Common Place Religion

Please go to this blog written by Doug Eaton at The Fight of Faith.  Here is one paragraph…

The problem is that the way to find this glory and joy in God is to do the exact opposite of what you think you should do. It is like being submerged under a waterfall struggling for air. The most natural thing to do is to try to swim to the surface, but you will never get there because the crashing water will keep pushing you under. The right thing to do in that moment is swim down. It is only by swimming down that the water will spit you out down stream. This counter-intuitive nature is the same in the Christian life. If you are looking for true joy, he must increase, and we must decrease.

 

The New and the Old

“And Jesus said unto them, ‘Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.’
” Mark 2:19-22  (KJB)

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth, The traditions of the elders are meant, particularly concerning eating and drinking, and fasting, things before spoken of; and which occasioned this parable, and which were new things in comparison of the commands of God: some of them were of very short standing, devised in, that age; and most, if not all of them, were since the times of Ezra.
On an old garment; the moral and ceremonial righteousness of the Jews, in obedience to the law of God; signifying, that the former were not to be joined with these, to make up a justifying righteousness before God; which were not sufficient for such a purpose, either singly, or both together:
else the new piece that filled it up, taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse; for by attendance to the traditions of the elders, the Jews were taken off from, and neglected the commandments of God; nay, oftentimes the commands of God were made void by these traditions, so that the old garment of their own righteousness, which was very ragged and imperfect of itself, instead of being purer and more perfect, became much the worse, even for the purpose for which it was intended; See Gill on Mat_9:16.

The Gospel Preached in the Midst of Religious Superstition

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by Man whom He hath ordained; He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”  Acts 17:22-31  (KJB)

Worship: It’s Not For God, It’s For Us….SAY WHAT????

Truth in Palmyra

This is the very first post I ever published, other than the one where I first introduced the blog. Ah, memories. I am actually rerunning a lot of my older stuff. Many have not read much of it, I have been crazy busy with work and church/ministry stuff and am also getting all of my posts into Word so I have them always. Thanks for your patience and consideration. It’s a bit longish, Back then I thought the more words the merrier.
Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

This is my first “official” blog post, and it’s about a topic/person I will probably write about often. It’s about my “favorite” pastor, Joel Osteen.

Mr. Osteen’s name will probably appear in this blog often since he often says things which make me want to say other things. Hardly a word comes from his mouth that doesn’t make me want to respond in some way. Having said that…

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Religions Resistance

There are many times when the message of Christ is clearly presented that there will be resistance, even persecution, because the gospel of Christ turns religion upside down.  It is as true in 2017 as in the days of the apostles of Jesus.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:46-52 (KJV)

Paul and Barnabas were in a town where there was a Jewish synagogue, and they went there to fulfill the word of God, “To the Jew first…”.  They were made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit within them and upon them.

They had shared the history of the people of Israel; reminding them of the power of God on the people, His love, His grace, His mercy; upon the people in their journey in the wilderness.  All these as well with the Judges and the Kings of Israel, and how the LORD had called the Jews to be the messengers of God to the whole world.

Religion of men seeks to control men, women and children, and keeps people in bondage of sin.  Christianity, following Jesus frees men, women and children from the bondage, death, and scourge of sin.

What should the messenger of Christ do when opposed by the religious elite?  Do as Paul and Barnabas did.  Keep on preaching, teaching, living for the Lord.  “Shake the dust off your feet”, and go on doing the work of the ministry.

Christmas Day 80

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be angry at what makes God angry, and to direct that anger to fulfilling the will and glory of God in my life; to not let the anger fester and become hatred, sin and evil.

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.'” Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV)

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 359

What do I want for Christmas?

Like my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; I want to be a friend to the friendless, the oppressed, the fatherless, the poor, the hopeless, and the helpless, and by His grace and provision do what I can for them.

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.”  Psalm 10:17-18 (NKJV)

Doctrines of Death

There are teachings of men and religions which are doctrines of death; not life. Teachings which bind in sin, and offers no freedom from sin, are doctrines of death.

