1 Corinthians 7:1-9   (KJV)

In a day when marriage has been weakened and mocked Christians must learn to love as Christ loved, cherish one another; and enjoy one another in Biblical marriage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living – Not Your Own

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

Within the loving climate of the Corinthian Church there was sexual immorality.  Tolerance, love, and peace was the motive of their inaction toward this immorality.  While the name of Christ was blasphemed and the character of Christianity was mocked; the apostle Paul was calling for action.

Christian, our bodies do not belong to us.  We “Are bought with a price”; and that “price” was the precious blood of Jesus.  You and I are His.  Let us glorify God in our spirit and with our bodies.  We are God’s.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Do not Neglect the Gift

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.  Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.  Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  1 Timothy 4:14-16 (KJV)

Without getting into a speal about the gift given, this verse deals with the idea of teaching doctrine; it is at least one of  the things.  Is doctrine important in the Christian life?  Most certainly.  However, I see that there are many younger pastors and preachers who are neglecting to teach the teachings of Scripture to their people; the people they lead.

How important is doctrine? “…For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  It is very important for the sanctification of ourselves, and the people.

-T.A.

Day 47 – The Wisdom of Proverbs

There is much we can learn from reading the proverbs of the Bible.  I am not commenting about the verses I post today except to show them to you for your perusal, and pray you will go to the book itself, and read them.  There is much wisdom to gain by reading and applying them.

My reading today was Proverbs 15 – 28.  I post some of the verses I marked as I read.

From chapter 16 –

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

Chapter 19 –

 “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” 19:21

Chapter 20 –

“An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.”  20:21
“Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” 20:24

From 21 –

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.” 21:1
“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” 21:3
“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” 21:5

From chapter 22 –

“The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.”  22:2
“The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and He overthroweth the words of the transgressor.” 22:12
“The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.” 22:13

Chapter 23 –

 “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.  Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” 23:4-5

From 24 –

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.” 24:17-18
“These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.  He that saith unto the wicked, ‘Thou art righteous;’ him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: but to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.” 24:23-25

Chapter 26 –

“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him.” 26:12
“The slothful man saith, ‘There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.'” 26:13
“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.  As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.  The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” 26:20-22

Chapter 27 –

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” 27:12

and the final chapter of the day 28 –

“For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.” 28:2
“To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.” 28:21
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.” 28:28

May the wisdom of Solomon and Hezekiah lead you to a closer walk with our Creator through faith in His finished work of Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Major Moral Issue

The following is an article from Kairos Journal

The Pansexual Appetite

4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”

Genesis 19:4-7 (NIV)

Sociologically speaking, homosexuality ultimately leads to predatory activity. Research has shown that male homosexuality specifically is associated with a ravenous “pansexual” appetite that spawns other, even more heinous perversions. As psychiatrist and physician Jeffrey Satinover has demonstrated, “What we call the ‘gay lifestyle’ is in large measure a way of life constructed around unconstrained sexuality.”1 Wherever homosexuality flourishes and the cultural limits of sexuality are broken, not even children are safe from the effects.2

When the wicked men of Sodom approached Lot’s door and demanded access to his two male visitors, their intent was clear. The phrase “so that we can have sex with them” is synonymous with the rendering “so that we can know them.” The Hebrew verb “to know” used in this context carries with it the connotation of sexual relations (e.g., Gen. 4:17, 25). In verses 7-8, Lot clearly understands the word to be used with a sexual meaning. He calls their desire to “know” the men a “wicked thing” and offers his virgin daughters as a substitute. If their desire were simply to get acquainted with the men over a drink, Lot’s response would be absurd. Seeking to dismiss the matter of homosexuality as the sin in this passage, one modern interpretation insists that evidence in Ezekiel 16:49-50 suggests that God actually judged the Sodomites for their pride and lack of hospitality. But this explanation is weak if not laughable: both of these sins were bound up with a whole city engulfed by a drive for same-gender sexual relations. The sin had been compounded to such an extent that every man of the city viewed mere visitors as prey (v. 4).

Other pro-homosexual biblical interpreters argue that the sin of the Sodomites was not homosexuality per se, but the violence that they coupled with it—that is, their intention of gang rape. Jude 7, however, simply states that the sin of Sodom was that they “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued ‘strange flesh’”—the typical language Scripture uses to refer to homosexual activities. But what those who would seek to find something exceptional about the homosexuality in Sodom do not recognize is this: homosexuality in general opens the floodgates for all sorts of other deviant behaviors. They are inextricably linked. The men of Sodom who had given themselves over to same-sex intercourse eventually became the men who preyed on innocent visitors to their city.

Those calling for the normalization of homosexuality in modern cultures may not realize what they are asking for. Although many homosexuals are not predators like the men of Sodom, the truth is that the general practice always opens up a Pandora’s box to other kinds of deviancies such as pedophilia. Again, Satinover reports that “careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals.”3 For this reason, those who seek to prevent special “rights” being given to same-sex relationships do not do so out of spite, bigotry, or hatred toward any persons. Rather, they act in the interest of the social good; they realize that if homosexuality is given a “free pass” in society, a host of attending evils will follow in its wake. Long before the fire and brimstone fell, the judgment of homosexuality had already begun within the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah. The same will occur in any culture that permits the practice to spread unabated.

Footnotes:
1     Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 61.
2     Satinover warns that the acceptance of homosexuality results in a “general lifting of sexual constraint, which the philosophy that undergirds gay activism necessarily promotes.” Such an environment, he goes on to explain, produces an environment in which pedophilia becomes more acceptable. Ibid., 62-63.
3     Ibid., 64.

You can find other interesting articles on spiritual and moral issues here and you can receive free email updates from them.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

New Bible Reading Adventure

I hope the title of this post sparked some interest.  Starting February 01 I will be starting a new Bible adventure in reading through God’s holy, inspired, infallible Word.  I, with God’s help and strength, will endeavor to read through all 1,189 chapters of the Old and New Testaments in ninety days.

If you would like to take up the challenge and join me let me know by leaving a comment, and telling me.  I will also endeavor during those days February 1 – April 30 to write a daily comment or comments concerning something of the chapters I have read.  My goal is to read 14 chapters per day for 90 days.  I am a slow reader, so I will plan on at least an hour to read it maybe more; and I do not want to alarm anyone, but I will be reading from the New Living Translation, rather than the King James Version.

Each year since surrendering to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God I have set my goal of reading through the Word at least once per year.  There have been a couple of those years I failed to do that; but I was always at a loss for missing it.

Let’s stop ignorance of the Bible by starting with ourselves.  Will you join me?  Leave your comment and let me know.  You might be made a different person by April 30, 2012.

Let me leave this caveat’ with you.  All this will be according to the will of our Lord; because we are not promised February 1, 2012; little lone April 30, 2012.  I also know that if we  read 14 chapters a day it will be finished in about 85 days.  That does give us a little bit of room, if we get caught short on time or something on some days.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Habakkuk’s Questions

“The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” Habakkuk 1:1-4 (KJV)

When we think of a burden we think of a load. When you are driving a automobile it has more get up and go when only you, and nothing else, is in it. If you load it down – a truck or car; it just does not have the same performance.

Now, is that the type of “burden” the prophet is writing of. Some translations call this an “oracle”, but it seems to me that there is something more here than mere words. If it is the mere speaking of words, it is an utterance of doom. So why have a problem with “Burden”. To answer the question – it is similar. It was not a physical load. It caused him to ask questions. It eventually caused him to “see God” as righteous in His dealings, and always just in His judgments.

Habakkuk has been accused of accusing God of three different things –

  1. God is indifferent – like He does not even care;

  2. God is inactive – He sees the corruption, sickness and disease, immorality and debauchery, and does nothing about it;

  3. God is inconsistent – He seems to judge wickedness in some cases, but not in the ones the prophet sees.

Are these things so? Is that what Habakkuk really means? These certainly are not true. When we look at these verses it is quite clear that the prophet is speaking to God/YHWH, has these burdens and questions, and really just wants to know what is going on. He does not understand. Like so many of us today, in 2007, we do not understand why it seems that the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer. The prophet was not really going to like God’s answer either.

