They Called Them to The Most High

“And My people are bent to backsliding from Me: though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt Him.” Hosea 11:7 (KJB)

The prophet is speaking of the people of Israel. Their hearts were set on turning from the Lord GOD. Yet, God in His great mercy and grace was set on redeeming them.

He called prophets who would teach them, deliver them, and warn them of the path of rejection and rebellion they were walking, living in.

I must be honest with you, that for me, and I believe every Christian; one of the easiest things for us to do is to go our own way. To worship God, and Him alone takes a devoted, undivided heart for God, and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

That is why it is a necessity to be a faithful student of the word of God – the Bible.  We must be people who see it as our necessary diet for daily strength.  When we get in His Word, and it through the Holy Spirit gets into us God makes us a different and powerful person for the glory of the Lord.

Father, turn Your backsliden people back to You.  May we all turn our eyes upon Jesus Christ, His death on the cross for our sins, His burial carrying away all our sin, our shame, and condemnation, and His resurrection; and knowing that He lives is evidence that we too shall live with Him forever.

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah (5)

Your Own Wickedness

 

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:14-19

Knowing the Judgment of God

“Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? Shall he turn away, and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the LORD.” Jeremiah 8:4-7 (KJV)

Along about Spring, and usually days before the official arrival of Spring, Robins begin showing up in our backyard. A while before Spring the bald eagle leaves, and is not seen until about October in our backyard. It is amazing how one can learn from God’s creation and created order. My how much we can learn from what we call “Nature”.

The prophet being used by the LORD speaks of three different birds of the Palestinian area. The stork, the turtle dove, the crane, and the swallow. They are all what we might call migratory birds, which show up in the Spring, then probably in the Autumn of the year they fly away to a suitable climate for the rest of the year.

How is it that these birds, and others like them know when to go? It is given them by their Creator. We call it “Instinct”; but it is a God-given instinct. They know.

The lesson Jeremiah is giving us, and the question being asked is this: Since the birds know their timing for going; why do God’s people not know the judgments of the LORD? We can be under God’s discipline, and justice, and blame it on weather activity, or inactivity. We experience great numbers of animal attacks on humans, and we call it a “Freak of an animal”, or “animal anxiety” or something, but never the judgment of God.

Humankind is blind to the judgment of God. It has been upon us because we have turned our backs on God, and His Son Jesus. Let me tell you something about the judgment, or justice of God. In Washington, D.C. stands and idol unto “Lady Justice”, she is blindfolded with a set of scales in her hands; symbolizing to us that our justice is blind; meaning it is supposed to be fair to all. Well! God’s justice is much different. He judges with His eyes wide open, and it is just still. Just as He judges with His eyes open; He also forgives with His eyes wide open.

When God judged our sins upon His Son; His eyes were open. When we come to Him broken and contrite (and that is the only way we can approach Him), seeking forgiveness He forgives with His eyes wide open.

We do not have to fear the judgment of God; today’s, tomorrow’s or in eternity. We/You can seek His forgiveness today through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ His only, holy and blessed Son.

Corrected By Your Own Sins

In our world today we hear parents saying things like, “I want the best for my children”, or “I will do whatever I can to protect them from harm”, while at the same time let them live in immorality. Even letting the “Make up their own minds concerning morality or religion.” Parents putting their daughters on birth control pills, so they will not get pregnant is one good example of what I refer. Another is the new vaccine which supposedly protects young girls from getting a cancer which can only be contracted by sexual intercourse prematurely. That is another example.

One of the things I have noticed about God is that He does not prevent us from sinning, in most situations. He does let our sin cause us grief and sorrow.

Therefore do parents do their children good by trying to protect them from means that should teach them responsibility.? It is my belief that it is harmful to their eternal well being to try and protect them from the means that could be used to bring them to God, or to become right in fellowship with Him

Here is God’s Word from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled?  The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.  Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.  Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor; or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.”  Jeremiah 2:14-19 (KJV)

God is not as concerned for our physical health or wealth as He is our holiness. He despises sin and wickedness. He despises even more His own people turning away from Him. When we look to other means for safety, such as the people in the prophet’s day were doing in “Take(ing) the road to Egypt…” and “…the road to Assyria” we have turned from the Lord our God.

God is greatly grieved when His own people turn from Him to serve other gods, which are not gods, but only stone, wood, metal, or flesh. Why would the people of God do such a thing? One of the things that was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day was they had grown comfortable, wealthy, fat, and satisfied with themselves. They had the attitude, “We can never fall. We are a God blessed nation. We have the temple of God, and He will never let anything happen to it”.

