Jesus in Genesis (5)

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10c)

We are going to look at a picture of Jesus in Genesis 22 in this study. It is surely one of the clearest pictures of Jesus, the crucifixion, and resurrection that you will ever find in all of the Old Testament.

First of all I want you to put from your mind the old Sunday School picture of Isaac being a small child as he and his father, Abraham went on this journey of sacrifice. It is highly, more probable, that he is a man in his thirties. I will explain that a little later. Now, how do we see the Lord Jesus in the text of Genesis 22.

The command from God to Abraham is,

“Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering up one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (v.2).

God the Father offered up His only Son for the sacrifice for sin upon the cross of Calvary. Which is said to be the very place where Abraham came to offer Isaac. It was a planned place, “which I will tell thee of”. Abraham rose without question, “early in the morning” maybe to avoid the questions of Sarah, but he went in faith. If you will notice how many times it is stated rather emphatically that it was a “certain place” (vv. 2,3,4,&9).

After Abraham had gathered all the necessary items, his son, a couple of servants, the wood, and the fire they journeyed for three days (v. 4) and “saw the place afar off.” In the heart and mind of Abraham, Isaac had been three days dead. He had been committed to obey God believing according to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews that God was able to raise Isaac from death (Hebrews 11:17-19). From this point on Abraham and Isaac proceed up to the mountain top alone. What is about to transpire can only happen between the father and the son. What happened on Calvary between the Father and Son was such a transaction that no one will ever be able to describe. Three hours of darkness. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us about the event.SEE Matthew 27:45-46; Mark15:33-34; and Luke 23:44-45.

If you will, now, notice the wood that Abraham, “…laid it upon Isaac his son…” Notice also who took “the fire” and “a knife”. By whose hand was this judgment to fall? The father. See Isaiah 53:4-5ff.

Now, back to something I mentioned earlier. Isaac would have been a grown man, not a child as is often pictured in many Sunday School quarterlies. He could have been 37 years of age. I base that on Sarah’s age at the time of her death (Genesis 23:1) 127, and age of Isaac at the time of his marriage to Rebekkah – 40 (Genesis 25:20; also see 24:67). The reason I mention this is because as a grown man he would have been able to overthrow his father, and not be the sacrifice, but Isaac went as a willing participant in the offering. He was submissive to his father’s will. 1) He took the wood (v. 6); 2) He walked up the hill carrying the wood (v.9); 3) He allowed his hands and feet to be bound (v. 9). Does that sound familiar?

Isaac’s typology of Christ ends here at the altar. He was an unworthy sacrifice for sin. Isaac himself needed a substitute, and that would be the ram. At the point where the “angel of the LORD” stops the hand of Abraham from slaying Isaac, in the heart and mind of Abraham Isaac is alive again. He has been resurrected and lives. Three days dead, now living. On the way, alone with his father, Isaac had asked, “…Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”, and Abraham responded, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering… (vv. 7-8). God has provided HIMSELF as a sacrifice for sin in the person of His own only Son.

I do not think it to be an accident that it says, “…and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns…” In Scripture horns represent power and authority. The ram was held by his own power. Christ “…Stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51).

May they who have a heart for seeing Jesus see Him clearly here. If you cannot see Him here you will miss Him elsewhere.

Henry Martyn (1781-1812)

The following article is borrowed from Kairos Journal.  I found it quite interesting and informing.  I pray the readers here will as well.

“Alone against Islam”: Henry Martyn (1781-1812)

The debate inside the tent soon matched the soaring temperatures outside as the solitary, sickly Christian rebuffed the arguments of his Muslim opponents. Henry Martyn (1781-1812) had reached Tabriz in May 1812 hoping to present a copy of his Persian translation of the New Testament to the Shah, the nation’s ruler, for his commendation. But before that could happen, the Shah’s vizier (1) ordered him to dispute with the mullahs. After an hour or two the vizier finally intervened with an ultimatum. “You had better say ‘God is God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God.’” No-one moved. All eyes focused on Martyn. Later he recalled, “I said, ‘God is God,’ but instead of adding ‘Muhammad is the prophet of God,’ I said, ‘and Jesus is the Son of God.’” The mullahs rose in disgust and the vizier refused his visitor’s request. (2)

Fifteen years earlier, few could have imagined such a scene. In October 1797, Martyn entered Cambridge University to read mathematics and five years later became a fellow in classics. As a brilliant scholar and linguistic genius, an academic career beckoned, yet Martyn turned his back on it. Charles Simeon (3) asked him to serve as his curate in 1803, and under his influence the young man set his heart on serving Christ overseas.

Leaving behind the woman he loved, Martyn arrived in India in April 1806 as a chaplain of the East India Company, responsible for the souls of the locally stationed British soldiers. But his heart burned for the indigenous Muslim and Hindu populations, and before long he was preaching to them despite heat, opposition, and ill-health. Putting his linguistic skills to use, he started the simultaneous translation projects of the New Testament into Persian, Arabic, and Urdu and completed the Urdu edition in February 1809.

His desire to revise the Persian and complete his Arabic New Testament led Martyn to leave India and enter the formidable domain of Islamic Persia in May 1811. Setting out for Shiraz, a prominent center of Shia Muslim scholarship and poetry, he traveled with a wet towel around his face and neck because of the fierce heat. Once installed in his new home, Martyn worked with a local, Mirza Seid Ali, on the Persian translation, and in less than nine months he completed the New Testament and a version of the Psalms in an accurate and readable vernacular. “No year of my life was ever spent more usefully,” he wrote. (4)

Yet Martyn’s time in Shiraz was far from tranquil. As the only Christian in a Muslim city, he was an easy target for abuse, and the governor had to intervene to stop the constant stoning of his house. He defended the gospel in lengthy discussions with the mullahs and wrote a reply to a defense of Islam published by the leading mullah, Mirza Ibrahim. Always willing to engage the Sufis, his conversations invariably reached an impasse over the deity of Christ. Before he left Shiraz to see the Shah in May 1812, only one man had turned to Christ. Yet the fruit of Martyn’s life appeared after his untimely death that October. His Persian edition reached people in 1846, being used until 1910, and his work still shapes the current edition.

Reflecting on his life, Martyn commented, “Even if I never should see a native converted, God may design, by my patience and continuance in the work, to encourage future missionaries.” (5) Today, Persia (modern day Iran) is still held in the vice of radical Islam, pouring forth a message of threat and triumphalism backed up with arms and money. As political and military solutions are considered to contain its influence, Henry Martyn’s sacrificial example shows the only sure way to challenge Islam. May God be pleased to send many more like him to confront the nations with Christ’s truth.

Footnotes:
1     A high official in certain Muslim countries and caliphates, especially a minister of state.
2     Richard T. France, “Henry Martyn,” in Five Pioneer Missionaries, ed. S. M. Houghton (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 291.
3     Vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England.
4     Ibid., 285.
5     Ibid., 263.

Do Not Be Found Out

Has anyone ever stopped to think about the foolishness of idolatry. That is the desire for things, the greed for wealth, the lust for power, and/or the opposite sex; and in some cases of this day the perversion of the same sex. That is, afterall, what idolatry is all about.

We live in an era not dissimilar from Jeremiah’s. The people were living in basic comfort, secure in their wealth, and easy lives. Though, ours is plagued somewhat with fear of terrorism we still go about doing whatever we please; paying the exhorbitant prices for gasoline, and everything going up due to that; yet we purchase, or at least those who can do. Power for more of the things desired.

Hear the word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah:

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, saying to a stock, ‘Thou art my father;’ and to a stone, ‘Thou hast brought me forth:’ for they have turned their back unto Me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise, and save us.’ But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.”  Jeremiah 2:26-28 (KJV)

It seems quite clear that the people of Judah have been caught in the practice of idolatry, worshipping other gods, which are not gods at all, but more burdens for the people to carry. Have you ever noticed the junk that we in our society build up and keep in closets, garages, security vaults, magazine racks, and how valuless they really are?

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day they were here being accused of having wood idols, and giving it praise for being their father. Also of telling one made of stone that was their mother. In the worship of other gods, they turned their back on God, denying Him as their birthparent as a nation. By turning their back and not their faces we find a great hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that while everything is going good, life is easy and comfortable, they really have no care to remember God, His holy days, nor His Law or His Word. However, when they start hearing about an enemy, or having some other troubles they begin to cry out to the true God for help. God, the LORD, says to that, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble;” It is like He is saying to them you have plenty of gods you love and adore more than Me, “Let them help you”. The prophet continues by saying, “For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” You would think that the more gods the better. Right? Wrong.

The one true God is sufficient to meet our every need. In fact there is no other god but the LORD God. The one who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place.

We continue now to the next two verses:

“Wherefore will ye plead with Me? Ye all have transgressed against Me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.”  Jeremiah 2:29-30 (KJV)

At times when people face catastrophe they tend to recognize that God does exist. When things ease off, and start getting back to normal it is back to the worship of things,getting those desires met, achieving those personal goals at the cost of life, limb, or friendships, or spouses and family. When this happens, some of it is genuine, and some is not. The one’s who are genuine will continue being faithful when the things start being good again. They will hear the voice of the LORD and will obey Him. They do not turn away.

These are the ones whom the LORD will bless. These are the ones whom the LORD has genuinely saved.

These “two faced” people are about as dependable as a flat tire, and no rim with it. The correction of the LORD does no good, accomplishes nothing, and they hate the prophets who tell them the truth for the saving of their souls.

Do not turn your back on God. Do not be a two faced individual who worships God on Sunday, then, through the rest of the week no one will ever know any difference from watching your life, hearing your dirty words, and dirty jokes.  Turn your face toward Jesus Christ, and you will be made just before holy GOD.  When you have given your life to the LORD through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ your life changes, for His glory and your good. You will love the Law, the History of His people, the Wisdom of the sages, and the prophets; both the Major and Minor prophets. You will love God’s Word.  You will desire to please the LORD.  It is not a burden but a pleasure to love the LORD, His Word and the life He gives us.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Leaky gods Vs. Living Water

The men who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Judah had forsaken the LORD. They did not even realize their spiritual condition. That is a horrible thing for the “man of God” not to even notice that God is not present. The false prophets were prophesying by Baal, a false god, of pleasure. He was the god that took the place of the LORD in the hearts of Jerusalem.

Are things any different in the day in which we live (2013)? With Oprah’s “Secret”, a god that is not “Jealous”, and television commercials which make gods and godesses out of men and women with their products, we are becoming more and more of a pagan people.  We are a vain people.  In my mind there does not seem to be any difference; with the exception of clothing, and location.

In the text we look at today we see the LORD is bringing charges against the children of Jacob (v. 4).

HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD –

“Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”  Jeremiah 2:9-13 (KJV)

The charge brought against them is forsaking Him. What does it take to forsake the Living God? The answer to that is: Just by diliberately turning to another source of encouragement, and strength one forsakes the Living God.

Notice this charge. What other nation has forsaken their gods? None. Earlier in the Nation’s life they wanted to be like other nations by wanting a king. Read First Samuel, and you will see their request for a king. How is it that now they could not be like these other nations, and trust only in their God. The God of gods, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

When a follower of Christ Jesus follows someone or anything else they lose the Glory that was theirs in Christ. The Psalmist wrote –

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’ But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”  Psalm 115:1-8 (KJV)

Why would someone want to drink water from a cistern, when you can have flowing fresh clean water? That is what had happened to the people of God. They had left the glory of the LORD to pattern their lives after that of death and darkness. Any time God’s people follow the world, the flesh and the devil we get out of His glory, ie., the Glory of God.

These cisterns God tells us of, are even leaky cisterns. They cannot even hold water. These cisterns would catch the water from what little rainfall they might receive, and dew falling from the roof of the mornings, then go out of the morning and find only a wet well, but no water to drink.

You become like what you worship. So beware.  The “Secret” which Oprah promotes is no secret at all.  It began with the lies of the devil in the garden of Eden, “You shall be like God…”.   And they died.  Follow the Word of the Lord, and you shall live.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Is God Missing In Your Life?

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

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

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

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

Hear the Word of the LORD:

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

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

 “Thus saith the LORD, ‘What iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? Neither said they, ‘Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?  And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled My land, and made Mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, ‘Where is the LORD? And they that handle the law knew Me not: the pastors also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.'”  Jeremiah 2:4-8 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

Twice it is mentioned in this text; the question, “Where is the LORD?” First it was the “fathers” (v. 6), then it is the priests (v. 7). They were not even missing the presence of the LORD. Why would you ask, if you do not even notice that God is missing from your “worship”.  The LORD has come and dwelt among His people.  He went to the cross and died for our sins in the Person of His Son Jesus the Christ.  He was buried carrying all our sin, our guilt, our shame, our condemnation away; then He arose bodily from the grave, and is now seated at the Father’s right hand always interceding for all who will come to Him.

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

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

Is God missing in your worship, or have you even noticed?  He is as close as His name.  Jesus.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

For God So Loved the World…

Within the Southern Baptist Convention there is a great controversy over Calvinism and Arminiamism.  I only use these because in the end they are the extreme side of both ends.  I know that my little bit will not help the debate, but it will be my two cents nevertheless.

Calvinism is based partly on the teachings of John Calvin, a reformer; born in 1509 and died in 1564.  I am not a follower of John Calvin, nor would I call myself a Calvinist, but neither am I an Armenian.  Just to get to the nitty gritty of the matter Calvinism teaches the sovereignty of God in salvation, and there is no Biblical problem with that.  No one can be saved except the Spirit of God draw an individual to God (John 6:44).

The problem with this belief is when it is carried to the extreme by living as though there is no human responsibility in taking the message of the gospel to the lost of the world.  We are commanded by Jesus Himself to “go into all the world…”  Many of those who have fallen into this lie will say that this is spoken only to the disciples, or apostles of Jesus and has no merit for today’s believers.  I guess the rest of Scripture, then, has no merit for us.  That is the only conclusion one can reach with that belief.

The extreme calvinist will tell you too that God only sent Jesus into the world to die for the elect; thus the title of this post.  According to Strong’s Concordance “world” is from the word “kosmos, cosmos” which takes in all of creation, the universe, and every thing and everyone upon planet earth.  Especially those made in His image and after His likeness, but He does not leave out the rest of His creation.  The extreme calvinist will also deny the freewill of man.

Yes God is sovereign in salvation of mankind.  No Christian can deny that and believe Scripture; however, one cannot deny that Christ came and died, was buried, and rose again from the grave, that “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  To deny that is to deny the Scripture as well.

It is my understanding that the extreme of Arminianism is that an individual can of his/her own will decide to be saved.  The logical conclusion of that is; if one can on their own merit decide to be saved, in their own time, place and way; then, they could at any time, any place, and any way they choose decide not to be saved as well.

What amazes me about the sovereignty of God is that God saves by His discretion and grace; and that His will is and will be done no matter what we may say or do.  The sovereignty of God, and the freewill of man are both taught in Scripture.  To deny one or the other is to deny the Word of God.  They work together to accomplish the will of God on earth and for His glory.

In the end neither one of these man made soteriologies are going to get anyone to God or heaven;

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

As Baptist we need to agree that the Scriptures are true; and that we do not understand all there is to know about God, His sovereignty, or His salvation by grace.  We are called to trust and believe on His Son, His death, burial and resurrection.

Let us get together, and get it together.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus Helped; Scripture Fulfilled

“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.”  Mark 15:21-36 (KJV)

After Jesus had been beaten with the “Cat o nine tails”, and stricken by the hands of His mockers and accusers Jesus would have been very weak physically.  As they took Jesus on “The way of suffering” called “Via Delorosa” He may have stumbled from the weakness and they compelled one Simon from Cyrene to carry the cross, or help Him carry it.  This wooden cross would have been heavy to bear even for a man who had not lost much blood, as Jesus had.  This Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.  This Rufus is probably the Rufus mentioned in the book of Romans, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

(Rom 16:13)”.  It is quite possible that because of this experience the man Simon and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, became followers of Jesus.  Simon was a help to Jesus and Jesus was certainly a help to Simon and his family.

They offered Jesus a “Wine mixed with myrrh to drink”, but He refused it.  It was a drink that would have dulled His senses, and numbed His pain.  Jesus’ choice of love was to endure the pain with all His senses about Him, and to suffer the full pain and retribution of sin, as His Father judged the sin of the world.  Refusing the drink, He would still be able to communicate with His Father, and not sin.

The third “Help” does not seem much like help for Jesus.  They actually were helping themselves to the garments which Jesus wore.  It would take an awfully cold, calloused heart to set at the foot of a cross and gamble for the garments of a condemned man, be he innocent or guilty.  Here these men were playing a game at the feet of an innocent, sinless, guiltless man, and seemingly with no remorse, or shame.  My, how there is varied instance of people’s responses to the death of Jesus.  Some are cold and callous, some are weeping, some are running away, some are just political, and some bow and call Him, Lord.

The time would have been 9 a.m. when the crucifixion took place.  Pilate had a placcard written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “The King of the Jews”.  John writes, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).
According to John’s Gospel the “chief priests of the Jews” did not like the words, they believed it should say, that He said, “I am king of the Jews”.  Pilate stood his ground and said, “What I have written I have written.”
One of the things Jesus was sure of, and committed to was the “Fulfillment of Scripture”.  Here we have another fulfillment of the Scriptures. “He was numbered with the transgressors” –

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.   Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)”.

There were three men hung on the tree that day- two thieves and the One who gives life to all who trust in Him.  There is a song with the chorus that says, “The one on the left, he was a sinner, the one on the right was too, but the man in the middle He was the Savior, and He died just to save me and you.”  We know from Scripture that one of these theives put his trust in Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).

The people who passed by the cross where Jesus was spoke in blasphemous, defaming, reviling words.  They mocked His precious words in which He spoke of rising from the dead – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it once again”.  They commented about “Save Thyself and come down from the cross…”  How could Jesus pay the sin debt of the world if He came down from the cross.   On the cross, Jesus was doing the greatest work He came to do.  He came to minister and give His life a ransom for many (10:45).   His greatest work was to glorify the Father, and He did that by completing the task which was given Him.  To die on the cross was the glory of the heavenly Father, and made it possible that wicked, sinful, blemished, spotted man might be reconciled to Him.  If they had known what they were asking they would not have asked.  Knowing what I know of this today, my question would be, “How could You do that for me?”

Likewise the “chief priests” were demanding that if He was indeed the Son of God, “Save yourself” and “…that we may see and believe”.  They had seen the mighty works which He had done.  They still would not believe, and because of that, and because they would not believe their scriptures, they would not believe though He arose from the dead.

There was a period of darkness over the land.  My personal belief is that this darkness was more than just a local phenomonen.  It was worldwide.  The main and maybe only reason I believe that is, that, the reason Jesus died was for the sins of the world, thus the whole world would, most likely, have gone into this great darkness.  It was a spiritual darkness unlike anything the world had ever seen.  It was a total darkness.  It lasted for three hours while Jesus suffered the wrath and judgment of the Father for sin – our sin.  It was the darkest and most dreaded day of Jesus’ life.  “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me” was His cry after the judgment had been made.  The Father had turned His back on His Son, because He had been made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).

Some who were standing there thought Jesus was calling for Elijah to come and rescue Him from the cross.  One ran to get a sponge full of vinegar which Jesus now receives (John 19:30).  His work was finished.  There was no more for Him to do for the atonement of sin.  I am so thankful that He was not calling for Elijah to come and remove Him from the cross, though I know He would have used other means.  He could have called thousands of angels to come to His aid.  He could have spoken a word, and it would have all been over.  He could have called to the Father, “I cannot bear it”, but He bore it for you and for me.  If He had not bourne it for us we would be forever doomed to eternal torment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

You Can Believe All That He Teaches

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”  Mark 13:24-37 (KJV)

BELIEVE EVERYTHING HE TEACHES

The Word of God clearly tells us that there will be a time when all chaos will break lose in the heavens; the sun, nor moon will give their light; the stars will “fall”; the heavenly bodies will all be “shaken”.  The Bible tells us, “…By Him all things consist”  that is “are held together” (Col. 1:17).  At the time shortly before Jesus returns to reign on earth, and after the Antichrist has wreaked havoc on the earth is when these things will take place.  God’s hand removed possibly to show who was really in control of things.  This will be a very chaotic, frightening, and deadly time for residents of planet earth.  People of earth have always wanted a world without God, and at this time they get what they want.  LOOK OUT.

When these things come about then, know that Christ will come with “Power and great glory”, and set up His kingdom on earth.  Jesus will send out the angels to gather the “elect” which is most likely all those who were saved during the seven years of tribulation, the 144,000 Jewish witnesses, etc., and call them to serve in His kingdom.  These will come from all over the earth.  There will be a resurrection of the dead who died for their testimony for Christ, and their bodies and spirits will be united once again.

Look at the signs.  The parable of the “Fig tree” is that you can know when it is time for the figs.  We can know when the time of Jesus’s second coming is near.  We cannot set dates or a time, we do not know, but the signs give us a clue that it is near.

This generation of people will not pass away until all these things are done.  What generation?  The generation who witnesses these events taking place.  How long is a generation?  It varies, depending on who you ask.  It can be 40 years, or 70 years, even 100 years.  That is three thoughts.  It is most important for us to not be carried away by the years, but to think of the event and the signs which we all can see.

In verse 31 we have the assurance of the immutability, and eternalness of God’s Word.  All of heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will stand forever.  That is how we can know that these events which we are looking at will truly come to pass.  God is Truth.  His Word is Truth.  His Son Jesus is Truth in flesh.  We can put our trust in Him.

No one knows the day or the hour.  Not even Jesus as He walked among us in the flesh knew when He would come again.  Now, however, back on His throne, and in His glory He knows the exact day and hour.  As He was here on earth He was God incarnate, but limited His omniscience according to the Father’s discretion.  Now He has been given all things.

It has been given to God’s people, for our day and time, to be diligent, awake and alert to the goings on around us.  Jesus has ascended into the heavens, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and we are waiting His return, but that has responsibilities we are to practice, and live.  Take heed to God’s Word, His guidance, direction.  Watch and pray, for we do not know when He will come again.  The Master of the House is returning.  WATCH.

-Tim A. Blankenship

His Glory… Before the World Was

Today we will look solely at the glory of Jesus.  It is His glory for which we live and move and have our being.

“And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was”  John 17:5 (KJV).

Notice the faith and confidence in Jesus’s praying.  He is eternal with the Father.  He possessed glory before the world, or the universe ever was.  His glory is His greatness, His power, His strength, His song, His priority. His Father’s glory.  Where I have fallen short; where you have fallen short of His glory; Jesus is the Father’s glory.

Jesus is praying for His own glory.  It seems quite clear.  This is His High Priest prayer, and He has come to accomplish His Father’s glory by the sacrifice of Himself for all the world.  The task He came to do required that He lay His creation glory aside, take on the flesh of man, and die.  How can God die?  He cannot.  Becoming flesh He could become sin, paying the price of sin, being put to death – the penalty for sin – and then rise again victoriously over death.

The glory is seen by His resurrection from the grave.  The Father restores His glory in the resurrection, and He is alive for all the world to see.  Did the Father answer His prayer; this prayer?  Most assuredly He did

Jesus is alive and in His glory.

-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

Dealing With Evil…

“The LORD hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil”  Proverbs 16:4 (KJV).

To many this may be a very troubling verse of Scripture.  In it, however, the follower of Jesus Christ should find rest and peace.  As a matter of fact all people who are troubled by the problem of evil, and believe in God could find solace in these words.

We rest in the truth of the Word of God.  We are told of the beginning where God created all things.  Here we are told that He “Made all things for Himself…”.  John the Revelator [writer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ] has written, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS, and FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.” Revelation 4:11 (KJV).  (Caps are for emphasis from me).

We can rest assured that though there is evil in the world and there are evil people in the world who thrive in doing evil deeds; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are accomplishing His purposes in the world.  Evil will be dealt with.  Evil will be judged.  Evil will come to an end.  God will be glorified.

PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD.  PRAISE THE NAME OF JESUS.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

Purpose – To see by faith, that God cares for His people when we must take a purposeful stand to forward His name and His faith.

OUTLINE –
I.  DANIEL TOOK A PURPOSEFUL STAND NOT TO EAT OF THE KING’S PROVISIONS (v. 8).
II.  DANIEL IS REMINDED OF THE POSSIBLE COST OF TAKING THIS STAND – ESPECIALLY FOR HIS FRIEND (vv. 9-10).
III.  DANIEL IS NOT STANDING ALONE – HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH ARE STANDING WITH HIM (vv. 10-13).
IV.  GOD BLESSES THEIR FAITH AND THEIR STAND (vv. 14-16).

We must all consider the fact, as Christians, that we are strangers in a foreign land.  Some may not like, nor appreciate that statement, but if our citizenship is in heaven, and with God, then, we are indeed strangers in this land.  It matters not what nation we live in; we are strangers in a foreign land.  We are even “captives”, yet ambassadors in this foreign land, until the Lord returns to call us home to be with Him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were ambassadors of God in Babylon.  It seems, that they were about the only godly witness there.  That is not so however.  There was Ezekiel the prophet; and Esther and Mordecai [evidently cousins] (Esther 2:5-7).  These were captives in Babylon, and there could have been many more.  We have the four teenage boys taking a stand which was probably unheard of.  It is a very encourageing thing to see teenagers take a stand for their godly convictions; not in rebellion, but in obedience to God.

I.  THERE ARE TIMES AND SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD THAT CALL US TO PURPOSELY STAND FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 8 ).
In Daniel’s and his friend’s world it doesn’t seem that there were too many who were seeing a problem with eating the “king’s meat”.  There were other youth who evidently took and enjoyed the lush, and rich foods they were not accustomed to.  These young men had been brought up in the Hebrew culture with strict meat restrictions; this mean certain bleeding principles which would drain the dead animal of all its blood.  They were not to eat blood (Leviticus 17:10-16) .  They were not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Read Leviticus 11.  To receive this meat was the same for them as recognizing the idols as deities.

You can notice that Daniel did not reject this food by a callous, and stubborn refusal; disrespectful of his caregiver.  As Daniel had a plan in taking a stand there are also ways Christians can take a stand and not be offensive.  We can stand with our lives everyday.  Let the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from our lives by developing friendships (as much as is possible) with the people you are around.  As Daniel had developed a good relationship with the melzar [the steward].  (Rather than being a proper name “melzar” is probably a title such as servant or steward; one appointed by the chief eunuch to care for the Hebrew youths.)

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO GOOD FAVOR WITH OTHERS, AND WE SHOULD BE LIVING TO GIVE THEM CAUSE TO SUPPORT OUR STAND (vv. 9-10).
Matthew Henry has written of verses eight and nine, “Whoever are in favour, it is God that has brought them into favour; and it is by Him that they find good understanding.  Herein was again verified that word (Ps. cvi. 46), ‘He made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.’  Let young ones know that the way to be acceptable is to be tractable and dutiful” MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY Vol IV. pg 1019.  “When a man’s ways please the LORD He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

If we are going to stand and we live in a condition where what we do may harm another it seems that we better have their permission before we proceed.  Daniel and his friends not only had permission, but he provided their veggies for this ten day period.  Of course, we need to be in good terms with them for God to direct their paths too.  That is not to say that should Daniel have been refused in this matter that he shouldn’t have did something, but he did what was necessary and God gave him close communion with a man in charge who was, himself, willing to take the risk along side Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

There are times to stand when no one will help you.  No one will stand beside you.  You may have plenty that will say, “I am [We are} behind you all the way.”  Those who stand behind you can “stab you in the back”.  That may sound suspicious, un-nerving, un-trusting, and/or negative.  It is, however, the truth.  In most cases, those who will walk beside you, can be trusted.

You will notice that there is an early reference to all Daniel’s friends with him in verse ten, “…why should he see your faces”.  So Daniel had at least Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah standing with him in this faith experience.

III.  LIKE THE CONVICTIONS OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS TRUE CONVICTIONS CANNOT BE LAID ASIDE (vv. 10-13).
Daniel had the convictions that should they eat the “king’s meat” they would be sinning against God, thus he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose to refrain from eating the king’s dainties.

Matthew Henry write again, “Perhaps it was not in itself  unlawful for them to eat of the king’s meat or to drink of his wine.  But, 1.  They wer scrupulous concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful.”  MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY  Vol. IV pg. 1020.  They were wise to seek to be kept from even the temptation of the food.  “How far can you go until it is sin?”  is a question often asked.  The answer to that is “If you have to ask that you have probably already sinned”.

What many people call convictions are often on preferences.  A conviction is something you will die for, and maybe even another’s life.  A preference is nothing to die for.  Let me give you an idea of what a preference is.  I prefer to drive Ford trucks and cars, but I wouldn’t fight you over it.  I could drive a Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota, etc., if I had no other choice.  My conviction is that God’s Word, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, God breathed word of God; and that is something I will give my life for and that my Savior Jesus Christ is the God/Man, incarnate Son of God, died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world, that Jesus is the only way to God and to heaven, and Jesus is coming back one day to call his children home to be with Himself.  Those are my convictions, some of them, and I will hold them until I draw my last breath;  with the power and strength of God.

It is great knowing that we have family, friends, other relatives, and neighbors world wide who hold these convictions and have found that “Hill on which to die”, and land in which to live.  As it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

IV.  GOD PROVES OUR FAITH WHEN WE ARE FAITHFUL (vv. 14-16).
Remember Daniel and his friends were in a three year program (v. 5) for training and the food regimen.  All Daniel was asking for was a ten day trial period to prove that the vegetables, etc., was better for them in their appearance and probably their minds too.  Maybe there is something we could learn from following such a diet; but is anyone among us interested?

The faith they express in God is astounding, and God honors and proves their faith.  Faith is not something we boast of; it is what we live, how we speak, where we go, what we do, and how we live.  Faith is not just believing God when things are going good, but keeping on believing Him even when He doesn’t seem to hear.

It seems that the utmost goal of Daniel’s heart was that God be glorified in the king of Babylon, and the people of Babylon.  His heart was set on obedience to the word of the LORD; and even if the cost was his life.  God came through for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; proving that their obedience was blessed by the God of Israel and all that is.  “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”  Daniel 1:15 (KJV)

The LORD honored Enoch’s faith, by translating him; He honored Joseph’s faith by making him a ruler in Egypt; He honored Moses’ faith by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt; and many more in the Old Testament.  The LORD honored Peter’s faith when he walked on the water with the LORD;  He honored John’s faith by giving him the letters of the revelation and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  God will honor the faith of all who will give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –
i.  Take a purposeful stand for God and all that is godly and righteous in the world, even if no one else does.
ii.  Take a purposeful stand and trust the LORD for the good favor of others.
iii.  Take a purposeful stand all the time on your convictions; and stand when they are being attacked as well.
iv.  When we take that purposeful stand trust that the LORD will reward the faith of the faithful – I suppose that is what Paul; inspired by God; meant when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Ten – Seventeen through Thirty One

“17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. 28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”  Mark 10:17-31 (KJV)

There is an inheritance which we have through Jesus Christ, but it is not obtained, it is given as a gift.  It is not earned, or purchased.  It is a gift that has been paid for in full by its giver.

This man, asking Jesus what he must do to “inherit” eternal life, is assuming that he must do something to earn it.  Sadly, that is an assumption that many people make in this day and time.  Jesus asks  the man if he knew the commandments.  The one’s which Jesus mentioned all have to do with our fellow man, not one had to do with God – the first four of the commandments.  The man  says, “I have observed these from my youth”.  Had he?  Jesus did not question him about it, but put him to a test.  “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  Mark 10:21 (KJV)”.

If this man would have followed the Lord in these words this man would have eternal life – the very thing he was asking for – but he would not put Jesus Christ in first place.  He would not put God first in his life.  There can be nothing between those who have eternal life and God.  If there is something between there is another God whom that one is trusting.  This man went away grieved because he had “great possessions” and was not willing to surrender them to the Lord.

There are some people who believe that the “Eye of the needle” to which Jesus is referring is a spot in the wall of Jerusalem where if a person was to enter through that “gate” – with his camel – he would need to unload his camel, then take the camel through.  It is my belief that Jesus was referring to the eye of a needle – as for sewing clothing.  With the former interpretation it is possible for a man to get the camel through the eye of “The needle”, with some effort.  With the sewing needle’s eye it is impossible for man, but with God “Nothing is impossible”.  As long as an individual is looking to his wealth and his own efforts there is absolutely no way to enter the Kingdom of Christ Jesus, but with God, and his laying his burdens down he may enter in.  In this man’s case his burdens were his riches which he would not give up.

There are wonderful blessings to those who give their all for the glory and life of Jesus Christ.  There is nothing this world can offer that can take the place of faith in Him.  He has promised to those who have given up all for Him; and for this time, houses, family, and land.  We must note, however, that He does mention that there will be persecution, and they will have eternal life.

Jesus’ last sentence here may be further mention of servanthood (v. 31).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Ten – Thirteen Through Sixteen

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  Mark 10:13-16 (KJV)

Jesus loves children.  There is much adults could learn from children, if we would only listen and watch them.  We could learn to trust again.

Our area of the world collapses at times; friends forsake us by lying about us, betraying us, and our parents even can let us down at times.  As parents we get disappointed by our children’s behavior at times, and we need to discipline them to show them the right and correct way.  We can learn from them when we don’t see them as being in the way.

Little children are not without sin, because we are all born into sin.  One thing we can learn from children is “Trust”.  When a child trusts their parents, mother or father, they rely on them completely.  If a dad says to his son, “Come on now and jump off the end of the porch, and I will catch you.”;  most of the time the boy will jump into his daddy’s arms (unless daddy  has caused the son not to trust him).  That is the kind of trust we must put in our Heavenly Father, and the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  Children are dependent upon their parents.  They trust them to provide their food, shelter, clothing, and security.  Children are secure with their parents.  The only way this would not be so is, if the parent(s) are brutal, mean and abusing to their children.   I think it would be a bad parent who would teach a child not to trust anyone; even themselves.

When we become adults we often forget about trusting God.  Troubling things happen, and we can find no help in our own abilities, our own strength; like in a sickness, a debilitating accident, a major life changing event; something we had no control over.  When these things happen we need the “faith of a child”, and put our trust completely in the Lord.

“Receiving the kingdom of God as a little child” would be trusting so completely that they look no where else for security or any other need.  Is God able to supply our need for salvation?  Most assuredly.  Is He able to supply our “Daily bread” [our daily needs]; again, most assuredly.  Some of us get a little off on this latter thing, though.  We can believe that God is able to provide our salvation, but when it comes to meeting daily needs, we kind of tend to leave that in our own hands.  Is that the heart of a child.  These verses are not talking of remaining immature in faith, but having that unwavering trust in the Lord no matter what the case may be.

Without this kind of faith no one can enter the kingdom of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

King Jesus And Greatness

Ever since Cain and Abel there has been a struggle over greatness and who is the greatest.  Cassius Clay alias Mohammed Ali considered himself the greatest, and now is the shell of what he was.  If that.  I don’t say this to mock or ridicule a well know personality and  sports figure from the past but to make a point.

The point being all who have ever though themselves to be great, greater, or the greatest soon find themselves humbled even to death.

“Who is the greatest?” is a question asked the King by His disciples;

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Matthew 18:1 (KJV)

The question of taxes had been asked previously by the temple tax people, and Jesus answered it by sending Peter to retrieve a fish with a coin in its mouth from waters. It was enough for the disciple and for Jesus’s taxes. Now the question is “Who then is greatest”, and by considering the matter of “Strangers” and “sons” listed previously we can see that the children are to live so as not to offend needlessly.

The message of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection – the cross in particular will offend many.  We need to be humble in Christ Jesus, respect others, and treat them, and their beliefs with respect while proclaiming the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation by the grace of God.

We should not be so concerned about greatness as we are about living for the One who is truly the Greatest.  He is the One who created all that is; seen and unseen.  He is the One who gave His life to pay our sin debt, was buried; carrying the guilt, burden, and death of sin far, far away; then rose from death, and is alive forever more; coming again in all His glory.  H

He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  His name is Jesus.  No one is greater than Jesus “…the fulness of the godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

When you get too full of yourself, remember Jesus. Empty yourself of you and ask Jesus Christ to come in.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Look only to the One who is greatest.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Nine

Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”  Mark 9:1-13 (KJV)

THE GLORY OF JESUS IS SEEN BY A FEW WHILE JESUS SPEAKS TO ELIJAH AND MOSES ABOUT HIS DEATH (Luke 9:31).

In verse 1 Jesus is most likely speaking of those who would see His “Transfiguration” which is about to happen, and it happened only before the three disciples – Peter, James, and John.  In Luke’s account of this glory the three disciples had fallen asleep.  There are times to sleep and times to fight going to sleep, and this seems like it was one of those times to fight sleep.  They almost missed it.

The two to whom Jesus was speaking were considered dead and gone.  Moses died and Elijah had just “gone” by the power of a “chariot of fire”.  Moses represents the “Law” of God, and Elijah represents the “Prophets” of God.  It is important for us to catch the message which the “Voice from Heaven” speaks.  “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  Those words tell us that the most important thing we can hear is Jesus.  The “Law” and the “Prophets” speak of Jesus.  John the apostle wrote in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (REV. 19:10).

According to Luke 9:31 Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah of His coming death.  No other of the gospel writers mention this.  It tells us clearly that was the direction Jesus was headed – to Jerusalem to die, and make atonement for the sin of mankind.

In Matthew and Luke the text tells us it was “Moses and Elijah”.  Mark is the only one who writes “Elijah and Moses”.  It is important for us to remember the history of these two men.  Moses died and was buried by God, and no one knew where he was buried (DEUT. 34:5-6); and Elijah never died.  He was carried to Heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Elisha, his pupil in the prophetic ministry, received a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit.  There is quite a picture given here to us.  That is that at the future coming of Jesus Christ in His glory all that know Jesus, the living and the dead, will be raised to share in that eternal glory with Him.

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:14-29 (KJV)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.

It is apparent by our text that the young man of whom it is speaking was afflicted by an “evil spirit”.  He has been afflicted for several years, even from early childhood.  We can see from this that children are not exempt from evil or even the devil or his demons.  Children can be susceptible to Satan from a very early age, but then, all are born into sin, and none are without sin.

This boy had often been thrown into the fire, and into the waters.  This demon hated this boy, and that is something we all need to remember that the devil and his hordes hates mankind, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the human race.

Notice, Jesus’ rebuke of the “Faithless generation”.  He is probably referring to “scribes” who are there in argument with the disciples, accusing and excusing their own actions and accusing the disciples of not having power to help this boy.

When Jesus calls for the boy and they bring him to Him the boys goes into a “fit”; falling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  You will notice the father is not only asking Jesus to help his son, but also himself; he says, “Have compassion on us, and help us.”  The father later says, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.  This father new to whom to bring his son, but he had not witnessed the power of Jesus before, but he was about to.  He had the faith to bring his son to Jesus, and that was a good starting point.

There are many psychologists who probably would reckon this boy to have epilepsy, or some neurological disorder, but not demon possessed.  Notice though why it must be demon possession;  1) this personality recognized Jesus because he did not want to come before him, thus causing the boy to throw himself on the ground and foam at the mouth;  2) Jesus spoke to the spirit and commanded him to come out, and to stay out;  3) the spirit cried out through the boy and wreaked havoc on him one last time, evidently fighting for his “territory” but could not fight against his creator and win.

Note Jesus’ final words on this matter, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 (KJV)”.  The matter of this boy’s well being hinged on the battle of two worlds, and who was to overcome.  There is a spiritual warfare we must wage everyday.  It is not an easy fight.  We must commit ourselves to prayer, and at times we must give ourselves to it diligently even to the point of forsaking our food and nourishment for the day or a period of time.  We cannot win spiritual battles if we are weak in the Spirit of God.  That was the problem with the disciples, and why they could not help this man or his son.  It is a battle we wage to keep the souls of men from eternal torment.  We must pray for them to have opened eyes to see the death of Christ on the cross, his resurrection; and that they will have an open heart to receive the glorious salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

It is an imperative  that we remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible to him/[her] that believeth”.  It is not just believing in the event as history, but in the person of Jesus Himself.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.”  Mark 9:30-40 (KJV)

A GRASPING FOR POWER BRINGS A REBUKE FROM JESUS, AND AN ANSWER TO THEIR PROBLEM.

Jesus is teaching a valuable lesson in these verses about service and “Greatness” or power and position.  He says He is going to die and then He will be glorified by resurrection.  He will die for our sins, and then by resurrection be given all that was His from the beginning.  By His death Jesus was serving the human race by providing our eternal salvation.

There are many people today looking for a longevity to life; they look for power and prestige, and position; but they look to themselves, when all that is needed is to bow at the feet of Jesus and call Him Lord, and wash the feet of our fellow man by service.  What great privilege it is to serve the Lord and bless our fellow man.

Jesus does enlist a small child as an illustration of humility and service.  A child will subject themselves to an older person, and most of the time trust in their care.  We are to come to Christ as little children, and we are to always receive our fellow man as if they were “little children”.  In receiving the “child” we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him.  And that is the Father.

When we see others working in the name of the Lord do we grow jealous, protective of our own work, or do we say, “Great!  Someone else is working in His vineyard.”  The latter should be our attitude and we should be an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord, and living for His glory.  This is not to be a blanket statement that approves of all who claim to be working in the name of Jesus, but to those who are Biblically sound, and those who are truly in Christ Jesus.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  Mark 9:41-50 (KJV)

THE HORRENDOUS, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

What is the price of sin?  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; slowly but wholly taking control;  sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  sin will cost you far more than you can ever pay.”  ANON.  It is something that Jesus took quite serious.  He took it so seriously that He went all the way to the cross and died, taking all our sin on Himself, paying the price that was mine and yours to pay.

How seriously does Jesus take sin?  Let us look at these verses.  Do not offend a “little one” for it would be better that a millstone were tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.  “If your hand offends you, cut it off”;  “If your eye offends you pluck it out”.  It seems to me like Jesus takes sin quite seriously.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin that we might have eternal life in His eternal presence.  Jesus is not advocating the torture, or destruction of our bodies, but He is showing us the degradation of sin and its costliness and the price we should pay.  Simply cutting off a hand will not keep you from sinning.  Plucking out an eye will not keep you from the sin of lusting.   We saw in chapter seven that it is in the heart of man where we must deal with sin.  How much are you willing to pay to rid your life of sin?  Jesus was willing to give His life.

Jesus uses here the illustration of Gehenna – the garbage, trash, waste dump of the city of Jerusalem – that burned continually and the fire was never out.  There is an eternal fire that burns, where no desires are ever met, and there is nothing but pain, sorrow, hatred, vileness, hostility, and war.  Is that the place you want to be?  Is that the place where you want your friends and neighbors to spend eternity?  It is the place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:46 (KJV)”.  He mentions this twice.  Is there a Heaven?  If Jesus said He was preparing a place for us, and that He was coming to take us to that place; then, yes there is a Heaven.  Is there a place called Hell?  Jesus mentions more about Hell than He does about Heaven.  He spent a whole story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus to tell us of the reality of Hell.  He describes it as a place of flames, torment, and a place you would not want to be.  This is in Luke chapter sixteen.

