Expressing the Love of Christ

An Expression Of Love

Romans 16:1-27

Love is a very powerful and important quality. It shows character, concern and caring. Love is one of the characteristics of God. It is a characteristic that is modeled in God’s people. Love is much more than simple emotion. It is an act, a decision, an expression.

Paul demonstrated much love. His commendations toward his brothers and sisters in Christ – fellow workers and ministers of the gospel – expresses much love and appreciation. Many of these people – Priscilla and Aquila for example – risked their very lives for Paul (vv. 3-4). Anyone should recognize the sacrifice which must have been made by them. How can you keep from loving someone who has given so much. Some of these people had the church meeting in their homes. Some were prisoners with Paul. Some were servants in noblemen’s households. All were loved by Paul.

It is also noted that there was some room for confrontational correction. Love warns, instructs, encourages, and corrects. Those who cause division by false teaching, working against the leadership, and the mission of the Church, or cause strife with the church leaders are to be avoided.

Coming near the end of the letter Paul speaks of those who had worked along side of him doing and preaching the word of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then last, but not least, the apostle gives honor and glory to whom honor and glory is due and belongs. The One to whom honor and glory is due and belongs is, of course, God. We honor and glorify Him by hearing His Son Jesus and believing Him.

1. Love Is Expressed In The Family Of Faith (vv. 1-16).

*God is love (1 John 4:8b). That love is seen and expressed by the love of His people.
*Because there is so often conflict within the church does not mean we must be disagreeable with one another. Disagreements happen in the homes of Christians, but they stay together.
*Phebe was a sister, the one delivering the letter of Romans to the Christians of Rome, and most likely came to know Jesus through Paul’s ministry.
*Priscilla and Aquila – husband and wife – hazarded their own lives for Paul’s.
*Andronicus and Junia were fellow prisoners with Paul at one time or other. They too stood for Jesus Christ and the gospel. They too were messengers of the gospel.
*People who were servants of “Caesar’s household”, and the households of Aristobulus and Narcissus. These households were probably well-known, high society people. God has a way of placing His people in strategic locations. We are to serve God wherever He has placed us.
*We, as Christians, ought always greet one another with warm affection, the love of Christ.

2. Love Exposes Sources Of Division In The Family Of Faith (vv. 17-20).

*There are people in some churches, or even who seek out churches where they can cause division; by teaching false doctrines, by the error of Balaam, ie., causing others to fall, etc..
*The one who teaches the truth of God’s Word and the gospel, and who labors for God and the people of God, and the ministry is not the source of division. The ones who come in trying to bring in heresies, and division are truly the dividers
*Unwillingness to be taught, false teaching, hatred envy, going outside God’s guidelines causes division in the local Church. An unwillingness to cooperate with godly leadership; a malicious, slanderous spirit and tongue are sources of division. The loving leader will expose, and correct those who are trouble makers within the Church.
*Do that which is good in the local Church. Be wise toward evil, its way and its harm.
*Grace is the element that sets Christianity apart from world religions.

3. Love Honors The Faithful Servants Of The Lord (vv. 21-24).

*Paul now names those who have been faithful servants serving with him. Timothy for one, and we know from 1 Timothy 1:2 that Paul referred to him as, “My own son in the faith”. Timothy was discipled by the apostle to the Gentiles.
*The apostle desired the church of Rome to know about Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater who may have been brothers by physical birth, or at least brothers in the faith. They were admirers of the Roman Christians.
*Tertius was Paul’s secretary. He has penned down all the letters. He also sends a salute to Rome.
*Gaius is the homeowner where Paul is the guest. Gaius is a man of hospitality, and loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and His servants.
*Erastus was possibly the city treasurer of Corinth.
*Quartus was a brother in Christ who loved Paul, and was a devout supported of his ministry.