Of course when we live in a society and culture of sin; who knows what is sin? Who knows what is right and/or wrong? According to our culture today the only thing wrong, is to say sin is wrong, if that sin is how they are living. In other words to call adultery a sin is a sin, because you have offended the sinner.

Jesus came to give life to those who were living death sentences. We are all living a death sentence until we come to Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus saw the teachings of the Pharisees, and of Herod as leaven. In Scripture “leaven” or yeast is a type of sin which permeates, and goes throughout the “bread” causing it to rise, or puff up. Hear the words of Jesus:

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15 (KJV)

Jesus addresses much of the leaven of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They were making people more disciples of hell than they themselves were with their teaching. Herod was a political leader; and of that we need to be aware as well. Jesus called him “That fox” (Luke 13:32).

Religion and politics mix well when they are corrupt. The religion of the day; in the day of Jesus and ours, and politics are deceptive, and corrupt. The religion that mixes well with politics is the religion that believes politics is the answer for mankind’s ills, and works to attain God’s favor.

There is life when one comes to Jesus believing Him, and turning from sin to life in Him.

Confusing Laws

“The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.” Esther 3:14-15 (KJV)

The book of Esther is partly about a Jewish girl in the captivity in Shushan during the reign of Ahasuerus. The name of God is never mentioned, but let us never think that He is not seen, nor heard, nor in control of the events of the great book.

Haman is from the Amalekites who are descendants of Esau. They have hated the Hebrew people for at least a thousand (1,000) years. The Jewish people fought them from the time of their departure from Egypt, in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-14). Haman is a descendant of Agag from 1 Samuel 15, and due to this history has a vendetta to kill and destroy the Hebrew people. He schemes and plots; after his appointment as the chief prince of the Shushan; and convinces the king to give the writing (3:11-13), and destroy, to kill all the Jewish people throughout the land.

In looking at verse 14 above; the final part of the last sentence says, “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” ie. “confused”. This was pure and simply a plot of demonic proportions. For God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Yet we will see that God is in complete control to preserve and protect His people.

The king and Haman sat down to drink, to celebrate the writing; yet the city was confused. When kings and rulers make laws that confuse the people that is a simple sign that the laws and the rules are not to benefit the people.

There is peace, there is stability, there is knowledge, and there is wisdom for the people of God; for those who follow God’s way to life.

Wake up today, and walk in the law of God. Do not trust in the edicts of men; they only lead to confusion. The way of God is through the cross of Jesus Christ. He died, was buried, and rose again. One day He is returning to take His people to His place; then returning to this earth to rid the earth of all sin and evil. Join Him by trusting in His Son and His finished work.

No God???

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1 (KJV)

Who would dare to say that there is “No God”?  Not the wise, observant person who has eyes to see.  Not the one’s who know that things do not just appear from nothing.  Everything has a designer, and builder.

When I see this verse and the one similar to it in Psalm 53:1 my mind goes immediately to those who are non theist.  They have conventions.  Just recently they had one in Springfield, MO. calling it “Scepticon”  I guess for a gathering of non believers in God.  They try to win people over to the idea that “God does not exist”.

Notice what the Psalmist says of these people.  “They are corrupt” they are wasters, destroyers, spoilers.  “They have done abominable works” the works that they do may seem good in the eyes of men, but according to God and His Word they are “abominable” abhor the honor and glory of God. “None that doeth good” all that they do is done for their own pride and pleasure, rather than to glorify God in whom they say they do not believe.

I need not prove the existence of God.  “The earth is the LORD’S  and all that is therein”  He has made it.  It declares His glory; and the greatest knowledge of God comes from the cross of Christ.  God came to man in human flesh in His Son Jesus Christ and gave His life a ransom for all who will believe.  God is for He is the “I Am” of all eternity.