Hell is the place we all deserve to be.  We do not deserve Heaven, but because of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross and by the power of His resurrection we can go to Heaven for all eternity, but not without Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

In the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus in His glory and speaking with Elijah and Moses.  In between this picture of the glory of Jesus and this warning of Hell we find a child being tormented by a demon, disciples arguing about who is the greatest will be the greatest among them, and one disciple wondering about a man who is doing the work of Jesus who is not a part of their group.  These are the things that happen between Heaven and Hell.  As a matter of fact when Jesus died on the cross His head was toward Heaven and His feet were toward Hell, and His arms were outstretched to the world in invitation to come to Him.

What a Servant.  What a Savior.  For His arms are still outstretched to all so we may come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Trust Not In Lying Words…

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

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

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

The prophet Jeremiah tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The End Of The World???

With a movie out called 2012, and other movies which have been made proclaiming the possibilities of the “end of the world” (Armegeddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, etc) it seems there are children who are thinking the earth and all the people on it are in danger of total destruction.

The movies I have seen on this issue remind me of a cartoon.  Wiley Coyote, and the Roadrunner; where Wiley chases the Coyote, falls over a cliff with an anvil, to the bottom of a very deep canyon, with the anvil nailing him on his head, and he goes on to chase the Roadrunner in one more episode.  Laughable, entertaining, helping you forget; or put aside for a short time;  some real life situations.

Something we should take note of is that many who espouse the “Global warming” idea, and that if we don’t do something about it will mean “the end of the world”.  What I think we should notice is that some of these same “Scientist”, speculators; whatever they are; are also evolutionists who say by that theory that “The world is getting better and better”, and that “mankind is evolving toward becoming a better species”, and yet they warn us of destroying the earth.  Isn’t that a contradiction of thought and terms.  Just how could things be getting better and better, yet at the same time destroying the earth.

Something we need to think about is this:  The world will not end in 2012, or anytime in the near future.  I believe this because of the promises of a grand ole book.  He has told us in that book that He will not allow the destruction of the earth.  He is going to come, make all things new, changing the world as we know it, and He Himself will rule in this world and all evil will be put away.

That is the promises of the Word of God – the Bible.  The world is not coming to and end, but your life could end before the next beat of your heart, or your next breath.  The only assurances we have are found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  Call on His name and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

1 John 2:28 – 3:3

It needs to be understood at the beginning of this message that none are perfect nor can we be perfect in this life.  Our Lord is working in us toward perfection when we shall see Him face to face.  However, we must, by the Holy Spirit within us who know personally the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior have Christ as the central being of our lives.

As a Christian we have new hope and desires; the first of which is seeing  Him one day; and seeing Him face to face.  We also desire to one day be like Him, and as verse three of chapter 3 tells us; “We shall see Him as He is”.  What a glorious day that will be.

In this message we will look at FIVE QUALITIES OF THE BELIEVER’S HOPE.

I.  A LONGING FOR – A DESIRING FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 2:28).

A.  A longing for the appearing will motivate the believer to “abide in Him”.

1. It is like the  branch abides in the vine (John 15:1-11).
2. It is similar to your home – the place you live.

a.  You may leave it to go to work, on vacation, etc., but you know there is no place like home – you return.

b.  It is the place where you receive nourishment, and love.

B.  This abiding ‘in Him’ keeps us from being ashamed when he returns.

1. When we ‘abide in Him’ we keep His commandments;
2. When we ‘abide in Him’ we have the anointing –

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”  1 John 2:20 (KJV)

II.  KNOWING JESUS IS RIGHTEOUS – THOSE BORN OF HIM PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 2:29).

A.  Jesus is righteous – He is Deity [God].

1. He is righteous as the Christ;
2. He is righteous as the sin-bearer;
3. He is righteous as the resurrected One.

B.  Those who do righteousness are born of Him.

1. Doing what is right in one’s life;
2. Doing what is right according to God’s law;
3. Doing what is right to others.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

III.  ENAMORED, AWED, AND STRENGTHENED BY HIS GLORIOUS SALVATION (v. 3:1).

A.  Nothing in this world is comparable to the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

1. Love ‘bestowed upon us’ by our benevolent, loving Father through His precious loving Son.
2. John seems to be awe-struck with the thought Himself.

B.  Love so great we are called ‘the sons of God’.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13 (KJV)

C.  The ‘Inhabiters of earth’ are so enamored with the world, they miss God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  Revelation 3:10 (KJV)

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  Revelation 6:10 (KJV)

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:13 (KJV)

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”  Revelation 11:10 (KJV)

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:12 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
” And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”  Revelation 13:8, 12, 14 (KJV)

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…”  Revelation 14:6 (KJV)

“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”  Revelation 17:8 (KJV)

IV.  EXPECTANT OF BEING CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – NOT CHRIST, BUT LIKE HIM (v. 3:2).

A.  In moral character.

1. Not Christ, not deity, but of His character and love for the Father and one another.

B.  Now the ‘Sons of God’.

1. That means living like ’sons of God’ – Kings and priests.
2. Living right in the present time unto the day of His appearing.

C.  We will see Jesus as He is.

V.  KEEPING THEMSELVES READY FOR HIS APPEARING (v. 3:3).

A.  The hope and promise of His appearing is the greatest hope of mankind.

1. His appearing otherwise known as Second Coming is a grand promise of change according to the Scriptures;
2. It will mean the change in ge0logy (Zechariah 14), environment, government and most of all in the hearts and lives of mankind;
3. It will also means change in the animals of the earth as well.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9 (KJV)

B.  Those who are prepared for His coming will be keeping themselves ready.

1. The presence and  gift of His Spirit within directs us to preparation.
2. There is a place being prepared for the prepared.
3. We must fight the good fight – there is a war going on daily in our lives.

“1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

“7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)

C.  Let’s keep ourselves pure – as much as Christ is in us.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)

1. Because of Jesus’s wonderful gift;
2. Because of these precious promises;
3. Because we are the ’sons of God’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is There Anything Really NEW?

In the world of 2009 there are many who desire “New Thought”, or I believe some are called “New Progressives” who desire new thought concerning life, life issues, religion, government, politics, news, family, law, or whatever. However, it appears to me that there is nothing that is new under the sun. I know of a man who told us that, and wrote about thousands of years ago. He is known as the wisest of men who ever walked on earth. His name was Solomon. His words were, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

As I read the prophet Jeremiah, and the other prophets I see nothing new in today’s world. People are still people; desiring their own way, turning from God’s way, and yet there are those who profess to be God’s people, even Christian, who will tell us we have to change to get people’s attention. How do we change? What do we change? Are we to change the message of God’s Word. God remains the same. His message remains the same. If we change it we become liars, and liars have no part with God, nor His kingdom.

Hear the prophet –

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)

The “Old paths” of which Jeremiah speaks of of walking with God. Walking with God means being in agreement with God. The people of the prophet’s day were attempting to worship YaHWeH on the Sabbath day, and worship their way of life, or other gods the other six days of the week. They had abandoned the “old paths” by doing so, and the prophet was trying to call the people back to God; to repentance.

At first the attempt was to call them to repentance to prevent their captivity; however when the captivity became inevitable then, for repentance, that they might learn to live for God in captivity and be a witness to the foreign government to which they were going. The people needed rest for their souls due to their torment.

People in the United States of America are living tormented lives due to failing health, failing finances, unemployment, or threats of unemployment; and many family issues. People of the world need rest for their souls. Many are seeking rest through yoga, meditations, even prayer, yet rest doesn’t come. The “old paths” or “the good way” is not found in these things. The “old paths” are found only in following the dictates of God’s law. The “good way” is only in God’s way.

The prophet’s call is “Stand in the ways and see…” The “good way” is in the “old paths”, and this is found only in the Living Word of God; that is the person of His Son. Rather than accepting God’s way, the “old paths” and living “the good way” people still seek the “New thought” of helping themselves, following the paths of false religion found in yoga, meditations, and even in prayers. Understand me when I mention meditations and prayer. Meditating upon God’s Word, hearing God speak through His Word is good; and that is good meditation; anything else is devilish thought. Genuine heart prayer, seeking God’s will, understanding of His word, gaining wisdom from God, and seeking His direction and glory is expected of us. The prayer I refer to is the reading of prayer, rosary, planned recitations, which are filled with religious and pious thought, but no connection to heaven.

The sort of meditation and prayer which allows you to consort with godlessness while supposedly maintaining a relationship with God is fruitless for God and His glory. That is what the world, Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day was doing. That is what many of today’s world is doing as well. While wanting something new they follow the paths of the old rebels, rather than the “old paths” which we should follow in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.

The answer of the people to the prophet in that day was; “We will not walk therein”. If we choose to walk with the world, and take on their garments, we destroy our witness, our testimony of newness of life through Jesus Christ. We must put off the old man of flesh and sin; and put on the new man of life eternal (Ephesians 4:20-25); and also put away lying. The lying is done by confessing faith in Christ while also maintaining a life which is no different from the condemned and dying in sin.

I ask again, “Is anything really new?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD Fights For You

The pressures of the world are rushing ever near you.  You feel like you should not have made that good move that you did.  Things have changed, and right now it just does not seem like it was the right move to make.  Hold on.  Be strong.  Be strong in the Lord; or as Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…”

“And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”  Exodus 14:13-14 (KJV).

The LORD had done many mighty, and marvelous things to bring the children of Israel to the edge of the Red Sea.  There had been a complete destruction of the economy of Egypt, and their demon gods put to destruction as well.  God the LORD  had been exalted.  Now they were in a tight situation.  The Sea was before them, the rocks at their backs and the Egyptian army, with chariots and mighty warriors were coming with great speed, and they would be arriving soon.

When you have followed God’s plan, and you have reached the edge of decision, and it seems as though there is no place to go.  That is the time to believe and trust the LORD God.  It is not a time to complain, or wonder why did I leave where I was, thinking everything was fine, comfortable, and certainly did not have this problem coming at me.

It is time to see the salvation of the LORD.  If He has led you out, then He will lead you through that barrier that is ahead of you.  Trust Him. Believe, and you will see the salvation of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Servant, The Word, and Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-37

“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)

If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect.  The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior.  The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.

In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands.  To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness.  Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness.  There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.

There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible.  It is not.  I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was.  They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures.  Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).

Verse 3 –  “except they wash”

G3538
νίπτω
niptō
nip’-to
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.

v. 4 – “except they wash”

G907
βαπτίζω
baptizō
bap-tid’-zo
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in  two different ways.  The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.

“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up.  As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step.  He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down.  Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.

Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.

The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands.  The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so.  Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them.  Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.

The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)

“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”;   2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”;   3)  “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”

“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)

When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart.  These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).

The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures.  They were wrong.  Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture?  How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.?  Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite?  NO!  Can we be hypocritical?  YES!

G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace’
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.

A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”.  Basically someone pretending to be something they are not.  They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it.  Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”.  They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical.  They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.

They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”.  “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents.  That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture.  They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.

The heart of man is desperately wicked.  It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean.  Nothing from without us can make us unclean.  It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”.   Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”.  Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.

J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)

“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”;   2)  “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”;   3)  “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”

“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”  Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet.  Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it.  The “dogs” were under the table.

This was a test of the woman’s faith.  How would she respond?  Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter?  She would believe.  The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed.  It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.

Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true.  That is a wonderful faith.  Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make.  Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.

J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,

1)  “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”;   2)  “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”

“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”  Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)

Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”.  That is really good advice.  It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first.  Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.

It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin.  Hear the Word of God then proclaim it.  Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16).  All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.

The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth?  If you are in Jesus Christ you have.

Ryle wrote,

1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”;   2)  “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”;   3)  “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”;   4)  “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”;   5)  “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”

If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

L. R. Scarborough and Non-Baptist Baptism

The following is a quote from L. R. Scarborough.  I received it from the Landmark Southern Baptist Group and Ben Stratton whom I thank for sending this.

2. Another way by which the fountains of truth and life of our churches can be poisoned is by doing violence to the ordinances of Jesus Christ, in depreciating their value and emasculating their testimony. This is done when a Baptist church receives baptism administered at the hands of some other organization than a Baptist church. If a Baptist preacher admits into the fellowship of his church Christians who have received baptism at the hands of pedobaptists, without requiring them to be baptized by a Baptist church, he violates the truth of God and is guilty of a heresy in ecclesiology which will eventually ruin the testimony of the ordinances and vitiate the witness of Christ’s churches. Such practice eats at the very heart of the life of Christ’s churches. Such a practice will not only injure the life of the church practicing it, but will eventually poison the fountains of truth in all of our churches

A pastor of one of the leading churches of Texas told me recently of a member from another Baptist church in Texas seeking admittance on a letter from this church, but when questioned as to her baptism she reported that she came to this other church on the baptism from a certain Campbellite church and had not been required to be baptized by this Baptist church. This pastor tells me that he promptly refused to admit this woman into the fellowship of his church. I think he did right.

There lies at this point a great danger and we should guard the fountains of truth from the poison that will come by the emasculation of the ordinances of Jesus Christ.  L. R. Scarborough
(L.R. Scarborough [1870-1845] was president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1914-1942 and president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1938-1939.  You will notice that Scarborough believed that baptism was only valid when it was administered at the hands of a Baptist church.  The quote is from his article “Poisoning the Fountains of Truth” which was published in the January 1922 Southwestern Journal of Theology.  I am also glad to hear that this article was republished in the most recent Southwestern Journal of Theology, “Baptists and Unity.”  A special thanks to the good folks at http://sbctoday. com for making us aware of this quote.)
It is of the utmost importance in the day which we live to continue to maintain doctrinal integrity in our preaching, polity and ecclesiology
-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Who Can Abide It???

Most Christians have heard of a day called, “the day of the LORD”, and know that it is a day of reckoning for those who are out of His will, rebelling against Him, and just living a life of debauchery.  There was a time in the Nation of Judah, that a prophet by the name of Joel warned the people of the “day of the LORD”.  He has asked them the question, “…Who can abide it?” Joel 2:11 (KJV)

There are days we hear of as followers of Jesus which we long for.  One of those days is the day of the rapture of the Church.  It will not be a good day for those who remain behind; it will in fact be a day of chaos.  We as Christians need to be sure that our lives are right with Him, and not put on false pretenses of repentance, and sorrow over sin.

Hear the Word of the LORD:

“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.” Joel 2:12-13 (KJV).

