Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Name: LORD of Hosts

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

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

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

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

In the second verse the word is against Moab,

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

As The LORD Lives…

The previous verse one we see that the call goes out to “Run…through the streets of Jerusalem…”, to seek for anyone who “executes judgment, who seeks the truth”, and if there is anyone then “I will pardon her”, God says. This takes us to the second verse:

“Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ surely they swear falsely” Jeremiah 5:2 (NKJV).

The phrase “As the LORD lives” is one which the prophets often used to proclaim divine oracles, or by people swearing oaths. This was a city and a land which made great promises to God, and refused to believe that God would judge a nation, a city as Jerusalem, or its temple which was the “abiding place of God” for the people. The priests and people of Judah seemed not to view the LORD in any greater capacity than they did the gods the surrounding nations worshipped.

Due to this unbelief; this pluralistic thought; God holds them in contempt of the Laws of His name. The arrogance of the hearts of men and women of that day against the LORD was very similar to many of today.

To think that we could go to church or worship in any place and appease God for all our sin is at the height of arrogance, when we know that God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross. To think that being baptized could appease the wrath of God against sin comes from the pride of a rebellious heart. To believe that to break the bread or drink the Lord’s cup would appease the judgment of God for sin is against the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things are for the genuine believer, and can never put away our sins; can never atone for sin.

The LORD lives; there is no doubt about that. Since we believe that, genuinely, then we must genuinely believe Him and follow Him and believe and practice the principles, testimonies, ordinances, laws, judgments, words, statutes, commandments of His Word. Just attaching His name on the end of prayer does not mean that it is prayed in His name; and just because you may attach His name to a sermon, or speech, does not mean that sermon or speech is of God or from His Word.

These people of Jeremiah’s day would speak in the name of the LORD, then lived their lives after the fashion of the surrounding nations. They were still worshipping God on the Sabbath, per se, and the rest of the week they worshipped the gods of the nations, either by practice or by neglecting the LORD.

We don’t do that: do we? It happens far, far too many times. Be sure when you use the LORD’s name it is in reverence, and in worship of Him whose name is reverend and holy –

“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” Psalms 111:9 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rebellions Consequences

The prophet hears and knows that judgment is coming. His heart is for his people, for God’s people. One of the sad things about God’s judgment that many find unjust is that the “innocent” suffer the consequences along with the “guilty”. Think of the flood of Noah’s day; there were babies who had never sinned, though they were born sinners, like all of us; yet these died in the flood. Another point is the faith of Caleb and Joshua when they had viewed the Promised Land their faith said, “God is able. Let’s take the land”. The unbelieving said, “There are giants in the land” and the majority ruled. Then Caleb and Joshua suffered the punishment along with the unbelieving. They too wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
One of the things you and I can learn from that is; our sins do not just hurt us, they affect others too.
Jeremiah writes:
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: ‘Make mention to the nations, Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around. Because she has been rebellious against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches your heart.’ Jeremiah 4:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and it was obvious to the prophet Jeremiah, that the heart of the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah was in the same condition as that of the Northern kingdom when the armies of king Nebuchadnezzar came swooping down with the speed of the leopard upon them, carrying them away captive. This is what the prophet saw happening to Judah as well.

We must know that a divided heart is a sinful, rebellious, self-absorbed, godless heart. The lips which proclaim a faith in God while giving allegiance to things; material gain, family, government dependence, self dependence, etc.; is a full hypocrite, pretentious, and gives no allegiance to God, who alone deserves our undivided faith, and allegiance. There will be occasions when the genuine believer will doubt, fear, and not believe; however they do not dwell there for long. The heart of the genuine believer will come back to the place of faith, return to the Lord and glorify His name, glory and grace.

The voice coming from Dan and from Ephraim are the events which has happened to them concerning their judgment. They have been conquered because their evil hearts. Jerusalem and all of Judah cannot continue to live in sin and rebellion against God, thinking we have the temple, it is God’s temple, He won’t allow anything happen to His temple. Such arrogance and pride is doomed to fall. Thinking; “I am a child of God, therefore God will not cause the judgment that falls on the immoral unbeliever, to fall on me” is a dreadfully deceptive notion.

Hear the voices that come from others. The Christians who are imprisoned because of their crimes against another, they are paying for their sins. Christians who have disease because of a sinful lifestyle they once lived; which could have been prior to or following salvation. There are consequences to sin; for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Because of rebellion and a continued refusal to repent these judgments are coming on the children of God. The wickedness of the heart is known by the All-Knowing God. He will not hold guiltless those who are guilty. The sin of the guilty will also fall on the guiltless and the innocent.

Why is it that there are some people who think, “Well, it is my sin, my action, I will take responsibility for it,” by going ahead and doing it, and say, “It won’t hurt anyone but me”. My how deceived we can become when we get into sinful living. Our sins affect everyone around us. Even the “innocent” pay for our sins.

The sin of the heart is a bitter thing. The heart is where we gain the capacity of love, mercy and grace. It is the place we hold those things and people who are dear to us. The heart given to God holds Him dearest, closest, and trust solely in Him for life, living and eternity. The heart given to God loves all that is godly and good. Loves all there is to know about God, His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not know His Son and love Him; you do not know God and/or love Him (John 5:22-23; 8:42).

How is your heart today? Is there any pretention or hypocrisy which is directing your heart away from God? Is there desire in your heart turning you away from God, redirecting the main focus to something, someone other than God and His Son? Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). When your heart is full of evil thoughts, and imaginations it will be speaking and doing and thinking those evil deeds. When your heart is full of God will you not be speaking the things of God? Most certainly.

Fill your heart with God, and God will come out in your speech and your life. Even when you end up in the judgment of God due to the sins of others, you will still grow in faith, love and knowledge and wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship