The Light That Shines

The Light That Shines

Matthew 4:1-25

Jesus never declared Himself to be King. It is decreed by scripture that there would be a King to always sit upon the throne of David. Jesus is often called the Son of David, and that means He is the One to sit on the throne.

As the king He is the Light. As the Light He even calls us the Light. We will see in the fourteenth through the sixteenth verses that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Light that would break the darkness of Zabulon and Nephthalim. That Light shines still today around the world in the lives of His people.

I. THE LIGHT IS VICTORIOUS OVER THE DARKNESS IN HIS TEMPTATIONS (vv. 1-11)

A. Following His baptism Jesus was “led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (v. 1)

1. This was a testing of His being, and to strengthen Him in Spirit.
2. His faith must be tested in order to be obedient to the Father — “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” Heb. 5:8 (KJV).

B. The first temptation was concerning His desire and, ours to Survive.

1. “If you are the Son of God”
2. “Turn these stones to bread”
3. Survival sometimes tempts us to take shortcuts around what is right, good, godly and best.
4. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”

C. The second temptation was concerning His desire, ours to be Secure.

1. The devil’s temptation was one that would require Jesus to prove arrogance and stupidity, not security.
2. When one has genuine security it does not have to be proven to anyone – if you must prove it you don’t have it.
3. To prove His Security at this point and this manner would be to tempt God. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”.
4. Jesus was so secure that He trusted that His Father would take Him all the way to fulfill His destiny, and that destiny as a Man was to die on the cross.

D. The final temptation was concerning His desire, and ours to be successful.

1. Worship me, and I will give you the kingdoms of the world (Ps. 2:8).
2. Jesus would one day have dominion of the kingdoms of the world, but not this way; Jesus knew there was a debt to pay, the sin debt which was owed to the Father.
3. Worshipping God, the Creator, is the only means of success.

II. THE LIGHT SHINES WHERE JESUS DWELLS (vv. 12-17)

A. Jesus as the Light continued the message of the Baptist – the message of repentance.
B. Notice that Jesus departed from Nazareth, and came to Capernaum to dwell.

1. This was His place of residence; his ministry headquarters now. (John 6:16-24).
2. One thing that always stands out in the Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus fulfilled Scripture.

C. Jesus wants His Light to shine in and through you.

III. THE LIGHT SHINES IN AND THROUGH HIS FOLLOWERS/DISCIPLES (vv. 18-22).

A. Jesus walks along the seashore seeking men to follow Him.

1. The sea often represents the realm of mankind, and their doomed, despairing, drowning, dying cries for help.
2. That sea of man is still here and we are all still needy, by when we have come to the light we can go with Jesus.

B. Jesus takes Simon and Andrew first, then He calls James and John.

1. These were all fisherman, and He finds them all about the task of their work.
2. They can understand the call “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

C. The call still rings through the word and the hearts of His disciples, “Come follow Me”.

IV. THE LIGHT SHINES AS EVIDENCE OF HIS HONOR, GLORY AND POWER, THROUGH HIS TEACHING, PREACHING AND HEALING (vv. 23-25).

A. These are the credentials of the Divine King – the Son of God.

1. In His teaching He taught with supreme authority (7:29).
2. In His preaching He announced the kingdom of heaven.
3. In His healing and miracles it was divine clarification of His identity and authority.

B. The greatest healing and miracle Jesus came to do was to give Light to the darkness of human hearts.

“The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart”

C. Why do we follow Him?

1. Is it solely because of what He can do for us?
2. Is it solely because of what He has done for us?
3. Is it because He loved us and made it possible that we love Him?
4. Is it because of who He is?

SUMMARY –

I. IN HIS LIGHT THERE IS VICTORY OVER EVERY TEMPTATION.
II. THE LIGHT OF JESUS SHINES WHERE HE DWELLS; LET HIM SHINE IN AND THROUGH YOU.
III. HAVE YOU HEARD THE CALL OF JESUS – “COME FOLLOW ME”?
IV. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED HIS LOVE, THAT ENABLES YOU TO LOVE HIM, BY EXPERIENCE OF HIS GRACE AND SALVATION?
V. CONFESS YOUR SIN, REPENT OF SIN, BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED, WAS BURIED, AND ROSE AGAIN.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Pastors and Preaching the Word

The Bible says, or ‘Thus saith the LORD’,

“Preach the Word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teaches, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3

Paul said,

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:27

Having read these passages of Scripture, the ‘Thus saith the Lord’ how, in the name of God and His Son Jesus, can a pastor dare stand in the pulpit every Sunday, and preach nothing but words which comfort and encourage people.  We definitely are to preach Jesus, His death, His burial, and His resurrection.  There was a reason for His death, burial and resurrection, and that was that we are sinners, God in His love and grace desired to save us, in order that we might glorify His name.

A pastor/preacher who never confronts the sins of his people, or the sins of our society or culture is no man of God at all.  He is either a puppet of the people he professes to serve, or he is a man after the devil’s heart.  A few years ago I was told of a pastor, whom I  knew, who was asked about the stem cell issue by one of the members of his congregation, and his answer was, as it was told to me, “There are two sides to this issue…”  The all around implication was “I am not going take a stand on this issue”.  Is that the attitude of a pastor or a coward who is posing as a preacher?  I will say that he did later come to a change of mind.

There are other issues in 2018 we need to speak of, and the Biblical declaration for and against a thing.  God’s word never changes.  If it was declared sin by God; it is still sin.

Our churches, our people, the States we live in and serve, and our Country needs men of God who will without fear or favor to men, stand in the pulpit with God’s Word in their hand and on their heart, speak the Word as clearly, distinctly, with conviction, boldness and courage that the people will know they have heard the Word of God.

The man of God will preach the Word of God to get conviction in the hearts of the people.  There must be a conviction of sin in God’s people.  If God’s people will not be convicted of sin, how do we expect to ever see anyone be saved.  Why would we even pray for anyone to be saved since we have no conviction of sin, thus no need for salvation.

Wake up pastors, Preach the Word.  It is not a time for slacking in the Word.  It is time to preach for conviction.  It is time to preach holiness, righteousness, and judgment.  Let the people see the plight of sin, and the blight of sin.

Preachers and pastors – PREACH THE WORD, not comfort.  Now is the time to be uncomfortable.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Steward of God’s Stuff (2)

The Stewardship Of The Priesthood

Malachi 2:1-17

When we began these messages on Stewardship back in January we looked at chapter one of Malachi – THE STEWARDSHIP OF WORSHIP. Worship is our stewardship of the way we lift up, magnify, and praise Him. We saw that we are to REMEMBER WHO WE ARE; THAT WE WERE CHOSEN BY GOD, that SINCE WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN BY HIM AND PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO GIVE ANYTHING, EXCEPT THE VERY BEST – would the government be happy if we sent less than expected of us? We went on and saw, and should see that BOREDOM IS THE BANE [poison] OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL AND WORSHIP. If we desire to fight boredom in our worship we must be always REMEMBERING THE GREATNESS OF OUR GOD, HIS NAME, AND HIS WORD WILL KEEP US FROM BOREDOM. Worship is not in any specific type of music it will be found in the individual’s heart.

Today we look at THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE PRIESTHOOD, which could be seen as the Stewardship of Leadership as well. Seeing how the Old Testament passage is speaking of the heirs of Levi as the priests, we can also see this as being to the Priesthood of each believer.

In looking at this Old Testament priesthood things do not look too well. They are mostly responsible for the deadness of the worship of the people. They, themselves have devalued the meaning of worship. They have been bored by their worship practices. They have counted it all contemptible.

The Bible teaches us that every believer since Christ is a Priest of Christ. First Peter 2:9 states, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV). Let’s look not at the overall outline of the chapter.

Since the Priesthood is a responsibility these will be presented as that:

I. The Priests will have RESPONSIBILITY WITH GOD’S WORD (vv. 1-9; 2 Timothy 2:15).

II. The Priests will have RESPONSIBILITY OF A GENUINE AND A DEDICATED HEART (vv. 10-13) with no hypocrisy.

III. RESPONSIBILITY OF FAMILY RELATIONS (vv. 14-16; 1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25; 8:1-5).

IV. RESPONSIBILITY OF ACCURATE EVALUATIONS (v. 17; John 7:24; 1 Cor. 11:31).

I. THE STEWARDSHIP OF GOD’S WORD (vv. 1-9).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV).

A. The priesthood of the OT was dealing with spiritual leadership.
B. The priests to whom Malachi wrote were neglecting the Word of God
C. These priests also were not even hearing the Word themselves.

1. They were bringing a curse on themselves as well as the people they were supposed to be serving.
2. They had also caused ‘many to stumble’, they had corrupted the covenant of Levi.

D. As the priests of God today (All Christians) “ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV); we all are to show forth the power of God’s Word.

1. We must make it an integral part of our lives – it must not be neglected, but read, studied, heard, and applied.
2. We must not be partial in presenting the word of God, but point out the “Whole counsel of God” no matter whom it applies to.
3. Our walk with God is based upon our treatment of God’s Word in life, and it is essential to our walk with Him.
4. As priests we are the messengers of the Word of the Lord.

II. THE STEWARDSHIP OF A GENUINE AND DEDICATED HEART (vv. 10-13).

A. With a genuine, dedicated heart there is no room for hypocrisy.

1. It is hypocrisy to deal with a person more favorably because she/he may have more worldly possessions, or have political power, or the position they may have in some organization or even a church.
2. Whether we like it or not the world takes notice of the hypocrisy within those who name the name of Christ.

B. When we tolerate the joining together of our children with the godless we give the world a hypocritical statement.
C. Feigned, sanctimonious, weeping for sin will not bring back God’s blessing.
D. God’s priests today must show forth the image of Jesus Christ in our lives.

1. Living with a dedicated heart and life to the Lord
2. Hating all forms of hypocrisy – especially when it is in ourselves – because the Lord hates hypocrisy.
3. Teaching our children and grandchildren the ways of God, His Word, and holiness.
4. Having genuine, sorrowful, repentance over our sin – remembering that God truly knows our hearts.

III. THE STEWARDSHIP OF FAMILY RELATIONS (vv. 14-16).

“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.  And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;  And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.  Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.  And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.  Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD” 1 Samuel 2:12-17 (KJV).

“Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.  Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress.  If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them” 1 Samuel 2:22-25 (KJV).

“And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” 1 Samuel 8:1-3 (KJV).

A. The family relationship is often hurting in Christian circles today – speaking mainly of the husband and wife.

1. Men are to be the chief priest of their home, and lead the wife in spiritual matters of holiness and godliness.
2. When we look at the marriage stats of our day we find that the divorce rate is equal among Christians as with those who do not know Christ.
3. That is a definite black mark against the truth and power of Christ in our lives.

B. The priests of the OT, to whom Malachi wrote were divorcing their wives and thinking nothing of it, yet wondering what’s happened to the blessing of God.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

1. This was for the bringing for of godly children.
2. The Messiah would come from these children.

C. As priests of God today, we bring children into the presence of God by our faith, and by always being faithful to God and His Word.

IV. THE STEWARDSHIP OF ACCURATE EVALUATIONS (v. 17).

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” 1 Cor. 11”31 (KJV).

A. The OT priests of Malachi’s day were accusing God of delighting in wickedness.

1. They would even accuse God of favoring the wicked, and being unconcerned with the righteous.

B. Let’s be certain that we see God as being the benevolent Caretaker and Creator that He really is.
C. We must see ourselves as God sees us, and then we can see others as God sees them.

SUMMARY –

I. WE MUST BE FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF GOD’S WORD.
II. WE MUST BE GENUINE AND DEDICATED TO THE LORD’S TASK AT HAND.
III. WE MUST MAINTAIN GOOD AND GODLY FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
IV. WE MUST ALWAYS MAKE ACCURATE EVALUATIONS.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Steward of God’s Stuff

The Stewardship Of Worship

Malachi 1:1-14

PURPOSE – Learning to avoid boredom in the worship of our Lord.

Some time back a “Baptist” paper ran an article asking the question of boring churches. Something along the line of, “Are your church services boring?” If we look at the condition of the people of God – called Israel – at the time of Malachi we can find conditions of their heart which we can learn, that we do not want, nor need in our hearts or churches.

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

I. GOD CHOSE JACOB, RATHER THAN ESAU, TO BE IN THE LINEAGE OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 1-5).

They Had Questioned God’s Love.

II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE CHOSEN AND CALLED UPON TO GIVE GOD THE BEST IN OFFERING AND SACRIFICE (vv. 6-11).

They Had Questioned God’s Character and Word.

III. DISRESPECT, BOREDOM, CONTEMPT IS NOT BECOMING FOR THE CHILD OF GOD (vv. 12-14).

They Had Questioned The Value of Worship.

I. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE; THAT YOU WERE CHOSEN BY GOD (vv. 1-4).

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9.

A. There are many who are troubled by this phrase, “I loved Jacob and hated Esau”.

1. “If any man 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” Luke 14:26.
2. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Romans 9:13-16.

B. We should not be so amazed that He ‘hated’ Esau, but that He loved Jacob.

1. Jacob was chosen by God and Esau rejected before either one was born; “And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.  And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” Gen. 25:21-23.

“ And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)   It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Rom. 9:10-13.
2. This in itself is a picture of grace – God’s unmerited favor.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…” Titus 3:5ff.

II. SINCE WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN BY HIM AND PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO GIVE ANYTHING, EXCEPT THE BEST (vv. 6-11).

A. If we are to avoid boredom in worship then we must give Him our full attention in our worship – personal and corporate.
B. If God is our Father we ought to honor Him as Father.

1. If Jesus is our Master we are His servant.
2. You fear and obey your father, and master, or you are disciplined. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” Heb. 12:7-8.

C. When we cease to give our best, that is when we begin losing the fire [excitement, enthusiasm] of worship for God.

1. Worship begins to be ‘Contemptible’ to us.

a. It starts becoming something of lesser importance – other things become more important.

