The Mind and Counsel of the Lord

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.’  As concerning the gospel, enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! ‘For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?   Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?’  For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”  Romans 11:26-36  (KJB)

References: Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 27:9; Daniel 9:24; Numbers 23:19; Romans 3:9; Jeremiah 23:18; 1 Corinthians 8:6

A Resurrection/Easter Sunday Sermon

THE CALL OF THE RESURRECTION
Matthew 28:10

I do not know if anyone has ever thought of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a call or not, but I definitely see a call here following the resurrection of Jesus. The angels have simply said, “He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (v. 6). The angel had said, “Go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you” (v. 7).

As the women were going to tell the disciples what the angels had said they met Jesus Himself. They probably would have about forgotten what the angel had said when they see Jesus. They bow at His feet and even held on to His feet, and worshipped Him (v. 9).

“Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” Matthew 28:10

There are about four things I want us to notice from this verse of Scripture;

I. THERE IS A CALL TO HAVE ‘NO FEAR’;

II. THERE IS A CALL TO GO AND TELL THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS THAT HE IS RISEN;

III. THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM WHERE HE CAN BE SEEN – AS HE HAS SAID;

IV. THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM THAT HE IS TO BE SEEN.

THERE IS A CALL TO HAVE ‘NO FEAR’.

Many times as Jesus walked on the earth He spoke the words, “Be not afraid”, “Fear not”, etc. As the women see Him this is His opening statement to them. It just seems that the intent of Jesus is for those who know and love Him to walk with Him and be free of all fear.

There are many things in this world we could and do fear. Jesus tells us before He is crucified to “Be not afraid”, and He tells us following the crucifixion, all of this after He has faced the greatest challenge of His human existence. The darkness of the crucifixion was that time when the Father had turned His back on His Son, and judged Him with every pound, every sword of judgment He could meet out. He faced it without fear and with full confidence that the Father’s will was being done and the Father and Himself would be glorified forever.

THERE IS A CALL TO GO AND TELL THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS THAT HE IS RISEN.

The disciples were cringing in fear after the crucifixion of Jesus. They were most likely trembling, and wondering what are we going to do next. Whar are we going to do now? The hope of Jerusalem and of Israel is now dead. We thought Him to be the deliverer of Israel and Jerusalem, but He is dead. They had forgotten His promise to meet them in Galilee –

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” Matthew 26:31-32 (KJV).

Jesus spelled it out clearly. “After I am risen again” please note that, “I will go before you into Galilee”. Did they not pay attention? Did they just not hear? Maybe not according to Jesus’s words He uses to the churches of the Revelation – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” Their minds were full of expectation for the deliverance of the kingdom of Israel from Rome, and the setting up of His earthly kingdom.

This part of the call is to all who will follow Jesus. If there is to be trust, obedience, and true following of Jesus there must also be an abiding trust and faith that Jesus not only died for our sins, but that He rose again; bodily from the grave. The grace where they laid Jesus is empty, like the angel gave invitation to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” That means He had lain there previously to this, but was GONE. His body not stolen. It never fell into a crack in the ground at the earthquake. He rose up from that place where His body lay; laid the burial cloths in a place by themselves, and came OUT; just as He said He would.

If we are going to proclaim the resurrection Gospel of Jesus Christ we better believe it ourselves. Believe it ourselves before we go trying to tell the lost world about it.

THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM WHERE HE CAN BE SEEN – JUST AS HE SAID.

One disciple [Thomas] had said,

“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” John 20:25 (KJV).

Thomas has a nick name that has been given him because of his doubting, and it is “Doubting Thomas”. We know that Jesus was seen by the disciples before they ever went to Galilee. At Galilee was where the most significant number of people witnessed Him alive some days later, and by “Over five hundred brethren at once”.

Jesus had told them that He would go before them unto Galilee. There was the place where they disciples would and could receive their public authenticity. It was not only proof of the resurrection of Jesus, but it would be the public endorsement by Jesus of the disciples/apostles.

The place Jesus can be seen today is by revelation of God’s Spirit through the Holy Word of God. Thomas would not believe except he saw for himself the resurrected Christ, and it was at the point when Thomas saw Him that Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” John 20:29. It took the physical appearance of Jesus to Thomas for him to believe Jesus was alive. You and I do not have that privilege. We have God’s written Word and the Gospels. They tell us Jesus is alive. Paul the apostle tells us Jesus is alive. Peter, James, and John tell us that Jesus is alive. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is alive. Luke the physician tells us that Jesus is alive. The Holy Spirit of God reveals to you and I today that Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God is alive TODAY.

THE PLACE TO FIND THE LIVING CHRIST IS IN THE WORD AND REVELATION BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM THAT JESUS IS TO BE SEEN.

When we start talking about seeing Jesus maybe the news of Oral Roberts vision or dream of a 600 foot tall Jesus comes to our mind. I want to tell you He was not nearly that tall; so that is not who Roberts seen.

John saw Jesus as He was penning down the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He saw Him on the isle of Patmos as he was a prisoner there for preaching the resurrected Christ, even though he was told to be silent. Paul saw Jesus as he travelled on the road to Damascus to capture Christian men, women, boys and girls to drag them back to Jerusalem for trial and prison and/or death. Paul was knocked out of his saddle by the presence of the Lord Jesus.

It is the call from God that gives us the right and privilege to see our resurrected Jesus. Have you seen Jesus?

We must see Him as having lived a life without sin; being perfect and without spot or blemish. We must see Him as the healer as He healed the lame, raised the dead, made the blind to see, and gave the leper back their right to be among others. We must see Jesus as He is lifted up between heaven and hell upon the earth, while hanging on the cross as our sin. We must see Him as sin being judged by the righteous Father. We must see Him as finishing the tasl; the work; that the Father gave Him to do. That work being finished; we must see Him as coming forth out of that grave showing the victory He gained by His death on the cross.

Sin could not hold Him, cannot hold Him, and never will hold Him. The victory is won, and the resurrection is the evidentiary proof of that victory on the cross. He is alive.

Christ the Lord is risen today. INDEED, HE IS RISEN.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Irrevocable Promise

There are so many who are telling us that God is finished with Israel. That they are no longer God’s chosen people or nation. However, for someone to say that they are going against both the Old Testament prophecies, and the teachings of the New Testament as well.

Look at this prophecy through the prophet Ezekiel:

“Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are My people, saith the Lord GOD. And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 34:30-31 (KJV)

Reading from verse 25 of the same chapter you will notice “My servant David”, and it is a reference to the Messiah of Israel, bringing them peace, and safety. Their Messiah is Jesus. Now I realize that they rejected Jesus when He came the first time, born as a baby in a manger; but that was for our benefit; for the whole earth’s benefit (Romans 11:11-15).  “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” Romans 11:29.

One day the remnant of Israel will see Jesus, God will be with them; He will be their God, and they will be His people.

May God save the house of Israel, and all those of the earth who are perishing (2 Peter 3:9); through the sacrificial blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Messiah of Israel.

Through the Bible in a Year 072813

To Be Called By His Grace…

I.  …WE ARE DELIVERED FROM CONDEMNING RELIGION (Galations 1:13-14)

II.   …WE ARE CALLED TO A NEW LIFE AND MINISTRY (1:15-17).

III.  …WE ARE DEAD WITH CHRIST; YET RISEN WITH HIM (Galations 2:18-21).

 

EVENING MESSAGE –

When the LORD is Great in Our Lives…

I.  …WE WILL GUARD OUR WAYS AND OUR TONGUE (Psalm 39:1-5).

II.  …WE WILL BE COMPASSIONATE TO OTHERS (Psalm 41:1-4).

III.    …WE WILL REJOICE IN  HIS GREATNESS (Psalm 48:1-7; Psalm 54:1-7.

IV.  …WE WILL KNOW AND RECOGNIZE THE HEARTS OF WICKEDNESS (Psalm 58:1-5).

V.  …WE WILL THIRST FOR GOD DAILY, AND OFTEN (Psalm 63:1-2).

VI.    …WE WILL SEEK THE LORD FOR OUR KEEPING (Psalm 64:1-6).

Elijah and Elisha

Sometimes these two men can be confused; at least they used to be to me.  Elijah was the prophet who confronted Ahab, and the culture of the time; and the departure from the LORD God for man made idols; human imagination run amok.

Elisha is a young man when Elijah is called by GOD to anoint him “in thy room” (1 Kings 19:16).  He was still in his father’s home, because he was plowing with the oxen when Elijah came to him (vv. 19-21).

I ask myself what the reason is for GOD calling another prophet to take Elijah’s place.  Is GOD angry with Elijah, thus getting another?  Is the ministry of Elijah coming to an end?  Maybe soon?  If we read ahead we find that Elijah would confront Ahab another time; concerning Naboth’s vineyard.  We will look at that sometime later.

The LORD wants to put to rest Elijah’s assumption that he is the only true prophet of God.  The LORD tells him,

“Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18 (KJV)

Elijah obeyed and went as the LORD commanded him.  He finds Elisha plowing with twelve yoke of oxen.  That seems to be a plenty of ox power, and more than necessary; but that is what we are told.  It probably means that there were twelve teams of oxen plowing – a yoke containing two – and with a man leading  each yoke; and Elisha taking up the rearward.   The mantle of Elijah is mentioned in Scripture at least five times; the first in 19:13; the second in verse 19; then the other three in 2 Kings chapter two.

The mantle seems to be used as a token or symbol of the power of God upon Elijah.  With it Elijah covers his face when he hears the still small voice, he cast it upon Elisha, he smote the waters of the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:8), Elisha receives it as Elijah is taken away (2 Kings 2:13-14); and then Elisha divides the Jordan using it as well.  More on that will come later in future study.

When Elisha passes by Elijah; Elijah cast his mantle upon him.  Now Elisha left his oxen, asked Elijah to go and tell his parents he was leaving, then he would follow him.  He would be Elijah’s student as a prophet; being prepared to take Elijah’s place in ministry of the Word of God.

“And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.’  And he said unto him, ‘Go back again: for what have I done to thee?’  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:20-21 (KJV)

Elijah’s telling Elisha to “Go back…” was telling him to do as Elisha had requested, but to not reject his calling.  Elisha goes and tells his parents of his calling in life, and they have a celebration, by the killing of Elisha’s yoke of oxen, and having a feast.  In his training as a prophet he was a servant unto Elijah.

Elijah was a faithful prophet of God.  Though he was weak in some points the LORD still used him.  In human weakness GOD is strong.  In our weaknesses God is glorified.

Be strong in the LORD and the power of His might.

-Tim A. Blankenship

For The Praise Of His Glory

Ephesians 1:6-14

Three times in verses 6 – 14 we find the phrase, “to the praise of his glory…” and dealing especially with His grace.  First is it is written, “To the praise of the glory of his grace…” (v. 6), then we find; “…we should be to the praise of his glory…” (v. 12); and lastly; “…unto the praise of his glory.” (v. 14).  It should not come as a great surprise to the Christian that we are for the purpose of His glory.

Knowing this should thrill our hearts and souls.  To know that we are for the purpose of His glory ought to cause us, by the power of His Spirit within, to live lives that are scented with the fragrances of heaven.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR CALLING (v. 6; Romans 3:23).  Before there was Jesus Christ on earth as man we were in condemnation.  We were walking in ourselves, self-willed, without self-control, rebellious, and enemies of God.  That’s right!  I said, “Enemies of God” (James 4:4).  That was my estate before Christ, and the estate of everyone before they have faith in Him.

God’s purpose in calling us to Himself is for His glory, and to redeem a people unto Himself.  He loves us, and sent His Son Jesus to be the propitiation – the recipient of God’s wrath in our behalf.  By this one glorious event we now have fellowship, restored likeness with God our Creator.  We are accepted in His sight.  That our lives might be for the purpose of His glory, and the magnification of His grace.

BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR REDEMPTION THAT IS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (v. 7).  It is only through the blood of Jesus that we have redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19).  Because of sin the law requires death.  The blood is life for the sacrifice of sin (Leviticus 17:11).

By the shedding of blood God is just in forgiving our sins (Hebrews 9:22).

Slaves were bought and sold by millions in Rome of Paul’s day.  We were slaves of sin.  Jesus purchased us from sin’s bondage, by the shedding of His own blood, and set us free.

This price was not paid because you and I deserve it, but because of the riches of His grace.

THE GRACE AND THE INHERITANCE PROVIDED US THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS (vv. 8-12).  This grace of God is far more abundant than we can ever imagine.  He has over supplied it – (grace abounded) fully supplied – for us in making known to us “the mystery of His will”.  Mystery sometimes excites us.  By something being a mystery does not mean something spooky, eerie, or of which to fear.  Mystery causes mankind to be curious.  The mystery of His will was not fully revealed until Jesus came, died on the cross, was buried carrying the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin away, was risen, and ascended into the clouds; and through the apostles; including Paul.  It is still mysterious how that God could become man, bleed, die, then rise again bodily from the grave.  Some things God reveals, we must trust rather than understand.

By coming to the Lord Jesus we are place into God’s “Inner circle” and He reveals, to those who are His, His will concerning reconciliation of men to God, man to man, man to creation, Jew to Gentile, and earth to Heaven.

For verse eleven it has been translated to read, “In Him we were also made His inheritance…” (HCSB).  There is no real problem with that since we are told in the Psalms, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”  Psalms 2:8 (KJV).  We Gentiles who are in Christ are His possession, and inheritance in Him.  We have also received our inheritance in Him.  In the gospel of John Jesus mentions, at least six times, “…Those whom You have given Me” (John 17).

For the second time the apostle uses the term predestination.  As God’s children He has completed the work or plan for our lives in His Son Jesus Christ.  He has a predetermined purpose for our lives and brings them about, “after the counsel of His own will”.  We must remember that God does not have one plan for when everything goes well in our lives; and another for when things don’t go so well.  He only has one plan for Christians, and that is a completed salvation.  As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”  Philippians 1:6 (KJV).  His plan will not fail.

