The Hearing and The Understanding

“And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, ‘Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, ‘Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.’
‘Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it.'” Acts 28:24-28 (KJB)

Standing before the Jewish leaders in Rome Paul tells them of Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection.  Some heard and believed.  Many of them turned away from the truth and life to remain in lies and death.

The apostle reminds them of the words of Isaiah in chapter six of that prophecy, and Isaiah’s call.  The prophet was told that he would tell the people of the time what God said, but they would not hear and believe. However, he was to be faithful in preaching what God said, no matter what.

It is evident to me that there is basically no difference in the people of the eighth century B.C. and the people of this twenty first century.  There are people in every era of time who do not like the truth.  Many want to continue doing things their way, in their time; or maybe not.  They have the mentality, “Do not mix God/religion with life.  It causes problems”.

God, His word, and His people have always been against sin.  You have the choice of believing God and His word or of going, continuing down your slippery slope to death and eternal judgment

I pray you will hear and understand. I pray your eyes will be opened to see the truth of the true identity of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, God the Son; who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.  He is alive.

Believe Him.

Believe the Testimony

“And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace unto you.’ Then saith He to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.’
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”  John 20:26-31  (KJB)

Thomas had said, “Except I see the print of the nails in His hands, and put my fingers into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side I will not believe” (v. 25). Now Jesus appears in the midst of the disciples, and it appears that Thomas does not avail himself of that opportunity.

It does not say it in the text, but I can almost see Thomas as he said, “My Lord and my God”, bowing on his face before Jesus.  I say that because I am pretty certain that when I see the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ that will be my response.

Jesus gives a rebuke to Thomas, saying to him, “…Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.”

Who are these folks who have not seen yet believed?

It is all those who have believed since that day following the ascension of Jesus up to the Father.  It is you.  It is me.  We have not yet seen the resurrected Jesus, but we have Believed the Testimony of the disciples/apostles, and that is because of those who were generations before us who also believed the testimony.

The testimony of Scripture.  The testimony of the Gospels.  The testimony of the apostles, and all who followed them.  Have you heard them and believed?

Hearing and Doing

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, ‘If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” John 8:31-32 (KJB)

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:47

Verses 31 and 32 were spoken to seems to have believed in Him, but they could not see themselves as being in bondage; even while they as a people were enslaved to the Roman empire.

The words of verse 47 seems to show that they were not hearing God’s word to the point that Jesus was teaching. To “Continue” in His word is to live, to abide in it; making it every bit a part of one’s life.  Many of these leaders of religion could quote the whole law, but did not rest in neither trust their God and only Savior.

They were in fact still bound by the law which condemns them, and shows them their is only one hope.  That hope is found by means of a single sacrifice for sin.

That single sacrifice for sin was given when Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of the world.

Do you want to be free, truly free?  Then, the only way is through the death, burial, and resurrection of the God-Man Christ Jesus.  He forever lives.  This is God’s grace.  Grace is not free.  It was paid for with the life of God’s own Son.

Now, what are you going to do with that information?

When We Build

“And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them,  ‘If any come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.  So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.’
” Luke 14:25-33  (KJB)

I will give you John Gill’s exposition of verse 28…

For which of you intending to build a tower,…. Taking up a profession of Christ and his Gospel, is like building a tower; which, as a tower, must be laid on a good foundation; not on carnal descent and parentage; nor on a sober and religious education; nor on a civil, moral life and conversation; nor on a bare knowledge of Gospel truths and a flash of affection for them, and the people of God; but upon Christ the sure foundation; and on principles of grace formed by his Spirit, in their hearts: and this, like a tower, is carried very high; not by professing high things, but by living on high amidst a profession; by having the affections set on things above; and by looking down with contempt on things below; and by looking to, and pressing after, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ: the profession of some persons is very low; it arises from low principles, and proceeds on low views, aims, and ends; but where it is right, and well founded, it is like a tower, firm and steady, and is a fortress and bulwark against apostacy. Now what person acting deliberately in such a case as this, and proceeding with intention and design,

sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? as every wise man would, who has any thoughts of building a tower, or any other edifice: and so such that have an intention to take up a profession of religion, should sit down and well consider of it; which does not imply, that persons should delay making a profession, on whom it is incumbent; but that this should be done with thoughtfulness, care, and prudence: it should be considered on what foundation a man is going to build: whether the work of grace is truly wrought upon his soul; what be the nature and use of Gospel ordinances; with what views he takes up a profession, and submits to ordinances; what the church and minister are, he intends to walk with; and what the charge and cost of a profession; for such a work is chargeable and costly, and should be thought of and considered, whether he is able to bear it: for he will be called to self-denial; and must expect to suffer the loss of the favour of carnal relations and friends; and to be exposed to the scorn and rage of the world; a cross must be took up and bore; and great grace and strength are requisite to all this.

Christ, The Son Of The Blessed

“And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee?’  But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, ‘Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’  And Jesus said,
‘I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, ‘What need we any further witnesses?  Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?’ And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.  And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.”  Mark 14:60-65  (KJB)

He was silent through most of the mockery of a trial.  His silence was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy…

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

However, when He is asked a direct question about His person, and who He is; He answers directly, knowing full well they would not hear.  Yet, He would not deny who He is.

If He would not deny His identity, His person, His God while He is being tried for crimes He is completely innocent of – He was guilty of no crime, but of being who He is.  Then, how can so many deny Him after being condemned to a cruel, slow, torturous death; having became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), to buried, then to rise again from death? How do you, O sinner, condemned soul continue to deny the Prince of Life?