The prophet’s first question – “O LORD, how long shall I cry and Thou will not hear?” NOTE: The KJV has these as exclamations. It seems more reasonable to see them as questions. Remember, punctuation was added by others. It is not the inspired text.

The Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible – “The main purpose of Habakkuk’s prophecy is to explain what a godly person’s attitude should be toward the presence of evil in the world. It also addresses God’s justice in punishing moral evil.” (pg. 907).

Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible also sees two complaints from the prophet –

In verses 1-11 of chapter one including the questions the prophet asks, and how God could use a wicked and vile people such as the Chaldeans to judge His people;

Chapter 1 verses 12 through chapter 2 verse 5 – wondering how God – since He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity can use these Chaldeans and why He does not judge these godless people.

The prophet’s second question – “…Even cry out unto Thee of violence, and Thou will not save?” Of course, these seem to be related in dealing with the same complaint of the above mentioned reference.

A third question – “Why dost Thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?”

The prophet seems to see no justice or judgment on the sin of God’s people. It seems to the prophet that the wicked trample all over the righteous and nothing is done –

  1. There is no law – it is powerless;

  2. There is no righteous judgment;

  3. The wicked overpower the righteous;

  4. The wrong people suffer.

It just seems to me in reading and studying these words of the prophet that nothing has changed with God’s people. We still fall into sin. There are still some who are burdened about sin, and asking the same questions. Somehow, we in the United States of America think that judgment cannot come from an outside source. Remember 9-11-01?

God’s judgment is still not without precedence in any age; even our own.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Embracer

Some of you will  probably notice that these are reposts from November 2007.  I thought it might do us all some good to read again.  Be blessed.

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.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 08/11/09

Those “Town Hall” Meetings

I generally don’t get involved in the political arena, but there are times I feel something needs to be said, so I will say it.

As most American’s know in recent days our politicians who are in favor of a government health care bill coming to pass have been having “Town Hall” meetings to hear your voice. It seems to me that many of them cannot take the heat.

Maybe I am wrong about what I am about to say, but I don’t think so. When a man or woman is elected to the position of serving in the Senate or Congress do they not serve all the people in their district, whether they voted for them or not? If that is so why are many of them complaining about “plants” at these meetings? If they are people from their district, they are the Senator’s, or Congressman/woman’s constituents. That is at least the way I understand it. Unless, that is, they only represent those who voted for them.

If that is the case, then who are the “plants”?

Now, in saying what I have said, I will say this. It is rude, and unbecoming of true American [USA] citizens to do what I have seen many doing on the news reports. The beating of a man outside one meeting whom the people did not agree with. Cutting the representative off when he/she is trying to speak. Whether we disagree or not doesn’t give you or me the right to be rude. To me when we become rude, unwilling to listen to disagreement, and being disagreeable in our actions; it is because we are afraid the others may be right.

When you believe you are right you have nothing to fear. Listen to the opposing view. Voice your opinion and be passionate about it, but without rudeness, name calling, or bad language. When you listen you are learning.

Someone has said, “God gave us two ears and only one mouth. I suppose that means He meant for us to do twice as much listening as we do talking.” That is good advice to follow.

That is my opinion, and I’m sticking with it.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Evidences Of The Filling Of The Spirit

PURPOSE: To show that  by the Christian’s yielding control of life to the Holy Spirit that Christian is filled with the Spirit, making life more heavenly on earth.

OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 5:18 THROUGH CHAPTER 6: 9:

I.  BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).

II.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).

III.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).

IV.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).

V.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).

BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).  From the beginning we must understand that every born again individual is indwelt by the Spirit of God.  He inhabits your body along with your spirit that has been born anew in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have witnessed the activities of a drunk who was mad drunk by drinking by alcoholic beverage or some other drug legal or illegal.  The man or woman now drunk has become boisterous, knows no fear, will do things they would not normally do when they were sober.  The individual made drunk by this foreign substance, is controlled by another substance which has robbed him of self control.

Paul knew what the excess of wine did to people.  I know what the excess of wine does to people, as I am sure you do as well.  Most drunks believe they can drive, maybe even fly, or do anything.  Paul uses the likeness here in a somewhat analogous way.  Drunks (for the most part) become drunk willingly and by drinking what they know will inebriate them.  The Holy Spirit filled believer becomes Spirit filled willingly.  The drunk knows no fear.  The Spirit filled believer is not fearful.  The drunk does things he/she would not normally do, if sober.  The Spirit filled Christian does things he/she would not normally do, such as one on one witnessing, preaching, serving others, teaching, giving, loving, and living with the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) more practical things.

Now here is wheree this analogy breaks down.  The drunk has no self control, while the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Spirit filled Christian, gives each Christian self control.

In verses 19-20 (Colossians 3:15-17) we begin seeing what the life of the Spirit filled person is like.  He/She is in an attitude of worship.  He is at peace with God in his heart, always praising God.  Always a song in the heart and on the lips.  The Spirit filled/controlled Christian will have their lives filled with song and singing.  Always thankful, for all things, and identified in the Lord Jesus.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).  Further evidence of Spirit controlled living is submission to one another.  Submission in this event is recognizing God ordained positions and being subject to those who are in those positions as God has designed and led.  For the man; a woman is far superior to the man at being a woman, and all that God has designed for her to be and do.  For the woman; the man is far superior to the woman at being a man, and all that God has designed for him to be and do.  Therefore, there is cause for us to submit to one another.

As members of the Body of Christ [the Church] our Lord and Savior, we are to be first submissive to Him, and if we are genuinely submitted to Hom we will also be to one another.  We will be accountable to each other in our walk with Christ.  When a brother or sister in Christ submits to another Christian it is motivation for Christian living unseen any other way.  We submit one to one, all to one, and one to all.  Husband to wife, wife to husband, and children to parents and parents to children; of course remembering that God has placed some in positions of authority.

Wives are to submit to their husbands [in the Lord] because God ordained it so in the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:11-13).  It was from Adam’s side which God created woman to be his helper.  Believe me ladies; we men need a lot of help. 8)  She is to submit to her husband as to the Lord and for His sake.

The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…  The head is what keeps the rest functioning properly.  Without direction, vision and leadership from the head the collective body will fail.

In every organization, business, military endeavor, church and home there must be a head who will lead the way.  If all try to lead you have chaos.  Now, we understand as human beings, leadership that is dictatorial is not responsible leadership.  The head, in human affairs, will listen to advice and counsel from others, and make decisions accordingly.

Wives and their husbands should be able to sit down together and make plans and talk things through.  Generals who listen to good advice from privates would be wise Generals indeed.  In many cases it may be that listening to Privates, is part of the reason they made the promotion of General.

The husband is a wise husband, and wise head who will listen to his wife.  The husband as head of the wife and analogous to Christ should also see the picture of sacrifice.  Christ gave Himself for the Church.  If the husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife she will have no problem being submissive to him.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).  Holy Spirit filled husbands love their wives sacrificially.

As Jesus gave Himself for the Church in order to have a glorious bride the Spirit filled husband voluntarily gives himself to and for his wife.  She is a special and precious treasure.  He will see her as an extension of himself, a partner, a friend, a helper for life.  He cares for her well being; physically, financially and spiritually.  He loves her as he loves himself.  A man will give up almost anything to do what he wants to do – what he REALLY wants to do.  If the husband really loves his wife he will give up anything to show her that love.  Jesus gave up the glory of heaven for a time to show He loves His bride.

No longer under the care of his parents he loves his wife and becomes one with her for the rest  of their lives.  There is no one else by her that he sacrifices for, not even himself.  If husbands want reverence from their wives we must first love them sacrificially, and do so at the expense of our own comfort, pride, and well being.