I look around our Nation today, and I see much of that same attitude. Even though there is the imminent threat of terrorists infusion, bombings, and destruction we still are not trusting our Lord. We have placed more confidence in our economy, our bank account, our government, but where is our faith in God?

Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 we have been under the merciful hand of God. Our Nation has not been attacked within our borders since that time. Is that because of our great government, our President, our wonderful Congress, and Senate? No way. It is due to the mercy and grace of God. However, that mercy and grace protecting us from terrorists attack will be removed. It has been the hand of God. He has been calling us back to Himself, and giving time for others to come to Him. That time may soon be over, then we will see the worst of terrorism.

Our own wickedness, our own backslidings will correct us. God gave a message to the two and one half tribes of Israel who were to settle on the East side of Jordan. After telling they they were to go and give aid to their brethren who were going to settle on the West side, He said through Moses,

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”  Numbers 32:23 (KJV)

If your life is filled with fear; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are trusting in things, or government for security; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are looking to any thing other than to God; your own sins will correct you. If you are His He will make you holy, and He will do whatever it takes to make you so.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Day 63 – A Bad Marriage and Restoration

How would you describe a “Bad Marriage”?  For some men it might be described as “Having a wife that does not do what I tell her”.  That would be domineering, power crazed husband.  To some women it could be having a husband who “doesn’t put his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper”.  Men, how would you feel if you had an unfaithful wife?  How would you feel if every time you turned around she was hanging out at the brothel, and participating with the prostitutes?

Most men would cry “Foul!” on that one I am sure.  Women frown on a husband who takes on multiple women too.  Women like their men to be faithful too.  It is, as a matter of fact, part of the Marriage vows, to have no other.  That goes for the husband and the wife.

My reading this morning was Hosea 3 – 14 and Joel 1-3.  Hosea was a prophet who was told by God to marry “wife of whoredoms”.  Now this is a little difficult to understand seeing how God forbade his men from marrying unclean women.  However, we do see God in some places telling His prophets to do strange, and unusual things.  Isaiah was to parade “naked” through the streets (Isaiah 20).  He had Ezekiel laying on his side for several days eating food prepared with cow dung, and had first told him to use human dung (Ezekiel 4).  Now God tells Hosea to marry a whore.

Hosea is to be a picture of Israel’s departure from the LORD.  Israel has committed adultery, whoredom against God, and God in His love, mercy and grace calls out for them to come back to Him.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.   And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)

I realize this was not part of my reading today, but it is part of Hosea.  If you will, remember the “valley of Achor”.  It was the place where Achan had hidden contraband under his tent and brought judgment upon the nation of Israel after they had conquered Jericho (Joshua 7 and look at verse 26).  You could even say of the word “allure” above that God had in mind, “romancing” Israel back to Himself.  He has loved her with an everlasting love.  What better romance can that be?

I have heard the prophecy of Hosea referred to as the Old Testament’s “gospel of John”, particularly “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

One of the things we can see in the reading of Hosea is that God does not love blindly.  You have heard the phrase, “Love is blind”.  God’s love is not blind.  I believe it is in front of our National Justice Department that there is an statue of what is often referred to as “Lady Justice” (Probably showing my ignorance here), and it is of a woman holding scales in her hands while blind folded; giving us a picture of justice being blind.  God’s love nor justice is blind.  He loves seeing clearly the sins, faults and failures of the one He loves.  He judges justly as well without a blind fold.

That is what makes His love so powerful and wonderful.  He loves despite our sin.

God says to Israel through the prophet Hosea,

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him.  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.   His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” 14:4-7

Yes!  You could say Hosea had a “Bad Marriage”, but he also followed God’s plan and restored that marriage.  It was based on open eyes, seeing clearly, and loving his bride anyway; alluring her back to himself.  What a wonderful, holy, love.

The gift of Christ on the cross is the marvelous gift of God’s wonderful love.  Jesus Christ bore our iniquities on His cross, took our sins upon Himself, and paid the price that was owed to God for our sins.  By His bodily resurrection we are justified by God forever.  You cannot find a stronger love than that.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 54 – Judged by Sin

I find it very sad that so many have tried to change the definition of Biblical sin.  According to God’s Word – the Bible – sin is a transgression of God’s law.  Sin is failure to measure up to God’s glory; His requirements of the law.  Nowadays, we hear things like, “Sin is whatever keeps me from achieving my personal goals”; or “Sin is when somebody else does me wrong”.  So there is a wrong?  Who determines what is wrong or right?  You?  There is one absolute gauge for what is right and wrong; and that is God and His Word.