I cannot keep silent about Him. I will not be silent about Him.  He is my Savior, my Lord, my King, and my God.

That It Might Be Fulfilled

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell ye the daughter of Sion, ‘Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.’
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set Him thereon.  And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed in the way.  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.'”  Matthew 21:4-9  (KJB)

This is without question the greatest need of Christianity today, and that is that we get back to believing the word of God.  We have too many pastors, preachers, churches, and leaders who turn a deaf ear to the Bible.

“It is antiquated” they say.  It is superstition some say, which seem to me to be more non-theist than Christian.

The verses above help us remember why Jesus came.  The scene presented of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey is often called the “Triumphal entry”.  I would prefer to call it the “Presentation of the Suffering King of Salvation” or something along that thought.  I say that because His triumph was not complete until He rose from the grave; and even yet there is more to happen.

At any rate,we as followers of Jesus must recommit ourselves to the study, reading, and application of God’s word – the Bible – in our lives.  The Triumphal Entry will occur when we hear the trumpet sound, and the feet of Jesus touches the ground on the Mount of Olives.

Let us repent of our sins, and trust the word of God, to teach us along side His Spirit who will guide us into all truth.

Consider the Poor

“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. I said, ‘LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee.’”  Psalm 41:1-4 (KJV)

In the United States of America we are richly blessed.  We are blessed with the grace of God.  We are blessed with riches.  Yet in the midst of the blessing of riches we are cursed with some levels of poverty; and some of which cannot be avoided.  People often find themselves without an income, due to loss of jobs; or sickness, and/or disease; which has robbed them of the strength to make a living.  These are the poor that the Christian must not neglect.

It is the light of Christ Jesus that shines in our hearts that causes us to see others as being better than ourselves; and that includes the poor.  Paul the apostle writing to the people of Philippi…

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  Philippians 2:3 (KJV)

As Christians the love of Christ will reign supremely in our hearts; and others will be blessed by our lives and our conduct:  even though they may not always realize it.  John the apostle wrote the following…

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”  1 John 3:17 (KJV)

Be a blessing today.

This post is one written in July of 2013.

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 4

Truth in Palmyra

1 Kings 17:17,18

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

 This may very be a real “Say what?” moment. Things have been tough on both Elijah the Prophet and the widow woman he has been living with. Elijah has spent a year camped out by a brook, alone save for a providing bird. The woman had been living alone with her son, watching the land grow dry and her food run out. Then Elijah had come along and things may have seemed to be looking up.

The woman’s son…

View original post 1,095 more words

Wounds of a Friend; the Kisses of an Enemy

“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  Proverbs 27:1-6  (KJB)

– Proverbs 27:1-27

Verses 1-6 –  Boasting, pride, arrogance, leads to sorrow (vv. 1-2).  The anger and wrath of the cruel is heavier on their own lives than is a stone over a wells mouth (vv. 3-4).

“The rabbins have a curious story on this subject, and it has been formed by the moderns into a fable. There were two persons, one covetous and the other envious, to whom a certain person promised to grant whatever they should ask; but double to him who should ask last. The covetous man would not ask first, because he wished to get the double portion, and the envious man would not make the first request because he could not bear the thoughts of thus benefiting his neighbor. However, at last he requested that one of his eyes should be taken out, in order that his neighbor might lose both.”

The rebuke of a friend is sweeter than the flattery of an enemy (vv. 5-6).

Verses 7-10 –  “Prov. 27:7–10 These four proverbs each teach an element of wisdom that can stand on its own, but they have additional application when taken together. Verse 7 deals with honey, a pleasant treat, and v. 9 deals with oil and perfume, luxuries that here represent a banquet (an ancient host provided perfumed oils for his guests at a banquet). Also, v. 7 says that something bitter is sweet to a hungry man, while v. 9 speaks of the sweetness of earnest counsel. Together, vv. 7 and 9 suggest that it is good to have friends for the occasional party, but it is better yet to have a friend willing and able to give good advice. Verse 8 speaks of someone who wanders far from his home (his immediate family) and leaves it unprotected, while v. 10 concerns someone in need whose brother (his immediate family) is far away. Together, they teach that there are benefits in remaining close to family, but a person should not hesitate to turn to a true friend when in need.”  From the ESV Study Bible pp. 1181 & 1182.

Verses 11-12 –  A wise son is a blessing to his father.  His words, and acts are the fruits, quite often, of the father’s teaching and life.  With that in mind we know of examples where the teaching and life of the father never took root with some sons (v. 11).

The wise father and son both know how to examine things before proceeding forward with acts.  The wise will hide themselves from evil; the “simple” will proceed into it (v. 12).

Verses 13-14 –  More warning of co-signing a loan for someone; and having anything to do with foreign women – that is; foreign to the faith, morality, and righteousness.
Sometimes even social greetings and encounters must be measured by tact (v. 14).

Verses 15-16 –  See Proverbs 19:13; 21:9.  The type of woman mentioned here is one who is hard to get along with, and hard to hold on to.

Verses 17-18 –  Not only is encouragement needed among men and women, but also teaching, correction, instruction, and exhortation (v. 17).
For verse 18; See Song of Solomon 8:12;  1 Corinthians 3:8: 9:7;  2 Timothy 2:6.