Here is some other sacrifices husbands can make for their wife’s benefit:

  1. That favorite football team that’s playing the same time your wife wants you to go shopping with her; what will you do?
  2. Her favorite TV show is on the same time as yours; what will you do?
  3. Your home from work for the day, there are things you could be doing that you enjoy, the wife is working, and there are dirty clothes to be washed, and dishes in the kitchen sink; do you wait for her to come home and do them? or will you do them? instead of what you want to do?

The above mentioned things are not giving your life, but merely giving up your wants for what would be good for her.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).  Obedient children are a blessing to any home.  Children who love our Lord, and are Spirit filled are obedient and hold their parents in honor and respect.

The Christian home should reflect the likeness of Jesus.  Even though He is the Creator of the world He subjected Himself to Joseph and Mary in honor and obedience.  Children who are born again and are controlled by God’s Spirit are an excellent testimony of God’s power to change lives.  Children who live solely for self are not subject to anyone, not even God.  It is a sure sign, that if a child is disobedient and disrespectful to their parents, they are in the same condition with God.

The same can be said of the father who is abusive to his children, and neglects to hear their cries and hurts.  If the father provokes his children, or does not sacrificially love their mother, he is not Spirit filled or controlled.  The Spirit filled – controlled – father teaches, encourages, without downgrading his children.

The care and encouragement in the Lord is what our children need.

Living as Spirit filled Christians is about as close to heaven as we will come in this world; at least until Jesus Comes and makes all things right.  Our God has equipped us, and given us His Spirit to help us in the endeavor of living holy lives.  It is only possible as we yield our selfishness to the control and influence of His Spirit.  Yielding will bring harmony to the church, marriages, parents, and children, and in all realms of living.

The only way to Spirit filled/controlled living is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).  Remember the Submission part; about submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God… (v. 21).  It is for the place where we are employed as well; or the place where we employ employees – as owners or boss.  When we see ourselves as the servants of Jesus Christ it will not matter what our job, but in the power of God’s Spirit will do our job “as unto the Lord.“

The word servant used here is a reference to “slaves”.  Slavery was a dominant institution during the time of Paul’s writing.  According to some the word is used in referring to involuntary or voluntary slavery.  If this means “slave”, then how can it apply to Twenty first century America?  It applies in the factories, grocery stores, farms, churches, families, government offices, Law offices, Court buildings, Police headquarters, Fire stations, Ambulance services, Hospitals, Highway/Road departments, etc., thus, everyone is an employee somewhere.  An employee must appear at work at a set time, leaves at a set time, is paid on a set day, and must work according to the employers policies; or be fired.  When you are working for someone other than yourself, you are serving someone.  In what is called service oriented businesses; even if you are “working for yourself” you are still serving others.  You may not like the term, but you are a servant to that employment – a slave.

You can talk to just about any one who works for someone else and they will often begin telling you all, or at least some of the problems of their employer.  There are a lot of people who are dissatisfied with their place of employment.  It seems to be human nature to complain, however, it is not God’s nature.

Be obedient… unto Christ (v. 5), could form the entire sentence.  Even when the boss seems to be messing up, if we are to be faithful, Spirit filled Christians we comply with his directions – as long as his directions are not immoral, or physically harmful, and/or violate your conscience.

Spirit filled Christians are different in their labor than are the rest of the laborers.  Where others complain and slack off in their work the Spirit controlled believer is thankful, and works his/her best.  Her single purpose being to glorify Jesus Christ.

The very fact that more is said in these verse cold show who the majority of Christians were in this church.  These words to encourage them in their labor.  It is Jesus for whom we labor.  The Scriptures say nothing of a division of secular and sacred.  For the Spirit filled Christian all things are done, as unto Christ.

The Spirit filled Christian employee will not serve with eyeservice; seeking the approval of the boss only when he is watching.  This term eyeservice implies only doing the work; and maybe even with a little more effort; when being watched.  Many people who are of the world work one way when no one is watching and a completely other way when they know they are being watched.  To please the boss (while he is watching) could mean a promotion, they think.

It is the will of God that Christians do their work heartily as the servants of Christ .  The work of the Christian is not to please men, but to glorify their Lord.  Those Christians who do their work unto the Lord will recrive eternal rewards from Christ (Colossians 3:24).  This is not unto salvation but rewards which glorify our Lord.

Doing a job cheerfully can be contagious.  Others see you working, and enjoying the work of your Lord, and it begins to rub off on others.  What kind of witness is it to be sour and complaining about low pay, no benefits, poor work environment, and whatever other complaints there are?  I heard Elisabeth Elliot say, “If you aren’t doing the work you like, then, like the work you do.”  We  can only learn to like it by seeing that  our true Master is our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verse 8 is the link to what has just been said.  If  there is anyone who has doubt that this idea of servanthood is not relevant for our day, Paul includes, “Whether he be bond or free”.  In other wards the principles given are for all Christians, and for all ages.

When we go to a place for employment we are subjecting ourselves to their rule of practice and operation.  We voluntarily become a bond-slave to our employer with the understanding we are being  paid for what we do, and at an agreed upon wage.  However, if we expect to be paid, the employer expects good work.

The good work that Christian employee does, along with a joyful and giving attitude, is a witness to everyone around, including the boss.  God promises reward to those who serve the Lord in this way.

When it is said and done we are all bond-slaves to someone or something.  There are some who are slaves to sin and obey its every craving and desire.  The Christian, however, is free from sin, and is a bond-slave to Christ, because he was redeemed with the purchase price of the shed blood of Jesus (Romans 6:14-18).

The Christianity part does not lay on the employee alone; that is the responsibility of every Christian employee and employer.  We look now at the duties of the Christian employer, Business owner, Supervisor, Boss; let’s also keep in mind 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  We are all subjects of Christ.

The “master”  is to do service to the servant, “as unto the Lord”.  Paying a wage that enables the servant to have a life supporting his family and providing for their health needs.  This is speaking of the Christian employer.

For the “master” he is to do it as a servant of Christ.  Not beating, nor threatening, but encouraging.  The “master” realizing that he too has a Master “in heaven”.

The Master in heaven has no “respect of persons”, but every one of His children are equal in His sight; receiving from Him according to their need.  The master/employer should  treat his employees equally according to their needs and abilities.

When Christians are filled with the Spirit they will be the best employees an employer can find, for they see that they are servants.  Servants not of their employer, but of Christ, who is Master over all.

The Christian [Spirit controlled] employer will give the best of care to his employees, because he realizes he has a Master, and when the employees are respected and blessed by their employer they will give more of themselves without complaining.

Wouldn’t it be great if employers were always on the look out for Christian employees because every Christian  who cam to work for them was a hard and joyous worker?

Wouldn’t it be great if the Christian employer was gracious and took care of his employees, and his employees loved him and because of his generosity worked their best for him?

We give evidences of the filling of the Spirit of God by these things which the apostle has written.  Husbands and wives submitting to one another, respecting one another’s place filled by God;  Children loving and respecting their parents, obeying them and parents filled with the Spirit correcting their children with love;  Servants/Employees be submitted to their bosses; Christian employers/bosses/business owners submitted to the servant.  As Christians we must remember we are to be submitted one to another.  See the other as better than ourselves and seek others well being.  This is a practicing, active, living Christianity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Prognosis By Fire

In this study I will endeavor to show that through suffering we are prepared for glory.  In the life of Jesus He was preparing for the cross through the things which He suffered, and endured ever faithful to the Father.  It is hard to imagine suffering in order to endure more suffering, but that is what Jesus did; “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;” Hebrews 5:8 (KJV).

To begin this it will be a review of First Peter, and on this article we begin with verses one and two. 

 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”.  This is one who spoke without thinking.  John MacArthur describes him as the apostle with “The foot-shaped mouth” in his book titled TWELVE ORDINARY MEN, and the title of that chapter is “Peter – The Man With The Footshaped Mouth”.

Now here is an epistle through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration written down by Peter himself.  Originally called Simon, Jesus changed his name to Peter/Cephas meaning ‘rock or stone’.  Peter is not the Rock upon which the Church is built (Matthew 16:18 – “And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”).  Peter is part of the foundation (Ephesians 2:20 – “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;), but is not the Rock, upon which it is founded and built.