4. Love Honors And Lauds The God Of All Power, Glory, And Grace (vv. 25-27).

*Doxology are words of praise to the One and only who is worthy of worship and praise. He has revealed a great mystery. The mystery of the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit in Paul has given GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION more clearly than we deserve.
*God alone is the One of power to set us firmly in the security of the gospel. He alone is worthy of our faith. Faith alone calls us to obedience to the commands of God, because faith believes and trusts that God is over all; He is sovereign.
*“To Him be glory through our Lord Jesus Christ for ever. A-men.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus in Genesis (4)

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.

Revelation 19:10b  We have been Looking For Jesus in Genesis. This time we are going to see His appearance in two situations of two different people. The first is to Hagar. Some may ask, “You mean Hagar saw Jesus?” My answer will follow. The other one, of course, would be Abraham. That would not surprise us so much. Would it?

The appearance to Hagar takes place following the conception of Ishmael. Genesis 16. If you will remember the story Sarah became a little impatient waiting on God to fulfill His promise of a son to Abraham, so she offers her husband her servant as a wife to have a child. When Hagar conceives she really wants to “Rub it in” with Sarah. It almost seems that Sarah mistreats Hagar, maybe even to the point of beating her, and that drives her away. Hagar had basically become quite arrogant toward Sarah, and you can hardly blame Sarah for her behavior, yet you can see the weakness and danger of more than one wife.

When Hagar fled, she probably thought for her life, an

“Angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water…” (v. 7).

This is what has been termed a “Pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ”. It certainly seems to me to be Jesus before He ever became flesh and blood human. This person is certainly more than an angel of God. He speaks in verse ten saying,

“I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” (v. 10).

No angel could say that. It must of necessity be Jesus Christ the Living Word.

Hagar is believed by many to be the mother of the Arabian people, the Muslim people. If you will notice the words of Jesus to Hagar they are ones of comfort, encouragement, yet, rebuke as well. She has flaunted her pregnancy toward Sarah. She is told by the Lord to return to Sarah, “And submit thyself under her hands.” (Genesis 16:9). Hagar is given a promise for her child which would be born to her. In chapter 17 God promises Abraham that He will bless Ishmael in verse 20.

“…Twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”

Why would Jesus reveal Himself to Hagar. Because he cared for her and the nation which would come from her and Abraham’s union. Maybe in seeing this we can start to hope that maybe there is some hope for the people of Hagar. Only as they turn to the Lord Jesus with all their hearts.

The second appearance of Jesus we see comes as Abraham is at his “Tent door in the heat of the day”. He sees three men approaching. Genesis 18. He runs to meet them. I get the impression that Abraham knew who they were before He jumped up and ran to them. He bowed down before them and verse 3 says,

“…My Lord, if now I have found favor in Thy sight, pass not away, I pray Thee, from Thy servant.”

Abraham offers the “Men” refreshment and food. It is quite clear that one of these “Men” is the Lord Himself. Remember how the Lord reveals Himself in the Old Testament? When He is seen in a physical form, it must be the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. How would Abraham recognize God in physical form. He knows Him personally. When you know the Lord you know His appearing and appearance. You know His voice.

It was at this time that the Lord renewed His promise to Abraham, and this time Sarah heard the promise made even to her. They were going to have a son in their old age (Abraham was at this time 99 years of age and Sarah was 89), and is it any wonder that Sarah laughed. Thinking, “How can this be?”, and yet, hearing the Lord speak to them with the promise. It came from the Lord Himself, in Person, and physical form.

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”(v.14).

This was a word directly from the Lord, not from angels, not in a dream, but from the very mouth of the Lord Jesus.

“The men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.” (v. 16).

The “men” headed toward Sodom on a mission of judgment. The Lord decides since Abraham is His friend, that He will reveal why the others are headed toward Sodom. In this passage of the chapter we see Abraham become an intercessor pleading for the cities of the plain. He asked the Lord to spare the city if there are only 10 righteous people in it. The Lord says He will. We know that there were not 10 righteous people in the cities, but God still dragged Abraham’s nephew Lot, Lot’s wife, and two daughters from the city before they were destroyed.

The compassion and faithfulness of the Lord is seen through out all of Scripture. We see the manifestation of Jesus in physical form even before He became flesh and dwelt among men. We see Him to be holy, righteous, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-present, and Unchanging. He is the God of mercy, love and grace.