2. We begin looking for places to place blame for ‘Dull and boring’ worship services.
3. We attend ‘Worship services’ more out of habit or duty, rather than desire and love for Jesus.
4. If the spiritual leader(s) shows contempt toward these things; it will trickle down into the congregation.

a. These were calling the ‘Table of the Lord contemptible’ – basically referring to the total ministry.
b. These were also offering blemished, unholy offerings compromising the Word of God.
c. The spiritual leaders are to commit sound teachings to ‘Faithful men’ – that includes right worship.

“ And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2.

D. God will not, does not accept half-hearted worship (v. 10); “Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.”
E. God’s name will one day be great among the nations of the world.

III. BOREDOM IS THE POISON OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL (vv. 12-14a).

A. To overcome ‘Boredom’ in your worship you must come giving yourself first of all.

1. If you come to worship corporately with brothers and sisters in Christ and offer nothing, then you will be bored and receive nothing.
2. No one ought to ever come to worship without giving, and expecting God’s presence, power and glory.
3. When you see the cross of Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection you can give yourself and all you possess.

B. One of the biggest parts of worshipping our Lord is loving the Lord Jesus.

1. When you love Him nothing you commit to Him will be a waste of time nor will it be boring.
2. There is nothing more exciting than serving and worshipping our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

C. Overcoming boredom will come when we treat the Name of God and His Word with great awe and respect.

IV. REMEMBERING THE GREATNESS OF OUR GOD, HIS NAME, AND HIS WORD WILL KEEP US FROM BOREDOM (v. 14b).

A. We will learn to show the utmost awe and respect for God and His Word by daily hearing it and applying it, by the power of the Spirit of God to our lives.
B. By God, His Word, and His creation we are constantly reminded of His greatness.
C. By calling on His name daily for fellowship, and directions for the day we can avoid becoming stale and bored.
D. If you experience boredom; get into God’s Word, get involved in someone else’s life for their good; develop an active sense of mission.
E. Be sure Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.

SUMMARY –

I. REMEMBER YOU WERE CHOSEN BY GOD.
II. ALWAYS GIVE GOD THE VERY BEST OF YOU.
III. AVOID BOREDOM BY CARING, AND BEING INVOLVED IN GOD’S WORK – OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES FOR THEIR GOOD.
IV. REMEMBER THE GREATNESS OF GOD, HIS NAME, AND HIS WORD.
V. IF YOU HAVE BACKSLIDEN; COME BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE YOU LEFT GOD: IF LOST – BE SAVED TODAY.

THE CURE FOR BOREDOM: 1.) Know the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) Study His Word and pray; 3) Have an active sense of mission; 4) Read regularly from Christian materials that are in keeping with Scripture, and glorifies Jesus, and builds your faith; 5) Be a part of other’s lives.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Gifted Believer

Every Believer Gifted

Romans 12:3-8

God has placed each believer in the church to serve Him and other believers. He has not done so, and left us without desires and gifts which enable us to serve.

These gifts are not given for any to boast superiority over another, as has so often been the case with the mystical gifts; such as healing, tongues, miracles; which were reserved for the apostles, as an evidence of their call and appointment by God. These gifts of the Spirit to which we are speaking of in this study are given for the Church to have balanced ministry. No one spiritual gift is of any greater importance than the other.

Since God is the Giver of these “Grace gifts”, there is really no way any one believer has the right to think more “Highly [of himself], than he ought to thing” (v. 3). We are each responsible for the use of the gift(s) God has given us. They are, however, to be used in conjunction with other’s gifts; not separate from them. When believers use their gifts without the balance of the other gifts you have unbalanced churches.

Churches cannot operate properly if everyone is a “Lone Ranger”. Where there is unity of purpose, yet understanding of diversity; with the proper use of spiritual gifts God gives a balanced healthy, growing church.

The gifts Paul mentions in Romans and the ones which are practical for everyday Christian living for today –

1.  Prophecy – This is the “Speaking forth” of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is its greatest meaning. In the Old Testament even, the prophet was a “Forth-teller” more than a forteller of the future. This gift is abused by taking on oneself more than God has spoken.

2.  Ministry or Serving – This is a ministry given most of the time for deacons, for the deacons of the early church were servants and serving the widows of the church; but it includes being a servant where ever the servant sees the need. One with the servants heart is usually always looking for an opportunity to serve others. Often can become selfish and not letting others help out.

3.  Teaching – This is teaching which goes beyond just a Sunday School teacher, but does include it. The one with this gift enjoys the study of God’s Word just as much or even more than presenting it to others, and is able to present it clearly and understandably to others. Can become full of his/her own knowledge, and become distant from others.

4.  Exhortation – This gift is the gift that is able to show others in a step by step approach ways of correcting wrongs done, or encouragement in right things done, and to do right things. If not cautious can become a “Know it all” even correcting when others don’t want to hear it, nor need to hear it.

5.  Giving – Most of the time people with this gift are usually gifted in making money too, and strongly desires to use their wealth for the glory of the Lord, and the growth of His kingdom. They are also concerned greatly with how God’s money is used or spent. If the heart is not right can become selfish with the wealth, begin to hoard it and not share it with others or give it to the Lord’s work.

6.  Ruler or Leader – The ones with this gift is able to give direction for a group of people and set an example for others to follow. If not controlled by the Spirit of the Lord can become like a dictator rather than a leader pushing.

7.  Mercy – The people with this gift are very kind, non-judgmental, always willing to accept others on their word and testimony, and they can be very gullible, and weak in the discipline department concerning sin.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Christians Conduct

Our Deportment

Colossians 4:5-6

The word “Walk” has to do with one’s conduct or deportment (behavior). On grade cards teachers use to grade their students on their “Deportment”. I wonder if that is still there? If it is I wonder how many would get a passing grade? When it comes to Christian deportment how many of us would get a passing grade?

When it comes to Christian conduct Paul likens it to a “Walk”. It has to do with the way we live. All of us have “Deportment”, but of what kind is it? He gives the church of Colossae some guidance and instruction concerning their deportment.

Proposed OUTLINE:

I. WALK IN WISDOM (v.5).
II. REMEMBER OTHERS WHO ARE NOT CHRISTIANS ARE WATCHING YOU (v. 5).
III. MAKING GOOD USE OF THE TIME GOD HAS GIVEN YOU (v. 5).
IV. SPEAK WITH GRACE FROM YOUR HEART (v. 6).
V. LET THERE BE SEASONED SALT IN YOUR WORDS (v. 6).
VI. KNOW HOW TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO EVERY ONE (v. 6).

WALK IN WISDOM (v. 5).

Far too many times those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior walk as fools and not as those who have godly wisdom. There are several ways we can walk foolishly. One of those ways is by seeking financial gain feverishly, ie., as a main goal for living. Like material/financial gain was all there was to live for, rather than Christ, His glory, and His will. Greed, nor coveting are expressions of faith, but rather of unbelief.

Another way of walking foolishly is by living in legalism. Legalism is trusting in your good deeds, behavior, works as the means of gaining God’s favor, rather than trusting that you have already gained God’s favor. The Christian who is living legalistically also finds fault, very quickly, with those they see sins within. They will be quick to judge someone that is poor as being lazy. They will judge harshly anyone who does not live up to their standard, whether it is based on Biblical law or their own. Legalism requires that you live by this standard, this law, or you are not saved, and you will not make.

Jealousy and selfish ambition comes in when Christians are not walking wisely. Brothers or sisters in Christ are blessed, and jealousy creeps in. The desire to improve one’s job situation at the expense of someone else shows the foolishness as well.

According to John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary for Colossians there are four sources for wisdom.

“First, worship: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding’ (Prov. 9:10). Second, prayer: ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him’ (James1:5). Third, Bible study: ‘Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, and with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another’ (Col. 3:16). Fourth, godly instruction: ‘And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ’ (Col. 1:28). It is only through walking in wisdom that believer’s words will mean anything…” pg. 186. THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY of Colossians and Philemon.

REMEMBER THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING YOU (v. 5).

How we speak and how we live should match up with one another; and not be poles apart. That equals hypocrisy. When we mention the change Jesus Christ makes in one’s life it better show in you and me. Is there anything in your life that does and would cause others to question your testimony of Christ’s change of your life?

The “Walk of wisdom” which we walk better show godly wisdom and not foolishness. We all stumble, and when we are genuinely saved we get back up and go again. Others will see our faith in that as well as the other things we say and do.

MAKE GOOD USE OF THE TIME GOD HAS GIVEN US (v. 5).

One of the Psalms which Moses wrote says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We need to live as though today was our last day on earth. Not with fear, anxiety, or grasping for what the unredeemed would claim to be “Living”, but with peace, contentment, joy, love for others, seeking to tell all we can about the love of God in Christ Jesus, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – the personification of that love of God.

How many hours do we waste doing television viewing, and waste the opportunities which God has given to witness, and possibly win a lost soul to Christ.

Wasted opportunities where you were sitting on a bench resting from a walk and a man with a very troubled look on his face and in his eyes comes and sits near you. Do you start a conversation with him and tell him of God’s grace, God’s love? Do you just sit there, then, leave in a few minutes without a word of God? I do not think I can remember the opportunities I have walked away from without a word of God to them. There have been some I have been faithful in, never saw a change in that person, but God’s Word will not return to Him void.

SPEAK WITH GRACE SEASONED WITH SALT (v. 6).

One of my favorite topics to talk about is grace – God’s grace to be more specific. There is no other grace that compares to God’s. His grace is amazing. His grace is miraculous. His grace is marvelous. His grace is heavenly. His grace is graceful. His grace is abundant. His grace is overflowing. His grace is powerful. His grace is earth shattering. His grace is glorious. His grace is cleansing. His grace is righteous. His grace is awesome. His grace is beautiful. His grace is for all who believe. His grace is forgiving His grace breaks the bondage of hell.

Speaking with Grace also means being gracious in our speech toward others. Having a good attitude toward them. When we are addressing a condemned person we must speak with love in our hearts. The grace of God is bountiful, and every lost individual must see grace in our speech.

When we season food with salt we are adding flavor to the food. Salt added to an open sore will be painful, and it will sting, but it does a work of cleansing and healing. What is needed in our speech to the unredeemed people we speak to is to show the love of God in the way we speak to them. Not making ourselves better than they are, but helping them see, that we are “Better off” than they are. They must see, first of all, that we really believe what we are speaking to them. If they sense in us that we do not really believe it there is no way they will, unless it is purely a divine act of the Holy Spirit alone. Of course, salvation is by God alone, but He does use redeemed vessels to reach others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has its own flavoring. It is quite pleasing to the spiritual senses.

Salt is not only a seasoning, but also a cleansing/healing agent, and when put on an open wound will cause great pain. Sometimes pain is needed to get someone to come to God by way of the cross of Jesus. The truth of God’s law will cut to the quick of the unbeliever, and when that is done the Holy Spirit can use that to open the eyes of the lost, and bring them to Jesus.

BE ABLE TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO ALL WHO ASK (v. 6).

In 1 Peter 3:15 Peter wrote by the Spirit of God, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…”. How you respond when someone asks you, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” is as important as telling them about Jesus. You need an answer for that. How would you answer it?

It needs explained to these individuals that you believe because He is God, who became flesh, and gave His life as payment for our sin. He arose from the grave three days later proving beyond all doubt that He is the risen, glorified, Savior of mankind, and Son of God. That, everything this man Jesus said is true, beyond all doubt, and what has not yet been fulfilled; will be fulfilled in God’s own timing.

We ought always to speak the name of Jesus with awe, respect, and love. Why do I believe in Jesus? I believe because He died for me. He took my sins upon Himself, and was fully judged by God the Father in my place. He died carrying my sins away. He rose from death, and due to that victory I too will live eternally with Him. Why do I believe in Jesus – why do I trust Him completely? He is God, who became flesh, to die for me, and rise again. He is also returning for me, and for all who have trusted in Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Not Forsaken; Not Forgotten

Set Aside; But Not Forgotten

Romans 11:1-6

Paul has now pointed out clearly Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Israel is a very religious people, but lost as a nation. Is this not enough evidence to prove to us that the rejection of Jesus is also rejecting God and His righteousness. It should be enough.

In this portion of this study of chapter eleven we learn that God has not forsaken, or cast away Israel. Paul, an Israelite, is evidence of that, along with Peter, James, John, Matthew… They are part of the remnant to which Paul is referring.

CAN GOD BE TRUSTED TO FULFILL HIS WORD TO HIS PEOPLE (v. 1)?

“I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.“ Romans 11:1 (KJV).

‘Cast away’ – the meaning is to be cast out to never be blessed with God’s presence again. The idea is presented by some that God is finished with Israel for all time. That the only hope for Israel is to come into the Church, and of course that would be ideal. That is the purpose of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection; however, the house of Israel rejected Jesus, but they will, one day look on Him whom they pierced.

‘I also am an Israelite’ – The fact of Paul’s presence in salvation through faith in Christ is promise to the Jewish people, that a remnant of them will be saved. Paul’s conversion is evidence that Israel is not forsaken. God still desires the whole Nation of Israel to trust His Son Jesus.

WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY OF ELIJAH (v. 2).

“ God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,…” Romans 11:2 (KJV).

Elijah was praying against the nation of Israel. He was grieved by their rejection of God and how they had turned to Baal (Read 1 Kings 19:10-18). Elijah following the victory on Mount Carmel ran for his life from the queen [Jezebel], and believed himself to be the only true follower of Jehovah. Even prophets can allow the flesh to intervene and ruin their lives, but God will set them straight; just as He did Elijah.

‘God has not cast away His people’ – There is not much clearer statement in all Scripture that God will fulfill His Word and save His people.

THERE ARE MANY WHOM GOD HAS RESERVED, AND KEPT AS WORSHIPPERS OF MESSIAH (vv. 3-4).

“Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” Romans 11:3-4 (KJV).

‘Killed Thy prophets…’ – It had been the order of queen Jezebel to kill the prophets of Jehovah, God of Israel, thus many of the men of God had died. There were also many who were hiding out in some of the caves. Obadiah a servant to king Ahab was a God-fearing man, knew the treachery of Jezebel – that she had killed many prophets – thus, he hid a hundred in two different caves and fed them (See 1 Kings 18:1-4).