This letter was written in troublous times for the Christian. According to authorities in this area; the time is around the time that Rome was burned in which Nero set the fire and blamed it on the Christians and set the people of Rome to hating them even worse than before.  In a time of great persecution Peter wrote this letter to comfort and encourage those believers who were in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”  These Christians were “Strangers” and being that some were Jewish were dispossessed of their homeland.  The Gentiles and the Jews who had become Christians had also become “Strangers” to their families, friends, and work associates, because their home was now in Heaven.

Peter specifies to whom this letter is written.  The “Elect” or “Called” and as Paul wrote, “…Before the foundation of the world”.  This is an assuring thing – it is motivation to continue in faith.  Realizing you are the called of God has a strengthening effect on you.  To be chosen, called or the elect of God, and only so by the work of Jesus Christ on calvary’s cross.

“FOREKNOWLEDGE” is from the Greek word ‘prognosis’ which according to MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY is “a forecast esp. of the course of disease”, only God in His ‘prognosis’ is never wrong.  With God’s prognosis we know the outcome, and in Christ it is wonderful.

“Sanctification” is a process by which we are set apart, made holy in this life for the glory of God.  In sanctification the Spirit convicts us of sin, corrects us in our errors, and comforts us in our sorrows, and by and through the Word of God.  He puts us into “Obedience” and showing forth the sacrifice of Jesus in our lives.

“Grace” is Paul’s favorite word and filled his whole life.  It is also Peter’s.   He had experienced the grace of God extremely.  he denied the Lord three times, and was forgiven.  Where grace abounds there is peace. (Romans 5:1 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”; and then in Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which passeth all undestanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.)  In the midst of the fires of trials and tribulation there is always ‘Peace’ in Jesus.  Through Jesus you can have peace in the midst of the storm.

-Tim A. Blankenship

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Drink Offering Empty Hope

You can’t tell it by the commercials or to listen to some news commentators or morning show hosts, but there is a drink which seems to be the beverage of celebrities, and those famous and those not so famous, even the infamous. There seems to be a power it holds over those who relish its mystique, its smoothness, its seeming beauty and flow.

Commercials make it look as though it is the best looking, most successful, and most life enjoying people who party with the drink, and they seem Oh so happy. My question to that is: If you are happy why do you need the drug of alcohol? Why does one need the alcohol when life is at is best? The answer to that is: You don’t.

Contrary to what many Christian leaders are saying there is much in the Bible that will give wisdom concerning the avoidance of beverage alcohol. Some would say well there are medicinal qualities in Red Wine, and there is plenty of evidence from scientific studies, that shows that the red grape, and red grape juice has the very same medicinal qualities as Red Wine without the alcohol. The alcohol is a means of false hope, and false courage.

Hear what the writer of Proverbs says concerning the beverage alcohol of wine –

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” Proverbs 23:29-35 (KJV)

Remember I realize that there is no Scripture which says to us, “Thou shalt not drink beverage alcohol”, or anything similar to that, however, there is plenty of practical evidence to show us the evils of drinking the beverage. I have given that to you previously in the drunkenness of Noah, and Lot. I have also shown you that God has commended a family for never putting alcoholic beverage to their mouths (Jeremiah 35), but you will find no such commendation for any who drink that with an empty hope. Since the Bible does not specifically forbid drinking beverage alcohol, then maybe we can use that argument for a lot of other things as well. Let’s justify abortion, by saying, “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘Thou shalt not commit abortion”. The individual who is for abortion could rationalize and say, ‘Well then, since this is not a person, not an individual, then I can rid myself of it”. The man who wants to have more than one wife can rationalize, “Since the Bible doesn’t forbid polygmy, then I can have all the wives I want”. The man who wants to view pornography can rationalize the same way, since “The Bible does not say…” Some have argued and say, “These are strawmen”, very well then the argument for rationalizing the drinking of beverage alcohol is strawman thinking as well.

Notice what the writer of Proverbs says about the affects it has on the drinker of the woes; The ones who “tarry long at the wine have woes, sorrows, contentions, babblings, wounds without cause (probably caused by stumbling, falling, etc.), and red eyes. The alcohol controls their lives, their thinking, and their health. How can we as Christians sit and justify the Beverage with false hopes when we see so many teens who are killed by it, and their parents killed by it. It is foolish for the Christian to argue over the “right to drink”, and call it legalism when we should be opposed to all that is directly harmful to the human race.

When the soft wine is not enough the wine drinker usually will go after the stronger drink; the mixed wine. The phrase “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” is speaking clearly of alcoholic beverage. It is clearly said, “Look not thou upon the wine…” Does that mean if you close your eyes before you drink then that is okay? Don’t kid yourself. It means don’t drink it. How much clearer can it get. This is speaking of the wine when it has turned alcoholic.

Notice the results of the one who passes by these verses, ignores God’s warnings, and the consequences they suffer: 1) It bites like a serpent – the serpent is sneaky, beautifully deceitful, and poisonous and will kill; 2) It causes eyes that were not lustful before to become lustful, and a man can find himself with a strange woman, not his wife; 3) language one has never spoke will come from the mouth, because they have a perceived courage they never had, and can even find themselves cursing and blaspheming God; 4) One will find themselves unable to stand, it would be similar to a man who is out on the open sea for the first time in rushing, rising and falling waves, and sickness sets in; 5) will have the marks of being beaten senseless yet not have felt it; and 6) senselessly seek to do it again.

What is the point of drinking beverage alcohol? It is popular, it seems to offer prestige, it seems to offer power. With the exception of “popular” the other two are just outright lies of deception. The man or woman who refuses to drink alcoholic beverage is the one who holds the real power. They have the power to say no to the crowd. They will be admired for their strength and courage. Now that would really be prestige, and prestige worth having.

The wisdom of God is DON’T DRINK beverage alcohol. Drink the water of life that flows from Jesus Christ Himself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Power of the Parables

The Power of the Parables

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables…” Matthew 13:1-3 (KJV).

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:10-17 (KJV).

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34-35 (KJV).

In the first three verses of this chapter we see Jesus beginning to teach a multitude in parables. People like stories. Many of us had stories read to us by our parents or guardians, and we loved hearing them. The love for hearing stories is most likely why the popularity of television and movies is so high. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and Camelot. Many citizens of the United States have heard the American Tall Tales, concerning men like Davy Crockett, Sam Patch, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill, and then there is also John Henry the steel drivin’ man. These are all stories that do not just tell a story, but capture your imagination, and cause you to dream and dream big.

Jesus told His stories with a different purpose, and they were powerful stories that were life changing; if you had the heart to hear them. Someone once defined a parable as “A earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I don’t think that is far wrong. These are stories of things most people were familiar with, and so should understand. It seems however, that the religious leaders, being hard of heart, were so set in their ways, and their spiritual understanding that they had no heart for understanding simplicity. There are seven or eight parables in this chapter. That depends on if you consider verses 51-52 a parable or not. It seems to me to be a parable, and may be the hardest to understand of the others.

The power of the parable is to hide the truth from the hard of heart (v. 11). A simple and some would call avoiding answer. The longer answer is that spiritual things are meant for the spiritual. The unspiritual or natural man cannot know the things of God, and Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. The natural man, unspiritual individual, has no heart for the things of God. The scribes and Pharisees though having a knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and rituals had no heart for God or knowing and doing His will. All they had was merely pretense and hypocrisy.

The things of God are revealed to those who are willing to receive them. Those who are drawn to God’s Son by God’s grace. The hardened heart has little or no understanding of grace, and knows only law and its condemnation. Jesus has warned of casting our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To continue giving the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God whose heart only grows harder with each word is a waste, and we should leave such individuals to God. When we have presented the truth of the gospel to them we have done what is required of us. I heard someone say, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, until all have heard it at least once”.