If God says it was a sin in the Old Testament; it is still a sin in the New Testament; and today.  When I say that I am not speaking of Old Testament rituals, sacrifices, and offerings; but the moral issues having to do with the way we live our lives.

My reading this morning was finishing the prophet Isaiah 63 – 66 and Jeremiah 1 – 10.

Isaiah ends the messages of his prophetic writings with wonderful words of a great and glorious future for Israel, and the world; for those who will trust and believe in the LORD.  Jeremiah begins his prophecy telling about his calling as a young man, his short debate with God about his inability to speak, and God’s promise to hasten to perform His word (1:12).  Jeremiah is told by God,

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV)

The prophet of God, or the preacher of God cannot afford to preach to appease the people, for fear of retribution from them.  He must preach what God declares unto him.  The prophecy of Jeremiah, like Isaiah is not all “doom and gloom”; there is also much promise and hope.  The first hope is that God is giving the people a chance to repent and change their ways; but they will not.  They are in love with their sins, and thus Jeremiah tells them,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” 2:19

The children of Israel/Judah have chosen their own way and will go into captivity because of it.  They have forsaken the LORD God and turned to the idols of foreign nations. They have even gone so far as to think that because the Temple is in Jerusalem then they are safe from destruction and captivity, but the prophet says to them –

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  ‘Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.  ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Trust ye not in lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.'” 7:1-4

It could justly and rightly be said that what the children of Israel were practicing was plain ole hypocrisy.  Sure to “worship” the LORD on the sabbath day, but practicing the behaviors of foreign gods the other six days.  God created the heavens and the earth. He does not need a defiled place to worship Him.

Our hearts today should be like that of Jeremiah weeping for the people; why he is often called “The weeping prophet” –

“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” 9:1

We must be sure that our own sins are gone, cleansed, forgiven, and that we are walking with GOD daily.  Every moment of each day we need to be dependent upon the LORD God.  He is our Creator, our Strength, our Hope, and without Him we are nothing.  Weep for our own sins, and for the sins of those who perish; and pray for their redemption through the cross and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Shall Not Be Moved

The nation has been a wayward nation. It has deliberately turned its back on God, and served its own gods which are idols; a means of worshipping devils or demons. It is a sad thing for a nation, in this case the Northern kingdom to walk away from God. It is, however, joyous to see that God is gracious, forgiving and still He is just.

YaHWeH [God] has been calling the spiritually adulterating nation to repent. He has been pursuing her. God will have His way with His people. Let us never forget that. He will be glorified through His people as well.

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto Me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2 (KJV).

This call is clearly to Israel, the Northern kingdom. What is it to “return unto ME [the LORD]”? It is clear from these verses what the LORD expects. “Put away thine abominations…” is one of the clearly sought after things of the LORD. According to Strong’s the word “Abominations” has to do with the filth of idolatry.

 H8251shiqqu^ts shiqqu^ts; shik-koots’, shik-koots’; From H8262; disgusting, that is, filthy; especially idolatrous or (concretely) an idol: – abominable filth (idol, -ation), detestable (thing).” From e-Sword.

You will notice that the word “disgusting” is used, and “abominable filth”. That only shows us the way God sees this adulterous relationship between His people and the gods of the nations. There must be a “Putting away” of all that is vile, unclean, detestable and idolatrous in God’s sight before there can ever be cleansing, renewal and a return to God. When will the people of God come to the place to learn that to depart from God is about the easiest thing we can do. It can happen just by dropping our attention away from the LORD, and putting it someplace else.

In calling the Northern kingdom to return God intends for a true repentance in returning; not as the Southern kingdom of Judah who gave acknowledgement by words, but not in action. Judah gave a lip service to the LORD, but in truth their hearts were far from Him. That is why earlier we see God referring to Judah as being treacherous (Jeremiah 3:11). God does not approve of hypocritical lip service or pretense. Even Jesus says, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Those who have a true love for our Lord do not serve Him to gain anything from Him; however we do serve Him with love knowing who he is, and because of His wonderful gift of grace.