‘Digged down Thine Altars’ – It was Jezebel’s intent to destroy the worship of Jehovah. She loved her pleasure, power and pomp. She was the one who ruled the throne of Israel – the Northern Kingdom. Everywhere there was an altar to Jehovah it was torn down, but she could not control the hearts of Elijah, nor the other prophets being hid, nor the 7,000 who had bowed their knee to Baal – Jezebel.

ACCORDING TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE (vv. 5-6).

“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:5-6 (KJV).

‘At this present time’ – During the days of Paul. Paul and the other Jews who had been saved are evidences of the grace of God.

‘There is a remnant’ – Just as God had a remnant who believed Him in Elijah’s day He had one for the days following the resurrection of Jesus, and He has a remnant for the return of Jesus. The remnant are “Children of the seed” or of ‘the Promise’(9:6-7). God’s children became God’s children by God’s promise. It was not by their own efforts. Is a baby born by his/her own choosing? NO! Is it born by God’s choice? YES! No one, who is physically born had a choice in the matter. It was determined by an act of the mother, the father and the sovereignty of God. The Scofield Study Bible defines “Remnant” as ‘A spiritual Israel within the national Israel” (p. 1205).

‘No more of works’ – We often say that we are saved by grace alone. Sometimes we say, or at least I do, that “We are saved by grace alone, plus nothing, minus nothing”. Since we are saved by “Grace alone” there can be no works which redeem us. If we are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, grow by grace, and appear before Jesus by grace.

‘No more grace’ – If we attribute any part of the saving work of Christ to our works, then, there is no more grace. Grace cancels out works, and/or works cancels out grace. The two are exclusive. You can be saved only by works alone, or by Grace alone. We are saved by grace alone. There is no other way of being right with God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Word of Promise

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The Word Of Promise

Romans 9:6-13

Remembering that we are looking at a parenthetical statement, which gives a clearer understanding of what Paul is writing about in chapter 8 and assuring the Roman Christians that the promises of God are good, and that He will not break or void any of them; we come to a passage which causes some difficulty among Christians.

Part of the problem Jesus had when He walked the city of Jerusalem, and along the shores of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee were the scribes, Pharisees, a Sadducees not recognizing Him for who He is. They were supposed to be men of the Word of God, yet they denied Him and even worse, tried to kill Him, and eventually had Him crucified; and that only because He gave Himself for that purpose. These religious rulers claimed to be ‘Children of Abraham’, but did not know the One whom Abraham knew (See John 8:37–41a).

Paul’s heart yearns for his brethren ‘according to the flesh’ to be saved. In verse six he then proceeds to write that just because one is born into a Hebrew family does not necessarily make one Hebrew – “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel“. It is not because they are the ‘seed of Abraham’ but it is in that they are born according to the promise – “Children of the promise are counted for the seed”. If you were born in a garage, that would not mean you are a car. Just because you were born into a Christian family – meaning with a saved Mom and Dad – does not mean you are a Christian. You must be born according to the promise.

Three of the worlds main religions can espouse that they are descendents of Abraham, either by physical birth or by faith. Islam claims to be descendants through Hagar; the Egyptian maiden whom Abraham took to himself to have a son, and named him Ishmael. The Jews/Hebrews claim Abraham as their “father” through Sarah, but at the present time only see a physical relationship more than a spiritual, and put more value in their being born of Abraham than in the faith of Abraham. Christianity sees faith as the link to Abraham, Isaac as the son of promise, and Jesus Christ being the actual Son of Promise fulfilling the type which Isaac was.

*v. 6 – It would almost seem that because Israel had not trusted Jesus as their Messiah that the Word of God had failed – it had not; it was only that many of those who had been into Israel were not of the heart and faith of Abraham;
*v. 7 – Isaac was the promised son – in shadow or type he was the coming Son of Promise through whom all the world could be saved;
*v. 8 – The children of the promise are the true seed of Abraham and the promise is the regenerating power of the Spirit of God;
*v. 9 – Sarah was barren and without any child, yet God’s promise would not be void; she would bear a son, and at the set time that the Lord prescribed;
*v. 10 – The commentary of Paul turns to Rebecca and her conception of Jacob and Esau;
*v. 11 – A parenthesis within a parenthesis concerning God’s promise to Rebecca, and God’s ordained plan for Jacob – before Jacob or Esau either one had ‘done any good or evil’, that God might show that His salvation is all by grace, not of works, “But of Him that calleth”;
*v. 12 – The promise of God was that the ‘Elder shall serve the younger’, and this was against the way things were supposed to be;
*v. 13 – Probably one of the most controversial verses in all of scripture – “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”.

We should not let the above passage trouble us, but rather rejoice in it. Remember, we are all born into this world in sin, condemned and on a path set for Hell. We should marvel and rejoice that God would be so gracious as to redeem any of us who are condemned. God is perfectly just to “hate” any of us, but He chooses to love us instead, and offered us all the Way to Himself, and His presence and glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Christ in You

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Christ In You

Colossians 1:24-29

In the past few years and months I have heard of sermons having to do with growing in your suffering, rejoicing in your suffering and such as that. Paul was writing from a place of suffering, and he was suffering for the cause of Christ and the cross. Can we or should we rejoice in suffering?

If we are to rejoice in suffering; how is that possible? It does seem that while Paul was suffering from imprisonment in a Roman prison he was rejoicing in Jesus our Lord and Savior. He has voiced words of approval of the people of Colossae, so we see he was not bitter. He did not complain. You hear nothing but contentment, and peace in his words.

Just how is it we can rejoice in suffering? Does this rejoicing include all suffering, such as sickness, financial hardship, family problems – marriage or having to do with children? It seems that we can rejoice in suffering, and in all forms of suffering.

There is a “Mystery” revealed in this passage of Scripture which gives us reason to believe that we can suffer and rejoice in the suffering as well. It is the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

OUTLINE –

I. REJOICING IN THE SUFFERING OF AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST (v. 24). See MacArthur
II. CALLED TO FULFILL THE WORD OF GOD (vv. 25-26).
III. THE MYSTERY REVEALED AS ‘CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY’ (v. 27).
IV. THE PREACHING, THE PRESENTATION, THE PERFECTION, AND THE POWER (vv. 28-29).

In verse 23 Paul states that he is a “Minister of Christ”, and in verse 24 “And now rejoice in my sufferings for you”. Paul was REJOICING IN THE SUFFERING OF AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST (v. 24). How can Paul do this? The word for “Rejoice” here means “to be full of cheer”. Cheerful and suffering just do not even seem to belong in the same sentence little lone the same life together.

What would the word “Cheerful” mean if we had no suffering? Would the word or the condition even exist? That goes with the words of a song of several years ago which says, “If I never had a problem, how could I know that God could solve them?”

Here are some thoughts from John MacArthur on why suffering is a cause for joy,

“First, suffering brings believers closer to Christ.” (Philippians 3:10). “Second, suffering assures the believer that he belongs to Christ.” (John 15:18; Matthew 10:24; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:14). “Third, suffering brings a future reward.” (Rom. 8:17-18; 2 Cor. 4:17). “Fourth, suffering can result in the salvation of others.” “Fifth, suffering frustrates Satan. He wants suffering to harm us, but God brings good out of it.” The above quotes by John MacArthur are from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Colossians/Philemon pg. 75.

In suffering for Christ, Paul was fulfilling the will of God and Jesus Christ in his life. For every child of God that suffers for the faith, Christ is glorified and exalted above all. Thus, suffering for Jesus fulfills the suffering of Christ for the Church. This has no redemptive purpose, but is due to redemption.

Paul saw his ministry to the church as being one CALLED TO FULFILL THE WORD OF GOD (vv. 25-26). There were many things that had been hidden in mystery (a secret hidden in the past, but now revealed) concerning grace, salvation, and the church. These things were not even seen in the law, but were there. Such things as having a “Heart of stone” and it becoming “Heart of flesh”;

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” Ezekiel 11:19.

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV).

The only way this kind of change is possible in an individual’s life is through the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God is fulfilled when these wonderful things have been made plain. They are now revealed, and open for all to see, hear, and receive. To some, whose eyes may be darkened to the light of the Gospel, it will remain a mystery, and only by the power of God will they ever see. That is the only way it ever came to be in the first place.

There is a glorious thing about all of this, and that is THE MYSTERY REVEALED AS ‘CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY’ (v. 27). This is a wonderful, glorious thing. Our hearts should be full to overflowing to think, to know that Jesus Christ is in us. He is in us individually, and as a corporate body of believers when we are gathered together.

How can sinful people have the essence of holiness living within them? It is by the grace of God. How can we as the people of God – made so by grace – continue to live in our own power, and not rely on the One who lives, who abides within us?

The answer to the problem of the “Mystery” is “Christ in you”. You will not find that in the law, or in the Old Testament. Jesus Himself is “The Hope of Glory”. He is our hope of being with Him in glory ie., heaven. He is though, far more than just a hope. He is our salvation. He is our joy. He is our strength. He is our Savior. He is our Lord. He is our Master. He is the One in whom we trust. He is Creator, and our creator. He is Sovereign. He is All-present. He is All-powerful. He is All-knowing. He is God. He lives in those who confess Him as their personal Lord and Savior, whose lives He has changed.

Jesus did say to us, “Abide in Me…” (John 15:4). To abide in Him is to have Him abiding in us. The two go together “Abide in Me, and I in you.” O, the things we must give unto Him to make His life and presence revealed to this lost and dying world. Wherever we go do others see “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, or do they just see the ordinary? May God help me to have others see Christ in me, the hope of glory for others.

THE PREACHING, THE PRESENTATION, THE PERFECTION, AND THE POWER (vv. 28-29). Why did Paul suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ? Why did he rejoice in his suffering? He gives us the answer in these two verses.

He desired to present to Christ in that day a people who were complete in Christ. It is not a work to be left to the disciples own doing. The individual disciple of Christ is ultimately responsible for their own growth in Christ, but only after they have been taught the way; you might even say, after they have been taught to feed themselves.

All those who are in Christ will have presentations to make before Christ. The ones we have led to faith in Jesus will be there for that presentation. Do you desire that they be complete? That should be a strong burden for every Christian, ie., to see the newborn to faith in Christ grow from a babe to full grown adulthood.

The only way we can accomplish this, of course, is through the power of God – Christ in us, the hope of glory. We have no power, but His. We have no Word, but His. We have no spirit to accomplish this task, but His.

CONCLUSION –

I. THERE IS REJOICING WHEN WE SUFFER FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, AND IN HIS NAME.
II. AS CHRISTIANS WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO FULFILL THE WILL OF CHRIST IN OUR LIVES.
III. LET THE TRUTH OF ‘CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY’ NO LONGER BE A MYSTERY.
IV. GROW IN LOVE AND BE BURDENED TO SEE OTHERS GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST; THAT YOU MIGHT PRESENT THEM COMPLETE BEFORE JESUS AT HIS COMING.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Expectation for Redemption

Earnest Expectation For Redemption
Romans 8:18-25

In our last study of Romans 8:10-17 we looked at “A Joyful Expectation In The Father”. That Joyful Expectation is due to His promise that we are “Joint heirs” with Jesus Himself. “Joint heir” means; everything that is His is ours. I am glad to be a joint heir with Christ. We must always know that we are not joint heirs due to our behavior, our goodness, or anything else of us. It is due solely by the Grace of God.

The Father has given us the Right, the Privilege to call God Father, Abba [Daddy]. We have been adopted into the family of God and given all the rights of the elder Son.

EARNEST EXPECTATION AND THE REDEMPTION OF CREATION – INCLUDING OUR PHYSICAL BODIES.

Looking at these memorable verses (18-25) we see and learn some wonderful things. First of all in verse 18 we see that there is going to be “Glory” for those who have believed on Jesus. He has written in verse 17, “… That we may be also glorified together.” and he is speaking, of course of Jesus. There is no glory apart from Jesus.

Paul is making a bold declaration. Notice he says, “For I reckon…” He is declaring something to be so, because the Spirit of Christ has already declared it to be so. We need this mindset, which actually begins in the heart of the believer.

The statement Paul makes in this sentence is a strong statement concerning our glory we share with Christ. The glory we will have in heaven is far beyond any suffering we have received while here on this earth. Stop and think about the suffering you have endured, whether for Christ or because of illness, or even some things of suffering you may have brought on yourself. Those will all be forgotten when we see Jesus in His glory, and receive His glory; the glory we have with Him.

In verse 19 we find that the “creation” all created things, are personalized by Paul making it almost human. It is as though the creation is waiting – waiting expectantly – for the ‘Sons of God to be revealed’. This is the revelation to all of creation who are the children of God. They will receive the glory, then, they shall know. “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory”: How then, can we receive glory? By way of Jesus and His cross – His death, burial and resurrection.

On verses 20 thru 22 the MacArthur Study Bible note states,

“futility’ (NKJV). This refers to the inability to achieve a goal or purpose. Because of man’s sin, God cursed the physical universe (Gen. 3:17-19), and now, no part of creation entirely fulfills God’s original purpose”.

I am going to have to agree with this comment. I have stated in sermons and other things, that, “Man is the only part of God’s creation that does not fulfill God’s original purpose”. In thinking about what the study note says from the MacArthur Study Bible I believe that statement is correct, because when Adam and Eve sinned the earth was cursed. The lamb and the lion no longer lie down together; the calf and the wolf no longer eat together; the child can no longer play on the serpent’s den. And they could before the earth was cursed by the sin of mankind. Through no fault of the creature, ie., creation with the exception of man, thus, the futility, the ‘subjection’ ‘to vanity’. The creation had not sinned, but because of grace, God provides for Adam and Eve and all mankind; who is made after His image and likeness. For the redemption of man, the whole universe is cursed; and because of Jesus Christ, not only is man redeemed but also all of creation. Now isn’t that great or what? In the personification of the creation you can almost see the expectation. Listen as she cries. There was an earthquake at the crucifixion, and the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51). There was darkness over the whole earth from noon to three in the afternoon when Jesus was suffering for the sins of the world (Matthew 27:45). She is still groaning today. Listen as the storms rage. In some parts of the earth she is disturbed and we can feel her torment. Mount Saint Helens blew her top in 1980, and people died. Just last week Tsunami hit leaving 50,000 plus people without a home. On December 26, 2004 over 300,000 people were killed by a Tsunami as it ravaged Thailand and areas around it. You get the picture. Creation when personified is looking for that day when all things will be set right and made brand new.