The power of the parable is to teach and grow those who do or will understand (v. 12). In the parable is the power for understanding the simplest of things. Those who are familiar with agriculture, and those to whom Jesus spoke would have been, understood about the soils, the seeds, and the sower. Many of these listeners had probably seen or been involved in the farming process, and knew exactly the picture that was given. Jesus was, however, giving more than an agricultural story; He was applying an area of life to the spirit of men. In this those who would understand would be receiving more than those who just saw or see it as just a story. In the study of these eight parables it is clear to me that they are all related to one basic lesson. I will not reveal that fully now, but will as we go along. One thing I think that should be obvious to us all is that it is related to the “Kingdom of heaven”.

What about these parables? Whoever has understanding will receive more understanding and grow in their knowledge of Christ Jesus, put on the things of Christ, and put away the things of the flesh and evil. This will be dependent upon the Christian’s obedience to what they have already received. If the Christian has heard the Word of the Lord, understanding what has been said, but will not obey, let not that Christian believe that they will receive anything further from the Lord, concerning His will. For example – If you ask God’s will concerning something of a moral issue, you have Scriptural evidence that it is wrong, and you go ahead and commit the sin, want to continue in that sin, though you know it to be sin; until you repent, agreeing with God and His Word that it is sin, you will not be given understanding on much else. Disobedience will bring you loss.

If someone shuns the desire of God they lose even the possibility of knowing Him. They lose any sense of morality through their conscience that they may have had. They lose their ability to think reasonably – think of the plight of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, and that is God being merciful. They lose their lives to sins bondage. ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:21-26 (KJV).

Abundance of understanding will be given to those who hear these parables, and not only understand the story, but its heart and spirit. These parables are positive in their meaning, however, they all have a negative aspect to them.

The power of the parable is to fulfill the Word of God spoken by the prophets (vv. 13-15). When we look at the writings of the Old Testament prophets we see that the people of God would not hear and heed the message the messenger brought them. They might listen, and probably did hear, but they usually did not like what they heard, and they would stone, imprison in a dungeon, or a waterless cistern, and sometimes killed the messenger/prophet; almost always shunned by the people. Isaiah the prophet was told when he was called and had surrendered to the call, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:9-13 (KJV). The people would not listen to Isaiah. How long was he to continue to preach without anyone repenting and changing their lives? The basic answer here is “Until the people are gone, and you are gone.” How many preachers do we know who would want a ministry with no converts, no believers repenting, and no changed lives; and God forbid; no baptisms?

There are people who have physical eyes, but cannot see the God of creation in His creation. They, also, can not see Him in His works and/or Word. They are blinded by their own way. They really do not want to see God or His work. It would take too much away from them and their good deeds. They will see the darkness as light. They have ears, but do not hear. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly presented and all they hear is an argument against their lives. Those type of people rejected the words of the prophets in their days. They had ears, but could not hear. They only loved the sounds of their own voices, their own hearts; wicked though they were. When people are satisfied with their own spirituality they will believe almost anything but the truth. They believe they will succeed and make it to heaven by their good works and deeds, and they have none. The truth of Christ, His cross – death, His burial, and resurrection, ascension and promise of His return will be the very Truth which judges them on judgment day. Jesus will be their Judge, rather than their Savior – What of His mercy then?

The power of the parable is to reveal what the prophets desired to see. In some ways I would have loved to spoken with Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I will one day be able to sit down with them in God’s Kingdom. As I read the prophets today I can hear their hearts, there are times I can almost feel their pain because they see a people, who are supposed to be God’s people who will not bow before their God, except in pretense and hypocrisy. You can hear and feel the heart of Jeremiah as he says, “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!” Jeremiah 9:1. The prophets desired to see the people of God quit their idolatry, their gross rebellion, their pretense and hypocrisy. God has always been a jealous God. Jealous meaning that He is the only one worthy of worship, and that He deserves our complete, total, and whole admiration. The prophets foretold of One who would come to redeem the world, restore Israel to her land, and bring the Gentiles into the promise. They longed to see the “Promised One”. They are now in His presence rejoicing in His glory. We can yet hear their words as we read them. They have been kept and preserved that we may hear and know the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ; hear Him and believe and live forever.

The prophets had a longing heart to see the fulfillment of the Word they had penned down. Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the prophets messages. The apostle John wrote, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (KJV). The main focus of that verse which I wanted to point out is that “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of the prophetic Word is concerning Jesus. Of Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, it is said, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (KJV). If one wants or desires to understand these and all the parables of Jesus one first needs to know Jesus.

Let’s look at a contrast of hearts:

1. The dull of hearing rebel against the preacher; The Illumined ones hear and support the preacher.

2. The dull of hearing pull away from service and regular worship to the Lord, worship their own way; The Illumined ones desire to be active in solely the worship of the Lord, and with other believers.

3. The dull of hearing increase in hypocrisy by their ritual and tradition; The Illumined ones despise hypocrisy, especially in themselves, and yearn for genuineness.

4. The dull of hearing have a lack of spiritual understanding, often thinking they are the really spiritual, but what spirit are they of; The Illumined ones are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ.

5. The dull of hearing rationalizes personal sin; The Illumined ones hate personal sin and judge it by the Spirit of God andHisi Word.

6. The dull of hearing lose any understanding they may have when they refuse the truth: The Illumined ones increase in spiritual understanding.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

 

Legalism and Life

Legalism and Life

For the past four articles I have written on the matter of legalism, and that will be so of this article as well. This will be the final one on this matter.

Just what is legalism. It is the adding of requirements to grace for the matter of salvation. Grace becomes no more grace (Romans 11:6). When someone tells you that the way of salvation is by grace, but then, you must be baptised, keep the law, do sacraments, abstain from alcohol, homosexuality, etc. to be saved; that is legalism. Now before some of my readers hearing this fly off the handle, let me say this. When you have been saved by the grace of God you will desire to be baptised, keep the law, partake of the Lord’s Supper, abstain from every appearance of evil, and turn from all sexual sin. It is not a requirement of salvation. It is expected that a steward be found faithful.

Those who say, “But we have liberty in Christ Jesus”; just let me say this: When you were in your sins, ie., lost, condemned, and dying; you were enslaved to sin. Sin was your master. You believed you were at liberty to live as you pleased then, but you were really under the control of evil. Now you want to say “I am free, I have liberty in Jesus Christ. I can live as I please”. When you have been set at liberty in Jesus Christ you are free from sin, but you are not free to sin. The freedom/liberty you have in Christ is the power to live a righteous life that glorifies our Lord and Savior. You do not desire to live in sin and rebellion against the Lord.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Now, can someone tell me how the Spirit of God would lead anyone into sin? He will not. When we sin; He convicts us, and points us back to the forgiving, loving arms of our Lord and Savior.

Our Lord Jesus hates legalism. He despises it. He also hates sin, and does not want any of His disciples/followers bound up in it. Listen to the words He speaks to the scribes, and Pharisees. He first tells those who are following Him, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” Matthew 23:2-3 (KJV).

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13.

Eight different times Jesus says, “Woe unto you”, and He is speaking of the same ones. These are supposedly the spiritual leaders of the Nation. Rather than shepherding they are condemning others and exalting themselves. Jesus’s words in this first woe is eyeopening itself. For these leaders Jesus says, “For you are not going in yourselves”, ie., the “kingdom of heaven”. OUCH!!! They are not going into the kingdom and they seem to want to keep their people from going in.

Each “Woe” which Jesus speaks in Matthew twenty three has to do with a different offense which these “Spiritual” leaders practiced. In the first one it seems the practice was one of condemnation. The second practice, is one of robbing widows, and pretending to be holy while they do it. The third is one of getting others to believe as they believe, and binding them in their condemning lies. Fourth, making loopholes around their “Oaths”. Fifthly, boasting of their tithing, but not practicing the other -”What does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. Sixth, presuming a holiness they did not have; being clean on the outside, yet full of filth inside. Seventh, further clarification of the sixth – being full of “dead men’s bones; their lives and ministries are a stench in the nostrils of the Lord; and they certainly offer no hope or promise of the King of kings. The eighth, they make open portrayal of being in favor of the prophets of old, yet their hearts are more in line with their fathers, than with God or the prophets.