Verses 19-22 –  Many of us have looked into a clear pool of water, and have seen our reflection.  We know what we look like on the surface; but only God knows our heart (v. 19).
God knows the heart of man and a man.  The foolish individual is one who will never learn, even though he/she might be beaten and bruised over and over; the foolishness will not depart from them (vv. 20-22).

Verses 23-27 –  Those who have possessions, whether it be cattle, sheep, other material goods, homes and lands needs to realize they are not permanent; they are temporary.  Because of this we must be wise in the maintenance and care of what God has entrusted to our care.

Prepared for the Battle

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.  Proverbs 21:10-31 (KJB)

Prepared for the Battle – Proverbs 21:20-31

Verse 20 –  The treasure to be desired.  The oil in the dwelling of the wise.  Foolish spending.

Verse 21 –  Following righteousness and mercy.  The fruit of the find is righteousness and honor.

Verse 22 –  While the mighty may believe their wall is impregnable; the wise will scale the wall and defeat the city.  The confidence of the city is then cast down too.

Verse 23 –  More wisdom concerning the mouth and the tongue.  Keeping the mouth equals guarding what you say.  Those who will guard their mouth and tongue will have far less troubles and sorrows of soul.

Verse 24 –

“If you meet a proud and haughty man, just call him “Scoffer.” That’s his name! The name, of course, stands for what a person is. “For as his name is, so is he” (1 Sam. 25:25).”  From Believer’s Bible Commentary.

Verses 25-26 –  A difference in the slothful and the righteous.  The slothful desires big things, but refuses to labor; while the righteous labor in order that they might have to give to need.

Verse 27 –  Sacrifice of the wicked; the wicked mind.  Compare Cain’s sacrifice with Abel’s (Genesis 4:1-15); King Saul’s sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:10-15ff) with the heart of David (Psalm 51:1-19).

Verse 28 –

“The contrast of a false witness with one who hears indicates that a person who testifies falsely has chosen not to listen carefully to either the matter at hand or the requirements that a witness act justly. Both the person and the perjury of such a witness will ultimately perish, because it is the Lord who clearly sees and judges these things (vv. 2, 12) and causes the word of the faithful witness to endure (cf. 12:19; 19:5, 9).”  From the ESV Study Bible notes.

Verse 29 –

“A wicked man hardeneth his face,…. Against all corrections and reproofs of parents, masters, ministers, and others; he blushes not at sins committed, and is not ashamed of them, but glories in them: or, he “strengthens with his face” (l); he puts an impudent face upon his words, and confirms them by his impudence; if he tells the most notorious lies, and says things the most shameful and scandalous, his countenance does not alter, by which he would be thought to have spoken what is right and true;

but as for the upright, he directeth his way; or “his ways” (m); according to the various reading; the man that is upright in heart, and walks uprightly, he directs his way according to the word of God; and, if he does amiss, when sensible he is ashamed of it, and amends.”  John Gills Expostion of the Bible.

Verses 30-31 –  “And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.”   (Jeremiah 51:29).  Note; “…for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed…”  No plan working against God will succeed.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary summarizes verses 30 and 31 this way:

“Verse 30: Nothing avails against God.
Verse 31: Nothing avails without God.”

No one is prepared for a victorious battle whose heart, mind, weapons, and armor are against the LORD.

Neither Barren Nor Unfruitful

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and be established in the present truth.
Yes, I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.  Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the Excellent Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 2:1-21

REFERENCES: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:4; Hebrews 12:10; 1 Peter 3:7; 5:12; Galatians 6:10; 1 John 1:7; 4:21; Ephesians 5:26; Romans 14:15; Psalm 119:105; Romans 12:6; Matthew 17:1-8

Captain of Our Salvation

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.  For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?
For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.  But one in a certain place testified, saying,
‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that You visited him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of Your hands: You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’
For in that He put all in subjection under him, he left nothing not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

‘I will declare your name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto you.’

And again,

‘I will put my trust in Him.’

And again,

‘Behold I and the children which God has given Me.’

Since then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  For verily He took not on angels; but He took on the seed of Abraham.  Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to rescue them that are tempted.”  Hebrews 2:1-18

REFERENCES: Numbers 15:30; Matthew 4:17; 28:10, 18; Luke 1:2, 74; Mark 16:20; Psalm 22:22; John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:54

You Are Not In Darkness

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety;’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient toward all.  See that none render evil for evil unto any, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all.
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do.
Brethren, pray for us.  Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28

REFERENCES: Matthew 24:3, 43; Acts 1:7; Isaiah 13:6; 59:17; Hosea 13:13; Romans 9:22; 13:12; 14:8; 16:16; Luke 21:34; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2:11; 16:18; Leviticus 19:18; 2 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 4:3, 16

If Any Preach any Other Gospel

“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;)  and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:  to whom glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.’  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.  Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.  Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, ‘That he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed.  And they glorified God in me.” Galations 1:1-24

REFERENCES: Acts 2:24; Titus 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 16:22; 1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Timothy 1:13; Jeremiah 9:14; Matthew 16:17; Romans 9:1; 16:7

That Spiritual Rock

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be ye idolaters, as some of them; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’  Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-10  (KJB)

References: Exodus 13:21; 16:25;17:6; 12:23; 32:6 Deuteronomy 1:33; Nehemiah 9:12, 15; Numbers 11:4; 25:1; Psalm 106:14, 29

While We Were Yet Sinners

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” Romans 5:1-11  (KJB)

The Good News For All Who Will Hear

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.’
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Acts 10:34-44

Scripture and the Resurrection

“For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” John 20:9  (KJB)

How well do I know Scripture?  How well do I think I know Scripture?  Those are two very different questions.  I am pretty confident that I do not know Scripture as well as I ought to know them.  I think sometimes that I am pretty intelligent concerning the Bible.