Jesus Does Good on the Sabbath Day

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, ‘Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.’ And he arose and stood forth.  Then said Jesus unto them, ‘I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?  And looking round about upon them all, He said unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thy hand.’ And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.”  ~Jesus doing good anyway (Luke 6:6-11)

Condemned if He Does; Condemned if He Don’t

“But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, ‘We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.’  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He hath a devil.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.’ But wisdom is justified of her children.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 11:16-19)

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My prayer is that all who come to FIRE AND HAMMER will be encouraged, informed, convicted, and comforted in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a great 2012

God of Purer Eyes

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” v. 12 (KJV).

Habakkuk seems to begin to understand the immutable [unchanging] character of God. He even refers to Him as ‘mine Holy One. He realizes that God is definitely going to use these godless people, the Chaldeans to judge His own sinful people. The judgment of God, must begin at the house of God; “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:6 (KJV). NOTE: “and begin at my sanctuary”. In the New Testament Peter says something very similar, and may have had this verse in mind, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV).

The prophet realizes that God is not going to completely destroy Judah, but, he still has questions. Judah will be corrected, and made right with God through the process of cleansing of the fire.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” v. 13 (KJV).

Habakkuk also begins to see that God is pure, and recognizes this in Him when he says, “Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil…”. This is a correct observation by the prophet. It seems, though, that the question is still lingering in his mind. How can God use this wicked people, when He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity, to judge the people whom He has chosen?

Is the prophet wanting God to judge the sins of Judah? That is my question. If God is of purer eyes than to look on sins of people, surely it must begin with those who are His own. Another question I must ask is, ‘If God does not judge the sins of those who are His, how can He justly judge the sins of those who are wicked?’ In all fairness He cannot. Since the Holy One [using Habakkuk’s words for God] cannot look on sin, because He is of purer eyes, than to do so, He must judge His people’s sins. Especially, when they defiantly wear His name and practice the evil of their hearts.

Maybe Habakkuk is realizing that God is going to have His way in the hearts of His people, and in the hearts of the Chaldeans, as well. It is not God’s plan to wipeout His people, but to cleanse them. However, He will judge, later, those who mistreat His people, and He will do it with vengeance. Woe be to the man, or nation who mistreats the child of God, or the people of God.

For verses 14-17 the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Lest God had forgotten just how wicked the Chaldeans were, Habakkuk drew attention to their evil character and behavior. Life was cheap to the Chaldeans. In the face of their ruthless tactics of war, other societies were ‘like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them.’ In light of their reputation (vv. 6-10), how could God have unleashed this ruthless force upon another helpless people?” (NKJV version pg.1319).

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” vv. 14-17 KJV).

In looking at the context of verses 14-17 it seems that these, “…wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he” Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) and, verse 15 would go together. The Babylonian/Chaldeans only see other people and nations as “fish to catch”, a prey to kill. Because they so overwhelm their prey they believe their gods are the ones to worship. This should cause us, I am sure it did the prophet Habakkuk, to realize they have brought shame to the name of GOD.

The prophet sees the people of God, though, defiled by sin, living in sin, and rebellious to God; as being the more righteous (v. 13). He sees the nations, including Judah, as being seen by them like ‘fish of the sea’, and all they [the Chaldeans] have to do is drop a hook or a net and pull them in.

Habakkuk has acknowledged in verse twelve that he realizes that the coming of the Chaldeans is the judgment of God upon an unholy people of Judah; who have forsaken the Lord their God, and worshipping empty vessels.

Sometimes it does seem that trouble just abounds, and comes to us like an enemy taking us like fish from the sea. Like the prophet, though, we can turn to our GOD and trust Him with the questions we may ask. When our faith is in Him, they are not questions of accusation, but, rather questions for faith learning and growing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 12, ’08

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

Mark Eleven – Twelve through Twenty six

“And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. 20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11:12-26 (KJV)

IN THE FIG TREE JESUS SHOWS US THE FRUITLESSNESS OF A DEAD RELIGION AND CONFRONTS IT.
As Jesus and the disciples were  leaving Bethany, back toward Jerusalem, Jesus spots a fig tree with leaves on it – advertising that it had fruit.  When Jesus arrives there they discover it has no fruit.  Jesus curses the fig tree.  To some this may seem unnecessary for Jesus to have done, but it seems to me that there is a message we must hear and heed.