Jesus in Genesis (2)

LOOKING FOR JESUS – GENESIS (2)

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

Can Jesus and the gospel be found in the Old Testament? It is my declaration that He can and that the gospel is there as well.

Look in Genesis 3. This is the chapter of the fall of man and sin entering into the world. After the sin of Adam and Eve we find God’s declarations to the serpent, to Eve and last of all to Adam. Within this chapter there is a prophecy of a Savior who would come, and a type (picture, shadow) of what would take place by that Savior who would come. This is what we will look at in this post.

In God’s Word to the serpent He said (v. 15),

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”

We can see the enmity (fear, strife) between the serpent and the children of Eve. It is even present to this day. When I see a snake it causes fear in me. That is one of God’s creatures which I want absolutely nothing to do with. In my mind they are a symbol of all that is vile and wicked and evil. If you want to handle the things, you go right ahead. If it bites you you cannot blame anyone but yourself. The same thing is true of sin. When you play with sin, it will bite you, and it already has.

The seed of the woman, the one who would bruise the head of the serpent is the promised Redeemer who would come. When Eve had Cain it seems as though she expected him to be the one. There was such expectancy. It is seen in what she named him

“Cain…I have gotten a man from the Lord” (4:1).

It was not to be Cain, because he was not a man who had a heart for the things of God. This prophecy would not be fulfilled for about four thousand years. It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. On the cross, upon which Jesus died Satan (that old serpent) “Bruised the heel” of the Seed of the woman. Upon that same cross the head of the serpent was not only “bruised” but the power of Satan was crushed, and his authority over men taken away. After the cross Jesus rose from death showing that He was indeed the Son of the living God, and God the Living Son (Romans 1:4). By that same resurrection we have the promise of eternal life.

There is also a shadow/type of the cross seen in this chapter of Genesis. In Verse 21 it says,

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

Now in the minds of some, this verse may seem very insignificant, but I do not think it will be to many who are reading this. Remember Adam and Eve had been warned by God that they would die if they ate fruit from the forbidden tree. Now they had eaten fruit from the tree, and God provided redemption for them. It was a covering for their sin. It was in the form of animal skins, and I personally believe the skins to be lamb skins. Life was taken; blood was shed. This was the first time death had come into the world, and it was God who did the killing. In this shadow of the cross there were animals put to death for the sins of these two sinners. God in his holy and righteous way provided a means of salvation which would bring salvation to the human race. To think that God in His wisdom, power, love and grace was showing us the wonderful life of Jesus Christ in providing covering for Adam and Eve. They had tried to cover themselves in fig leaves, but it was not good enough for God. The “Fig leaves” of religion, self-righteousness, good works, or ceremonial laws will never satisfy the righteousness of God. The blood or the righteous Lamb of God alone has done that.

Isn’t the love, grace and mercy of God something wonderful. It is the most wonderful knowledge that we could have. It is, in fact the most wonderful thing we could have in our lives.

Christmas Day Eighty and Six

What do I want for Christmas today?

My wife and I have guests in our home today.  Our oldest grandson Jonathan, and his sister Caitlyn, and some of their friends came down to our house last night to spend the night celebrating their Birthdays which was a few days ago.  They had a party in Springfield last night, then came here to camp out in our backyard. Their mother [Charity]; our daughter; also brought a friend with her to help get all the girls here.

So what do I want for Christmas today?  I want Jonathan to keep growing in the Lord Jesus Christ, to meet a godly Christian girl – which I think he already has – and grows deeper in love with Jesus through the Word, and deeper in love with the one who will be his wife; to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love his neighbor as himself.

For Caitlyn; that she too continue to grow in her love for Jesus, and His word; to one day find the godly Christian young man of her dreams, grow more in love with Jesus, and her husband to be; and to love God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love her neighbor as herself…

…And for those who are here with them as well.