It is not, however, until a trial of faith or a real life situation comes along that I understand the value of things I have learned from God and His word.

The events leading to the verse above was the death, burial, and then the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  These were not ignorant of the Scriptures teaching of the resurrection, but now all those times Jesus had spoken of His death and resurrection they had that “OH YEAH!” moment.  Peter and John entered the empty tomb, and saw it was empty – the body of Jesus was gone.

At the crucifixion Scripture was fulfilled.  In the burial Scripture was fulfilled.  In the resurrection of Jesus Scripture was fulfilled.

Read the Scriptures.  Hear them, know them, and understand.

Rise and Pray

“And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’” Luke 22:45-46 (KJB)

“And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly…” says verse 44.  He was in agony because of what lay before Him.  His flesh was growing weak because of the agony.  He longed with all His heart to fulfill the task which lay before Him, and He prayed.

The disciples were sleeping, due to sorrow, yet needed to pray.  Peter needed to pray for strength in what lay ahead for him in a few short hours; for then he would deny he even knew Jesus.  He needed to pray, rather than sleep.

It is with all sincerity I say this,  I do not believe that any human being has experienced the agony equal to that Jesus was suffering on the Mount of Olives that night.  We could not have born that sorrow, that agony.  I too would probably just go to sleep.

O how I need to pray.  We need to be in agony for our lost, condemned, and dying neighbors.  Are we willing to pray for them?  Are we willing to do what it takes to see that they hear the message of Jesus Christ; that He died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again?  Are we willing to share with others what He has done and is doing for us?

Let us rise from our stupor of sleep, and pray.

The Ministry of the New Born Prophet

“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”  Luke 1:67-80  (KJB)

The ministry of the prophet John was strong and in the Spirit of the Lord heralding the Lord Jesus as the Messiah of Israel; and preparing many in Israel to receive Him.

That is the ministry of the Biblical preacher and pastor in 2019; declaring the Lord Jesus, His life, His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection.  If we let ourselves stand in the way…  Well you finish the sentence.

Lift up the Dayspring.  He is Jesus.

When Jesus Comes Again

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31  (KJB)

Matthew 24 through 25 is a sermon or discourse which Jesus delivered to His disciples concerning the last days.  The above verses are part of that lesson.  I know there are various interpretations of the whole discourse, but the following is mine.

Jerusalem was destroyed with the temple in the year 70 A.D. and it is assumed by some that that destruction fulfilled the prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25.  It seems to me to be a much bigger prophecy than that, and reaches even to our present day and time, and is to be completely fulfilled at a later date.

For the most part I believe the Olivet Discourse was delivered for the Jewish people.  The verses spoken above is speaking of the ending of what Jeremiah called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), and the Lord Himself will come to earth, with His angels, and call His elect, those who have been redeemed during that most horrible time the earth has ever experienced; and receive them to Himself; from all the corners of the earth.

Jesus Himself said, “I will come again”.  Are you ready?

Just for a short sentence: The Church of Jesus Christ will we with Him when He comes again to earth.

Fishermen of Men

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.  Matthew 4:17-22  (KJB)

Men, probably fairly young men, who had the trade and business as fishermen with their brothers; and another two with their father, and planning on spending their lives as fishermen are confronted with the decision of their lives.

The man who approached them had been preaching.  His message is written above, but I share it with you again…

‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

In the day which we live (2019) the message of repentance is not very well heeded, and certainly not desired.  It is, however, sorely needed.

Jesus’s message for the four men was one of a calling. In short Jesus’s message for them was “Follow Me”.

That is His message for all who will hear His call.  Leave the nets behind.  Leave your father behind, and follow Me.

Following Jesus is not an easy calling.  It is rewarding in that He blesses with His presence, power, and glory. Following Jesus is not without cost.  Your life and mine has been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20;  7:23).

The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He is very near.  His name is Jesus, and He died so that all who come to Him might be saved from sin and its condemnation and shame.  Believe Him.  Follow Him.

Believing Him

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, ‘He told me all that ever I did.’ So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.
And many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.'” John 4:39-42  (KJB)

It is the testimony of Scripture that Jesus went through the land of Samaria; a forbidden journey for the Jew; and by Divine providence encountered this woman at the well. He told her all that she had ever done (that is her testimony in verse 39).

She is so excited she forgot what she came to the well for; because she had met the One who gave her living water.  You know she did leave her waterpot behind (John 4:28).

People of the city came out to meet this Man who knew people’s hearts, minds, and their lives.  No one could do that except Deity – the One True God.

When the people meet Jesus their minds, and hearts are persuaded by His words.  The woman who first believed told where to find Him, and they heard Him and believed.

One of the first things the Christian does upon our salvation, our coming to faith in Him, is that we want to tell people about Him.  People need to know the Lord God.  We know the Way.  Let us love Jesus so much that we cannot keep our mouths shut concerning Him.  We cannot make people believe; neither do we desire to force them, or make them; but we can tell them.  Then possibly they be Believing Him and loving Him.

Forgiving Most

“And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.’ And he saith, ‘Master, say on.’
‘There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?’
Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.’ And He said unto him, ‘Thou hast rightly judged.’”  Luke 7:40-43  (KJB)

To get a better look at the story I pray you have read Luke 7.