In verse 23 we are told that those who have received the gifts of the Spirit; or, the “First fruits of the Spirit” are also longing or groaning for that day when the redemption will be complete. Now, know that, if you have been saved, you are no more saved than you ever will be, nor are you any less saved than you are right now. The point is there is coming a day when our redemption will be completed when we see Jesus face to face, then, we will be home. We are waiting for that ‘adoption’ when we receive our inheritance, and the redemption of our bodies. When Jesus comes for His Bride; the Church; all those who have died will be resurrected from their graves, and it does not matter where that grave may be. Those will be raised in their redeemed bodies, then, those who are alive and remain will be changed, and receive their redeemed bodies. Now I am groaning even more. I have had some people ask me, “Don’t you dread getting old?” to which I have replied, “Not at all. The older I get the closer I get to home”. That is the day I am living for.

Verses 24 & 25 speak of the “Hope” we have now. “Hope that is seen is not hope” seems like a bold statement of sorts. It is quite sensible. If we have the new car of our dreams, we do not hope to get one. We have it in our possession. The hope Paul speaks of, of course is much different than is ‘wishful thinking’, or even thinking that has merit to back up the hope. This hope; of which Paul speaks, is based on the trustworthiness of God and His Word. It is based on the worth of God. Therefore, we can know quite assuredly that though what we have now is hope for that day when He comes; it is as good as accomplished, because God has said it. He has promised it. Because He has promised it, “We eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (NKJV), or “We with patience wait for it”. God did not, does not, nor will not make idle or empty promises. His Word will come to pass, therefore, it is worth looking for and well worth the wait.

Empowering Confidence

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17).

One thing every Christian needs is confidence in God’s gospel. Believe it is the only means by which you are saved for all eternity from sin, its darkness, damnation, and death; and saved to Christ Jesus. Being completely unashamed to share it with others. Being ashamed is like saying we are not exactly sure of its power. When you are confident in the gospel you are willing to risk everything for the Christ of the gospel.

The gospel is the only power which transforms people from unrighteousness to righteousness – the unjust to just.

An adulterer becomes pure and his/her life becomes pure and becomes a loving adoring husband/wife – he/she seeks purity because they have a heart for Christ.

A gossip becomes a person who seeks to control her/his tongue and to speak good rather than evil of others.

A murderer is no longer a killer, but rather, a caring, concerned human being.

All sinners – which is all people – gain control over those old sinful passions and lust which control us.

This empowering helps us see it is for all who will believe. God does not play favorites – nor should we. If God does favor one over another it is in favor of those who are weak and humble themselves. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are , extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).

From beginning to end righteousness is by faith. Righeousness comes only from God – for He alone is righteousness. “Just” is another term for righteousness. Believing God is faith and comes to the individual by an act of God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit. Not only are we saved by faith, but “The just shall live by faith”. Not by any works of moral goodness. Not by any liturgy and/or religion. By faith in the works of Jesus Christ alone. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5). True faith produces works that glorify God.

In conclusion, we must be confident in the power of the gospel; that it is the only means by which a wicked, sinful, fallen race, called the human race, can be delivered from the bondage of sin, its condemnation, and death. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the power which can change the heart and life of any man, woman, boy or girl into the image of Jesus Christ.

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE GREATEST POWER KNOWN ON EARTH.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Ready to Preach the Gospel

Romans 1:8 – 15

Praying for others is an expression of concern for them, and of trusting them to His care. It is first of all, for God’s guidance, providence, and personal spiritual growth. Secondly, that their witness [ good witness] may be seen and spoken of by all.

Prayer lets others know you are praying for them. We encourage others in the faith for the believer, and lets the lost know you are concerned for their eternal well being. It bonds the people with one another and to the one praying for them. In the Latter (above): it give strength for greater service.

In prayer we accept God’s grace toward all (v. 12). Our faith is mutual – no one is greater than the other. The faith that saves me is the faith that saves you – the faith from God.

In prayer we acquire a desire for spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit characterize the Spirit-led believer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23. Righteous actions. ” For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. ” Philippians 4:16-17. ” By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15. We desire to see people come to Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. These fruits will be seen, known and recognized by others.

We have a glorious message to proclaim (vv. 14-15). To the Greeks – these were considered the civilized and wise. To the barbarians – considered unwise because they could not speak the Greek language nor were they assimilated to Greek culture. The message of the gospel is for the “Wise” and for the “Unwise” – the culturally correct and incorrect – the rich and the poor. We ought always: by prayer, supplication, and the study of God’s Word, be ready to preach the gospel wherever God may call us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God, King,and Country

“And Uriah said unto David, ‘The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.”  2 Samuel 11:11 (KJB)

Uriah was a Hittite (verse 3) who had become a faithful and loyal follower of Jehovah.  You will notice the very first thing he mentions to the King is “The ark…”  You will note also his heart for the people, the men on the battle field sleeping in tents.

He has been called by the King to aid in covering the king’s sin with his wife Bathsheba.  I am just going to point out the heart and mind of Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah is an often overlooked character in the story of King David.  He had evidently chosen to follow Jehovah or YaHWeH.  He is also named as one of the king’s top men in 2 Samuel 23:29. He was a soldier of the Lord and of the King. He was faithful to God, King and country.

Uriah’s king failed him; but his God did not.  God never fails, and he  honors those who stand with Him. David had the man murdered in an elaborate scheme to cover his own sin.

We as Christians can always stand with God and what is right according to His word and His law.  We can remain loyal to our nations leaders when they follow the law of our nation, and live by them.  We can be loyal to our nation as it follows the way and will of God.  Our first citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 2:19;  Philippians 3:20).

Let us be faithful and true to God and country, and thus to our leaders as they follow the Lord and are faithful to Him and to the law.  The King of all kings is Jesus Christ. Let us remember the words of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as rivers of water: He turneth whithersoever He will.”

Vulnerable Situations

Shiloah Baptist Church

Reading 1 Samuel 23 – 25 for today…

“And he said unto his men, ‘The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 24:6 (KJB)

King Saul was out to kill David.  He saw David as a threat to his being king, and especially to his kingdom, what was going to end. However, God had already made the decree (1 Samuel 13:13-14), and given the kingdom to another.

In the background of the story we find the King relieving himself in a cave.  David and his men are hiding in the cave and David’s men encourage him to take Saul’s life; but he will not strike the LORD’S anointed.

David is the other whom God has chosen to have the ongoing, even eternal kingdom, and he has…

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The LORD Shall Rule

Shiloah Baptist Church

For your reading please read Judges 7 – 8…

“And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.”  Judges 8:23 (KJB)

It seems that the idea of having royalty or a monarchy is a romantic idea in many, if not most societies.  It was so in the very early days of Israel’s conquering, and divisions of Canaan.

We look at Gideon today, of whom Judges 8:23 speaks.  He was very successful because of God’s power and direction in his life, and for no other reason; as a judge – deliverer.  The people desired him to be their king, and his son, thus to establish a dynasty in the kingdom.  That, however, was not God’s will or intent for that time.

There is no need for royalty of men when men will submit to the rule…

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The LORD My Rock

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower”  Psalm 18:2. (KJV)

There is a rock called the Rock of Gibraltar located in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula.  It is a massive island rock, and has been a picture of strength, power, and stability for many years; maybe even centuries and millenniums.  There is a Rock that stands for all eternity, and that Rock is Christ Jesus.

David said this of the LORD, that is YaHWeH, and He is GOD.  GOD is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is said by the apostle Paul to be the Rock that was with the children of Israel through the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4).

When we are faced with an enemy; whether the devil and his legions of Hell, or the neighbor next door; Christ Jesus is our Rock.  I can say with David,  the the LORD is my Rock.  I can stand on Him, and never fear of being without Him, because He has said I will never leave you.

He is my deliverer.  He is my strength.  Without Him I can do nothing; with Him I can do all things through Him that glorify His name.  One of the things about Christ being our Rock is He is everything we need.  As the high tower we need not fear what may be in our future.  The future is not mine to know, but to know Christ is to leave it in His hands because He can see all things and has control over it.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress…”  because He made a way for me.  He made a way for us to know Him, and that is through the cross upon which He bled and died.

Glory into Shame

“O you sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” Psalm 4:2 (KJV)

The following is from The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon…

“In this second division of the Psalm, we are led from the closet of prayer into the field of conflict. Remark the undaunted courage of the man of God. He allows that his enemies are great men (for such is the import of the Hebrew words translated – sons of men), but still he believes them to be foolish men, and therefore chides them, as though they were but children. He tells them that they love vanity, and seek after leasing, that is, lying, empty fancies, vain conceits, wicked fabrications. He asks them how long they mean to make his honour a jest, and his fame a mockery? A little of such mirth is too much, why need they continue to indulge in it? Had they not been long enough upon the watch for his halting? Had not repeated disappointments convinced them that the Lord’s anointed was not to be overcome by all their calumnies? Did they mean to jest their souls into hell, and go on with their laughter until swift vengeance should turn their merriment into howling? In the contemplation of their perverse continuance in their vain and lying pursuits, the Psalmist solemnly pauses and inserts a Selah. Surely we too may stop awhile, and meditate upon the deep-seated folly of the wicked, their continuance in evil, and their sure destruction; and we may learn to admire that grace which has made us to differ, and taught us to love truth, and seek after righteousness.”

Something for us to keep in mind as we look at two of Psalm 4 is that the “sons of men” of whom David refers are sons of the enemy of David and of God.  It is these sons who turn the glory of David into shame.  We must also remember that David is the character of Scripture of whom God said, “The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” 1 Samuel 13:4, and Acts 13:22.

These sons of men seek their own welfare and glory, not the King’s neither the King of kings.  When I get to the word “Selah” of the Psalms or anywhere in Scripture, I see it as a chance to pause and meditate on what has just been said.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings. He came unto men through King David.  Let us rejoice in our King Jesus who came to earth to die on the cross, was buried, and He rose again.  One day He is returning as the Sovereign that He is promised to be.  O will you be ready for Him?

The Temple and the Light of that City

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 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. Revelation 21:10-27 (KJV)

The description of the abiding place of the Bride. The place Jesus speaks of in John 14:1-3.

The description John gives is only as splendid and glorious as he could give in human terms. Whenever you try to communicate the holy to the unholy all you will do is come up far short of actuality. For instance, “the lake of fire” – the fire may indeed be a human description by symbol, however, the reality or the substance is greater than the symbol.

It is like a nuclear physicist who writes down all he knows and hands it to a kindergarten student. That student will have no idea of what he is looking at. God was showing John some wonderful things and inspired him to write the way he has so we could have a little understanding of the glory which awaits us.

In verse 10 the angel takes John, “In the Spirit”, to a mountain where he sees the holy Jerusalem descending “out of heaven from God”. Warren Wiersbe writes…

“The eternal city is not only the home of the bride; it is the bride! A city is not buildings; it is people” (from the BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY by Warren Wiersbe, Vol. 2, pg. 623).

The city is described as having foundations, walls, and gates.

FOUNDATIONS speak of permanence. The houses we build, though they do have foundations, are only temporary when marked by eternity. They are only the tents of “pilgrims and strangers” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

WALLS speak of protection. This wall of the city is eternal. Nothing wicked and vile can enter this city for the only entrance is by way of the blood of Jesus.

GATES speak of a way in – an entrance. God used Israel as an entrance for Christ to become flesh. Christ is the door through which man can come to God.

The bride of Christ would then seem to be made up of those of Israel who believe and the Church whom Jesus Christ “…hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 3:14).

Each gate of the city is named for one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each of the twelve foundations is named for one of the apostles.

In chapter 11 John is commanded to measure the temple (a symbolic gesture of ownership). Here, he witnesses as the angel measure the heavenly city. The dimensions of the city are staggering. FOURSQUARE means the city is equal on all sides. The shape could be either a cube or pyramid. The length, height, and breadth equal “twelve thousand furlongs” – a furlong is equal to 220 yards today – if we say a furlong is equal to 600 feet we would come up with a city fo 1,500 miles long, it would have a breadth of 1,500 miles and a height of 1,500 miles. To help us understand this – to place this city in perspective to the United States, it would cover over half of the contiguous states land mass. It is a large city, showing that God has provided plenty of room for all who will come to Him through His Son Jesus.

Now we come to the wall. It measured 144 cubits. If a cubit equals 18 inches, then the wall would be 72 yards high or 216 feet.

The construction of the city is astounding; walls of Jasper, streets of pure gold, foundations decorated with precious stones (Jasper, 2. sapphire, 3. Chalcedony, 4. emerald, 5. sardonyx, 6. sardius, 7. chrysolite, 8. Beryl, 9. topaz, 10. chrysoprasus, 11. jacinth, 12. amethyst). We can tell by this description that the bride of the Lamb is certainly arrayed in glory and beauty (Eph. 5:27a), the gates are twelve pearls, the street of pure gold. What a place to walk. The thing for which men crave most on earth will be under our feet in the new Jerusalem.

There is no temple (v. 22), “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it”. Notice the plurality and the singularity of this verse concerning the temple, God, and the Lamb. We will forever be in Christ Jesus and He in us (John 17:21-22).

There is no need of the sun or the moon. Verse 23 does not say a sun or moon does not exist. It appears to be saying that the glory of God and of the Lamb is the light of the new Jerusalem – the holy city come out of heaven from God. The glory of God will be so bright that the sun and moon will fade into the background – similar to how the other stars are unseen during the daylight hours, due to the “glory” of the sun.

Then, “nations” are probably those who dwell on the “new earth”. These have access to the city, but evidently do not live there. These walk in the light of the glorious city. These may be those who chose to remain faithful to the Lamb of God during the thousand years of His reign and during the last attempt by Satan to lead them astray. The very fact of their faith is the glory they bring into the city each time.