If they would have believed the prophets, they would have seen their King as He was teaching them. That is one of the saddest things about “Legalism”, and that is, that it blinds the eyes. The self-righteous are very legalistic, and are condemning of others whom they see in sin, and usually do not see their own. The legalist is dependent upon their own righteous conduct, and not the cross of Jesus. In Christ Jesus there is life. In legalism there is only death, tombs full of bones, and displeasure before our Heavenly Father. The only way of pleasure for the Father is through our faith in Jesus. Life in Jesus is a holy life.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

What Is Legalism???

Just What is Legalism???

There are charges of “Legalism” being shouted, proclaimed, printed in meetings, in comments, and by email and other means. It seems to me, at least in some cases, that these charges are brought by those who are defending their own actions and/or the actions of others. The charge often cried against those who propose Biblical support for abstaining from alcoholic beverage, or gambling, and other things is, “That is legalism”. The charge says, if you espouse abstinence, then you are binding.

Is this charge accurate? There is a verse of Scripture in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus tells us, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27 (NKJV). Jesus Himself had been accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath. He and His disciples had walked through grain fields and as they walked they plucked hands full of grain, rubbing it in their hands, thus, threshing it, then eating it; and being charged with laboring on the Sabbath day, breaking the law.

These accusers had taken the “Commandment of God” and added their “commandments of men”, making it a law that binds rather than protecting. They would charge Jesus many more times as well with breaking the Sabbath, because He healed on the Sabbath day. The Law was given for protection and good, not for keeping us from doing the good and right.

If we were looking at the Ten Commandments we could see that each of them are for the purpose of pointing us toward loving God and loving one another. Not one is binding. They protect and give respect to God and others, thus back to ourselves.

The first four are for the protection of the worth of God to be worshipped, and in keeping them, keep us from eternal death. The final six are for the protection of respect for one another, our relationships, our word, and our property. (Let me make it quite clear right here, We have not, nor cannot keep these laws in our flesh. Jesus died and fulfilled these laws, thus we obey them through Him.) These laws were meant to keep us from wronging God, and wronging our fellowman. When we are not at peace with God, we will not be at peace with our fellow man. When we are not at peace with our fellow man, we are probably not at peace with God. We must first have peace with God and the peace of God.

For the accusers of Jesus to accuse Him and His disciples was an act of self-righteousness, and could be called “Legalism”. If legalism is adding to the law of God, then, this was a case of legalism. There is, however, one thing for sure, and that is; adding to the Word of God is a death sentence (See Revelation 22:18-19).

Jesus’s words to His accusers puts a new focus on the whole law. His principles for living in His kingdom (Matthew 5-7) are much more eye opening than are the Ten Commandments. Will you accuse Jesus of “Legalism” because He says, “…whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 NKJV)? I would dare to think not. I do not think that anyone would be foolish enough to even accuse Him of adding to the Word. That would be a foolish accusation anyway, because the Word was not yet complete, and He is the Word.

One of the arguments in charging legalism is, “If it is not named in Scripture, then we cannot call it sin; when we call it sin, that is legalism”. I think most who read this will agree that there are actions committed not named in Scripture which are clearly sinful. For example, the matter of pornography. Is that not a sinful behavior? Is it not sinful whether you produce it, practice it or view it? You answer. I have not seen this behavior mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet I have no problem calling it immoral, sinful, behavior. The Bible does tell us, “Abstain from every form of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. That includes a multitude of sins which are not named in Scripture – “Every form of evil”.

Just what is legalism? Legalism is the taking of grace and adding works to it for the basis of our salvation and/or the keeping of our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Grace and faith are the gift of God, not of works, lest we should be boastful, and steal the glory of God for ourselves.

When a group makes requirement for salvation to be grace, faith, and sacraments – that is legalism. When denomination requires grace, faith, and baptism for salvation – that is legalism. When someone requires grace, faith and abstaining from certain practices; such as gambling, drinking alcoholic beverage, or pornography, etc. for salvation – that is legalism. It is the adding to of grace in salvation that determines legalism.

To present these things of abstinence for sanctification, and holiness in Christian living has only to do with one’s growth in Christ Jesus, and protection from harm; not condemnation.

-by 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

The Making of The Preacher

God Makes a Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“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. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Sermon of the Almond Tree

The Almond Tree

The prophet has been called to proclaim the Word of God to a sinful and rebellious people. He has been told by God, that he has been known by Him even before he was conceived in the womb of his mother. Jeremiah the prophet has been told to speak every word God puts in his mouth.

Now comes the time to check his vision. “Jeremiah, what do you see?” (1:11) “I see a branch of an almond tree.” If a man is going to proclaim the Word of the Lord GOD, then he must be able to see what God is about to do, or at least what he desires to do.

Here is what God says about the seeing of the almond tree branch. “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word”. (v. 12)

The almond tree was an early tree. It wakened from its dormancy earlier than any other tree. The thing Jeremiah saw God used to tell him that the Word of God was going to be done just as God declared it through him, and it would be very quickly. It would be earlier than any other.

The message of God’s Word would be faithfully preached by the prophet, but not without sorrow and pain. There would be no delay. Jeremiah must hasten to the work of his ministry.

Just how close are we to the time we will see the fulfilling of the final prophecies of the Word of God. They are at the door. Jesus could return for His Bride at any moment. Do not delay to call on His name in repentance for sin, and trust completely in Him for salvation.

The Lord Our Strength

THE LORD OUR STRENGTH

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11).

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30).

This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first commandment God says, “Thou shalt have no other gods”, and the title of the first article was, A REQUIRED HEART OF DEVOTION which says that the heart of the person of God is devoted solely to Him. The second commandment says, “Thou shalt not make any graven image…”, and the title of that article is THE SOUL SEEKS FOR GOD, because it is in every man to worship something, but due to sin is always looking in the wrong place, except by the grace of God and His calling unto Himself. The third commandment says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…”, and the article is titled SPEAKING FROM THE MIND, because the mind that is not given to God will use God’s name vainly, emptily. The final commandment of the four dealing with our God relationship says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy….”, and the title is THE LORD OUR STRENGTH.

We will look at four things in this article;

I. THE SABBATH DAY OF GOD (Genesis 2:1-3).

II. THE SABBATH DAY COMMANDMENT (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

III. THE SABBATH DAY AND THE CHRISTIAN (Hebrews 4:1-10).

IV. THE SABBATH AS A SHADOW (Colossians 2:16-17).

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3). In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

Secondly, The children of Israel were commanded to honor/remember the Sabbath day, “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). God gave them laws which told them if they did not rest and worship Him, then they would die, and do so by stoning, “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 15:32-36). For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

Thirdly, the Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”. Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

In the final point, the Sabbath can be seen as a shadow or type of something better. The lamb without spot or blemish was a shadow/type of Jesus the true sacrificial Lamb. The Sabbath is only a shadow of better things. The sabbath of the law condemns us all. As it is fulfilled in Christ it gives rest for all eternity. Jesus Christ is the anti-type; He is the genuine article; He is the True. He is the total fulfillment of the law. He is our strength. Giving your life to Jesus is giving your life to “ceasing from your own works” and trusting in Him.

The law [all of it] was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, not nullified. To worship Him on the first day of the week is to say we have ceased from our own labor of keeping the law and we rest in Him.

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.

The Omniscience of God

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 for whom He has plans; 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.

The Proud Man and His Woes

THE PROUD MAN AND HIS WOES

“Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:  Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!  Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?  Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein” Habakkuk 2:5-8

The prophet has questioned God about how He could see Israel in sin and do nothing about it. God gave Habakkuk the answer, that He was going to judge Israel, and it was going to be with the ruthless, sinful Babylonian kingdom. This part shows that he is a very concerned prophet when it comes to the holiness, purity, and integrity of Mighty God.