Simon, a Pharisee, a very religious Jewish leader in the Law, has invited Jesus into his home, and has shown him no hospitality as was the expected thing of the day – washing the feet of their guest, etc.

Comes in a woman off the street who breaks a very expensive alabaster box of fragrant anointing oil, and this cause a ruckus with Simon.

This woman knows who Jesus is.  Her very act puts her in the category of the “one forgiven most” that is concerning the parable Jesus speaks.  Simon has not demonstrated the respect to Jesus that would be given to any other guest, but this woman brings a perfume that would, by some accounts, be as costly as a years wages.

This woman demonstrates her faith, and shows she needs forgiveness.

Simon NO!  The woman Much forgiveness.

Let us demonstrate our need for forgiveness by loving Jesus with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength.

In a Solitary Place; There He Prayed

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, ‘All men seek for Thee.’ And He said unto them, ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.’ And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Mark 1:35-39  (KJB)

O, how Jesus longed to fulfill His Father’s will.  Jesus knew it involved much committed time with Him in prayer.  My how I fall so short on committed time to prayer.  I do try to stay in touch with God through my day, but I lack power with Him; at least it seems so with me.  Lord help me with my praying.  I need You in my life in power and glory.  I am weak, but you are Mighty.

The following is from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on verse 35 of Mark 1…

And in the morning — that is, of the day after this remarkable sabbath; or, on the first day of the week. His choosing this day to inaugurate a new and glorious stage of His public work, should be noted by the reader.
rising up a great while before day — “while it was yet night,” or long before daybreak.
he went out — all unperceived from Peter’s house, where He slept.
and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed — or, “continued in prayer.” He was about to begin His first preaching and healing circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions (Luk_5:16; Luk_6:12; Luk_9:18, Luk_9:28, Luk_9:29; Mar_6:46), He spent some time in special prayer, doubtless with a view to it. What would one not give to have been, during the stillness of those grey morning hours, within hearing – not of His “strong crying and tears,” for He had scarce arrived at the stage for that – but of His calm, exalted anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and the outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent Him! He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such communings with His heavenly Father ere His friends from Capernaum arrived in search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after such a day of miracles, that the next day would witness similar manifestations. When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the repose of his glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the usual hour; but at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently coming to see where the Lord lay, he finds it – like the sepulchre afterwards – empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of Him, Peter naturally leading the way.” JAMIESON, FAUSSET, AND BROWN COMMENTARY

The Church at Sardis

THE CHURCH AT SARDIS

Revelation 3:1-6

INTRODUCTION:
I. THE CHURCH WHICH IS BELIEVED TO BE ALIVE; BUT IS DEAD.
II. JESUS IDENTIFIED AS HE WHO HAS THE SEVEN SPIRITS AND SEVEN STARS.
III. JESUS KNOWS THE TRUE STATE OF THE CHURCH.
IV. JESUS CALLS ON THE CHURCH TO WATCH…
V. HOPE FOR THE FEW.
VI. THE BOOK OF LIFE.

I. Note the Perfection of the One who has All Power, is Perfect, and Holds the Messengers in His Hands (v. 1).
A. Speaking of the Fulness of Christ…

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…” Isaiah 11:1-2

B. The fulness of the Power of God…

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, ‘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

II. It is a Sad State to Think you Live, but Really are Dead (v. 1).
A. They evidently had the appearance of life to many within and without.
B. Their works were busy, busy, busy… but not living for and glorifying the Lord.

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Cor. 3:12-15

III. There is a Calling to Watch, and Strengthen the Things which Remain; and Repent (vv. 2-3).
A. Many times throughout the NT we are commanded to “Watch”.
B. With things which remain we must strengthen them, and then;
C. We must repent – turning our eyes, our hearts, our minds, our very lives back over to the Lord, our Redeemer.

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Rom. 13:11-14

IV. A Few Will Walk With Him in White (v. 4).
A. Another reference to garments…

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev. 16:15

V. White Raiment, Book of Life, and Confessed before the Father and Angels; and the Challenge to Hear (vv. 5-6).
A. The Book of Life is mentioned several times throughout the Bible.

“Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” EX. 32:32
“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” PS. 69:28
“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3

Also Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12

B. Another of the books is the Lambs Book of Life.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Rev. 20:12
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev. 21:27

C. Is your name written in the book of Life, and the Lamb’s book of Life?

The Power of God in Christ Jesus; Yet Unwanted

“And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?’
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought Him, saying, ‘If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.’ And He said unto them, ‘Go.’ And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts.” Matthew 8:28-34 (KJB)

“The demon spirit seems still to tenant the lives of human beings. To what else can we attribute the paroxysms of passion, the awful cruelties and inhumanities of men? There is only one devil, but many demons; only one prince of the power of darkness, but many emissaries. Take heed, lest you open the door of your nature to the spirit of evil and he possess you. Watch and pray, and trust the keeping of your soul to the hands of Christ. He is stronger than the strong man.
Notice that the demon is set upon destruction. If he may not destroy the souls of men, he will destroy swine. This is the mark of evil. It is always destructive; whereas the Spirit of God is constructive and builds up from the ruins of Satan’s work a new heaven and a new earth, both in the soul and in the universe.
All the city besought Jesus to depart, because men count their gains more valuable than His presence. The same spirit rules in the commercial world of today. Let us beware. What shall it profit to gain the world, if we lose our souls?” From F. B. Meyer’s Through the Bible Day by Day on Mat. 8:28-34