These verses end with doxology.  Words of praise and adoration.  A life lived in praise and adoration of His is what He desires.  This is a great part of our inheritance – to praise, adore, magnify, and glorify our Lord.  By the Holy Spirit within we are equipped to live such a life.

“Who first trusted in Christ” is most likely a reference to the Jews who began the first church of Jerusalem.  No matter to whom it may refer; it is the calling of all followers, believers of Jesus Christ, “To be to the praise of His glory”.

THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT AND THE EARNEST UNTIL OUR REDEMPTION (vv. 13-14).  Paul has written “…To the Jew first…” meaning that to them the gospel came first of all.  Jews were the first to hear and first to believe; though the numbers were very few.  Now the gospel has come to Ephesus – Gentiles.  This same Jesus of whom a few Jews had trusted was also the One in whom the Ephesians were trusting.

How did this transpire?

1. They heard the gospel which was preached unto them;
2. They believed the gospel – that is they put it to work in their lives;
3. They were then “sealed” or baptized into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

* Water had nothing to do with this “sealing” nor the “baptism” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

This “sealing” is one that speaks of and guarantees several things.  First, it is a promise, from God, of a finished transaction.  The full price of sin was paid.  When we believe on Christ and His finished work we become Christ’s inheritance and He becomes ours.  It is as good as done.

Secondly, this seal implies ownership.  We are marked by God, bearing His mark on us throughout the rest of our lives and into eternity.  “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  He is our owner.  We have no rights of our own.  We are branded/marked by the cross of Jesus Christ.

In the third place, the seal means security and protection.  There is nothing you or I can do to break off this seal.  It is eternal.  We are protected and secured from Satan, and all his forces, as well as protected from ourselves.

Fourthly, the seal is one of authenticity.  It takes more than a profession of the lips, religious activity, good works, etc..  If there is no witness of the Holy Spirit in the professor’s life, that is where Christ is not (Romans 8:9).  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  The Holy Spirit is the mark of an authentic Christian.

Finally, the seal can be an engagement ring.  The promise of a full and meaningful relationship, in the Christian example, for all eternity.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee from God to the Christian that God will come and redeem the body of the man as well as his soul.

From verse three through verse fourteen there has been three doxologies.  The first speaks of the Father.  Why has He chosen, adopted and  accepted us?  “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6).  The second speaks of the Son.  Why has the Son redeemed us, forgiven us, and revealed God’s will to us and blessed us with His inheritance?  “To the praise of His glory” (v. 12).  The third speaks of the Holy Spirit.  Why has God the Spirit sealed us and become the guarantee of future hope and blessing?  “unto the praise of His glory” (v. 14).

In conclusion God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings… in Christ Jesus”.  The gifts and riches of Christ are far beyond what we deserve.  Yet, they are ours when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

All of heaven is yours and mine in Christ.  Jesus died, shed his blood, that you might be renewed to the place God intended you to be.  Believe Jesus.  Trust His Word, and you shall be saved eternally.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Holy Seed

The prophet Isaiah is in the Temple in the presence of the LORD of all creation. Humbled, bowing in His presence, and God calls Isaiah to go to a people who are stiffnecked, hardhearted, obstinate, and unworthy of the grace of the One who made us all. But, then, doesn’t that sound familiar. Does that not fit for all people, of all times, in all countries and cultures?

What would you do with such a call? A great and humbling call from the YHWH.

“Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,  And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.  But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:11-13 (KJV)

It almost seems crude to my mind to think that God would command a prophet like Isaiah to preach, and tell him, “But no one is going to listen. Their hearts will grow hard”. Yet there are times, and I think it is most of the time I fully understand. We human beings can reach points in our lives where we want our way, and it must be when we want it, and how we want it. It does not matter if God fits in the equation or not.

The prophet’s heart must be broken. To think that he is going to preach his heart out, but there will be no converts, there will be no repentance on the part of the masses of people. Instead God is promising to remove his people from their land, the cities lying in waste – destroyed, and they will be carried away captive. They are given the opportunity of repentance, reject it and we know from the history of Judah; they went into the Babylonian captivity approximately 150 years later. How could Isaiah preach that? Was he a doomsday prophet? Not in the least.

Isaiah was a man of God, proclaiming the truth of God, to the people of God. They rejected the message, refused repentance, and a return to God. The last verse of chapter six is a verse which has much hope and promise for God’s people. “Like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is the stump.” v. 13 (ESV). Cut a tree down, leave the stump, and it won’t be long and saplings will begin to grow from that stump. Often, it is not just one sapling, but several. To say God is finished with this Nation is to say God is finished with the fulfilling of His Word, and I am not yet in Heaven with Him, so that leaves that out.

-Tim A. Blankenship