False repentance is just as bad, if not worse than no repentance.  False repentance is just what is seen in the above verses.  The religious Jew sometimes to show sorrow, grief, and/or a repentant attitude tore a portion of their outer garment.  This they did for show in these days.  As followers of Jesus, and just as then, God knows our hearts, our attitude of mind.  We cannot fool God, the One who knows all things.  False repentance is an act to show others how religious, and how badly we seem to feel concerning sin.

There is a word for that which Jesus used for many of the religious leaders of His day.  That word is “Hypocrite”.  That is ‘A pretender’, an actor.  Another term for that could be, “a wolf in sheeps clothing”.  Why is it that too many times Christians are sheep in wolves clothing? Let’s be true, and show forth a true repentance.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rejected and Proven

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”  Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

We look at the life of Jesus in red, white and black and can believe and know that He is a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet – even greater than John the Baptist, a great preacher, but even so much more.  We learn from these letters that He is the very Son of God, and in fact is the very God incarnate – God come to us in flesh.  He is the Savior of the world.
Those who grew up around Him and those who saw Him growing up put no stock in Him.  They were witnesses of His life, but it was not important to them that He had never done anything wrong, had never sinned, never spoken back to his “parents”.  He in fact had never caused those who were raising Him any grief whatsoever, unless it was the things which Mary “pondered in her heart”.  To the people of Nazareth Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter, and did not deserve any credit as a teacher.
Here is what J. C. Ryle had to say of this matter.  1)  “We see, in the first place, how apt men are to undervalue things with which they are familiar.”  2)  “We see, in the second place, how humble was the rank of life which our Lord condescended to occupy before He began His public ministry.”  3)  “We see, in the last place, how exceedingly sinful is the sin of unbelief.”  Unbelief is still sin.  It is actually the very first sin that was committed.  Eve did not believe God when He had said “The day you eat of this tree you will surely die”, and she believed a lie.  It is because of the sin of “unbelief” that Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth.  Even Jesus was surprised “amazed” by their unbelief.

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”  Mark 6:7-13 (KJV)

Mark notes that Jesus sent them out “two and two”.  It is important that we remember that, because their is strength in twos.  When one is discouraged the other can be a source of encouragement.  They can learn from one another.  They sharpen one another, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov 27:17 (KJV)”.  One is there to keep the other from falling, and if one does fall the other can pick him up.
Jesus told them they were to take nothing with them, except their staff, and the clothing on their backs.  It was to be a journey and ministry of faith.  (The word “scrip” could be seen as what we would call a “backpack”.)  When people heard their words, and saw their works they would support and care for their needs.  When they entered a city  or village they were to stay in one home, and not be moving from home to home.  If they were not received they were to leave shaking the dust from their feet, “as a testimony against them”.  They would have rejected God’s messengers, thus God’s message, so judgment could be coming their way.  The shaking of the dust from the feet is almost as to say, “Since you will not listen and hear the Word of God you have no hope”, thus it is time to move on to other people and places.

“And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”  Mark 6:14-29 (KJV)

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  Luke 7:28 (KJV)”
Herod hears of the great and mighty works of Jesus, and begins questioning the identity of Jesus.  “Who is this Jesus?”  “Is he John the Baptist come back from the dead?”;   “…John reincarnated?”.  You can tell by this that Herod was a troubled man.  He had been troubled in his heart by the preaching of the prophet.
Mark goes into some details to tell us why he is troubled about John.  The Baptist had warned Herod that  “It Is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias was her name.  Herod’s brother was Philip known as “Herod Philip II”.  Herodias was a nephew to Herod Antipas (the Herod of our text).  John the Baptist,  prophet of  God hated to see sin even in a Gentile ruler, and he told him so.  John got thrown into the dungeon for it, but yet Herod would not harm him, because the words rang true.
One of the main things a minister of God ought to do is rebuke sin wherever he sees it.  When it is seen in the ungodly it should be rebuked.  When it is seen in the redeemed it should be rebuked.  Sin is the  problem that infects and causes problems in every society.  For a man to take his brother’s wife is adultery, and that is the charge that John brought against Herod.  It matters not if it is a king, or the man in the gutter, sin must be rebuked.
What was the charge leveled against John?  It was for proclaiming the Word of God and rebuking the sin of the lands governor.
We see in Herod, “The amazing power of truth over the conscience”.  He has heard the words John preached and he is haunted by them, even after he has killed the man.  We can also see “How far people may go in religion, and yet miss salvation by yielding to one master – sin”.  In John we see, “How boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin.  We see finally, “How bitterly people hate a reprover, when they are determined to keep their sins”.
When the Word of God is proclaimed it will accomplish that which God pleases.  It caused Herod to be very troubled.  For someone to even think that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or “reincarnated” is on the border of lunacy.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38  He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”  Mark 6:30-44 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the disciples needed some rest and food led them to leave to go to a deserted place, and get some rest.  There was so much ministry activity that they had not even had time to eat.
The disciples and Jesus leave by “boat” to go someplace quiet but then are overwhelmed by a great multitude of people.  The disciples have not yet learned what Jesus can do.  Evening [“the day was now far spent”] was coming on them quickly now, and there was no food, and there were thousands and thousands of people to feed.  It must have been going through the disciples minds, “There is no way these people can be fed; we need to send them home”.  Jesus had another idea, though.  He with the Shepherd’s heart had compassion on them and taught them.  When evening had come and the disciples were doubting and scheming on how to get rid of these people Jesus just said, “Let’s feed them”.
According to the Gospel of John there was a boy who had his “lunch” with him.  Would he share it with the multitude?  Here is what John says,

“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said* to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:8-9 (NASB)”.

Stand back and see what Jesus can do.  When it seems like the chips are down, and there are too many people to feed, and the world is against you, just let Jesus move in and take over.
Jesus as the Shepherd that He was and is  commands the people to sit down in the “green grass”.  In the twenty third Psalm it says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, an assurance of plenty for “sheep” to eat.  It would not surprise me to find out that there was a still, calm body of water near by also.  Mark’s Gospel is the only one of the gospels which tell us that Jesus “With  compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v. 34).  That is Mark’s way of declaring Jesus as the Shepherd of God’s sheep and He will tend and care for those who are His.
The number of men is all that is given.  The word “men” in verse 44 is not a generic term for all humanity; it is specifically refering to the male gender.  If these men came with their wives and children which most probably did with a few exceptions, then this number could range from 15,000 to 20,000 or more.  This was of Divine origin.  If anyone doubts the origin of the earth and all created things, then they will doubt the miracles of Jesus.  If God can create from nothing, then He can easily perform a “miracle” – that is what we call it – because during “miracle” the laws of nature are suspended; God overrules.   He has the power to take the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. – all those unseen elements which He created, and turn them into more bread, and more fish, and He did it to feed thousands of people.

WOW!  Do not doubt, but be believing what God can do, and what He has done, and what He is going to do.
There are some who profess Christ as Savior who want to dismiss all the miracles with human understanding, by saying things like, “Jesus already had the food hidden away in a nearby cave”, or “The little boys generosity inspired all the others to bring out what they had, and so all were fed”.  None of that explains the “twelve basketfuls” that were left over.  Now, you talk about the Lord providing for His disciples.  Now they each had a basket of bread and fish to take home with them.  Remember they had not eaten, so they must have been hungry.
There did not have to be five loaves and two fish, there could have been nothing, or stones.  Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.  The first temptation was to fill His need for sustenance.  “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”, but Jesus did not yield to the temptation.  He said instead, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”.  For Jesus to turn the stones to bread would have been to yield to the devil, and now, as then, He is yielding to the leadership of the Father.  He is acting as a Shepherd toward His caring for the sheep.
JESUS CARES FOR YOU.

“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”  Mark 6:45-56 (KJV)

Jesus sent the disciples away by boat while He sent the people on their way.  After that had been accomplished he departed to a “Mountain to pray”.  There is a lesson here for all of us who are His;  there is a time to be alone with God and Him alone.  Jesus, in human flesh, needed to recoup and spend time with His Father.  So do we.  Where Jesus could communicate with the Father face to face we must rely on the written Word, so it is wise to communicate with God while you have His Word at hand, and open before you.
As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee a boisterous wind came up, and it was a head wind which caused them to fight against it and evidently not gain much if anything in distance.  Jesus saw them rowing and struggling against the wind and went out to help them, and what a way He travelled to help.  It was sometime after midnight when Jesus came to them walking on the water.
This passage of Scripture even tells us that He “Would have passed by them”.   He came “Along side” of them to check their faith.  Would they recognize Him in His supernatural power and walking on the water?  They thought He was a ghost.  They still were dealing with a lot of personal superstition, if they were believing in ghosts.
Jesus recognizes their fear and assures them it is Himself, and He went up into the boat and it tells us that the wind ceased.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of our storms, but do we recognize Him or do we depend on our own methods and strength?   How would we react, even this day and age, if we were on the water in a boat and someone came walking in the midst of the night on the surface of the water, across a deep hole?
Many times, we as human beings, fear what we do not understand.  Seeing Jesus, and not knowing who it was is only a thing which is innate in every human being – fear of the unseen, unknown beyond.  Which is only evidence that God put in each of us the desire for that which is eternal.
In verse 52 Mark reminds us of the miracle of the loaves and fish, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (KJV)”.  Had they really understood about the miracle of the loaves and the fish they would not have been “amazed” about Jesus’ ability to walk on water.  Both actually show His power and authority over nature [as we call it], and that He was and is the Creator of all that is.
When Jesus and the disciples arrive at Gennesaret [the other side] the people there knew who Jesus was and they began to bring the sick, and they thinking, “I only need to touch the hem of His garment”, and all who touched Him were healed.  This faith they showed was very similar the lady in chapter 5 who had had the bleeding for 12 years.  Jesus and the disciples minister to them, and great things are done

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Salvation of the LORD

The pressures of the world are rushing ever near you.  You feel like you should not have made that good move that you did.  Things have changed, and right now it just does not seem like it was the right move to make.  Hold on.  Be strong.  Be strong in the Lord; or as Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…”

“And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”  Exodus 14:13-14 (KJV).

The LORD had done many mighty, and marvelous things to bring the children of Israel to the edge of the Red Sea.  There had been a complete destruction of the economy of Egypt, and their demon gods put to destruction as well.  God the LORD  had been exalted.  Now they were in a tight situation.  The Sea was before them, the rocks at their backs and the Egyptian army, with chariots and mighty warriors were coming with great speed, and they would be arriving soon.

When you have followed God’s plan, and you have reached the edge of decision, and it seems as though there is no place to go.  That is the time to believe and trust the LORD God.  It is not a time to complain, or wonder why did I leave where I was, thinking everything was fine, comfortable, and certainly did not have this problem coming at me.

It is time to see the salvation of the LORD.  If He has led you out, then He will lead you through that barrier that is ahead of you.  Trust Him. Believe, and you will see the salvation of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Servant Of Freedom Seekers

Mark 5:1-43

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.  And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Mark 5:1-17 (KJV)

SEEKING FOR FREEDOM FROM A DEMONIC POWER AND PRESENCE. (Mark 5:1-17). If you look at the state of this man he is in a miserable condition.  If you want to know what Satan can do for you just take a look at this man and you will see.  He will leave you naked, hungry, poor, desolate, isolated, cold, deserted, lonely, and hopeless.  Is that the kind of life you want?  Is that the kind of life you want for a family member?   Is that the kind of life you want for a neighbor?  I would think not.

We live in a period of time where even some Christians are doubtful of demonic existence.  If we are to believe God and His Word, then we have no contrary opinion on the matter.  We believe it or we do not believe God or His Word.  There are some who want to equate this to what could be called “epilepsy”, “lunacy”, or “frenzy”.  How does one who does not believe in demonic influence explain “broken chains” and “cords”, and that no one could control him.
You will notice that the demon who is speaking to Jesus knows who Jesus is.   He calls Jesus, “Son of the most high God”.  It seems to me that it is the man who comes out, and seeking Jesus.  It was not just “coincidence” which brought Jesus to this side of the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus said in chapter 4, “Let us go to the other side”, and there was this man waiting there to be freed from this terrible bondage.

It seems this place is made up of Gentiles, because no Jewish people would be raising swine, and they have very little concern that a man has been freed from the bondage of a demon, and he is now in his “right mind”.  They were more concerned with the 2000 pigs that perished than they were for the man.  If we are not careful we can get so worldly minded we are of no heavenly good.  Jesus cares for the man, not material possessions.

J. C. Ryle points out these things about the situation:

‘The possession of a man’s body by the devil, was a real and true thing in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

What an awfully cruel, powerful, and malicious being Satan is.

How complete is our Lord’s power and authority over the devil.”

As born again people – born from above and into the kingdom of God – we have no need to fear demons, hell or the devil.  He is a mighty foe, and he does seek to steal, kill and destroy anything of God’s he can get his hands on.  The apostle John tells us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”  Mark 5:18-20 (KJV)

A FREED PEOPLE SEEK TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO BE FREE. (Mark 5:18-20). This man who had been possessed by a “Legion” of demons is now free and He desires to go with Jesus as He is leaving.  Jesus knows the best position for one to be in.  He tells the man to go to his home, and to tell his family and friends “how great things the Lord has done for you”.

It would only take a moment.  He had been enslaved by demons and many tried to control him with chains, and various types of bonds, but none would do.  Finally, he meets Jesus and is freed by the mere words of Jesus.  I cannot begin to think I could know how this man felt to have a clear mind, to be free from the invisible chains which drove him to such “insanity”, and “gross behavior”.  In any case it is similar to the freedom we all experience when we first trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We were bound by chains of sin and darkness, and condemned to an eternity without Christ to the fires of Hell, and when we met Jesus He set us free, and gave us eternal life in  His presence.

We have much to tell our friends and family.  Let us do it with such excitement and enthusiasm as our friend in the tombs did.  We have been freed by Jesus, just as the man in the tombs was, let us be as free to share our testimony with our friends and loved ones.  They need to know.

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.  And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,  And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.  And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Mark 5:21-34 (KJV)

A WOMAN SEEKS FOR FREEDOM FROM HER TWELVE YEAR PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. (Mark 5:21-34).  It so happens that Jesus and His disciples have gone back to the West side of the Sea of Galilee now and there is a multitude waiting for them there.  Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue” has approached Jesus concerning his “deathly ill” daughter.  As Jesus is walking through the crowd there is a woman who has been ill for twelve years with an “issue of blood”.  She has spent much of her money for “Physicians” to try and find out what is wrong with her, but to no avail.  She sees her only hope as being Jesus as he is in the crowd.  Her faith says, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed”.