This is shown in his plea to the Lord, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” (1:13) God is professed by the prophet to be from “Everlasting”, and “Mine Holy One” – as a question.

The Holy One of Israel then shows Habakkuk what is going to happen with Babylon after they have used and abused Israel.

Nothing that goes on in the world is apart from God’s knowledge of it. It is all a part of His plan. Nothing surprises Him. He is God.

In verse 5 we find that the proud man of the kingdom of Babylon is puffed up with the pride the prophet has referenced. The desires of a proud man are not usually of the righteous nature, but are pretty selfish, and for personal gain alone.

The proud man seems to be greatly influenced by wine. I guess you could say the wine gives him the arrogance to let it be known what his genuine purpose is. He is greedy for more. In this case greedy for more land, gold, goods, and souls of men. He takes that which is not intended to be his. At the blazoned display of his arrogance he takes nations captive.

Yet, it seems a certainty that they, the nations, will taunt him, ridicule and scorn him.

This proud man has five “Woes” pronounced against him. The first says, “Woe to him who increases what is not his — how long?” It becomes clear to us that these “Woes” are against Babylon, but is there anything we can learn from them? I believe so.  I will deal with the “Woes” more thoroughly in later studies on the five woes pronounced against Babylon by the prophet Habakkuk

It is also clear in looking at the first chapter that Babylon was an unrighteous nation which God was going to use to discipline the nation of Judah. In their being used by God to judge the nation, then, God would also see that the Babylonian people were also punished. There is no nation that can escape the judgment of God; especially those who unjustly put their hands on God’s people.

This “Woe” expresses coming judgment upon Babylon because of their increasing in goods which were not theirs for the express purpose of making themselves wealthy. It is actually a charge of extortion. The MacArthur Study Bible states, “…Plundering nations under threat of great bodily harm for the purpose of making themselves rich. As a result they were to become plunder for those nations who remained.” pg.1320.

Look at how this first Woe culminates into judgment upon Babylon. First of all, the ones from whom taxes were extorted will come against them. Does Babylon actually think that these people will not come to realize [awaken], and Babylon will become their booty?

The warning to Babylon is from God Himself. The people they have plundered will plunder them. There will be justice and judgment.

One of the things in the study of Scriptures is learning how to apply what you have studied to fit with your life. There is much to learn from this one “Woe”. Woe, is a warning or pronouncement of judgment. There can be an element of understanding why one would take the goods of a defeated enemy and increase their goods, but that was not to be the case with Babylon, nor is it to be with the Christian.

This first ‘Woe’ implies greed. The Christian is not to live in greed. Of course, we have the Ten Commandments, and the last one is, “Thou shalt not covet…” and it includes things as well as people. Covetousness is greed; the desire for more; it is in fact idolatry (Col. 3:5), and that made clear by writings of the New Testament. This kind of gain is usually at the expense of another party, and probably by some who cannot afford to lose it.

Be content with such things as you have. Then, you will be blessed.

Speaking From the Mind

SPEAKING FROM THE MIND

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 (KJV)

Again, Jesus said, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30 (KJV).

It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or Yahweh. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The precious name of God. He is precious because there is no other like Him. God, of whom I am writing, is the Creator of all that is, both seen and unseen with the human eye. He also made those things that can only be seen by microscopic means, as well. Even those things that have not yet been discovered by the finite mind of man.

Often when we hear this commandment our first thought is of those who use the name in cursing or swearing. We often think that is the only way of “Taking God’s name in vain”. The name of God is precious we must use our lips and our mind to honor Him.

We have looked at loving God “…with all our heart, soul…” and now we look at loving God ” …with all your mind…”. That requires thought. Before you speak – THINK. From the way I have heard many people speaking their minds have gone into the “Amusement” mode. The word “Muse” means ‘to think’ and anytime you add the letter “A” to another word like “Muse” it means “No”. So to “amuse” is to not think.

His name is PRECIOUS. Let us THINK before we speak.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a person away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor? “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13). “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9). “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” Luke 6:46-48 (KJV)

There is judgment for taking this precious, holy, loving, righteous name in vain. God says in the commandment itself, that, “…the LORD will not hold him guiltless…”. If you have ever used God’s name vainly/emptily you are guilty before God.

Give your heart, soul, mind and strength to the Lord through the Lord Jesus Christ. He took your guilt upon Himself, died for all our sins, carried them away, and was raised from death to life. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

The Refiner’s Fire

The following is also from an unknown source.  So I give credit to UNKNOWN whoever she or he may be.

“Malachi 3:3 says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this
statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get
back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch
him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest
beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and
let it heat up.

He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the
middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the
impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought
again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of
silver.”

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front
of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver,
but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the
fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be
destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do
you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye

on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

At this very moment, someone needs to know that God is watching over them.
And, whatever they’re going through, they’ll be a better person in the end.”

By Faith, or By Flesh

Faith or Flesh

“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” Genesis 16:1-3 (KJV)

There are so many times that we make decisions by what looks like the right thing, and goes against what God has said, then later we pay consequences for doing so. Abram was no different. He experienced famine in the land of promise (chapter 12), then left that promise for greener pastures in Egypt. The act of proceeding down to Egypt was an act of unbelief, and in their unbelief they had taken to themselves a servant girl who would later become a source of temptation to further unbelief.

Abram needs not be put on a pedestal for us to admire, receive encouragement from, and seen as an example of faith. He was, and Sarai was; they were simple people capable, and quite able of making mistakes. We all can easily indentify with them. We have been there. We have had our faith tested, and tested again. If you haven’t; you will. You may even leave your place of promise, but God will bring you back to it, just as He did Abram and Sarai.

As far as Sarai was concerned things looked hopeless. They had no children, and it did not look as though God was going to do anything about it. Abram was now eighty five years of age – they had “dwelt ten years in the land…”. Sarai was seventy five; how could they have a son and fulfill the promise of God?

Waiting, waiting, waiting… It is such a grueling task. If you have not noticed recently, though; the Bible mentions, “Wait on the Lord…” so many times it should cause us to “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7). Far too many times I want to rush in, to solve the issue, the problem, and far too many times the flesh is involved, and receives fleshly results. Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…”

In our churches and evangelical groups we have people rushing around trying to accomplish the mission of God in our society. They use every imaginable thing they can think of to draw crowds. Some have used strong men, breaking and bending objects, to the cheers of the crowd. Some have used motor cycle races, and jumping. All of this in the name of Jesus to “Win souls”. Did Jesus ever call us to draw a crowd? I admire the attempt to win souls. We long for the salvation of the lost soul, but it cannot be done by fanfare. Each believer is commanded to be a witness. As we wait patiently on the Lord, He will bring people into our lives in which He intends us to be witnesses. Yes, send missionaries to the foreign fields, and our home fields, to establish churches for training ministers, ministers of reconciliation. We are witnesses in our life, our work place, our play place, our driving, our children, our worship life, on vacation, etc.. If every Christian would live the life of Christ which we are supposed to live, God would bring more people into our lives, and we would have better ears for listening to people and their problems, and better eyes for seeing troubled hearts and lives, and be waiting “patiently on the LORD” in life. Thus, more people coming to faith in Jesus.

We have a zeal for reaching the lost, but not a trust in the Lord to give the increase; so we do our own increasing. In doing that we have people who profess Christ, but do not live Christ like lives. We have young, and a few older preachers who have no backbone to stand against evil, but would and will rather compromise to win a crowd of people.

The time is short, yet we must “Wait on the Lord” to give the increase. Just like Abram and Sarai should have and could have “waited on God”, yet ended up in a lack of faith; so too, do we in rushing headlong in the flesh to accomplish spiritual goals, which only God can do.

God could not have been pleased with what Abram and Sarai did. In fact due to their short sighted act, they brought terror into the world. From them we should learn that acts of the flesh never achieve the purposes of God, but God in His sovereignty works all things out for and in His glory.

Now, do not get the idea that “Waiting on the LORD” means sitting idly by watching the leaves fall or the grass grow, and doing nothing. Hopefully, and believing it to be so; in all these years together Abram and Sarai were trying to have a son, in the way children are conceived, and born; and it was entirely in God’s plan and timing to give that son, as He had promised. Waiting on the Lord is simply going about your life as God directs and leads, trusting Him and Him alone to fulfill His promises. You keep yourself busy doing the work you are called to do, and doing it unto the Lord, with all your heart, glorifying His name.

It Will Surely Come

IT WILL SURELY COME

Habakkuk 2:1-4

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV).

The verses of chapter one 12-17 are the comments of the prophet to the Lord. He seems to be recognizing God’s sovereign power, and that God can use the enemy to chastise and correct His children.

In chapter 2:1-4 the prophet is a watchman, but in this situation he is “watching” for an answer from the LORD. The prophet seems to be set on waiting for an answer. He is intent on getting an answer. The words “stand” and “set” imply that he will wait until an answer is given. Habakkuk is definitely exhibiting faith in God coming through with this act.

Strong’s word for “Set” Heb. 3320 yaw-tsab’ = ‘to place (anything so as to stay)’. Also the word “Stand” – Strong’s 5975 Aw-mad’ = to stand in various relations, abide (behind), appoint, arise, cease, confirm, continue, dwell, be employed, endure, establish…. Standfast.”. Habakkuk was set to stand until he received an answer from God; as to how long it would be, when it would come to pass.

In verse two the LORD does answer and confirms His message to the prophet. Habakkuk receives the message to “Write the vision…”. The vision of judgment upon the nation of Israel to continue until God’s work is finished, and the vision of God’s judgment on the instruments of God’s judgment of His people.

He was to write it and make it “Plain…” so that it could be read easily and understood by all who passed by. The message of God’s Word should be made where a child can understand. Some preachers use such elevated vocabulary that they cannot be understood by even a college or university graduate. If you must use a word that is of questionable understanding explain its meaning.

God speaking to Hosea the prophet said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6). Could that be so today because, God’s Word is not presented by the preachers in an understandable vocabulary?

Verse three tells the prophet that the vision God has given has an appointed time. It may seem as though it is being delayed, but it has a time of its own – by God. When its time comes it will not delay. It will not ‘tarry’. When God’s time for carrying out His promises come; they will be fulfilled, and to the letter. There are many who because, the rapture of the Church, or the glorious appearing of our Savior has not occurred yet think it is not literal, or that it has already happened. It will happen – in God’s time (His appointed time), and it has not happened yet. It will, and will not tarry. This is just as a means of illustrating, but it does make the point – God’s Word will be fulfilled completely.

Verse four provides a word of ‘faith’. The one who is lifted up in pride in themselves is one who will not be edified in the LORD.

“The just shall live by his faith” and in Romans 1:17. One’s faith is God cast out and cast off all arrogance and pride which exalts itself against God. When pride is there; there is no faith. It is said that this is one verse which God used to open the eyes of Martin Luther, led him to faith in Jesus Christ, and delivered him from the bondage of the Roman religion.

When God’s Word is at work in your life your faith will grow, Jesus will be glorified, and you will be satisfied in Him.

When was the last time we stayed put, set or stood pat until we received an answer from God for something which troubled us? If it is something God wants us to know He will answer. God’s Word will be fulfilled just as He has said, and when it is time it will not tarry. It will move very quickly. IT WILL SURELY COME.

The Soul Seeks for God

THE SOUL SEEKS FOR GOD

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6

Jesus said, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:29-30

Oliver B. Greene once said, “Man could not have written this book (speaking of the Bible) even if he would have wanted to; and he would not have written it even if he could have.”

Likewise God is not the creation of man.

Man does, however, create his gods. Men make their gods after their own imaginations. The gods of men are non-restraining, non-threatening, require nothing of their creators. They have eyes, but cannot see; ears but cannot hear; feet, but cannot walk. They that make them are like unto them. If there is no other reason for not making a graven image, that seems sufficient for me. I want to be like the Creator, not these flimsy, wimpy, panty waist gods, who cannot know today from the future, and who has no power over the affairs of men.

THERE IS NO IMAGE OF GOD – EXCEPT MAN.

NOTE: To make an image for worship is to lower ourselves. “They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusteth in them” (Psalm 115:8).

The “Zodiak” are images in the stars. The images of “Terot” cards. Some worship men, including themselves.

THERE IS A DESIRE IN MAN TO WORSHIP. We must worship something, someone. Even an atheist worships – either herself/himself,  education, academia, government, science or something. Wherever your heart is, there is what you worship.

Go to any continent, nation, city, or tribe and you will find worshipping people. In some places you will find people who worship the sun, moon, stars, and or planets. In other places people who worship the elements – water, wind, fire. There are many, probably on every continent who worship the dead through “seances” “necromancy” – wanting to know the future. In many places, and probably on every continent, there are those who worship God in Spirit and Truth.

God has placed this place in mankind’s hearts. Without God our lives are empty and without purpose. God has put “eternity in man’s heart” so that the things of this world can never satisfy (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV, NIV).

Humans can search the world over for significance, peace, and for something worthy of their worship, but they will find none of those until they come to God by His Son Jesus Christ.

WORSHIPPING ANOTHER AND LESSER BEING. In God’s laws this is forbidden for the people of God.

Why does God forbid worshipping others? First of all, He says, “I am a jealous God”. He alone is responsible for our existence and sustenance. He is the One who has done everything to bring us to Himself. He is protective, loves us and desires that we be love Him. Secondly, He knows that whatever we worship is what we become in likeness. The Psalmist expresses this sentiment in Psalms 115, and 135. If we worship an impersonal idol with no restraints we will live with no restraints. The third reason is that He created us to worship Him, and to love Him and glorify Him.

When human beings devote themselves to another god they rob themselves of God’s glory.

To worship another is to add another burden to life. Idols have to be carried (Isaiah 46:1-2). I prefer the God who carries me.

WORSHIPPING ANOTHER AND LESSER BEING will not bring you peace, joy, fulfillment in worship, and will leave you condemned, and yet; in the end God will be glorified.

THE IMAGE THAT SEPARATES FROM GOD. “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’ name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.” (2 Kings 18:4). It is obvious in looking at the totality of Scripture that images do not necessarily break the commandment. In Numbers God tells Moses to build a bronze serpent on a pole for the people to “look upon” – an act of obedience and faith in God (NUM.21:7-9). It is when the heart turns to that image and away from God and obedience to Him that is forbidden – to make the image an object of worship. In 2 Kings 18:4 the image of the bronze serpent on a pole is destroyed and called nothing but brass (“Nehushtan”= “That bronze thing”). King Hezekiah was angry with the people who worshipped this thing that had been a means of expressing faith in God.

Anything, from a “serpent on a pole” to a church building can become an idol. If it does it should be destroyed – at least in the heart of the one who worships it. Any object that is purposely built by another culture as an object of worship should be forbidden in our homes. To worship anything, but God is to worship demons; “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

What is THE IMAGE THAT SEPARATES FROM GOD? Anything or anyone that takes your heart and soul away from devotion to God and seeking Him.

THERE IS NO IMAGE OF GOD EXCEPT HUMANKIND. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9. Though that image has been marred by sin, it is fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

IN SUMMARY –

I. DIRECT YOUR DESIRE FOR PEACE, SHELTER, GLORY AND WORSHIP TO THE ONE WHO IS WORTHY.

II. TO WORSHIP ANY OTHER IS TO LOWER YOURSELF TO THAT IMAGE, AND BECOME LIKE IT – WORSHIP GOD.

III. WORSHIP THE GOD OF CREATION, AND NOT THE CREATION.

IV. YOU ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD;

It has been marred by sin, but you can offer true worship to God through Jesus Christ – He is the image of God unmarred by sin.

Admit you have sinned, confess your sin and trust in Jesus who fulfilled all the law by meeting the demands of the law by His death on the cross, by His burial; carrying all our sins away, and by His resurrection.