Words of the Prophets – Ezekiel (4)

Come Up Out Of Your Graves

 

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, Thou knowest.’
Again He said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.’
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said He unto me, ‘Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then He said unto me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.’ Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it,’ saith the LORD.”  Ezekiel 37:1-14  (KJB)

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna

Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. A frangrance for kings. One of the gifts to the baby Jesus – “gold, frankencense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna replied, “Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?’ From John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

INTRODUCTION:
I. SMYRNA WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ASIA.
II. IT WAS DESTROYED IN 580 B.C., AND REBUILT IN 290 B.C. – dead but alive again- AND CONTINUING ALIVE TODAY.
III. WAS A FAITHFUL ALLY OF ROME AND ONE OF THE FIRST TO INITIATE EMPEROR WORSHIP OF CAESAR UNDER; ERECTED A TEMPLE UNDER THE REIGN OF TIBERIAS.
IV. THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA WAS HEAVILY PERSECUTED, LOSING THEIR GOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT WORSHIP CAESAR, BUT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

I. Jesus Identifies Himself as The Eternal One Who Has Been Dead, but is Now Alive (v. 8)
A. First and Last terms of eternity – His eternalness, beginning and end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Is. 44:6
“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Is. 48:12

B. He died, and He lives again – never to die again (Heb. 7:23-24).

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Heb. 7:22-24

II. Jesus Knows of Their Works, Their Tribulation, and Their Poverty, and Says, “But You are Rich” (v. 9).
A. Living in Smyrna, the seat of emperor worship, they lost all they had materially because of their faithfulness to the way of the Lord Jesus.
B. Some Jewish Zealots were persecuting them – were not believing even the writings of Moses.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom 2:29

1. These “Jews” were not believing God.

C. Riches are more than silver, gold, trinkets, any material thing (Luke 12:15)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Lk. 12:15

III. Jesus Gives Words of Encouragement, and Strength to Continue in Their Labor and Tribulation (v. 10
A. Fear none of those things – the persecution, the loss of things, death…
B. There will be further tribulation, persecution, pain, and death; however continue to be faithful; even unto death.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

C. The promise of the Crown of Life.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” James 1:12

IV. Jesus Gives the Church at Smyrna the Promise of No Second Death (v. 11).
A. Describe the “second death” – (Rev. 20:12-15)
1. We are all born into this world spiritually dead to God – thus we must be born again.
2. There is physical death – we all experience barring a supernatural miracle.
3. There is the “second death” also called eternal death – eternal separation from all that is God; holiness, righteousness, good and right.

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:11-15

B. The Spirit of God; if the churches have ears to hear; will overcome fear of losing, fear of death, and are given the promise of eternal life in the presence of our dear Lord.

CONCLUSION:
1. The One who is Eternal Died for Our Sins, was Buried, and He Rose Again; Because He Lives Now We too Live With Him in Glory.
2. The One who is Eternal Knows our Life Situation, Persecuted, Poverty, Power; and Stands Ready to Aid Us, and to Save Us.
3. The One who is Eternal is Our Encouragement, Our Strength, Our Hope of Eternal life, and the Crown of Life.
4. The One who is Eternal is our Only Source of Eternal Life, and Hope for Missing the Second Death.

The Church at Ephesus

Ephesus: Left Their First Love

Revelation 2:1-7
“…The church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. The church of Christ patronized has always been the church of Christ impure.” G. Campbell Morgan
(2 Tim. 3:12)
REFERENCES – John 14:21, Genesis 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24,

INTRODUCTION –
I. IN THIS LETTER TO EPHESUS JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF AS THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SEVEN STARS, AND WALKS IN THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS.
II. JESUS COMMENDS THEM FOR THEIR LABOR, SACRIFICE, AND PATIENCE.
III. ALL IS NOT WELL IN EPHESUS – THEY HAVE ABANDONED THEIR FIRST LOVE.
IV. THEY ARE IN NEED OF REMEMBERING, REPENTANCE, AND REPEATING.
V. THROUGH THEIR LOVE FOR CHRIST THEY CAN RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE.

I. Jesus Reveals Himself as Holding the Stars In His Right Hand and Walking in the Midst of the Candlesticks (v. 1)
A. Scripture has previously spoken so (1:12, 13, 16, 20); but note that to Ephesus He says, “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”.
B. Possibly saying that He is not just some ornament in the midst of the churches.

II. Ephesus is Commended For its Works of Labor, its Sacrifices, and Their Patience (vv. 2-3).
A. They were very busy doint their works of service.
B. They were busy unto it becoming burdensome – near to fainting mentally and physically.
C. They were enduring in their labors unto the end. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572

III. The Condemnation of Ephesus Was That They Had Left Their First Love (v. 4; John 14:21).
A. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572
1. One can get so busy, and tired they neglect to feed on their source of love for the Savior – The Scriptures and prayer.
2. One can become so overcome by the glamors, and distractions of the world of the flesh that they neglect to love the good and to hate evil.
3. Evil as is defined by God and Scripture; not by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
B. The Way of Renewal for Ephesus.
1. Remember from where you came.
2. Repent.
3. Repeat those things that you did when you loved Him
C. They are commended again in verse six for their stand against the Nicolaitans.
1. Known as “Conquerors of the people” they have been seen as the beginning of a dividing of powers in the Church.
2. A heirarchy of leadership – the priest over the people – or “Priest/Pastor” over the “Laity” ie. the people.