  1. “There was a voice in it for the JEWISH CHURCH. Rich in the leaves of a formal religion, but barren of all fruits of the Spirit, that Church was in fearful danger, at the very time when this withering took place. Well would it have been for the Jewish Church if it had had eyes to see its peril!”
  2. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”
  3. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”   From J. C. Ryle commentary on Mark’s Gospel.

Dead religion offers nothing but leaves, and like the “fig leaves” which Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with were inadequate, so are the “fig leaves” of a dead religion.  In Scriptures the “Fig tree” often represents the nation of Israel and/or its religion (See Hosea 9:10; Nahum 3:12;  Zechariah 3:10).  It is somewhat intrigueing that we have Jesus’ strong words to this fig tree just before He enters the Temple compound and finds them “Buying and selling”.  You will also notice that when Jesus and the disciples pass by the fig tree again that it is dead.

Why did Jesus “curse” the fig tree.  First of all “it was not the season for figs” according to the text, but it had leaves, and most usually the leaves and the figs grew together.  Secondly, by having leaves but no figs it was “advertising” it had fruit when it did not.

There are many people who do not believe that Jesus ever became angry.  Those who think that must have never read of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.  He cleansed the temple once when He had just began His ministry three years prior to this, and then He does it again here.  You can read about the first “Cleansing” in John chapter two, verses thirteen through seventeen.

Here is what was going on in the Temple compound.  It was expected that the animals brought to the Temple for sacrifice would be inspected by the priest, but it had became a practice to find fault when there was no fault.  It may have been something like this – A priest would say an animal was at fault then sell the owner of the “faulty” offering an “approved” offering, and then, he would sell this man’s animal as “approved” to someone else.  Some people who travelled great distances may expect to buy a Temple approved offering at the Temple.  It was nothing more than theft, and dishonesty that was taking place in the name of God.  There was no holiness, righteousness, or godliness in the place.  The “House of prayer” had been turned into a “Den of thieves”, and Jesus would not tolerate it.

The money changers would charge great fees for exchanging Greek and Roman monies for the Temple money.  They made a great deal of profit by this deed, and took advantage of many poor people by the selling of doves for an extravagant  profit.

The Church of the Lord Jesus this day needs to pay careful attention to this.  The things of God are not for the making of profit.  Using the name of God to attach a price on things is theft, and dishonors the name of the Lord.  There are business men today who attend church so as to maintain a base for their business, and to keep a good name in the community they are in.  Some will even try to conduct a little business in the church.  There are some who think the church should be conducted like a business, when it is not a business, nor should it be conducted as such.  It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and is to be conducted by His guidelines and for His purposes, and glory.

In looking at the fig tree this is how we could define “Dead religion” – 1.  It offers much but delivers little;  2.  It is cold and formal;  3.  It seems alive by its much activity [its buying and selling], but God is not there;  4.  Its leaves cover its fruitlessness, but not to God’s eyes.

In verses 20 through 26 Jesus gives us a lesson in faith.  The fig tree He “cursed” the day before has already withered – it is dead.  It was so dead that even its roots were dried up.  “Have faith in God” is the statement Jesus issues to the disciples.  It is faith in God that makes all things possible.  Someone has said, “Where God guides, He provides”.  Is that true.  Yes! it is.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear in the physical realm.  You can see evidences of faith in God, for instance; the rising of the sun, and its setting; the order of the universe; the intricacies of the human body, and the bodies of animals as well;  the singing of the birds;  and all the other details of life.  Faith believes in God, even when there is no possible way of something happening.  Jesus’ words on prayer are strong, and is telling us to ask as if we have already received it “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24(KJV).

That is genuinely the prayer of faith.  Believing you have received it before you do.

Notice the importance Jesus places on “Forgiveness”.  Without forgiveness we cannot expect answer to our prayers.  God is so good to forgive us, we ought also to forgive those whom we believe responsible for offending us.