When she touches Jesus’ garment she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague”.  Only thing Jesus realized there had been some  “Power” go out from Himself, and He turned to see who had “touched Him”.  Was He angry? No!  It seems to me that He was very much impressed with this woman of “Faith”.  Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  Well!  My goodness many said and we would do the same.  Lord, You are in a crowd of people, of course someone touched You.  It was a purposeful touch, not a accidental touch one might get while walking in a crowd of people.  It would be like being in a large mall and you have someone come up and purposefully grab your shirttail or coattail and you turn to see who it is and it is a friend.  I doubt the touch was as vigorous as that, but it would have a little similarity to it.

Can you imagine being afflicted with a plague such as this woman has endured for twelve years.  Can you imagine her desperation to find a cure, healing, help in any fashion.  This could not have been good for her health.  It is really kind of a marvel that she has not died.

Jesus commends her for her “Faith”.  “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34 (KJV)”.  Then, Jesus goes on with the man [Jairus] who came for Him concerning His daughter.

Do we have the faith of this woman.  Willing to risk it all knowing that Jesus is our only hope for healing,  health, life and eternal life.  Put your faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.  And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.  And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.  And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  Mark 5:35-43 (KJV)

THE DAUGHTER DIES, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID – JESUS RAISES HER TO LIFE AGAIN. (Mark 5:35-43).  Certainly, as we look at this event, of this “ruler of the synagogue” and his daughter we can learn at least two things.  First of all sin, illness, disease, death, and sorrow does not play favorites with age, and secondly, they do not play favorites with religious or political stature.  This child was twelve years of age.  The same period of time as that of the woman who was healed of her affliction.  It is bound to happen to any of us.  Death, disease, sickness, and plague hits us all, and it is to us all that the Scripture says,

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

The only sad part about this event is that this young lady of twelve years would one day die again, and this time it was without Jesus raising her again.  It is sure that one day we will die, and our age or social stature will have no way of prevention in it.

It is evident that this “ruler” had respect for Jesus.  Note the words of his servant, “Why troublest thou the Master any further?”   This “Ruler” had evidently been teaching about Jesus or this man knew who Jesus was too.  It is amazing what people will do to find healing – even in our day.  People who have the means have been known to look the world over for a cure for cancer, or any other long, drawn out illness.  What if you do not have the “Means”?  What do you do then?  You can find rest, peace, security in Jesus.

The life of this young lady is not over yet, as long as Jesus can see her.  The real faith is seen in the girls father.  Despite the possibility of suffering ridicule from his peers in the “Ministry” he seeks out Jesus.  He risks his religious reputation to find Jesus to heal his daughter.

What is the life of a lost loved one worth?  That is a question we must ask ourselves and ask it every day.

The girl had died, but Jesus says to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe”.   Jesus is laughed to scorn by those who are there to “Mourn” the death of the child.  They are most likely paid mourners who have come for this purpose of mourning the dead for the family.  Jesus says that she is only asleep.  Cannot be a funeral if she is only asleep.  Jesus “Puts them all out”, and then He takes those who will believe with Him.  He “Put them all out” sounds as though He used a little force to do it.  “Get out!  Get out!”  Can you see it?  And people are always saying Jesus was always without anger.  Not so.  He is angry with the wicked, and everyday according to the Psalmist (Psalm 7:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

2 Peter 3:1-18

The Second Coming Of Jesus – A Certain Event

In second Peter we see Peter writing to encourage and motivate the followers of Christ – Christians – toward developing a Christ like character (chapter 1);  We see then Peter warns of the dangers, and deception of false teachers and their demise (chapter 2); and in chapter three we see that he gives us some reasons for what seems as delay of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The first reason Peter gives seems to be that there will be scoffers.  Scoffers speak of the delay as evidence that the Lord is not coming.  Some of these scoffers are those who improvise there teaching to fit with the delay they envision.

2 Peter 1-10

THE STIRRING OF THE PROPHET’S AND APOSTLES WRITINGS (vv. 1-2).  I mentioned a few weeks ago in a sermon at Carr Lane Baptist Church that this “stirring” is similar to taking a pot of soup which needs stirred up to bring all the settled foods into balance with the rest of the ingredients.  When you do that to a bowl of stew or soup you have a much better soup for your bowl.

This is somewhat similar to what Peter is stirring up for the followers of Jesus when he writes of stirring.  There are many people, pastors and preachers who are getting away from the teachings of the prophets, prophecy, and the coming of the Lord teachings.  Peter was stirring it up reminding us of His soon appearing.  Are we failing our Lord and His calling in our lives if we shun to proclaim the prophecy of Scripture of the second coming of Jesus.  Is it relevant for our day?  Most certainly it is.  Peter considered it relevant.

We should shun the words of the scoffers who will proclaim to us that “the second coming is when someone gets saved”; or ” the second coming is when a believer dies and Jesus comes to escort them home”; or “the second coming is only a spiritual metaphor for the church overcoming the world”.  Anyway you get the idea.  The second coming is in fact the bodily appearance of Jesus coming back with His saints, to Jerusalem, and setting up His kingdom;  ruling and reigning on earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

THERE WILL BE THOSE WHO SCOFF AT THE PROMISE (vv. 3-7).  Some scoffers are just out and out haters of the second coming idea.  “It’s been said and taught for two thousand years.  If it was going to happen it would have happened by now” is the thoughts and idea of many an unbeliever.  Is that form of “scoffing any different that that the professing Christian may use when teaching the ideas presented in the above paragraph?  The above Ideas only present a “christianized” thought of the scoffers.

“Where is the promise of His coming?”  The promise is sure.  It is my conviction, and one backed up by Scripture that just as surely as the first coming of Jesus was fulfilled and happened just as promised; so too will the second coming of Jesus be fulfilled just as promised.  Just as Jesus came the first time born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and is recorded in the New Testament as being fulfilled (Matthew 1:18-2:23); He will return with His saints to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-5), and reign on the earth.  It will happen in God’s good timing and fulfill His purposes and glory; not ours.

Just as Noah; while he was building the ark (Genesis 6:9-22); was preaching and warning of coming judgment by the flood.  The many prophets warning Israel of God’s wrath upon sin should they refuse to turn from sin would surely come.  So will the coming destruction by fire come about in God’s timing and for His glory.  The world, the earth is being “Kept in store” for that great day, then the world “Will know that I am the LORD”, says our God.

THE LORD IS NOT SLACK IN HIS PROMISE AND CALLS FOR REPENTANCE (vv. 8-9).  One thing we need to realize is that God is not delaying the return of His Son.  He is not slack concerning His promise, the promise of Jesus “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3) will be fulfilled just as He has promised.

God says “It will come”  it is assured us, so we best be calling many to repentance and faith in Christ.  This idea that is being presented by the Oprahites that God is in all people, we make our own destiny, life and such is a lie from hell.  The only way to life, and life eternal is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I guess you could say that another reason for the seeming delay is God’s “longsuffering” or patience.  He is waiting for that moment in time when that final individual will be saved completing the Church.  We do not know what day that will be, but we can know that it will be one great triumphant day.  When it happens the events which take place in this world will be horrific, for those who are “earth dwellers”; loving the world and all that is in it.  He is giving all who live and breath today a chance to repent, and be saved.  He is not required to and does only because of His grace and mercy.  All are in His hands of justice, righteousness, and holiness.

THE THIEF AND THE “DAY OF THE LORD”.  “The day of the Lord” will be a day that will make the flood appear as a small and forgetful thing in comparison.  It will be a day when the world will know that God is the LORD of all the earth and of all creation.  The evolutionist will be in awe, and in their pride, unless they repent and believe, will be stricken and die in their rebellion.

We must remember, be reminded, that “the day of the Lord” is not restricted to a twenty four hour period but is  most likely a time of judgment, and is probably equivalent to about 7 years.  What ever length of time; whether it be 3.5 years or less; it will be sufficient time to rid the world of the leadership of Satan, his followers, and all evil.

The thief will come when no one is suspecting it.  The thief will come when the lights are out most times.  He/she may come when you are asleep.  There are many sleeping today, unaware and unprepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.  I have even heard some young believers say things like, “I don’t want Jesus to come yet.  I want to have children and watch them grow up”.  I am afraid that some with attitude either don’t know what they are saying, or don’t love the “appearing of our Lord”.  Nothing can take the place of the coming of the Lord

Getting Ready/Being Ready For The Second Coming

In this final part of chapter two we see the need for preparing, being ready for when the Lord returns.  Some accuse those of us who will teach and preach the second coming of Jesus as being relevant for the times.  There could actually be nothing more relevant than getting people prepared for when Jesus comes again.  The world is full of troubles and strife.  People need to know Jesus; the end of troubles and strife for the world.  He changes hearts and lives, strengthens us for the troubles we face on earth, and prepares us for eternity.

2 Peter 3:11-18)

KEEP LOOKING FOR THE NEW (vv. 11-13).  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new”.  Verse 10 above speaks of “elements melting with fervent heat” and things “dissolving”.  That is the purpose of making all things new.

Individuals do not need to wait until the cosmos is changed.  You and I can be changed by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ by our faith in Him, today.  Yes!  We look for that day when all things are made new in this world.  However, when we have been made new through our faith in Jesus Christ the world takes on a different hue in our view anyway.  We are changed.  We are made new, then one day when Jesus comes again the world, the cosmos will also be changed and made new.

Note Peters question which is also a very clear statement as well.  “What manner of persons ought ye to be…?  This is Peter’s words for getting our lives on the “straight and narrow” and keeping them in the way; being prepared for the coming of Christ.  Living so that others may see Him living within for His glory.  The new heavens and new earth will be a place where there will be nothing but righteousness.

MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE AT PEACE WITH GOD (vv. 14-16).  God has made the way for us to be at peace with Him.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1).  Our justification comes from God through the cross.  He has made us just.  Being just we have peace with God.  Nothing takes that justness or peace away, however, when we get away from daily committing ourselves to God in His Word, and prayer we stand to lose the peace of mind that only He gives.

Keep in the peace that He gives by daily committing to the reading and study of His Word.  Spend time in prayer, praising and adoring the One who died for your sins and His Father.  “The peace of God which passes understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

Be at peace with the Word of God.  When you twist it as those Peter writes about you cannot have peace with God.  They and you twist it to your own destruction.  The sad part about it is that others may follow your teaching and twisting.  Any teaching that takes away from Jesus and glorifies man or his teaching is from hell.

STAND AGAINST ERROR (v. 17).  There are many false teachers in the world today.  Some of those profess Jesus Christ with their lips, but their lives and teaching show something completely different.  Professing Jesus Christ these will give credibility to other beliefs for the access of heaven and God.  Do they understand the atonement of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection?  It really doesn’t seem likely that they do.  They teach error, and those who fall for their lies will find themselves in hell on judgment day.

Those who teach anything other than Christ Jesus and Him crucified are deceiving the people.  I mean this in the matter of salvation.  Any who teach or preach apart from the Scriptures/the Bible are out of God’s will and not worthy of being heard.

THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF HIM FOR HIS GLORY (v. 18).  It was the hearts desire for Peter that the followers of Jesus Christ grow in grace and knowledge of Him.  When a baby is born we expect that baby to mature and grow.  I have heard parents or some grandparents say things so silly sometimes like, “It’s too bad that they grow up”.  They really don’t mean it; not if they stop to really think about what they said.  A healthy baby will grow, and mature into an adult; and that is as it should be.

Peter, nor any pastor who is worth their salt, wants those who come to faith in Christ desire for them to stay an “infant” of faith.  That is the reason for preaching and teaching.  To motivate, encourage, feed, strengthen, and guide them into the proper food and eating for the life they live and for what is ahead for their lives.

The Lord’s “tarrying” in His coming is for our growth, and knowledge as well.  He knows the right time, and I believe that time is set, and has been for all time and eternity.  He knows the time, the day and the hour.  Our task in life is to preach, teach, learn, grow, and be prepared, be ready; for the coming of the Lord is nearer than when we first believed.

The time and day will come, and He will come fulfilling  His promise.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are sermon study notes I will be preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church on Sunday October 18, 2009 morning and evening services.

The Destruction Of Evil

I have heard the question asked so many times, “If there is a god, and if this god is good, why does he allow evil?”  I guess I have even asked that question or one similar.  There are many questions that need to asked along with this:  Is God all powerful?  Is God all knowing?  Is God all present?  Is God unchanging?  Is God a god of love and mercy?  If you answer all of those from a Biblical perspective then you can answer the question of evil.

Let’s look at part of the prayer of the Psalmist and his concern about evil.

A prayer of the Psalmist.

“Break Thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till Thou find none.”  Psalm 10:15 (KJV).

One of the first things that comes to my mind as I read this is a question.  “Who are the wicked?”  To be extremely accurate about it, that would mean me, you, all of us.  Because God is holy, righteous, and just, and He cannot look upon iniquity, ie. evil.  Then He must rid the world of us.

I want to assure you that He has broken the arm of the wicked.  The arm of the wicked was broken when sin was put to death with Jesus on the cross.  “Boy, it sure doesn’t seem like it.  Look at what’s happening in the world, and in my life”.  Be assured that all sin has been paid for.

The way God has dealt with my evil and yours is by judging it on His Son Jesus Christ.  He paid the debt for our sin.  Ultimately there will be no more sin.  It will one day reach a height, and plunge into the eternity of nothingness.

When Jesus comes into our hearts to live, abide, and stay evil is banished.  You are no more evil.  That begs another question.  “Then, who are the evil?”  All those who reject the free gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

One day, and it may be soon Jesus will come and all evil will be eternally put away.  Even the lamb and the lion will roam together, and without threat to the lamb.  The small child will be able to play over the den of the serpent without any fear (See Isaiah 11).  There will be no more ruthless rulers in the world.  Jesus will rule in the hearts and lives of people the world wide.

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Goes Before You…

“…Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you” Mark 16:7

Have you ever done something wrong, and you felt ashamed about it?  I really believe the answer to that question is, that all of us have.  We feel there is no way of recovering that friendship that was lost.  There is no way of restoring the personal credibility which was thrown away because of a word that was spoken; or words that were spoken.  There is no way they will ever trust me again.

You know?  Those thoughts are all lies.  Especially when it comes to the Lord Jesus.  You see Jesus had warned the disciples that they would flee from Him (Mark 14:27-28), but Peter had said, “If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise.” (Mark 14:29, 31).