They are free to come and go as they please – the gates are always opened.

Only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life” can enter there.

What construction! What beauty! What a Savior! The Temple of that City and the Light of that City is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb

Justice for All that Were Slain Upon the Earth

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Revelation 18:20-24 (KJV)

Remember what I said in previous posts, about the world’s rejoicing and God’s rejoicing.

He is speaking here to all the saints of God (“holy apostles and prophets”). Rejoice because God’s righteousness is being vindicated. We rejoice not over the condemnation of a lost soul, but for justice, and that God is glorified.

Babylon – religious, economic, and political – is utterly destroyed, to rise no more.

She will sink like the “great millstone” never to rise again. There is a similar story in Jeremiah 51:61-64. Jeremiah wrote against Babylon and had a young man read it to Babylon, and when finished reading the “book” to “bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates”. Jeremiah’s faith in God and His Word was sure. Babylon will fall. The Word of God continues.

The pronouncement of the angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” is in the past tense. Just as surely as God said it, it shall be done.

The merchants will buy “no more at all” (v. 14); the city “shall be found no more at all” (v. 21); music “shall be heard no more at all in thee”; “no craftsman… shall be found any more in thee”; the work of the mill “shall be heard no more at all… (v. 22); “the candle… no more at all…”; wedding ceremonies “…no more at all…” (v. 23). Seven times is complete and final. God’s Word is true.

In looking at these verses we could have a very convincing description of our own nation. Capitalism, when not restrained by God’s Spirit, can breed greed, selfishness, and lust for power, yet, I believe it is the best economic system mankind has going for it when kept in check by the Spirit of God, not government. Babylon, very well, could be capitalism run amuck because of the absence of God’s restraining influence.

Because some chose to stand for Christ, the world of Babylon slew them. O, what a bloody city.

Here is a parallel to the Babylons of Scripture: The first is historical and found in Genesis 11 prepared to maintain the union of the world – overthrown by God through confusion of language and scattering of people. The second is ecclesiastical, symbolized by the woman of Revelation 17 proposes common worship and religion uniting all religions into one world church, and much advocated in our day by some of those in the reprobate church which will be destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16, thus fulfilling the will of God. The third is political, symbolized by the “great city” of Revelation 18, attempts domination of the world, by common market and world government. These are destroyed at Jesus’s second coming in power and great glory. EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.

BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN – Justice will come to those who have given their lives for the cause of God, His word, and His work. Stop trusting in the “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7:21); the material things of this world, like gold, silver, garments, houses, and land, and trust the One who has already won the victory.

Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the One who died on the cross for us, was buried, and rose again.  He is the One who is now preparing to return and make all things right.

Blessing In Judgment

Today we continue the study of the seven vials [bowls], and within these judgments, we find a blessing in verse 15.  It is a word of hope for the Church, the believer, the follower of Jesus Christ throughout all ages. Let us continue…

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. Revelation 16:8-21 (KJV)

4. (VV. 8-9) With the fourth trumpet the sun was darkened (8:12-13), but here the heat of the sun is intensified and is destructive (see Isaiah 30:26);
5. (VV. 10-11) This vial is poured out upon the throne of the “Beast”; even with this great wrath these wicked men refuse to repent;
6. (VV. 12-16) With this vial two important events take place; 1) the drying of the Euphrates River, and 2) the gathering of the armies of the world.

Within this, note the Beatitude (v. 16). It is God’s reminder to us of His provision for those who prepare by receiving His grace.

“Behold I come as a thief”. The Church can be assured that Jesus will come as a thief for His bride and take her out of the world. Who will He take out of this world before the Tribulation? 1) Those who are watching and alert; 2) Those who are living lives that please the Lord. “Blessed” or “Happy” will be those who are with Jesus during this horrible time of God’s wrath.

Also, see “THE HAPPY WATCHER”.

Verse 16 clearly shows the very sovereignty of God. When the world peace is not working and the armies of the world gather for battle against one another – remember it is God who brought them to this battle. While they are battling with one another the King of kings will descend from Heaven, and the armies of the earth will join forces against Heaven’s army and do battle. All He must do is speak a word, and it is over. What a mighty God we serve.

The final wrath of God is poured out. Sin is totally put away and evil destroyed. “It is done”, the voice from the temple says. It almost sounds like Jesus as He hung on the cross and cried out, “It is finished”. The work Jesus came to do was finished on the cross. The work God began in mankind with Adam will be finished when He completely destroys sin. PRAISE THE LORD!!!

What happens with the final or seventh vial being poured out?

  1. Voices, thunderings, and lightnings;
  2. Great earthquake – unlike any known by man;
  3. The destruction of Babylon – the political, economical, and ecclesiastical rule of man will crumble, probably recognized through a city;
  4. Because of the earthquake the face of the earth is changed (v. 20);
  5. Hailstones about the weight of 100 pounds will fall;
  6. Rather than repenting men still living will blaspheme God.

It is great to know we are still in a day of salvation. If people harden their hearts to God, it is certain to be that God will harden their hearts toward Him, and if that happens – there is no hope.

Repent when God calls (2 Corinthians 6:2). When God calls do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7-8). You may not have another day (Proverbs 27:1). Do not wait to experience the glory of His wrath. Experience His glory in His grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Purpose Driven Holiness and Awe

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”  Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV)

This seventh and final trumpet ushers in the seven vials of wrath. Although they are not mentioned until chapter fifteen there is a break in the judgments to reveal some things that will happen during the latter half of what is often called “The tribulation period” – the latter half is referred to as “Great tribulation” (2:22).

There were voices saying that the Lord is King and “He shall reign forever and ever”. This only means God has allowed sin to run its course, and “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4). It seems that this would fit chronologically with chapters 19 and 20.

The Lord Jesus will take possession of the property which He died to redeem. At the last trump, the Lord takes what is His. Praise Him.

The same “twenty-four elders” of chapter four are in Heaven worshipping the Lord of glory.

They are awed by His awe-inspiring power over sin and evil and the vanquishing of all wickedness from the earth.

How do they worship Him?

  1. They recognize His power – Almighty;
  2. They praise His eternalness and immutability [Unchangingness];
  3. They recognize Him as Judge – both to reward His servants and punishment upon the wicked. Worship to God is simply given by recognizing Him for who He is.

“The nations were angry” takes us back to Psalm 2:1-3. The wrath of the nations is powerless and vain – for man’s own selfish revenge. God’s wrath is not for revenge, but to dispell sin, and His wrath is powerful and purposeful.  When we think of God and His love we must always remember that God is holy and no sin can stand in His presence; therefore because He is holy He does judge sin; our sin.  We must also remember the cross, for it was there that all our sin was laid on Him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

There is a great need for the fear of God in our day. It does not matter what the false prophets are saying about “God is love” – a half-truth is a lie. God is love, but He is also hating sin and judges it. He is wrathful. That is the truth. He is to be feared – held in awe.  A few years ago I stood upon a portion of the Rocky Mountains and I said, “This is awesome”.  A few years later I stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and wept with tears and said, “This is so awesome”; however, when I look into the Word of God, and I see Him in His Son Jesus I weep and rejoice at His Awesomeness, because there is no awe, such as His AWE.  He made the mountains,  the Grand Canyon, and all that there is.  He is holy and AWESOME.

The original temple. The one in Heaven. The one used to model the “Wilderness tabernacle” after. The one where God in His glory dwells. It is opened. The way to God is open today. The way into the holiest of all is through the Lord Jesus Christ. This reminds us not to take for granted God’s open door.

Within the temple, there was seen the “Ark of the testament”. The ark of God. This was the “Ark of the covenant” behind the veil, in the “Holy of Holies”. It contained the Ten Commandments, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded.  It is, in fact, the testimony of God dwelling among men; and that is Christ Jesus

Those who know God have received Jesus – the Bread of Life; Jesus – the fulfillment of the law written in the heart, and Jesus – the resurrection to new life. Talk about the temple being open, access to God, we have it. At least for now.  The day of the closing door, however, is drawing close.

Because many refuse God’s open door to Himself judgment upon the Christ-haters and sin lovers is certain. The lightnings, voices, thunderings are mentioned in 4:5. “Earthquake and great hail” is added to this sentence.

It seems that the very source of our salvation is also the source of judgment upon the wicked. We have the choice to be saved now or be judged through eternity. Bless the Lord.

The two witnesses of verses 1-14 who are yet to come will be empowered by God. So are all of those who know Jesus today, by the presence, glory, and power of God’s Spirit who lives within. The door is open. We too are the witnesses of God.  Let us never forget that His holiness and awe is with purpose.

The Peril of the Unrepentant in the Face of Holy

“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”  Revelation 9:13-21

The sixth trumpet sounds and John hears a voice from the “Golden Altar”. This altar is the same altar as in chapter 8:3-6. The horns of the altar are mentioned in the Old Testament. There are times when men fled to the altar and “Caught hold on the horns of the altar” (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28). It was a place for pleading. Evidently pleading for one’s life as other men sought them. From this place of former mercy proceeds a voice of woe. The second woe. The first has passed.

The voice heard tells the sixth angel to “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates”. These four angels are not the same four of chapter 7:1. There is nothing said about the chapter 7 angels being bound.

Since these four are bound it would lead us to conclude that these are evil angels or otherwise known as demons (Jude 6).

Today there is demonic activity, but not as the like of which when God removes His restraints.

The release of the four evil angels comes at God’s appointed time. “Were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” has nothing to do with duration, but with God’s timing. The dastardly work of the four is to kill one-third of all people on the earth. Remember, one-fourth part of mankind has already been killed at the opening of the fourth seal (6:7-8). This means more than one half of the world’s population will be killed by the time this “Woe” is carried out. The judgment of the flood will pale in the comparison of these judgments.

The released angels kill by means of a two hundred million man army. China boasts to have such an army, and it is to the East of Jerusalem and the Euphrates river.

This also could be another demonic attack upon mankind, but it could be this in the form of an actual army of men. And, of course, the way things are in the world today there are probably women in this army as well. It seems that the horses are the sources of destroying power, “Out of their mouths issued fire and smoke, and brimstone” (vv. 17b-18). This almost sounds like a nuclear war.
Where the demonic mass of verses 3-11 was only allowed to torment and not to kill this army, vast in number, is allowed to kill.

Have there ever been events such as these on the earth? We have never read of them in history. This is clearly prophetic and not historical.

There is further mention of the Euphrates in 16:12 in connection with the “Sixth vial of wrath”.

The move of this army could be a move during the middle of the tribulation when the “Peacemaker” breaks the treaty with Israel and then havoc rules.

Isn’t it amazing how people can continue in sin and rebellion against God when they can see His mighty and judging hand at work. Rather than turning to the true and living God during this time of His wrath upon wickedness they lift up their idols of stone, gold, silver, brass, and wood. They cry out to gods who are no gods, becoming like them (Psalm 115).

Morris Ashcraft in the Broadman Bible Commentary wrote, “One cannot overlook John’s conviction, though voiced as a lament, that idolatry has a hold on man so great that he will go on worshiping the works of his own hands even while the infinite power of the true God is displayed all about him” BROADMAN COMMENTARY vol. 12 pg. 297.

It is a sad day when men turn to things made of their own hands and imaginations rather than to the God who displayed His love and wrath on a cross of wood judging our sin on the account of His Son.

Every kind of evil is mentioned in these verses. John is lamenting. It is nothing but outright, willful rebellion against the God of Heaven. There is no reason for rejoicing here, other than the fact, that God will destroy and put away all sin. All of sin, darkness of evil, and evil will be brought to an end.  Amen.

Thousands of Witnesses

“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.”  Revelation 7:4-8

In these verses, we find that God names a specific group of people and a specific number of them. This is referring specifically to the nation of Israel. Some would like to spiritualize this and come to the conclusion that these and the “Numberless multitude” mentioned later represents all redeemed people of all the ages. There is nothing said about these being the Church, however. If we keep in mind that the Scriptures deal with three distinct people groups we will not spiritualize the text. The three groups are the Hebrews, the Gentile, and the Church of Jesus Christ.

It is quite evident that both groups mentioned here are groups who will be in the “great tribulation”. This group of Hebrews who number 144,000 are identified by their tribes. It seems two tribes are omitted and two added in their place. The two tribes omitted are Dan and Ephraim. In the book of Hosea “Ephraim” is another name given to the Northern Kingdom, and Dan was located within that kingdom. Jeroboam set up two golden calves; one in Bethel and the other in Dan. Ephraim never had a godly king who trusted the Lord God. This could be the reason, at least, a partial reason for their apparent absence. SEE Deuteronomy 29:18-21.

Most likely, there is no Hebrew living who knows to which tribe they belong. Some would ask, “If that is the case, how will they be brought together for this purpose?” That is a good question. The answer is rather simple. Although the genealogical records have been lost, God knows the genealogy of every living being. He will bring it to pass.

Who are these 12,000 times 12 tribes which equal 144,000 Hebrew men? “Watchtower” people say they are. Seventh Day Adventists say they are. Mormons say they are. Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that the people of the Worldwide Church of God were. They are all wrong. None of them are unless there is a Hebrew male among them who will not leave in the rapture, and they are appointed and called by God as such. These are people chosen from the nation of Israel whom Jesus refers to as the “Elect” in Matthew 24 -25. In “The Olivet Discourse” of Matthew 24 and 25, it could be, that, Jesus is speaking of the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” we know as the “great tribulation”. The “Elect” He mentions is possibly the 144,000 and possibly others who will believe at that time.

What is this seal in these messenger’s foreheads? These 144,000 are sealed with the name of God “In their forehead” (14:1).

There would appear to be a problem with this interpretation. The Holy Spirit removed with the Church at the rapture seems to be invalid if people are going to be saved during the tribulation. Keep this in mind. People were saved before the coming of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the Church. People will be saved in the same way after the removal of the Holy Spirit present in the Church. Even in the time of great sorrow God has a people, the 144,000, who will preach the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom is the Kingdom of Jesus’s rule and reign on earth. It is the long-awaited and promised kingdom of David.