Remember this, NO FORGIVENESS, NO ANSWER TO PRAYER.  KNOW FORGIVENESS, KNOW ANSWER TO PRAYER.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Defenses Stripped

A nation, an individual, a family that has been greatly blessed by God is truly blessed, strong, safe, protected and having the hand of God upon them. When these have grown to a place where they begin to trust their own strength, and wander from the trust and worship of the One who has given them these things, then, there is need for warning.

A man or woman who has lived by faith, because of the faith given them by God, who begins believing they are great because of their own efforts, pride, and strength will draw away from the Lord. They see only that God’s blessing is on them, and that will always be the same. What happens, however, when the blessing stops? What happens when this individual begins trusting the blessing rather than the Blesser?
The nation of Judah, to whom Jeremiah addresses had been in such a state. Greatly blessed over the years, but they would never hear of the decease of God’s blessing. Any prophet who warned them that God was going to send a sinful nation to avenge Him was considered a false prophet. That was Jeremiah’s case.

The nation of Israel was likened unto a vineyard by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 5), and that picture is given to Jeremiah as well;

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD. They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.” Jeremiah 5:10-13 (KJV)

Though vineyard is not mentioned in the KJV that is the idea of the “walls”. Vineyards did have walls around them, and these “battlements” are speaking of the “branches” of the vineyard that are to be taken away.

The NKJV reads,

“Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches for they are not the LORD’s.”

The wall was the means of protection for the vineyard. It kept the livestock from getting into it, the wildlife from doing too much damage. To destroy the wall was to make the vineyard open to ruin.

Notice in these words that God gives hope to His people, “…but make not a full end” . The defense of God’s people is the LORD, not a our nation, not our president, not the military, etc. It is the LORD alone. When we turn our backs on God in favor of wicked leaders, and military defenses, politics or business; including Wall Street, then we will have our defenses stripped.

People no longer listen to the truth. We want to feel good and the truth doesn’t leave us feeling too well. The nation of Judah turned its back on God infavor of the lies of the false prophets. They rejected the word of God, and trusted lies. Judah and Israel said that “If there is a coming judgment, it is not of God”. They would not believe that God could do such a thing. After all, they thought, “We have the temple of God”. They may have had the temple of God, but God was not in His temple.

There may be destruction from God, but it is to call His people back to Himself. Christian of 2009 wake up and see and hear the truth of God’s word. Trust only in Him, and be at peace. God has our best in His heart. Repent, return and believe. Do this through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for your sins, was buried carrying your guilt, shame and condemnation away, and He bodily arose from the grave, and gives us eternal life. One day soon He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sorrow of Heart

We have all at one time or another, and maybe more times than not experienced SORROW OF HEART. What have we experience this for? Our financial condition? Our health? The health of a friend or relative? A family problem or situation, etc.? Have we ever really experienced SORROW OF HEART for the spiritual conditon of our nation, our family, or friends? Probably not as often as we should have.
Jeremiah experienced sorrow for his people. They had drifted away from God and in some things, just flat out rejected God, His Word, His prophets, and His law. They had decided that the Law of God was a reproach to them (See chapter 6). Have you ever heard anyone say something like this, “If it taste good, looks good, smells good, sounds good or feels good; its wrong”. That is really just a snide comment against God and His Word. God spells out clearly in His Word what is right and what is wrong, and these are based on His right and wrong. There are some things which are right or wrong in their time and place. For example; God has decreed that the “Marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), so the right time for the marriage act is with one’s spouse following the wedding, and it is right and good. It is wrong, however, to assume the marriage bed without the benefit of marriage – one man and one woman; that too is clearly defined by Scriptures.
The only reason the word of God could be a “reproach” is because one wants to live their life free of any boundaries. You and yours and everyone around you will be the ones your actions will affect.
Hear the words of the prophet:

“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

When people begin departing from the LORD after they have received the knowledge of Him, their path is always downward. They may have a great education, a great job, a marvelous house in which to live. They may have all that is necessary for living in this life, but without God, they are perishing.
The prophet is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts. God is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts and lives. God even says, “My people are foolish…” How can anyone who has ever truly known God depart from God, never return? They are educated but not in God. God goes on and says, “They are silly children…”. God sees those who believe and trust Him as His children, and we are; however, we are silly children when we choose to do our own thing, and get away from our Father.
The prophet Hosea said,

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

The prophet Hosea continues,

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

Is it any wonder that people turn away from the LORD when they do not care to read, study, and apply His Word to their lives? The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision the people perish” Proverbs 29:18, or as the NKJV records it, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” When the Word of God grows cold in your life, so will your love for God, righteousness, and holiness.

People who refuse God, His Word, and His revelation are “wise to do evil”, should we all not rather be wise to do that which is good and godly; and that is doing all that we do for the glory of the LORD. Personal attention, or popularity, or power, and/or prestige is out of the picture when all we are seeking is the glory of the LORD.

Being wise to do good will end a whole lot of mess in relationships. Families, churches, communities, countries, and the world will be a better place when the glory of the LORD is everyone’s goal.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Deluded, Deceived and Destroyed

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,’ saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” Jeremiah 4:10 (NKJV).

Like the majority of the people Jeremiah wanted peace. He was probably hoping for peace, even heard the false prophets, and thought how wonderful that would be for God to protect them from the coming invasion of the “Lion and company”. God will allow us to believe in lies of deception if we prefer that over the truth. Nevertheless, it is still inevitable that evil will come, and there will be no peace. God does not deceive, nor does He approve of lies and deception, but when He sees the heart of people given to lies, then He will use the deception and lies to carry out His divine will.

Peace is not possible when there is no peace with God. The lies of the false prophets of things getting better. No judgment is going to come on us. We are in a time of extraordinary blessing, not of judgment. There is a great and enormous wealth coming to the Church. Lies, lies, lies. In my heart and mind I long for those things to come to pass, but by the condition of the hearts of the people of God; they are in fact lies and deception.

A man, woman or a nation who believes they are at peace with God while living in immorality, and debauchery are deceived and lying to themselves. A man, woman or a nation that is given to the tolerance of alcoholism, drunkenness, and profiting from it is not at peace with God, and if they think so are deceiving and lying to themselves. Any business man, bank president, loan company manager, or national leader who belives they are at peace with God, while taking advantage of the poor, with housing foreclosures, and higer interest rates than the priviledged, are deceiving and lying to themselves.

Jeremiah was really horrified by the judgment he knew God was sending on Jerusalem. He could not keep silent. The prophet of God must speak the truth of the Word of God. What the feelings and the heart wants is not sufficient. Hope without promise is no hope. Hope based on feelings, or personal desire is merely wishful thinking.

“4:10 deceived. Like Habakkuk (1:12-17), Jeremiah was horrified at these words of judgment, contrasting the prevailing hope of peace. God is sometimes described as if doing a thing He merely permits, such as allowing false prophets who delude themselves to also deceive a sinful people into thinking peace would follow (cf. 6:14; 8:11; 1Kin. 22:21-24). God sees how people insist on their delusions, and lets it happen.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note, p. 1068 NKJV.

O, how deceived people can be and often are today. A man in Florida says he heals in the name of Jesus Christ, but kicks an old man in the head, because, “that is what God told” him to do. And, people ask is this of God? Why do we need to ask? The mere fact that people will believe such only shows what is said above to be true. People will believe what they want to believe, even when it is a lie.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing For Backsliding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus and Politics

There is a whole lot of politics going on. You know the idea, and ask the question, “How do you know a politician is lying?” The answer is… I will let you know a little later. That almost sounds like a good answer. That is not it, however.

How should Christians who are ‘followers of Jesus Christ’ be involved in politics, or should they be? Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. It seems you could get a clear and distinct answer of being involved from that statement, “Render to Caesar…” When we are citizens of a Nation which has a democratic process of elections, then, we should participate in those elections and let our vote and voice be heard.