IV. If They Will Hear They Will Overcome and be Given the Tree of Life (v. 7; Gen. 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24).
The phrase “Tree of Life” is used 9 times in Scripture. Four of those are in Proverbs 3, 11, 13 and 15. The other 5 are used in Gen. 2 and 3; and the Rev. 2 and 22.
A. The Tree of Life is for those who will hear and overcome.
B. The way to the Tree of Life is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Words of the Prophets – Genesis (4)

The Tragic Results of Sin

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” Genesis 4:1-12 (KJV)

Words of the Prophets – Genesis (3)

The Wickedness of Mankind

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” Genesis 6:1-7 (KJV).

Boasting in the LORD

“I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34:1-3 (KJB)

There is a whole lot of boasting going on.  I boast of one thing, and then another. So do you. I know of no one who has not made a boast of one thing or another.  Let me post a question;  Do you ever boast in the LORD?  Do you boast of His greatness, His power and authority?  Do you boast of His so great salvation?  Whoops!  That was three questions.

God is great to boast in.  Boast of a work He has accomplished in your life; and be sure to credit Him, not yourself.  When we boast in the LORD we take credit from our own achievements  and give them to the One to whom they belong.  That is where humility really begins.

The humble will always glorify the LORD with words and with a life that shows forth the power and glory of Jesus.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.  Amen

It all begins in recognizing Jesus as your Lord and Savior; the Son of God and God the Son.

The Treasure of Wisdom

Wisdom’s Gold,  and a Honeycomb – Proverbs 16:16-24

Verse 16 –  The worth of wisdom and understanding compared to gold and/or silver.  What, if anything, is lost by having one without the other?  Prov. 3:13

Verse 17 – 19 —   Life is sometimes compared to a road.  Is that a good comparison?  Why?  How would you describe the “Highway of the upright?”  Think about what it means to stay on (“Keepeth his way”) that highway.
In what way does pride lead to destruction?  Is “Pride” some of the time, or all the time related to refusing to see and acknowledge there is a problem?  Jeremiah 49:16
The “Humble spirit” needs no spoils.  For verse 19 reference see Psalm 84:10.

Verse 20 – 24 —

“Prov. 16:20–24  These verses commend the speech characteristic of the wise of heart (vv. 21a, 23a): the wise consider their words carefully (vv. 20a, 23a) so that their words are both persuasive (vv. 21b, 23b) and good for body and soul (v. 24);  they exhibit faithfulness to God (v. 20b) and are considered discerning by others (v. 21a).  Such wisdom is a fountain of life, and foolish speech is empty of any such benefits (v. 22).”  Note from the ESV Study Bible

Pleasant and precious words are sweet and comes from hearts of wisdom of understanding (verses 16 and 24).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words of the Prophets – Zechariah (2)

When Messiah Comes Again

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.  And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:  But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Zechariah 14:1-7 (KJV)

Some Thoughts from Proverbs 12

Proverbs 12:1-28

Verses 1-4 –  There is a need for instruction.  “Instruction” is speaking of the need for correction or chastisement “Instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
To be “brutish” is a sign of stupidity; and foolishness.

Verses 5-7 –  The thoughts, purposes or devices of the righteous are right.  The advice of the wicked are deceitful.  This compares the counsel of the righteous with the wicked.
The wicked and the righteous are again compared in verses 6 and 7.

Verses 8-11 –  Acting and/or speaking with wisdom gains the respect of others.

“Prov. 12:9–11 These are sayings about ordinary workers that illustrate either the “good sense” or the “twisted mind” of v. 8. Lack bread (end of v. 9) is paralleled by lacks sense (end of v. 11), and both verses speak of the importance of prudent labor in order to provide enough to eat. The point of the whole is that the righteous person cares even for his animals (v. 10a) and provides for his household by a sensible perspective on life (v. 9a) and sensible labors (v. 11a). By contrast, he who follows worthless pursuits (v. 11; such as get-rich-quick schemes, gambling, or lotteries, in a modern context) lacks sense and, by contrast with the first half of the verse, will probably live in poverty as well (cf. 28:19).”  ESV Study Bible notes

Verses 12-14 –  Sensible labor and worthless pursuits are in contrast in these verses.  Those who practice sensible labors have a yield of fruit.  Those who go in worthless pursuits find themselves ensnared.

Verses 15-23 –  The foolish person has the perspective of being right in his/her own eyes, and can rarely if ever be taught anything contrary to what they see of themselves.

With verse 15 see the following verses: 3:7;  16:2;  21:2;  26:12; 14:12.

Note the contrast in the prudent and the foolish.  Their words and their actions are the product of the heart.

Verses 24-28 –  A contrast between the diligent and the slothful.  The hard working individual is diligent about their tasks; and will see it through to completion.  The slothful will find any excust not to even begin the job.  See Proverbs 20:4.

With verse 25 see Proverbs 15:13 and Proverbs 17:22

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Mouth; Wisdom or the Lack of It

The Mouth; Wisdom and Wickedness – Proverbs 11:7-14

Jesus said, “Hear and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”  Matthew 15:10b-11

In this study there is more in dealing with the mouth and the tongue.  This is a very important matter with God, or there would not be so much of Scripture dealing with it.  In chapter ten we dealt with “The Mouth of the Wise and the Righteous”.