We end up with confusion when we spiritualize Scripture and try to make the Church Israel, or Israel the Church; except where Scripture does so. Romans 9 – 11 deals specifically with the nation, the people called Jews, and Paul writes there that, “…all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Verses 4-8 are the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise.

We are presently in the period of grace, and the Church Age.  No one who is born again in Christ Jesus today is part of the 144,000.  We will be gone with Christ into His presence and stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Thank the Lord for His mercy, grace, and love in every age; and for the redemption of mankind by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

The One on the Throne

In this chapter (Revelation 4:11) we see the One who died for us is also our Creator and worthy of worship. He has opened the door of Heaven for man to worship him, as does the rest of creation, in that it is obedient to its Creator’s design, and we will always be in His presence.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1 (KJV).

After receiving the letters to the seven churches John sees a door “Opened in heaven”. If you will remember, the open door was set before the Philadelphia church. The church which had kept His word and had not denied His name.

The Laodicean church had closed their door and locked Jesus out.

The voice John hears sounded as a trumpet. It was a voice that called for attention. It was a voice he recognized. it was the voice of the Savior. This voice called, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”

In chapter one verse nineteen Jesus gave John the outline of the Revelation. Chapter one is the “Things which thou hast seen” [PAST]; chapters two through three, “The things which are” [PRESENT]; and chapters four through 22:5, “The things which shall be hereafter” [FUTURE]. Keep in mind, that the Church is not mentioned again until chapter nineteen.

John being caught up in the Spirit (v. 2) is shown what is to come. Everything from this point on is future. It seems that John’s being called to “Come up hither” is to show him the events following the Church age.

“And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”  Revelation 4:2 (KJV).

TAKE NOTE OF WHO IS ON THE THRONE. The throne is symbolic of sovereignty, authority, and power. All through the Revelation “Throne” is mentioned forty-six times making it a key word. This is to assure us that although a period of terrible tribulation is coming upon the earth, to let Satan kill, maim and destroy, He (God) is still in control, and will continue to maintain control.

John was amazed to find himself before the very throne of God. That is the place where all God’s children will one day find themselves. The ungodly, evil will also find themselves before His throne of judgment and will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

“And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:3 (KJV).

We can begin to have an understanding of the Revelation if we keep in mind the rest of Scripture – the Old Testament in particular. This book is penned down by a Jew and the symbolism used is Hebrew in nature. The words of John Walvoord…

“Significantly, the jasper and the sardine stone are the first and last of these twelve stones (cf. Exodus 28:17-21). The jasper represented Reuben, the first of the tribes, since Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob. The sardine stone represented Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In other words the two stones represented the first and the last and therefore may be regarded as including all the other stones in between, that is, the whole of the covenanted people.’

‘Furthermore, the names Reuben and Benjamin have significance. The word ‘Reuben’ means ‘behold a son.’ The word Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand.’ In both cases these terms seem to have a double meaning: first, the fact that though Christ is the representative of Israel, He is also the Son of God. Like Reuben, Christ is the first begotten son. Second, like Benjamin, Christ is also the ‘son of my right hand’ in relation to God the Father. The person whom John sees on the throne looking like a jasper and sardine stone is, therefore God in relation to the nation of Israel.” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 104 & 105.

This must have been one of the most brilliant and colorful experiences John ever had. He saw a rainbow. This rainbow was complete, in that it was a complete circle “around the throne”. Its color was like an emerald. A very colorful place around the throne of God.

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”  Revelation 4:4 (KJV).

These “Twenty four seats” and the “Elders” who sat upon the seats seem to represent the redeemed of the Lord. It would not be Israel since they have not yet come as the nation to Christ, but the Church. Notice how they are clothed….

White represents righteousness and holiness. Some have supposed these twenty-four to be angelic beings. However, there is no mention in Scripture of angels receiving rewards [crowns] or a group of angels “clothed in white raiment”. The “Crowns of gold” seem to be the crowns of reward, mentioned in Scripture for believers. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); the Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:50-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

It seems, then, that these “Elders” would represent the redeemed from the time before the cross and resurrection to the time of the closing of the Church age. The Church age ending with the rapture of the saints.

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”  Revelation 4:5 (KJV).

As a reminder to mankind God gives us ample proof that He is a loving, yet wrathful God, judging sin, and those who reject Him. For those of you who think that God is only love, does not judge, or find fault, you will probably make your own interpretation and deny all this truth given us in God’s Word. “For our God is a consuming fire,” wrote the writer of Hebrews in chapter twelve verse twenty-nine. He also wrote, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The “lightnings”, “thunderings” and “voices” are warnings of wrath. A reminder that sin will be forever judged. Whether we like to admit it or not, our worship of God involves our confession, repentance of sin. There is no worshiping Him unless we repent.

Once again the fullness of the Spirit of God is revealed. It is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that sin is revealed and we are led to repentance, and into the rightful worship of God. He is the Light that exposes sin and evil and reveals the way to God.

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”  Revelation 4:6-7 (KJV).

Keep in mind the place, “Before the throne”, in God’s presence.

In these verses we have further evidence of the “Jewishness” of this Revelation. “A sea of glass” takes us back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were designed in Heaven. “Sea of glass” is a reference to the “Bronze laver” (Exodus 35:16; 38:8; 40:7) of the wilderness tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple. The bronze laver was made from the “Looking glasses” of the women of Israel (Exodus 38:8). These looking glasses were of polished brass to make them reflect images similar to a mirror. It would not have been as clear as the mirrors we know now.

John’s focus is more upon the “Beasts”, possibly better understood as “Living ones”. Who are these “Living ones”? They are, possibly, angelic beings. They are representative of the attributes of God, in general. Let me quote John F. Walvoord,

“The fact that the creatures are full of eyes is taken as significant of the omniscience and omnipresence of God who sees all and knows all.’
‘In a similar way the four beasts as respectively a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle are considered different aspects of divine majesty. All of these are supreme in their respective categories. The lion is the king of beasts and represents majesty and omnipotence. The calf or ox, representing the most important of domestic animals, signifies patience and continuous labor. man is the greatest of all God’s creatures, especially in intelligence and rational power; whereas the eagle is greatest among birds and is symbolic of sovereignty and supremacy” THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 109 & 110.

Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet had a similar vision. You can read that in Ezekiel 1:4-10.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,”  Revelation 4:8-9 (KJV).

These “Living ones” are worshiping and announcing the holiness of God, and declaring His omnipresence in time.

A similar announcement of God’s holiness is declared by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-3. They [Seraphim] are also identified as having six wings, representing humility, service, and mission.

These proclaim to God the glory and honor He so richly deserves. The One “Who lives for ever and ever.” When we worship God we are to do so in holiness, with humility, service, and mission; knowing and showing that the God of all creation is worthy of all worship and praise.

“The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”  Revelation 4:10-11 (KJV).

Further evidence that the “Twenty four elders” are the redeemed, is that they “Cast their crowns before the throne” and worship.

These recognize the work of salvation God has done and give the crowns to the One who is truly deserving. These “Elders” represent priesthood.

“There were twenty four courses of priests in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 24:3-5, 18; also see Luke 1:5-9). God’s people are ‘Kings and priests’ (Revelation 1:6).” From BIBLE EXPOSITION Commentary pg. 582 by Warren Wiersbe.

If we will keep in mind that this book is Hebrew in its symbolism and trust the Holy Spirit we will not be led astray. Remember the time following the Church age is called, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

The Holy One of Israel is worthy to receive all that He is worth. Too many times we people get the idea that this world and all that is in it is just about us. It is not. It is about God. All glory, honor, and power belong to the One who made all that is. We were made for His pleasure, His purpose, His desire, and He can do with us as He pleases. He is completely just and righteous, and we can trust Him to do what is good and right. We are to be worshiping THE ONE ON THE THRONE.

I Will Come Unto You Quickly

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: nd hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV)

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not living to be like the world to win the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is our first love, and the One who holds the “Angel/Messengers” in His hand.
This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.

In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.

He commends them and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course, it is the One who is speaking. The One who is the Light Giver.

We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!

Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.

In this first verse, Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identifies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.

The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There were no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was the need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames burning the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

We now enter the “I know” portion of the letter. He is the “All-Knowing” One.
The people of Ephesus Church were a busy people. They were working and laboring to the point of exhaustion. For this devotion Jesus commends them. These were also a people who were sound in doctrine, they hated evil, and they were a discerning people. They could tell the true from the false. The reason they were able to discern so well is, that, they had learned the truth so well.

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.

By all appearances, Ephesus was a good church. They were serving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.

“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the allurements of the city and their ways of worship.

The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship, and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).

He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.

He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.

One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial, and resurrection.

The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exists, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

Jesus commends them in verse six for their hating the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans”. There is some dispute over who these were. Some take the name to mean “Conquerors of the people” meaning this group was the beginning of the separation of “Clergy” and “Laity”. The placing of a “Priesthood” lording over the people. Others relate the name to a man whose name was Nicolaus who taught that once you were saved you could live in sin and return for forgiveness anytime. NOTE – I wrote “Live in sin” which is continual action. This belief is called “Antinomianism”. I personally see no conflict between these two understandings. The separation of the “Priesthood” from the people lends leniency to immoral living and takes away personal responsibility, for one’s self and others. Though God has set an order for His local church, there is no one person of more importance than another. The pastor is to be the leader but is no more important than the janitor. Each has their God given duty, and each duty is important in God’s church. Jesus is Superior to all. The very fact that there is no description of these “Nicolaitans”, other than these views, seem to add credibility to this.

In the final verse of this important letter, we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.

The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.

To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus, there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.

Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.

Precious Faith

“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 Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)

Simon Peter a very close friend of the Lord Jesus Christ as He walked, worked, and lived and died on the cross is the Spirit-inspired writer of both First and Second Peter.  He is one of the apostles of Christ.  At one time he was influenced by the devil when he told Jesus that He would not die (Matthew 16:23;  Mark 8:33).

Peter writes of the Precious Faith that we receive “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”; so then we must know that “Faith” also is the “Gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  The work of faith and salvation are the gift of God.  They are in fact the same.  When you have faith in Him then you are saved.  When you are saved, then you have faith in Him.  It is the gift of God.

Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 3 that “…All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23), but in Christ Jesus, we have been called into that glory and the virtue of it.  We are no longer separated from God, and even more, because we are in Christ we are recipients of the “exceeding great and precious promises… that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature.”  Having the “divine nature” means that we have been given the heart and mind of Christ. The will to think, to act, to live like Christ.  That means we no longer have the heart of sin, but we hate sin just as Jesus does, and we love righteousness, holiness, and righteousness.

We are delivered from the corruption that is in the world, and our desires are what God desires for us.

If you are still desiring to live in your sinful passions and lust, you enjoy living in sin, then you have not been delivered from the corruption of this wicked world.  You are still bound in sin and death, and you are on the road to eternal destruction and hell.  You need to call on the name of Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and He rose again.  One day He will come again just as He said He would (John 14:1-3).  Call on Him today, even now.

Living a Quiet and Peaceable Life

Since we are living in a world where there is much chaos and turmoil; it seems no matter where you turn in society; then, we need to know how to live a quiet and peaceable life in this world.  We hear the words of Paul the apostle to the young pastor Timothy…

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (KJV)

Timothy was in Ephesus at this time, in a new church, and dealing with a lot of immorality, and sin in the Church.  When we look at the Scriptures concerning the early Church they too had to deal with the sin issues of their day.  So how does Paul tell Timothy to deal with the many issues?

The first thing he mentions is prayer, and matters which go with prayer – supplication, intercessions, giving thanks to God.  The second thing is that we pray for all people who are in places of authority – pastors, presidents, kings, and for the quiet and peaceable life of others.

It is summed up to be so for a life of godliness, and honesty.

The final sentence of the verses tells us that praying for leaders in authority is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”.  It also tells us that He desires to have all men saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  He has made it possible for even the most wicked and vile individual to come to Him in faith.  He has paid the price for all sin; no matter how bad, how vile or how wicked; Christ Jesus died on the cross for our sin, was buried and He rose again the third day, and forever live; not just a spirit, but the Man Christ Jesus is alive in heaven, seated with the Father at His right hand.  He is the Mediator between God and men.  He is the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Unequal Yokes

Yokes are a farming tool from years past where the farmer or wagoneer even would place two animals; for a yoke it would most generally have been oxen.  The cart, wagon, or plow was usually teamed with an equally powered pair of the animal.  Consider this as we look at the following passage of Scripture.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (KJV)

The apostle Paul was writing to Christians in the city of Corinth.  Professing Christians were joining together with non-believers, and were having complications due to their inabilities to get along, and do what was right.

We are living in an era of time where many Christians are saying things and doing things that align themselves more with the lost world – the unbelievers – and pulling away from God, and His word.  In order to get along with the world that is usually what happens.  It is the same as thinking you can take a clean bucket of water, and a bucket of mud, then thinking you can pour that water into the mud and make it come out clean.  That cannot happen.  What you end up with is muddy water.

We are dealing with Christian life and living.  When it comes to building a business and teaming up with someone to enter enterprise all parties should have the same moral standards, and like heart for what they do.  In marriage, the man and woman entering that lifetime commitment to one another should have a like passion and love for Christ; realizing Jesus Christ is central to their individual, and couple’s life together.  There are going to be enough difficulties in partnerships in business, and in marriages without adding the spiritual aspect to the situation.

If we will follow the Lord’s direction spoken through the apostle, then there will be fewer problems, and more love and peace.

When you team an ox with a donkey you will have problems.  The ox will be more consistent in pulling while the donkey may not be as reliable, and balk more often.

God has told us, “Come out from among them (the unbelievers), and be ye separate.”  He has also said, “Touch not the unclean thing.”  We are all unclean until we come to Christ.  If you are outside of Christ, then come to Him today.

The Burden of the Sermon

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

Many a man and woman have said something like this, “I live by the Sermon on the mount”.  My thought when I hear that, though I usually say nothing is, “O really.”  Do we think about what Jesus says in the sermon?  It is stronger than the law.  The law says, “Do not commit adultery”.  Jesus says, “If a man looks at a woman with lust he is guilty of adultery”.  Now tell me that you live by the Sermon on the Mount.