When it had happened; just as Jesus had said (Mark 14:66-72), Peter went and, “he wept” (v. 72).  He was grieved for his denying  His Savior.  He probably felt as though there was no going back, there was no hope.  However, when Jesus has risen from the grave, the angel says, “Go… tell His disciples and Peter…”.  Jesus was still including Peter in the group.  He will with you and I as well.

Isn’t it wonderful and marvelous to know that even when we have fallen, Jesus is there to pick us up and set us back in His way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

What Manner Of Man – Worthy Of Worship

“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?  For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.  And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.  For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” Mark 4:21-25 (KJV)

For the second time in chapter four Jesus uses the phrase “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear”.  What we have been given by God’s grace can be seen by all.  Our life, our work, our play, our family, is a witness to all around us.  How bright is that light shining from me?  How about with you?  Is the light of Christ clearly displayed for all to see.

Jesus says that what has been in secret will be revealed.  The Gospel is to the unbelieving something hard to understand and is “hidden” until the Spirit of God turns on the light.  To the unbelieving the preaching of the cross is foolishness; to the Jew it is a stumbling block.

God has given to every believer the light to shine for all to see.  We have been given much, so much is required of us.  Let us not lose what God has blessed us with.  The blessed gift and privilege of sharing Christ with others can be lost if we are not sharing the story.  The more you share the gospel with others the more you will enjoy it and the better it will get.  To have a gift and not use it is to lose it.

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;  And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.  But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”  Mark 4:26-29 (KJV)

It is a marvel of God’s creation how a seed can be dropped onto the earth’s soil and it spring up and bring forth life.  Only God really knows how that happens.  It is a matter of life.

The farmer knows what he is to do, and that begins with plowing the ground – for a good crop – and preparing it for the seed.  He will then sow the seed, and wait patiently for it to grow into a harvest.  That seed will struggle and push its way up through the soil, it will grow to its highest potential, with “blades” of the plant it is supposed to be and eventually bring forth its fruit.  After reaching its time of harvest the farmer then will proceed to gather the harvest, and usually with much joy.

The good farmer knows the right time to harvest the grain.  When that time comes he puts in the “sickle” and brings in the harvest.

“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:  But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.  And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”  Mark 4:30-34 (KJV)

The growth of this mustard plant is not normal.  It even shelters the “Fowls of the air” which are seen in the previous “parable” as being representative of the devil.

There is a tree which is seen in the fourth chapter of Daniel where it is said of it that the “birds of the air” rested in its branches.  This can be found in Daniel 4:11-12.

“The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. Daniel 4:11-12 (KJV)”

The “Mustard seed” is one of the smallest seeds known to man.  When Christ started the church He began with only twelve, and over the years it has grown and flourished.  It is not without problems or problem people, but it still continues to grow.  Within this Kingdom there is good and evil, and the good will triumph because Jesus Christ is its Head.  Warren Wiersbe states, “The growth of the kingdom will not result in the conversion of the world.  In fact, some of the growth will give opportunity for Satan to get in and go to work!”  It is imperative that we understand that the church is not perfect.  It is basically a “Hospital” with “sick” people.  Someone once made the statement, that “If you find a perfect church, and you go there, it is no longer perfect.”  There are members within many churches who are not genuinely Christian.  They “came forward” during an invitation, “took the preachers hand” or someone else’s, they filled out a card and there was no giving of self to Christ as Savior or Lord.  When the local church is made up of saved and lost people it is no wonder there will be problems in the congregation.

We must note that the “birds” who are resting in the branches of the tree are not part of the tree.  They only find solace, security, and some sanctimoniousness.

What Jesus started with only twelve people has grown to be millions.  The Church of Jesus Christ will not fail.  She will prevail, because Jesus has already conquered sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave.

“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)

After giving the parables and teachings he had given on this same day he got in one of the boats and said, “Let’s go to the other side”.  Now, what is on the other side?  Gadara.  There is a need for Jesus to go there, and He goes.

On the way to the “Other side” Jesus goes to sleep in the stern of the boat.  While He sleeps a storm that frightens even the seasoned fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Even these guys are afraid that they are going to die.  Jesus is still sleeping.  Unafraid, unencumbered with the weights of this incident He sleeps.  There are three reasons a man or woman can sleep during storms of life.  First of all, physically exhausted, or dead.  Secondly, emotionally drained or depressed due to a rebellious attitude toward God.  Thirdly, they are at perfect peace with God.  Which one of those categories did Jesus fit into?  That is really a crazy question.  He is Deity, God in Flesh.  Of course He was at perfect peace with God.  He knew His destiny.  He knew God’s plan for His life.  How about you?

One thing we as Christians need reminded of from time to time is that we are still going to have some storms in our lives.  We are not exempt from them at all.

These seasoned fishermen saw that this storm was different or they would not have been so afraid as they were.  Because they were afraid they went to the right person.  They went and roused Jesus from His sleep.  Jesus was somewhat disappointed with their faith – or lack thereof.  They must not have been sure of their destiny, or God’s plan for their lives, or Jesus’ life for that matter.  If they would have believed Jesus’ previous words they would not have been afraid of the storm.  They would have kept on rowing; knowing and believing that they would reach their destination on “The Other side”.  Jesus had an appointment in Jerusalem He had to keep, and nothing would deter Him from that meeting.

At the storm they were afraid of it, now they suddenly turn their fear toward Jesus.  They really were not afraid of the storm; rather they were afraid of dying.  Now they have their eyes opened, and they receive a proper fear.   A fear of God, for here, standing with them is the One who made the elements, which causes the storm, and now calls them to be at peace.  Now the disciples can be at peace.

WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS?  That is the best question.  He is the God-man.  Jesus Christ the incarnate One; worthy of praise, honor and glory.  It is to Him alone that we owe our complete allegiance, and to no other.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Body, And The Blood

“Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?”  John 6:67 (NKJV)

For those who do not want to accept the fact of the deity of Jesus Christ; the fact that Jesus Himself said that He and His Father are one; the fact that He said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father”, and so much more; leaving is what you have done and invented your own Jesus.

Jesus had given many hard and heavy truths concerning Himself in chapter six.  One of the last one’s mentioned is that, “…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (v. 65).  Then, we are told that, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more”.  What disciples were these?  It most certainly was not the twelve.  It was the twelve He asked the above question.  They were still with Him.

The “disciples” who left were partly those who had followed Jesus because they saw Him doing miracles.  They were following Jesus because they supposed, most likely, that they would receive something from Him.  Maybe a place on His administrative board when He set up His kingdom.  Maybe they followed Him just out of curiosity, or for the power they thought they might achieve.  Even today, in business, and more and more so within the Christian community we hear things like, “You need to get near those who are the movers and shakers if yo want to become a mover and shaker”.  If there was ever a man who was a mover and a shaker it was Jesus Christ.  When things didn’t sound right to those followers they just left.

Jesus had talked to them about “eating My flesh” and “drink His blood”, and some of that may have not been understood.  It was something that demanded whole-hearted commitment.  You could not be selfish, prideful or arrogant.  When they heard Him talking and teaching; and had seen His miracles it was easy to follow Him, but now, now that He made these claims, what were they to think?

The twelve faithful disciples sat ever diligent, listening, learning, and Jesus questions them, “Do you also want to go away?”  To which the disciples responded; Peter speaking first, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (vv. 68-69).

If the other disciples would have held that belief they would have continued to walk with Jesus.  Oh, how we need to follow Jesus simply for who He is.  He is worthy of our love, devotion, commitment, and worship.  Yes!  I said worship.  Deity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is worthy of our worship.  If you have taken of the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus then, you know who He is and you worship, praise and glorify Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD Knows…

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1 (KJV).

This Psalm is one of my favorites.  It is one that lingers in my memory.  I do not know that I set out to purposely memorize it, but it is there.  The collection of the Psalms are words of encouragement, hope, and you see the hearts of the writers of the Psalms.

David is known to be the human author of most of these writings of Biblical poetry, but it is  also known that some of them were written by Moses, Asaph, and maybe another one or two.  We do know and believe that these are words which are inspired by God Himself.  They would not be present in the Canon of Scripture if they were not.

This first verse of the Psalms begins with a “Blessed” or “Happy”.  This would be the individual who is fulfilled.  This individual does not seek ungodly counsel from others, nor do they go to the ungodly seeking godly counsel.

This individual does not have dealings with the rebellious and wicked; taking a bold stand against immorality.  The places where the “Blessed” individual stands is upon the Word of God, in places that lift up the Lord.  The place of the “Blessed” individual’s seating is where God is seated.

The ’scornful’ are those who make a mockery of God, and scoff at all who profess Him and godliness.  An individual usually sits, comfortably where they live.  The “Blessed” individual lives in the presence of the LORD God.

Everyone “Delights” in something.  There is something that you can hardly do without, maybe a new car, new house, new suit of clothes, more money,  more of anything, that you perceive as good.  We can get our hearts set on something, and that becomes our “Delight”.

Gulom of the Lord of the Rings story had his “Delight” on the Ring of power.  J.R. R. Tolkein wrote the story, and it shows an analogy of the power of sin in our lives.  Gulom had been a normal hobbit until the Ring was found and he murdered his friend, took the Ring, and became a creeping, rock crawling, pale, almost sickening being.  The picture is surely that sin will destroy you.  To Gulom, the Ring was his “Precious”.  That was his delight.

In Psalm 1:2 the Psalmist writes, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”  We  have been told in verse one what this individual does not do; now we see what this godly individual does.

She/he holds no “Delight” in the wickedness of the world or its things.  The heart has been reborn.  The more the “Delight” is in the “law of the LORD” the less these things of the world become anything of importance.  The law of the LORD is something the man and woman of God delights in.  They meditate on it day and night.

To wake up thinking Scripturally.  To go to bed at night thinking Biblically.  What a wonderful “Delight” it is.  The Word of God is more precious than anything this world has to give.  DELIGHT IN THE LAW OF THE LORD.  Within its pages you find life and eternal life.  It will take you to the person of Jesus.  Sin will hold no power on you.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  Psalm 1:3 (KJV).

Have you ever noticed trees by streams of water during a drought?  Trees on the hillside away from the streams often begin to look a little dry, and sometimes leaves begin to fade, but the trees by the streams never fade in the heat of drought.  The Psalmist paints us a lovely picture of the follower of Christ Jesus who stays in, abides in, continues in the Word of God.  He/She “delights in the law of the LORD”, and when troubles come they just keep on ticking.

The fruit will keep on coming despite droughts, despite hardships, and even despite the storms, though the storms may cause severe damage.  The one who keeps themselves in the Word, the law, the way of the LORD will also prosper in all they do.  Do remember that prosperity is not always in things, but peace, comfort, encouragement, love, wisdom, grace, mercy, etc..

Just as the tree planted by the rivers of water is always at the mercy of the stream which flows by so too is the follower at the mercy of the One whose Word we read, hear and practice.  We/You are always in His hands.

There is such evil in our world at times.  Murders happen each and every day and even in each hour of the day.  Some of which we never hear about.  There are many crimes done to other human beings, of whom all are made in the image and likeness of God, and by God Himself.  He alone gives life, and He alone can justly take a life.

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”  Psalm 1:4 (KJV).

We have seen the blessedness of the one who walks with God, and that she/he delights in the law [Word] of the LORD meditating in it day and night; and that this individual is like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  Now that is quite refreshing to a child of God; to know that whatsoever they do shall prosper.

There is a somewhat sad statement, yet, a statement that should encourage us as well.  The encouraging thing about verse four is that God will judge wickedness, and will not let it go unpunished.  The sad thing is that there are those who are “Ungodly”.

The “Ungodly” are those who will set out to oppose all that is godly, righteous, just, and of God.  Whether we want to admit this or not they do exist.  A few years ago we  heard of a group who on a website asks for those who will commit the “Unpardonable sin” to sin against the Spirit of God and forever condemn their soul.  The ungodly are those who just completely reject the love, grace, mercy, and cross of Jesus Christ.

These are as the waste of the wheat as it is thrashed.  When the winds of life and God’s judgment comes are driven away.  May God save those who will hear Him, and believe.

In the first Psalm we see the blessedness of the one who is right with God.  They do not seek ungodly counsel, nor do they participate in sinful endeavors, nor try to rule with the scornful or as the scornful.  The “Blessed” are those whose “…delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night”.  Those who do this are strong, supplied, and sufficient for all things.

“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” Psalm 1:5 (KJV).

The ungodly and the sinner are the same.  They are not right with God.  Their delight is to do the things that gratify their emotions, thinking, lust, greed, and power.  These are ones who will not hardly hesitate to use a friend, sometimes even a family member or spouse, or co-worker to gain what they desire; what they delight in.  They certainly have no desire for God.  God would be an interruption in their life.

The path of the ungodly and the sinner is that they will not be able to stand before God in the judgment with their good deeds.  They will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:11-14;  v. 12), and will not be able to give any reason for their unbelieving hearts.  There will be no room for the ungodly and the sinner “…in the congregation of the righteous”.

Who are the righteous?  All those who have come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, and received the righteousness of Christ and have been raised together with Him, for all eternity.

Sin definitely has a hold on the human race.  Why many do not want to see it is beyond reason.  One Monday morning at Virginia Tech, in April 2007, we saw the results of sin, and there is only one answer for sin.  The life of a perfect sacrifice.  And we are not it.

“For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish”  Psalm 1:6 (KJV).

Cho Sueng-Hui a student with a visa from South Korea went into a dorm and killed two fellow students.  He, then proceeded to Norris Hall where students and teachers were gathered for classes, and shot and killed thirty more, and then, turned the gun on himself.  This man does not need my condemnation, nor anyone else.  He is condemned far greater than anything you or I could.  He is forever in the absence of God’s presence.

Those who have become so encumbered by sin that they follow its call will do almost anything.  Let no one say, “I could not/would not ever do what that man did”.  You just might.  As long as you turn a deaf ear to the Lord; your heart will grow hard, heavy, and madness of evil can easily set in.  You could find yourself doing all kinds of evil, that you never dreamed possible.  You say you don’t believe in evil.  Do not be deceived.  You saw it take place on Monday morning April 16, 2007, and every morning before and since that dreadful day.  Evil is more powerful than you or I can deal with alone.  The end of evil is destruction.