Verses 7 – 8  –  A contrast is given of the hope of the wicked; and the hope of the righteous.  It could be highly implied within these verses that the wealth spoken of is unjustly acquired.

From the ESV study Bible notes:

“Proverbs contrasts this with the hope of the righteous (see 10:28) to warn against being fooled by the apparent security in dishonest gain and to assure those who fear the Lord that their hope, manifested in seeking the path of wisdom, will not be in vain (see 23:18; 24:14).”

Verses 9 – 11 –  Notice there is still the contrasting of the wicked and the righteous.  The contrast is a matter of dealing with the mouth.  Even when the righteous are slandered they know how to conduct themselves in the right fashion.  Conducting one’s self in the right fashion does not include slandering the slanderer.

The mouth of the righteous blesses people (v. 11)

Verses 12 – 13  –  The evil intent of a talebearer is to destroy another’s life, reputation, or character.

From Matthew Henry Commentary:

“Speaking spitefully of a man behind his back: A tale-bearer, that carries all the stories he can pick up, true or false, from house to house, to make mischief and sow discord, reveals secrets which he has been entrusted with, and so breaks the laws, and forfeits all the privileges, of friendship and conversation.”

Verse 14 –  It is good for leaders, Christians and for all to have godly counselors.  Those who would be godly counselors would also keep watch over their tongues, lips; their mouth.

The ESV Study Bible notes:

“The role of counselors is to aid a person in making wise decisions (cf. 15:22; 24:6). While this is particularly important for those who lead a people, Proverbs also stresses its broader application to people’s decision making in all sorts of situations—cf. 11:5 and the contrasting description of how the wicked falls “by his own wickedness.””

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words of the Prophets – Hosea

For Lack of Knowledge

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.  Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.  They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Hosea 4:1-11 (KJV)

Allegiance, License, and Legalism

This is a shorter than usual outline for Sunday morning, but if you would like to read more you can go to Fire and Hammer, and read the whole article.

Allegiance, License, and Legalism

Matthew 5:17-20

I. We must put on a DEFINITE SPIRITUAL ALLEGIANCE to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus continues, then, by saying, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (NKJV).

II. Is there a license [Freedom] to sin???? There is no such license.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV).

III. Do what they teach but do not follow their works – “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not” Matthew 23:3.

IV. The only license we have from God is the freedom to live for Him, glorify His name and prove to all that there is power in the blood, and that fulfills the law.

“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8

-Tim A. Blankenship

Take Action

Taking Spiritual Action

Matthew 5:13-16

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

I. These distinctive spiritual attitudes (vv. 1-12), will then lead us to “A DECISIVE SPIRITUAL ACTION”.
II. We just learned in the previous studies that we are to be HAPPY, ie. fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
III. Does our attitude determine our actions, or at least have an impact on our actions? I certainly believe so.

I. BEING THE SALT OF THE EARTH: JESUS SAID THAT WE ARE.

A. Salt as a seasoning adds taste and flavor to the foods we eat.

1. Christians being salt will add seasoning, taste, flavor to the evil world.
2. Just as there are some foods you don’t like there will be some seasonings the worldly will not like.

B. Salt can also be used as a preservative, such as used to be done before refrigeration, to keep pork or beef for eating later.

1. Christians are a preservative in the world we live in, where God’s judgment could fall and completely destroy a place it is the presence of those who love Jesus that prevents it.
2. Think, for example, of Lot in Sodom, and Abraham’s pleading for the city, asking mercy for down to 10 people to keep it.

C. Salt causes the action of thirst.

1. The Christian should live his/her life in such fashion as to cause the unredeemed to thirst for Jesus.
2. Living righteously, yet with the joy of the Lord will cause others to seek Him.

D. Salt causes a healing/cleansing action.

1. It stings in an open wound, and the lives and testimony of a Christian will cause conviction in the lives of the unredeemed.
2. They may not like you, or the way you live, but they will be convicted of their sin, and by the power of the Spirit of God, and God’s drawing them, they may be saved.

E. One final thing to consider about salt is that it melts ice.

1. The warm heart of the Christian who does not condemn the already condemned, with the love of Jesus is the salt of the EARTH in action.
2. The ‘Unsavory’ salt is good for nothing but to make roadways.

II. BEING THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: JESUS SAID THAT WE ARE.

A. The action of light

1. Light dispels darkness.
2. Light casts shadows.

B. Light and darkness cannot co-exist; they cannot be together in the same place – light always overcomes darkness. Jesus is the light, “And in Him is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5.

“The light shines in darkness, and the darkness overcomes it not” John 1:5

C. Light can be seen from miles and miles away, and you can still be in the dark

1. Its illumination is only good when you are within its reach.
2. When you get into the realm of the light, you will begin to see yourself as you really are.

D. When we are the light of Christ we will work the same way that Jesus works.

1. We will not cover the light in order to keep from being unthreatening to people.
2. We let the light shine brightly, and do not let sin have dominion over us.

a. When sin reigns the light will be hidden or taken away.

E. The light is the light it does not lower itself to bars, bunny mansions and/or rock shows.

APPLICATION –

I. AS THE SALT OF THE EARTH WE WILL INFLUENCE OTHERS BY BEING THE FLAVORING, PRESERVATIVE, HEALING OUR SOCIETY NEEDS.
II. AS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD WE WILL SHINE THE LIGHT OF CHRIST UPON THE DARKNESS OF CONDEMNED LIVES.

-Tim A. Blankenship