In the words of Jesus above Jesus is declaring that He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  He did not destroy them, or lay them aside, He is their fulfillment.  Jesus is what they spoke of and what they speak of.

When reading the Scriptures from Genesis through the Revelation we can see Jesus.  He is creating in Genesis 1, and He is finishing His great salvation in Revelation 22.

From the comma to the final period of the law, all will be fulfilled, and it will take place while there is a heaven and an earth.  All through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is a good thing.  True righteousness comes through the faith of Jesus Christ.  All the righteousnesses of sinful men is as filthy rags before holy God (Isaiah 64:6).  Our righteousness must come through the cross of Jesus.  It must be given us by God Himself.  Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we enter the kingdom of heaven.

Preacher for the People

Let me say this up front, then, you can and will decide if you want to finish reading this or not.  The preacher who preaches to please the people, the largest groups, does not please God.  The Preacher of God; the prophet of God preaches what God says, not what men say.  Having said that hear the prophet Micah…

“Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the LORD straitened? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Even of late My people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:6-11 (KJV)

Micah lived during some of, if not most of the time of Isaiah (See Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1); they were in the era of the same kings.  Isaiah had told the people…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceit… Isaiah 30:10

I have always heard that you can catch more flies with honey. I have always wondered why you would want to ruin good honey by catching flies in it.  Besides I am offended at the thought that a human being is thought of as a fly.  People with a mind, who can think.  People can see the peril they are headed toward if they are warned of it; and that is what a prophet/preacher of God actually does.  Remember this; God’s warnings are also God’s promises.  He does fulfill every word He speaks – the negative and the positive.

Let me give you a study note from the MacArthur Study Bible then I will close this lesson…

2:6-11  False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doings; they would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness.  Rather their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage  in social atrocities (vv. 8,9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10).  They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (cf. Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7-11.

Who will you listen to?

If you truly love Jesus the one who died for your sins, was buried and rose again; then you will listen to His words.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

Hard Hearted and Hard Headed

I must admit; I have been accused of being “Hard headed”.  I may have even been accused a few times of being “Hard hearted”, and at times I would probably agree that I can be both.  But I do pray that never toward God and His Word.

I have personal Christian convictions; not preferences which I will stand on til death if I must.  If that is hard headed, then so be it.  I can also be hard hearted; at least seemingly to others; in my actions and words toward people. I really do not intend to be.  If I am not hard at times I will weep, and seem weak.  I have said these things to point you toward some verses in Ezekiel, and God’s word to him concerning his message to the captives in Babylon.  Hear the word of the LORD…

‘And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”  Ezekiel 3:4-11 (KJV)

I have meant in no way to put myself along side this man of God, the prophet Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon along with the others of Judah.  He was a prophet in captivity with his people, and was to preach to them; to call them back to God while being held by the enemy.  His purpose was to call them to repentance and to GOD.

The Lord GOD was telling him that this was a hard hearted, hard headed people, and He was going to make the prophet so as well; only to stand against the ungodliness of the people.  In the people they were refusing to hear the word of God, even after seeing the word of the LORD fulfilled by their city being overthrown, their king taken captive, his sons killed before his eyes, and them dragged against their will to Babylon.  Now, Ezekiel was to prepare them for the years ahead.  Captives in a foreign land; and they were not going to listen to God “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”

When Christians are captive in an evil society we must hear the word of God over the words of men.  When we refuse to hear the words of judgment, and only listen to the words of promise we refuse it all.  The words of judgment are also words of promise.  If God said it; it will come to pass.

Let us; those of us who call ourselves “Christian” or “Born again” be hard hearted toward those who reject the word of God; and be hard headed for the word of God, loving God more than we do things or people.  If we care more for what people say or think of us, than we do God; then we are loving people more than we love God, and His Son Jesus.  Do you love Jesus Christ and His word more than you do the thoughts of humankind?

You better change your heart and mind.

Forsaken for a Moment; Honored with Glory

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, O You that inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You: they trusted, and You did deliver them. They cried unto You, and were delivered: they trusted in You, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him. But You are He that took Me out of the womb: You did make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from the womb: You are My God from My mother’s belly.” Psalm 22:1-10 (KJV)  Please read all of Psalm 22.

I can remember the first time I read this with my eyes open by the Spirit of God.  It was a moment of awakening, and I remembered when Jesus spoke these words of the first verse as He was hanging and dying accursed on the cross of Calvary.  See Matthew 27:46, and  Mark 15:33-34.

Though these words were penned down by David, the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) they were spoken by God from the ages past when he determined from the foundation of the world to send His Son Jesus to bleed and die to pay for the redemption of mankind.

Every time I read the gospels and especially of the trial, judgment, beating, humiliation, and nailing of Jesus to that cross I find myself weeping.  To know that the Almighty God; the All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Present and Immutable GOD could love me.  For many years following my salvation, coming to Jesus as my Lord and Savior I questioned His love for me.  I even doubted it at times; but in the not too distant past I came to realize His love so deep, so marvelous, so powerful, so consuming, that I no longer question, neither do I doubt God’s love for me or anyone else.

How much does God love the world?  How much does God love you?  So much that He gave the best He had to save, to redeem  us, to call us to Himself.  He gave us His Son, His only begotten Son.  His holy Son.  His Son Jesus was without sin–without spot or blemish; and He willingly laid down His life for our sin.

Now the question is;  What will you do with Jesus?

The Approaching Enemy

Are you fearful?  Does it seem as though the enemy is coming in around you? Do you feel surrounded by your troubles, trials, and fears?

Sometimes we all have them, and we deal with them the best way we know how, but often, the last thing we do is seek the Lord.  We need to remember, always, that He is not a spare tire, which we only use when we need it.

There was a prophet in the land of Israel who was in touch with God.  He even told the king of Israel where the Syrian [enemy] camp was located, and they would defeat the Syrians.  The Syrian king gave orders to find Elisha, but the prophet was not fearful; however the young servant of Elisha was afraid.  Hear the words of Elisha to the young man…

“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.’ 2 Kings 6:16-17

Fear is an often mentioned topic in Scripture. I have heard said, that the phrase “Fear not” or “Be not afraid” or other similar ones are used 365 times from Genesis through the Revelation.  If so that would be one for each day of the year.

The story of Elisha and his servant is a marvelous one.  It is an encouraging event in Biblical history which has fascinated me, and others for many centuries, and millennial.   In the servants fear God opened the man’s eyes so that he could see that God was with them.

The child of God need never wonder in doubt about the presence of God.  God sent His Son Jesus.  He is called Emmanuel meaning “God with us”, and this One went to the cross as the atonement for the sins of mankind; so that we might always be in the presence of God.

Are you fearful today?  Look into God’s word.  Believe God and His word.  Trust His Son Jesus for salvation.  Turn from your sin to Him.  He is with you.

In looking at this event I thought of the Proverb which says…

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  Proverbs 16:7

Please the LORD by coming to His Son Jesus.  He is the Son of God, God the Son.

Great and Awesome GOD

What happens when we do not fear God?  Do we really want an answer?  I will answer it.  We will fear everything else, and be crippled by that fear even though there is only a perceived notion, or a shadow in the darkness ahead.  BOO!

This is something the LORD has been revealing to me for the past few years.  If I fear God, there is absolutely nothing I need to fear.  If I do not fear God, then I will fear every thing, every dark shadow around me.  I have noticed the “Fear not” passages and the “Do not be afraid” ones too.  The Almighty does not desire that we be fearful, and when we are walking with Him there is nothing to fear.

Hear what the LORD says to the children of Israel when they were near to crossing into the Promised Land…

“If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; the great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed. Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a Mighty God and Terrible. And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.” Deuteronomy 7:17-22 (KJV)

If you will notice verse 21 (you will need your Bible to figure that out) says, “Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.”  The phrases “Mighty God and terrible” are translated “Great and awesome” in the NKJV.  I have always love the word “Awesome”.  I think it is greatly overused.  There is no one individual I know that is “Awesome” – except Jesus my Lord and Savior.

God’s instruction to the people was not to fear the people of the Land they were about to enter.  He is the Great and Awesome GOD.  There is none like Him.  There is none beside Him.  Anything man has made and declared a deity is set for destruction.  GOD is set forever.

The Psalmist has written…

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” and  “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” Psalm 56:3, 11

Yes there are fears that will come our way, but the Christ honoring, God fearing believer will turn that fear to faith, will trust and believe the LORD is with us; and not fear what lies ahead; neither what is behind us.

This kind of faith comes through the faith of Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.  If you have not trusted Him you have much to fear; not the least of which is being outside the will and way of God.

Jesus Through the Bible – The Scapegoat

Scapegoat “A person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.” From Dictionary.com We hear the word “Scapegoat” many times. Someone was a scapegoat for an evil political action that was done, or something of that order. Someone was a scapegoat for a bad business decision, etc.

There is, however, a certain “Scapegoat” mentioned in Scripture. This scapegoat gives us a picture of Jesus Christ; at least a picture of His work on the cross, and His burial. In Leviticus we read…

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:7-10

The first goat was to be a sin offering which would bear the sins of the sins of Aaron and his house (Leviticus 16:6), and they were to “cast lots” to determine which goat was to be the sin offering, and which was to be the scapegoat. I want us to deal with the scapegoat, though we must understand they are both necessary for this part of redemption. We do not often picture a goat as having redeeming qualities; but let us see the goat as representing the sin which our Saviour bore on the cross.

The sin offering died, thus through Christ sin was put to death (Also read Romans 6:1-16), it has no more power over those who are the redeemed. Sin also lays on us death, sin, guilt, condemnation, and O, such sorrows. The scapegoat was taken alive into the wilderness to never be seen again.

When the child of God has laid on her or him these condemnations; then we must remember that all our sins were laid on Him who died, was buried; and in His burial He carried all our sin, death, shame, guilt and condemnation away, and He arose bodily alive, victorious over all of death’s vices.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, God incarnate became on the cross the very thing which He and His Father hated: Sin (2 Corinthians 5:21); was judged by the Father; the Father resurrected Him, and by His resurrection we are raised with Him. Cleansed, forgiven, and in fellowship with God for now and all eternity.

The Fight in Spiritual Warfare

 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.” Daniel 10:1-9 (KJV)

 Daniel 10:1-21

 There are wars in our world today. That is no profound statement I realize that, but it is none the less true. We grieve over the wars that have been fought  in Iraq, what is going on in Syria, and many other places; and the young soldiers who are dying, civilians dying, women and children included in that. No war is pleasant. It is not really pleasant to even speak of. Sometimes, as bad as it is, wars are necessary to stand against what is evil. I do not think any one in their right mind would say that, “The attack of September 11, 2001 was not an attack from evil“.

Ever since the beginning of man; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we have come under attack from evil. The world is still under the domain of the chief of all evil and that is the devil. He still has his demons working and influencing the leaders of the world, but all his work and efforts will be to no avail. The devil and his demons are a defeated foe. They were defeated on the cross where Jesus died and conquered evil there. Proof of that is in that He rose from the dead.

There is a warfare which we as Christians are fighting today. Some will say, “You said that Jesus had conquered evil, why are we still fighting a war against it?” Jesus did conquer evil, and that is part of the glory of the matter. We need to remember that we are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from the victory. “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

Paul the apostle told us…

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” Eph. 6:10-12 (KJV).

Paul also tells us that…

“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” 2 Cor. 10:4 (KJV).

Daniel was finding out about spiritual warfare.

AS WE LOOK AT THE TIME THAT DANIEL HAD THIS EXPERIENCE (v. 1). It was approximately two years after Cyrus had made the decree that the captives of Jerusalem could return to their homeland. In the book of Ezra we read,

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem” Ezra 1:1-3 (KJV).

This event takes place a few years following the events of chapter 9, because we see at the beginning of chapter nine that it took place during the first year of Darius of the Medes.

It could be that Daniel may have written the document that gave the Israelites permission to return to Jerusalem. Remember Daniel was in the court of the king, so this may have been his responsibility.

THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF DANIEL’S MOURNING (vv. 2-3). It is not told us what it was that caused Daniel to mourn, specifically. We do know that it had been approximately two years since the decree had gone out for the people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.

News had most likely came back to Daniel of the trying circumstances of the 50,000 Hebrews who returned to the land. There were other Hebrews who had never left who were mocking those who had returned, and were hindering the work of the temple. There was a spiritual battle raging in Jerusalem.

Daniel’s heart was greatly burdened. He was so burdened – maybe for a couple of reasons; First, he may have been burdened for the people’s circumstances in Jerusalem – the work had been hindered and stopped (Ezra 4:1-6). Secondly, Daniel was probably burdened to better understand the prophecies he had received. It is quite possible the battle in Jerusalem over the building of the temple is the scene of the battle between the angelic being (vv. 13 & 20). It seems to relate to an ongoing battle (v. 13b “…I remained there with the kings of Persia”, said the angel. Daniel, in fact, had spent 21 days in mourning and fasting, because of his sorrow, and desire to get God’s direction and will. The prayer was heard on the first day, but due to the spiritual battle Daniel endured in prayer and fasting until he received answer.

Fasting seems to have been an almost forgotten practice. Private fasting, where there is no self aggrandizement, is a practice that Christians need to begin practicing in order to be overcomers in the life of faith.

Let us never forget to pray for our nation’s leaders. It could very well be that there are evil spirits directing the hearts of evil men and hindering the works of godly men. In fact the Bible is clear about that. Let us always beware to never pray to angels nor worship them – they are servants of God and servants to us as well. We are to worship and pray to God alone.

DANIEL’S PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH THE LORD (vv. 4-9). The appearance of this “…Certain man” seems to be almost identical to the description given of Jesus in the Revelation…

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:“ Rev 1:12-17 (KJV).

It is because of this that many, including myself see this ‘certain man’ as a Christ phony – a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. It would be similar to His appearance in the fiery furnace with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. This revelation took place while Daniel was walking by the river Hiddekel. Sometimes when one becomes burdened a walk in a place of quietness brings the best encounters with God. What an encounter it was. This is the first time Daniel has a personal visit from our Lord, at least that is recorded.