The LORD knows ‘the way of the righteous’;  He should because He directs the way of the righteous.  The LORD does not direct the righteous to kill, maim or destroy.  He directs the righteous to live godly, holy, and sanctified lives for His glory, and calls us to call others unto Him.  The way of the righteous is also the way of peace, mercy, justice, love, joy, gentleness, patience, self control.  They show forth those things which have been called the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Sower And The Hearts Of Humanity

“And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  The sower soweth the word.  And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.  And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;  And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.  And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,  And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.  And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” Mark 4:13-20 (KJV)

It is to be understood that the “field” where the seed is sown is the world.  The seed that is being sown is the Word of God.  When the Word of God falls on hard soil – the walkway, pathway, etc. – then the devil  comes along and carries it away.  This hard soil is a hard and unaccepting [unbelieving] heart toward God.

The “stony ground” is the heart of an individual who hears the Word of God and seemingly receives it, but because there is no depth for growth, troubles, trials, and heat come along and he wilts away, because there is no root.  This individual has “gladly received” the Word of God, but with no true heart for it.

The “thorny soil” is the person who has heard the Word of God, and like the previous one receives it gladly, but due to worldly influence, greed for riches, and other distractions is choked off from receiving the life giving rays of Son light.

The “good ground” hears the Word of God, gladly receives it and goes on and bears fruit.  Each area of the soil will bear a different amount of fruit, but it bears fruit none the less.  That is evidence of a genuine believer/follower of Jesus Christ.  He/She will bear fruit.  A changed life is the first evidence, a burden for the lost, condemned and dying, and being a witness are evidences of fruit.  All of these will lead to souls coming to faith in Christ.  Christians will bear fruit.

Here is a summation of the conditions of “hearts” of men:

  1. The first kind are those who hear the Word, but it has no affect on them and so the devil snatches away the Word;
  2. The second kind are those who seem to receive the Word of God gladly; they may even seem excited about it, but the troubles of persecution and rejection of friends, and such come along, and they take off to sights unknown;
  3. The third heart is much like the second, but it is not persecution or trouble that causes them to turn away from the truth, it is rather, the desire for wealth, riches, pleasure, etc..  None of these first three are even redeemed.  They are all still condemned, dying, and without hope.  Is there any hope for them.
  4. The fourth heart is the blessed heart that has genuinely been saved, changed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and it brings forth fruit.  It is the fruit which brings honor and glory to the sower.

Yes!  We can pray for people who are in such a condition, as those of the first three, that God may continue to prepare their hearts and get rid of the thorns, and give depth to the soil that they might bear fruit.   After the sowing of the seed it is God’s work alone.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Taught By God

“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be taught of God’.  Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.”  Jesus  (John 6:45 KJV).

The prophets to whom Jesus was referring and the address of the words written in the prophets are Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; and Micah 4:2.  Maybe some who read this think, “My goodness is Jesus all he has to write about?”  He is the very reason for my being.  The very reason for my existence, and for yours as well.  He is worthy of so much more than what I can write or say.

You read in Genesis, and you will see Jesus when God has given you Light to see Him.  In Exodus Jesus is there as the lamb’s blood is put on the door posts and the lintel.  He is the Passover Lamb.  As the children of Israel journey through the wilderness,  Jesus is the Healing of the waters at Marah.  He is the Rock that followed them through the desert.  All of Scriptures testify of Jesus.

Do I ever get tired of speaking or writing about my Jesus?  Never.  I cannot do it enough.  The Revelator [John] wrote in the Spirit of the Lord, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”  Revelation 19:10 (KJV).  Jesus told those who hated Him; speaking of the Scriptures, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.”  Jesus (John 5:39 KJV).  To know God one must be Taught By God.

If you want peace, hope, encouragement in this life, and eternal life; then, give yourself completely to Jesus.  He gave His for you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

PURPOSE:  To teach that those who are in the one Body [the Church] are recipients of grace, demonstrated and shown through ministry gifts, also of grace, for the purpose of bringing the total Body to the maturity of Jesus Christ.

Grace does not stop with our initial repentance, faith, and confession of Christ.  Grace continues with every breath we breathe; every step we take; every morning we rise from our beds.  Grace is the continuing work of God in the Christians life.

The following are some works of grace which God has bestowed upon us.

THE WORK OF GOD WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SIN AND DEATH (v. 7).  Grace is the means by which we are delivered from the condemnation of sin and its death.  It is provided for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is only the propitiation or appeasement; God judging our sin [all sin] by placing it on the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ.  Grace continues and becomes efficacious [effective] when we respond  to His grace by faith in Him.  That same grace provides not only salvation, but also gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, for living by grace in His power.

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

Just as every individual who is born again, by faith in Jesus, is in the one Body, so too, has everyone received a grace-gift(s) in which to serve the Body.  There is no one who is in Christ who is not also gifted to live for and serve Him.

All this is the “gift of Christ”.  We are brought into one Body by Christ; we are gifted by Him to serve in the Body as He [the Head] directs and leads by the person of the Holy Spirit.

THE WORK OF GOD ON THE CROSS WHICH DELIVERED US FROM CAPTIVITY (vv. 8-10).  Because of the cross on which Jesus bled and died God the Father was and is able to deliver us from the captivity of sin.  His resurrection gave us victory over hell and death.

If you watch  people; as I have a tendency to do; you will see many enslaved by sin.  Illegal and legal drugs, like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc., and you know what I mean.  You see some captive by other things in their lives.  Men and women, married and unmarried, are enslaved to their lustful desires; whether those desires are greed for wealth, or sex; makes little difference; they are none the less enslaved.  Some are enslaved to their comforts and entertainments.

When Jesus arose from the grave He led those who were Old Testament  saints out of captivity.  I believe this is vividly illustrated in Matthew 27:51-53:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

He then placed into captivity everything that places man in bondage – sin, hell, death, and Satan.

By ascending into heaven He opened the avenue for the Holy Spirit; in fact sent the Holy Spirit; to come and dwell within all who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit would not have come to abide in all who know Jesus except He [Jesus] ascended into heaven first.  By ascending He not only gave us the person of the Spirit, but He also gifted us; gave us tools for ministry, and the Holy Spirit is the power of the gifts.

His descension is His incarnation [Jesus coming as God in flesh].  Because of His death, burial and resurrection His mortal body was changed into an immortal body.  The Scriptures  declare that there is a man (in bodily form) in heaven:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”  1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Because of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  It is being made more and more into the image of Christ in heaven, in every individual who abides in His Body  on earth.  This by no means implies that individual’s in His Church are sinless, but contrary to that, His working in us shows that we are needy of Him.

Jesus’s desire, His heart is to be the FULNESS of everyone who will come to Him.

THE WORK OF GOD IN THE GIFTS WHICH HE GIVES US; CONTINUING THE WORK (vv. 11-12).  God desires, and Jesus desires to continually be at work in us; fulfilling His will and glory.  The reason for the gifts of the Spirit is His grace.

The gifts listed are not natural talents, but special gifts of the Spirit for glorifying Jesus in the ministry.  The apostles and prophets are the one’s upon whom the church is built (2:20).  There is no such thing as “apostolic succession”.  At least not in the sense of the Roman Catholic religion.  Apostles are not declared or made by a local congregation, but they are called out individually by God for the purpose of going to an unchurched, unevangelized area, and doing the ground work; preaching the word and the gospel of Christ to establish a local congregation.  In the truest New Testament sense an apostle today could be a missionary.  There can be no more apostles because the foundation has already been laid; there are no more eye witnesses of Jesus Christ risen from the grave; there are no more disciples who personally walked with Jesus in the land where He walked.  Missionaries do the work that the original apostles did in going about, preaching the gospel to people groups who have not heard, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

The prophets were preachers who were gifted with a special understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, and given the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit for the New Testament Church and Scriptures.  They were and are those whom are sensitive about sin and its destruction in human life.  They have a heart for hearing God and His Word.  The Church is built on the apostles and prophets.  The prophet today would probably be better known as  “Preacher”.  This is still how local churches begin.  The local church is where the gifts and power of the Spirit are demonstrated.  The Body of Christ is manifest in the local church.

Evangelists are gifted by God to seek out the lost and are particularly gifted at presenting  the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable way.  They are also gifted to teach others how to be soul-winners.

Where the previous three are itinerant [traveling] messengers the pastor/teacher is one who sticks around awhile.  He loves the people as his own family.  He preaches the Word of God to them and teaches them how to apply  the Word to their lives.  He is one who is really more concerned about their spiritual walk, spiritual growth than numerical growth.  The pastor will leave the numerical growth up to the Lord.  The pastor simply sows the seed of the Word and the gospel and leaves the increase up to the Holy Spirit.  He teaches by word and example.

In verse twelve we see a twofold purpose for these spiritual gifts;

1. The perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry;
2. Edifying the Body of Christ.

Number one, the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher is to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry.  These four are the equipping/leadership gifts of the Spirit.  There are other gifts listed in Romans 12:3-8;  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and here in Ephesians 4:11.  Each of these gifts of the Spirit are needed in the local church to for the people to grow and be healthy and powerful for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Number two, the equipped Body will be operating in the unity of the Spirit and truly “building up” the Body of Christ.  When everyone “in Christ” recognize their place of service, then, the Church has been built up and is honoring and pleasing to Jesus.

THE WORK OF GOD AND THE FRUIT OF THAT WORK (vv. 13-16).  When the Body of Christ is being equipped and built up there are four evidences of spiritual growth.

  1. We become more Christlike caring for the needs of others, experiencing others hurts and sorrows.  We grow in knowledge of Him and His Word and work of His Spirit.  We reach a place of maturity where we are not offended by truth; or the color of the carpet.  This lever of maturity is still seeking the fullness of Christ.
  2. We begin developing a stability of faith.  We begin to understand truth and are not tossed around by false doctrines and teachings.  We are learning to test all teachings by the Word of God.
  3. We have a love for truth, coupled with a lover for people, the lost, and even backsliden  When others are confronted with the truth love will not permit us to condemn, but we will admonish them by pointing to their real need; realizing from whence we have come.
  4. We realize that there must be a unified work.  We have purpose through cooperation.  By joining our hands, prayers, finances, families, ministries, and our hearts we are in cooperation with one another and ‘building up’ the Church.  That means we would be the most powerful force on earth; through Jesus Christ.

When you have grace working in you  through  Jesus Christ you will be the better for it, and the world will benefit from it.  Grace works everyday in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ.  Let each of us submit to the work of grace and the Spirit of God every day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Land In Possession

In His journeys through the land of Canaan Abraham never owned a portion of the land.  For twenty five years Abraham had the promise of a son before that son was ever born to he and Sarah.  The promise is fulfilled.

In the time when Isaac is around twenty thirty seven years of age Sarah has died, and they own no land in which to bury her.  Abraham is trying to purchase the land, but it almost seems as though they do not want to sell it but give it to him.

One thing we must remember; it is God who owns the land.  He has placed it in our hands – many land owners in the world today.  However, the land owners are really only stewards of the land, and are  to be caretakers of what God has placed in our hands.

In the economy of land, though, land ownership is recognized by deeds and titles.  In the search for a place to bury his dear, and precious bride following her death; and yet owning nothing, but the promise of God for the whole land; Abraham, by faith offers to purchase a cave with some surrounding land from Ephron of the children of Heth.

They have finally reached an agreement.  Abraham now is a land owner in Canaan, and the rest is purely owned by faith.  This was indeed a transaction, a sale of land.  It was agreed to in public, before witnesses, there was an exchange of “money”, and there was a survey conducted to make sure the borders of the land (Genesis 23:17).  Most likely there was some sort of deed given in the transaction to seal the deal.

This was all done based on God’s call and promise that the land would be the descendants of Abraham’s of the seed of Isaac.

“And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.” Genesis 23:20 (KJV)

When God makes and gives us a promise we can be sure that He will carry that promise all the way to its completion.  Even our salvation. (Philippians 1:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-Tim A. Blankenship

What Manner Of Man – Communicator

“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.  And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,  Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:  And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.  And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:  But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.  And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.  And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.  And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”  Mark 4:1-12 (KJV)

Someone defined a parable as “An earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I think that is a good definition if I do say so.  They may or may not be fictional to point out a truth.  Jesus used many of them to make points, and even to conceal the truth from some.

From what I have seen I know people like a good story.  That is why novels sell so well.  The Christian novel market is booming.  Christian fiction is one of the hottest selling items going.  When Frank E. Perretti wrote “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing The Darkness” it started the boom in Christian fiction novels.  Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins co-authored the “Left Behind” series and it was and is a wonderful story of the last days.  Many years ago a man in Southwest Missouri wrote “The Shepherd of the Hills” and it is a wonderful story.  Harold Bell Wright wrote the story for his church and that book has become more popular in recent years.

When I was in school I would be assigned a novel to read and all I would do is scan it.  I would read the first page of a chapter, a middle page and the final page of a chapter and then I would write a composition on it.  It is no wonder my grades were no better than they were.  Until I decided to read “This Present Darkness” I did not know what I had been missing.  Now I will read at least one novel per year and sometimes even more.

The greatest story ever told, though, is the story of God, His creation, man and his fall away from God, God’s pursuit of fallen man through the death burial and resurrection of His Son, and bringing it all to a conclusion in that great day when we will all be forgiven, cleansed, and in the presence of Jesus for all eternity.   That story tells us of the wickedness of fallen mankind, and the wonderful grace of Almighty God who created all that is.

Jesus tells the story of the soils and the seeds.  For the people to whom He was speaking agricultural language, because that is the language they would understand.   It is probably best called the “Parable of the Sower”.  He was faithful in sowing the seed and leaves the results to God.

There are four types of soil represented here.  In the first place some seed fell by the “wayside” onto hard ground, and the birds came and ate it up.  The second type of soil was “stony ground” which had shallow soil and no way for the crop to take root.  The third place where the seed fell was on “thorny soil”, and when the seed came up from the ground it was choked out by the thorns.  It received no light from the sun, therefore could not grow as it ought.  The fourth and final type of soil was good.  The seed fell upon the good soil and brought forth an abundant crop.

Jesus uses parables to teach those who really want to know Him.  If they are not interested in Him they will not understand the parables.  “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” is the statement of such.  Those who love Jesus or who are wanting to really know Him will listen, hear and obey what He has to say.

The parables Jesus told us many years ago are still applicable to the day we live and everyday in the lives of those who are willing to hear them and obey.

This same Jesus died on the cross for you, was buried carrying away all the sins of the world and the weight of guilt, and its condemnation, then rose from death’s grave overcoming the power of sin, death, and hell.  Call on His name today.  Trust His work He did for you.

-Tim A. Blankenship