Jehovah’s call to Israel to return is for them to turn from their sin, and to Him. We are to worship God and Him alone. There can be no honor given to other gods, which are not gods, but demonic representations of men’s desires. “If you will return, O Israel, then return to Me” is the desire of God’s heart. This could be for their return to God’s land from which they have been carried away captive. There will be no return to the land unless they return to Him could be the meaning.

return unto me; with thy whole heart, and not feignedly and hypocritically, as Judah did, Jer_3:10. Some render the words (and the accents require they should be rendered so) “if thou wilt return to me, O Israel, saith the Lord, thou shalt return” (l); that is, to thine own land, being now in captivity; or, “thou shalt rest” (m); or “have rest”; so Kimchi interprets the last word; see Jer_30:10, and these words may very well be considered as the words of Christ, and as spoken by him, when he entered upon his ministry, who began it with calling the people of the Jews to repentance, and promising to give them rest; and all such who return to God by repentance, and come to Christ by faith, find spiritual rest for their souls now, and shall have an eternal rest hereafter, Mat_4:17,” FROM JOHN GILLS EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, e-Sword edition.

 If you will put away these abominations, “Out of My sight” then you will not be moved from the promised place. God would speak to the prophet concerning the return of the people in seventy years (25:12; 29:10-14; Daniel 9:2). This time in captivity would be a time of chastisement, cleansing, and bring glory to the LORD. During this time the Babylonians and the Persians would mistreat the captives, and in this God would be glorified by His wrath and judgment upon the nations for thier evil doing on the people of Israel; both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

If you will now, notice what happens when the people do return. It is first to be a speedy return, ie., when they realize that they are away from God, they are not to merely speak of returning, but quickly return, and not to the land, but to God, then they will go to the land, after the seventy years have been fulfilled. When they have returned to the LORD, then they will “swear, ‘The LORD LIVES’…” This “swear[ing]” is more than an oath. It seems to be a very full and genuine heart change, realizing the greatness of the LORD our God. Strong’s gives us this concerning the word, “Swear”:

H7650 – sha^ba‛; shaw-bah’; A primitive root; properly to be complete, but used only as a denominative from H7651; to seven oneself, that is, swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times): – adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for H7646], take an oath, X straitly, (cause to, make to) swear. From e-Sword.

 The people of Israel will truly see the living LORD, and they will see that He is truth, and He is righteous in all His ways and truly just. When the nations of the world see what God has done for the people of God they will rejoice in Him, and “In Him they shall glory”. They will boast only of the LORD, and His greatness, they will celebrate in His glory, they will shine for His name. John the Revelator wrote,

 “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 21:22-27 (KJV).

 “And the nations…” is the phrase we need to see in the previous verses. The nations of the world; those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb; will gather in that new city, and will celebrate the glory of the Lord.

The word that is needed for our day of 2008 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” JESUS (Matthew 4:17). The LORD is calling for the return of those who have gone astray, serving false doctrine, false gods, and false christs. He is also calling those who have never known Him to call on the name of Jesus Christ, and He will save you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Married to a Backslider

Married To A Backslider

 

There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of treachery, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backslidden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backslidden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people do go astray. We do get out of the will of God, but God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in more complete agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backslidden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desperate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God. Don’t take this wrongly. This is not an invitation to do evil and wrong. We have been freed from such arrogance, and pride. Because we drag the carcass (Isaiah 5:18 ) of the flesh around with us, we have not laid it down yet, it is still a battle we face everyday.

For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

The Christian of our day (2008 ) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Returning Repentance

Returning Repentance

With the revelation of the pretensious treachery of Judah God again extends mercy to the northern kingdom of Israel. Though they had departed from God and since the departure from the southern kingdom, had never really had much worship and care for God they were not pretentious in their behavior. You will not find one righteous king among the people of Israel. Jereboam, the first king of Israel, it is said of Him, “Jereboam did not turn from his evil way…” (1 Kings 13:33). And, that is of all the kings of Israel.

One clear thing that we can see from this invitation from God through the prophet Jeremiah is that God hates pretention, hypocrisy, and He extends mercy to all.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:11-13 (NKJV).

It is amazing to me the number of people who have told me, and some I have heard of from others who do not believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. Right here is clear evidence of it. God is merciful, gracious, and loving in the Old Testament. He has always longed for His backsliding people to return to Him.

The northern kingdom got off in a backsliding agenda. Their first king, Jereboam set up two idols for them to worship, and keep the people from returning to Jerusalem. He set up a golden calf in Dan, and one at Bethel. None of the following kings had a heart for God and hated His prophets. They sacrificed their children in the fire. Worshipped many false gods, and were perverse in their behavior. Now God pleads with them to repent.