Should Christians try to get moral legislation for that Nation? That may be a little stickier. As Christians we understand that morality, nor legislation is going to change a nation. A nation changes as the hearts of the people are changed. That works in the positive and the negative. If the life changing message of the Gospel of Jesus is received by the populace, then there will be a positive change of hearts. If, on the other hand, society begins to turn more and more away from God, His Word, equal justice for all, giving of their resources to others in need, and morality, then there is the negative change and evil will increase. The streets will be filled with crimes such as street shootings, school shootings, robberies – banks, convenience stores, jewelry stores, churches, etc. Husbands killing wives, wives killing husbands, parents killing children, children killing parents, co-habitations, and all kinds of immoral sexual behavior.

Christians must have a voice, and that voice is in their church buildings and in the voting booth, and in the public forum. Christian, you have the right to vote: Use it or lose it.

I was behind a car from New Hampshire on the afternoon of Friday October 27, 2006 in Cassville, Missouri. I noticed something about that plate and the motto on the plate. It read, “LIVE FREE, OR DIE”. I thought when I saw it, “Now who ever came up with that one had a bold thought”. As long as you and I have the freedom to vote we have a say in the way things are run in our country.

If we get to trusting in the political process to save our Nation we are doomed. In the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ it speaks of a woman riding a beast. That woman represents religion, and the beast is – I believe – democratic government. I must say, has not religion in recent years been riding the beast of democracy? What follows is not pretty.

The Gospel of Jesus will change hearts and lives. No political process can do that. Legislate as you will.

Now to answer the question at the beginning. Their mouth is moving. But, you probably already knew that.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. It this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence that just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That it the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

A Heart of Pretense

“Pretense” – a claim, not supported by fact; mere display or show. A false show. So is the meaning of the word. It would not be a pleasant or comfortable thing to be charged with. However, as we look into the book of Jeremiah we see that the nation of Judah, the Southern part of the divided kingdom since Rehoboam, is charged with this exact thing. “Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:10).

The Northern kingdom has been charged with adultery against God. God has called for their repentance (3:7), to return to the LORD. They had prostituted themselves against their faithful Husband and God, and become a immoral nation.

“…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:8-10 (NKJV).

This was a prophecy given during the reign of Josiah (3:6), who was considered a godly king. Josiah became king at the age of eight years (Read 1 Chronicles 34 – 35). You will read of Josiah that he purged the land of Judah of the “high places”, of “carved images”, and of “molded images”, and that “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD…” However, it appears that much of what was done during Josiah’s reign was done with pretense. It does not seem to have been pretense on the kings part, but on the peoples hearts. Legislation, whether done by a monarch or a president cannot change the hearts of people. The hearts of the people of Judah were moved by Josiah, but not by God. Therefore, there was much pretense in the land of Judah.

Pretense or hypocrisy cannot be hid from the omniscient eye of the LORD. It is said quite often in Scriptures that “God looks on the heart”, and that seems to be something that all people tend to forget. Pretense and hypocrisy never fools, or deceives the Lord Almighty. It didn’t work in Judah or Israel, and it will not work in today’s world either.

If you will notice God even calls this act by Judah “treacherous”. Three times in verses seven through ten God calls Judah the “treacherous sister” of Israel. The word “Treacherous” is defined as ‘Characterized by treachery; untrustworthy, unreliable’ and “Treachery” is defined as ‘a violation of allegiance or trust’. According to Strong’s Concordance it is to deal deceitfully; and certainly the heart’s of the people of Judah were endeavoring to deal deceitfully with God.

At a time when our own nation is at war, and the hearts of people are growing more and more spiritual, but not according to the knowledge of God; there is much pretense and hypocrisy. There are religions on every corner that use the name of God, but know Him not. When religion denies Jesus Christ, they deny God. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is truly only one true worship of God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection. Any other presumed worship is a treacherous and pretentious worship.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

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.