Even though they did not see the One whom Daniel saw, the men with Daniel fled and hid, because they realized something was going on and it was too great for them to stay around (vv. 7-8). The vision was so awe-inspiring Daniel had no strength. He heard His voice. Being so weakened and overcome by His presence Daniel went into a deep sleep. We should in no way consider this “deep sleep” as bad on Daniel’s part. From the excitement he may have blacked out and lost consciousness. Sometimes it is when our minds are resting in the Lord we are renewed, refreshed, and revived. NOTE, Daniel’s position “…My face toward the ground.” Most likely this “deep sleep” was probably the same type “deep sleep” God put on Adam when He created Eve”. So it was a God induced sleep.

DANIEL IS TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL (vv. 10-21). It does not say it clearly but most likely the hand that touched Daniel was the hand of Gabriel the angel who had spoken to him previously (8:16; 9:20-23).

NOTICE: The words this angel speaks to Daniel; “…A man greatly beloved” is spoken twice in this chapter (vv. 11 & 19) and one other time in the previous chapter (9:23). He says, “Fear not” twice (vv. 12, 19). “Peace be unto thee”, and “Be strong, be strong”. A double admonition.

Why Daniel prayed for twenty one days – the Spiritual Warfare. The angel was hindered by the “prince of Persia”. This could not have been a mere man which the angel of God was battling. It had to have been a “demon angel” appointed by satan over the kingdom of Persia. If Daniel had quit praying this ‘prince of Persia’ could have won the battle. Let us never cease praying for God’s will to be accomplished in His people and in the governments of men. Because of Daniel’s unceasing, fervent prayer the angel came with an answer. Delayed prayers are FAITH TESTING and FAITH BUILDING prayers. Daniel was touched three times by the angel (vv. 10, 16, and 18).

There are some who believe that this whole encounter was with the pre-incarnate Christ. It cannot be – because Jesus would not need the help of Michael. Jesus could, but speak the word, “Be gone” and that demon would flee. There is no doubt in my mind that from verses ten through verse 21 the one who touched Daniel was an angel, and most likely Gabriel, who had spoken to him previously.

The angel came to give Daniel understanding of what the “latter days” held for the Hebrews, and Gentile nations.

The angel speaks of returning to battle the ‘prince of Persia’. He tells Daniel that the ‘prince of Greece’ is on the way. It almost seems the angel encourages Daniel to keep praying. PLEASE REREAD EPHESIANS 6:10-18.

The powers of darkness are at work in the world, its governments, plotting, scheming, deceiving, seeking to steal, to kill, and to destroy all that is godly, holy and righteous.  Let us as the Church of Jesus Christ keep praying too. Let’s pray for forgiveness of our own sin, confess them and repent. Let’s pray for those who are lost. Jesus is coming soon.

MARANATHA.

The Kingdom That Will Never Fall

Daniel 7:9-28

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:9-14 (KJV)

THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF THE SON OF MAN (vv. 9-14). The phrase “Ancient of Days” most likely refers to God the Father. The thrones of men will be “cast down” and God will be exalted above the governments of men. Here is a scene where Daniel describes the Father. “AWESOME.” Would be a great word to use.

We see Daniel in the passage of Scripture watching, in the vision, until the ‘thrones were cast down’. It is most assuredly the thrones of those who exalt themselves against the ‘Stone cut out without hands’, and try to defeat Him. It is their thrones which are cast down. It is the throne of the Father and the Son which will be exalted.

The “rest of the beasts” of verse 12 seem to apply to governments that remain after the Great White Throne Judgment; these would not have participated in an uprising against the appearing of the Son of Man (Jesus). Dominion and glory, and a kingdom will be given unto Him that will be everlasting. It shall never pass away. COME LORD JESUS.

KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING; YET TROUBLED (vv. 15-28). There are a lot of things Daniel did not understand, and he was troubled by them. He is troubled that sin is going to grow and grow and become worse. Would that sin would so trouble the people of God today. It should grieve us to know that sin is progressing and getting worse and worse. It is one day going to work its way out; unto the destruction of sin. “One of them that stood by” (v. 15) is probably an angel. This one gave Daniel the meanings.

There is assurance here that the kingdoms of men will fail and God’s people will reign (v. 18). The evil one has at times prevailed against the ‘saints’ down through history. During the time that is called the Tribulation many saints will be killed for their faith. These are Tribulation saints – people who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Most times in these cases they will be showing their love for the Lord with their lives. One day the ‘Ancient of Days’ is going to give power of rule of earth to the saints and will possess the kingdom (v. 22).

Before the ‘Ancient of Days’ comes, though, there will be much trouble (vv.23-25). This final beast will rise up in the last days and speak against the truth of God’s Word. There will be a world wide kingdom which the evil one will rule. He will bring harmony between all the world’s religions. He will bring in a world wide economy. He will bring ‘peace’ in the land of ‘Palestine’. He will make himself god. In the last three and one half years of his rule he will become vicious; you might even say indescribable.

He shall not stand. He shall fall and at the Great White Throne of Judgment will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire which burns forever and forever.

The kingdom will be given to God’s saints. It will be an everlasting kingdom.

In these days of the twenty first century we also see troubling things. Let us simply believe that God and His Son Jesus will accomplish everything He has spoken. He will. We do not know how, or when God will bring these things to pass, but He will.

We can rest assured the Holy God of all creation will not tolerate a blasphemer who exalts himself over the throne of God. That man, beast, devil, or what ever he be will stand before the Judgment of the throne of God.

There is redemption for all, today, who will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. He paid our sin debt by His shed blood – giving His life – was buried carrying our sin away; and He rose showing us the victory of the cross, and giving the promise, to those who trust Him, of eternal life with Him. There is a Bridegroom coming for His Bride [the Church]; and there is a Judge (His name is Jesus) coming to separate the sheep from the goats. Be part of the Bride by trusting Jesus.

A Hand, The Writing on the Wall, and A Frightened King,

Daniel 5:1 – 12

“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.” Daniel 5:5-9 (KJV)

 Belshazzar was most likely the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and was the ruler of the city of Babylon, not the Babylonian empire. His father would have been ruler of the empire – he second in command under his father.

At this time, it has been estimated that Daniel was 82 years of age. Since Belshazzar does not know who Daniel it seems to indicate two things 1) Belshazzar’s ignorance or uncaring about the things that have happened in the past, and/or 2) Daniel had had not recent use in the kingdom.

THE PARTY THAT ENDED THE LIFE OF A KINGDOM AND A KING (vv. 1-4). There was a whole lot of riotous living going on in the palace on this night. It is said that when kings of this period had a drinking going on they left the women out of it. At this party, however, there were wives, concubines, and various kinds of women; which made this a party of debauchery .

It seemed to get so out of hand the king [Belshazzar] elevated the gods of Babylon over the God of all things. This was when he called for the vessels of God’s temple which had been taken from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar many years before. Nebuchadnezzar had also proclaimed that the people of Babylon was to respect, and revere the God of Israel. “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” Daniel 3:29 (KJV).

The thing that had taken place on this vital evening was blasphemy and idolatry which was the ‘last straw’ with God. God’s purpose for Babylon had reached its peak, now they would be brought to their knees, and Belshazzar would die.

Playing with the things of God which are holy will bring judgment. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). There is an terrible lot of playing around with godly things, and making what is holy vile and ugly. An example of that is the attempt to legally marry people of the same gender. Marriage is a holy institution ordained by God. It is a party of the vile, godless, and unholy seeking to make it approved by God and man. It will never be approved by God, but will bring down judgment. Do not mess around with the holy things of God.

GOD’S WARNING, A FRIGHTENED KING, AND HIS SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE (vv. 5-12). Even in a kingdom such as Babylon and its chief city the LORD gives warning, but the ‘king’ is completely ignorant of the God of Israel; most likely willfully so. The prophet Amos wrote, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealed His secret unto His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7), but Belshazzar knew no prophet.

A hand appears and is writing on the wall during the party – at least the party that use to be – which, of course, causes great alarm in the heart of the king. It would probably seem that there was an emergency sobering effect upon the thousand or so who were in attendance. All attention went to the wall where the hand with no body was writing; the playing, drinking, the noise all ceased. You could probably hear the proverbial pin drop. It got really quiet.

Belshazzar’s knees “smote one against the other” he was terribly frightened – he surely must have known his time was up. His rule was over. His life was over. He then calls the most spiritually inept people there were in the kingdom – the same ones his grandfather called upon many years ago before he humbled himself to the God of all gods. He receives a recommendation from his mother – she remembers the history of Nebuchadnezzar.

The handwriting on the wall is there for us to see. It is there and should strike fear into the hearts of all who make a mock at sin, and those who love the Lord and His Word. It is written in the pages of the ages, “Be sure your sin will find you out”, and that is God’s handwriting on the wall for all to see. THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL today is the pages of holy writ, the Bible, the Word of God. You can read it, accept it, believe it, and live by it trusting the Lord of the Word and His finished work on Calvary’s cross, or you can reject it and die.

The Mockery Of A King; And The Reaction Of The Faithful

“Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:13-18 (KJV)

THE KING’S MOCKERY OF GOD AND THE BOLD STAND OF THE FAITHFUL (vv. 13-18).

The decree has gone out, “Bow before this image, or burn”. Everyone has, with the exception of three Hebrew youth. The king hears that his decree has been shunned by three. He becomes angry. Did you ever think that the one who turned them in for their apparent insolence could have been one of those ‘wise men’ who could not reveal the dream, thus became jealous of these Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar mocks the God of all creation.

Take a look now at the one’s who were bold people of faith. Their minds were made up (v. 16) – they would not bow – no compromise; no need for empty talk – they would not bow.

They knew God could deliver them, but even if not – they still would not bow. They had rather burn for God, and let the light of their burning shine throughout eternity, than bow to an idol. And, God still has the flame that could not harm them burning as an example today. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name. Amen. Do Christians have that kind of faith today. We know there are some, especially, if we are familiar with The Voice of the Martyrs ministry located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They share stories each month in their Newsletter/magazine “THE VOICE OF THE MARTYRS” of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are suffering for their faith. Facing persecution from their governments, if they refuse to give up preaching Christ or holding worship services. In the face of that kind of opposition they continue. God bless them. May we have that kind of faith.

The so called, “FAITH MOVEMENT” says God wants to bless you with material things, and if you are not it is due to sin in your life. What happens when things are gone? God will bless you with Good health, if you rid sin (negative thoughts and influences) from your life. What happens when health is gone? Are we only trusting God when we are blessed? That is the height of idolatry, not faith in the One true and living God. May God forgive those who teach such heresy.

When you are called on to stand for your faith will you bow under the butcher’s axe or before the idol of comfort and love for life?

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had determined before hand, that they would not worship this image. How could they make that pre-determined decision and stick with it. There is one thing for sure, and that is, that they had prayed, and were continuing to pray. I do not think the Scriptures need tell us that; it is just simply evident, by their previous examples.

How can Christians today stand in the face of such trial? Only by maintaining a continuing fellowship with God in prayer, in His Word, and by being faithful in everyday living.  In a land and/or culture where everything is viewed as good, and right, except the truth; those who know Jesus, trust Him, and live by it need to continue to believe, trust and live by the truth.  Even when the kings, tyrants, despots, and rulers make new laws against us.  We must stand on the laws of God, and His word.  Just because something is “Legal” does not mean it is right.

The three Hebrews would not bow – even though it meant being cast “alive” into a hot fiery furnace. There are many professing Christians today who will not give up their comfort to be faithful to Christ by living right or giving up ten percent of their income as a tithe of their income, because they “Can’t afford it”. They can afford to get a new car, new house, or go on vacation to a new place. They just simply do not love God, and in the day of their trial by fire; they will not be faithful, because they have not pre-determined, by faith, to stand.

A GOD Sized Challenge

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 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. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.“ Daniel 1:8-16 (KJV).

The question has recently been asked, “What is the big deal about character?” The person who has character [good character] is a person who can be trusted. Daniel and his comrades could very easily have thought, “Well! Mom and Dad are not here. Who is going to know?” Character is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. You do your work when the boss is watching, and when he is not. You are faithful to your wife at home and away from home – when you are with her and when you are without her. You are faithful to God while at home, and you are faithful to God when you are on vacation.

These young men were of faithful character. They, Daniel speaking for all four, refused to eat the defiled, rich food of the king. They were not obstinate, nor rebellious about it. Showing wisdom they presented an alternative. They requested that their menu be tested against the menu of the other 66 chosen youth; and were given a period of ten days.

Their food would be water to drink, and “PULSE – a KJV word for vegetables, or edible seeds – a simple diet that Daniel and his friends requested instead of the rich dishes offered by the Babylonians (Daniel 1:12, 16; vegetables, NKJV)” NELSON’S NEW ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY. “Pulse (seeds) usually means peas, beans, and the seeds that grow in pods. In the Authorized Version it occurs only in Daniel 1:12, 16, as the translation of words the literal meaning of which is ‘seeds’ of any kind. Probably the term denotes uncooked grain of any kind, as barley, wheat, millet, vetches, etc.” SMITH’S BIBLE DICTIONARY. This could be any vegetable or grains. These items are nourishing and filling. Water is the best substance you can drink – in its pure form.

What Daniel and the other three had done took courage, and much faith. They were willing to die for their faith; but only because they were willing to live for their God. It is easy to note that Daniel’s purpose in this was to glorify The LORD. There is no way possible he could actually known the outcome, except by faith.

At the end of the ten days Melzar saw that the countenance of the four men was superior to that of the other sixty six, and began feeding them the ‘pulse’ always. They did not defy their faith; they did not cause harm to Melzar or others; and God was glorified.

We as Christians must be sure to stand for our faith. If there is a way to do it without causing harm to others, then, we must take that route; if there is no other way; yet, we must stand. In any case we must seek the glory of God above all else.

In this world we must endeavor to live solely for Christ, while we at the same time are to be a witness of the power of God in our lives. Christians should be the best in their jobs, in education, in medicine, in science, in technology, etc. God gives knowledge and wisdom to those who do His will.

Though this was written in September of 2006 it is still needed today.