My, how God’s heart grieves for His people. He calls for repentance. Though it is not immediately seen God will accomplish His Word, and His people will return to Him. Hosea, the prophet had a wife who turned from him to pagan, idolatrous, prostitution, and worship of pleasure rather than the God of glory. Hosea pursues his wife, and this is the picture of God pursuing His nation of people to bring them back to Himself.

This was accomplished. The people who came back from the captivity of Babylon were a mixed people. People of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms returned together, and they have been one nation since that time. They were one nation in the time of Jesus. They will be one nation through all time.

When God calls for His people to repent He is calling for us to turn from going the wrong direction, ie., away from Him, and turn around and go with Him. No matter what we have done; no matter how evil and vile; no matter our guilt, or our associations; God’s call to return is still powerful and valid. If you have gotten out of His will; if you are still in your sins; if your life is in a real mess; and if your worship has grown cold; then His call to return to Him is for you. He asks only that you acknowledge your iniquity – that you had turned from Him to sin. He is merciful, will hear your cry, and will receive you back to a walk with Him. Coming to God is made possible through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His receiving the judgment of sin that was ours; by His burial, in that our sins were carried away; and it was sealed by the resurrection from the dead as evidence that all of God’s Word is true. Trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

We have all sinned. We all fall short of His glory, and yet He calls us to Himself. Repentance is Returning to God. Returning to God is Repentance.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Israel’s Backsliding

Israel’s Backsliding

God is loving, merciful and gracious. He has been with the northern kingdom of Israel, and with the southern kingdom of Judah. In His love, and His pursuit of His people, the rebellion, coldness, disobedience, and rebellion continue.

It is a shame that those who call themselves the people of God cannot see that they have departed from Him. They are a backsliden people. Hear the words of the prophet from God:

“The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.” Jeremiah 3:6-7 (NKJV).

The sin of Israel was their turning away from their worship of God alone, and they had started developing patterns consistent with pagan worshippers of false gods, even including their worship to false gods in their supposed worship to God. God has given very careful guidance in the true worship of Him. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”, and that means the worship of God, YHWH [YaHWeH] alone. To include others is to destroy true worship of the one true God.

They in effect have worshipped demons, rather than God;

“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…” Leviticus 17:7 (NKJV).

Paul writing to the Corinthians says,

“Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 (NKJV).

Worship directed to a Jesus who is not God is a false worship. Worship directed to anyone or anything that is not God is false worship.

Israel has sinned in their worship. It appears that there is more and more people who call themselves Christian who are also sinning in their worship. Their rebellion, disobedience, and adultery toward God must be repented of, seeking God’s forgiveness.

God has said to Israel, “Return to Me”. His call to the Church is the same; “Return to Me”. Be backsliding no more and return to God, and the holy and right worship through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Corrected By Your Own Sins

Your Own Sin and Wickedness Will Correct You

In our world today we hear parents saying things like, “I want the best for my children”, or “I will do whatever I can to protect them from harm”, while at the same time let them live in immorality. Parents putting their daughters on birth control pills, so they will not get pregnant is one good example of what I refer. Another is the new vaccine which supposedly protects young girls from getting a cancer which can only be contracted by sexual intercourse prematurely. That is another example.

One of the things I have noticed about God is that He does not prevent us from sinning, in most situations. He does let our sin cause us grief and sorrow.

Therefore do parents do their children good by trying to protect them from means that should teach them responsibility.? It is my belief that it is harmful to their eternal well being to try and protect them from the means that could be used to bring them to God, or to become right in fellowship with Him

Here is God’s Word from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he plundered? The young lions roared at him, and growled; They made his land waste; His cities are burned, without inhabitant. Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this on yourself,in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:14-19 (NKJV).

God is not as concerned for our physical health or wealth as He is our holiness. He despises sin and wickedness. He despises even more His own people turning away from Him. When we look to other means for safety, such as the people in the prophet’s day were doing in “Take(ing) the road to Egypt…” and “…the road to Assyria” we have turned from the Lord our God.

God is greatly grieved when His own people turn from Him to serve other gods, which are not gods, but only stone, wood, metal, or flesh. Why would the people of God do such a thing? One of the things that was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day was they had grown comfortable, wealthy, fat, and satisfied with themselves. They had the attitude, “We can never fall. We are a God blessed nation. We have the temple of God, and He will never let anything happen to it”.

I look around our Nation today, and I see much of that same attitude. Even though there is the imminent threat of terrorists infusion, bombings, and destruction we still are not trusting our Lord. We have placed more confidence in our economy, our bank account, our government, but where is our faith in God?

Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 we have been under the merciful hand of God. Our Nation has not been attacked within our borders since that time. Is that because of our great government, our President, our wonderful Congress, and Senate? No way. It is due to the mercy and grace of God. However, that mercy and grace protecting us from terrorists attack will be removed. It has been the hand of God. He has been calling us back to Himself, and giving time for others to come to Him. That time may soon be over, then we will see the worst of terrorism.

Our own wickedness, our own backslidings will correct us. God gave a message to the two and one half tribes of Israel who were to settle on the East side of Jordan. After telling they they were to go and give aid to their brethren who were going to settle on the West side, He said through Moses,

“But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23 (NKJV)

If your life is filled with fear; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are trusting in things for security; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are looking to any thing other than to God; your own sins will correct you. If you are His He will make you holy, and He will do whatever it takes to make you so.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Captured By Sin

Captured By Sin

The man of God must always we aware, alert, and ascribing worth to the Greater One, who is God. We often may not realize it but there are others who will be needing us to be the people of faith that we are. Our faith will be an inspiration to others. As the song says, “May those who come behind us find us faithful.” It will make a difference someday. It is as close as the next minute, hour, day, week, month and year.

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Genesis 14:1-12 (KJV)

Abraham was a watching man. After coming out of Egypt Abraham was a somewhat wiser man. He was still a man subject to sin, though. Rather than allowing a feud to brew; he had given Lot the choice of land. Lot chose what appeared to be the best land productively and beauteously.

We can see Lot’s casual backsliding progressively: 1) Lot saw the land; 2) Lot set his heart on the land and dwelled there; 3) Lot eventually moved into the city surrounded by perversity; 4) Lot’s family was corrupted (19:26, 33). Because of Lot’s identity with the flesh he suffered like the fleshly. He chose mammon over morality; godlessness over godliness; and bondage over freedom.

Abraham loved Lot greatly; afterall Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He must have been attentive about Lot and his condition – both physically and spiritually. He longed to hear any reports concerning his nephew

In these first twelve verses we can see that things were not as them may have seemed in “the plains of Jordan”. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah had rebelled against their ruling nation and king. Kings Bera of Sodom and, Birsha of Gomorrah and three other kings of surrounding cities had been subjects to the King named Chedorlaomer of Elam for a period of twelve years. In the next year they rebelled and would not pay their taxes and fees, etc.. After one year Chedorlaomer gathered three other kings and their armies, along with his, and went against the five kings. Lot was caught in the middle. Isn’t that what happens to those who want to ride along and just stay neutral – right down the middle? Lot was taken captive, just like the rest. Everything he possessed and his entire family were at the mercy of an angry and powerful king.

To Lot’s advantage he had an uncle who loved him, was praying for him, and was committed to his deliverance. There is someone who is being held captive by their sin – someone you know. They have just been riding on the coattails of the world, but now they cannot escape, and they desperately need your aid. You have been praying for them; you may have been watching them as they slipped deeper and deeper into sin, and farther and farther away from God. You tried many times to warn them, but to no avail. Now they are captive, cannot escape, and only you can come to their aid. Only you have the faith, the vision of God to free them. Do it.

Backsliding Lot

Backsliding By Looking Only On the Surface

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV).

When Lot heard the words of Abram he was thrilled. What ever land he would choose was his. Lot, like most people looked only on the surface of things; he looked at the fertility of the land without looking at the ultimate price that would be paid. He did not know what was in the future, however, it was evidently known by him of the depravity, perversity, and immoral behavior permeating the area. He was only considering the material without any consideration to the destruction this could bring to his family.

Lot did not even consider the Lord in the choosing. he “lifted up his eyes” guided by his desire for the material and led his family to destruction. Finally, now Abram was “Separated” from his kindred as the Lord had directed when He first called.

The infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have a story and a history that warns all who will read and hear it. It is hard to imagine a man, whom God calls “Just” (2 Peter 2:7), would become a part of the wickedness. Maybe it should not be so hard, because many Christians put themselves in situations similar to Lot, because they have been carried away by the lust of their hearts, rather than being led and controlled by God’s Spirit.

Lot may not have been an actual participant in their sin, though by his silence, and his “leadership” he condoned the behavior. He could have warned the people of their wickedness, but instead he adapted.

The phrase “Pitched his tent” means to make his abode; his habitation with. We know from God’s Word we are not to “Dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10b); but to “…Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Lot bore little fruit. Maybe the only fruit he had was faith, and it was small because he did not exercise it. The way to bear fruit is to abide [make our habitation] in Jesus. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4