 

How This Conservative Evangelical Died…

Here is some food for thought.

brandon andress

This is the first of two posts that I have to preemptively tell you that my heart in this is motivated only in love and service to helping Christians (including me) more closely align in following the way of Jesus. I simply ask that if you are a Christian and one who struggles with anger when a person challenges your faith perspective, then maybe park this post until you can read it in a non-defensive, non-oppositional, and peaceful posture. These words are meant to begin a civil conversation and dialogue and then to guide us into deeper reflection and dependence on the Spirit of God in our lives.

Too many times, Christians read what I write (with the most recent example being about Christians and politics) and quickly retort, “Well, I disagree with your position,” or, “Well, that is just your opinion.” Others immediately dismiss what I have written and…

View original post 1,591 more words

Christmas Day 230

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the world to know that Jesus is coming soon; though we do not know when those who profess to know Jesus ought to live as though He could come right now.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3 (KJV)

Maranatha.

Day Three Hundred and Eleven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want all Christians, Presidents, Presidential candidates, Senators, Congress, Governors, Mayors, and City officials; and all people to realize the preciousness of a child, born and  unborn; to call for a stop of the murder of the unborn human child.

Jesus said,

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 (NKJV)

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.” Psalm 122:6-9 (KJV)

The word “Peace” is used three times in these four verses. Peace is a sought after thing for most people. The name “Jerusalem” means “city of peace”; and yet this city has been one of the most fought over places in all the centuries since the death of Christ.

David took Jebus from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5), and called it Jerusalem. He later would bring the tabernacle, and the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. This city is called “the city of David” (2 Samuel 5:7). There are references to the “City of God” which could be references to this city as well (Psalms 46:4; 48:1; 87:3).

David longed for the peace of Jerusalem, even to the building of the temple, and making it a place for all people to come and worship the one God of all creation and all people; a place where they could come, worship and pray;

“And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11:17

We all; those who love God, Israel, and Jerusalem must pray for the peace of Jerusalem. For when there is peace in Jerusalem there will be peace in the world. That will come only when the Prince of Peace returns to reign from His rightful throne in Jerusalem. His name is Jesus the Christ Son of the Living God

With the enemies of God, and of Israel crouching around the land today; Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Jesus  will be returning soon.

Seeking His Work

“The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: and His righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.” Psalm 111:2-4 (KJV)

The Psalmist magnifies the Lord, His work and His righteousness. All are great. It is GOD who makes them great. There is nothing He does that we would not see as great, working doing His will; and I should say Him working through us.

As I look at these verses I think of Jesus’s words, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29), and “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29).

In the chaos of man’s sin, shame, unbelief, and wretchedness; God loved the world and sent a Saviour; His only begotten Son; to die on the cross for our sins. He died that we all might have fellowship, love, and grace with the Father. Have it for all eternity.

The compassion of the LORD is seen in that He struck His own Son in our place, and through His Son Jesus Christ we are made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“The works of the LORD are great” and they are “sought out of all them that have pleasure therein”.

Transgressions Removed

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8-12 (KJV)

The mercy and grace of God is to me without question. I do believe sometimes we misunderstand mercy and grace, so let me give you my interpretation of mercy, then of grace.

Mercy = Since the fall of Adam and Eve mankind has been apart from God, born in that state; yet GOD who created them, did not immediately destroy them (Genesis 3). He chose rather to provide a means of salvation for them and their seed. They did not receive what they deserved, that was death that day. So let me say it this way; Mercy is not receiving from God what we justly deserve, and that is death, and destruction.

Grace = Adam and Eve experienced grace that day too (Genesis 3). An animal or two; I suspect probably sheep, were sacrificed by God Himself, to provide covering for them; thus something else paid the price for their sin. This event foreshadowed the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself, received the judgment that was ours, and sin was put to death in His death (2 Corinthians 5:21); and by looking to Jesus, believing on Him we receive from God what we do not deserve. That is deliverance, salvation from our sins; to dwell eternally in the presence of God. Grace is God providing for us that which we do not deserve. Eternal salvation.

The Psalmist knew and believed in the promise of God’s coming Saviour, and rested in that promise. The only way of redemption is provided by the shed blood of God’s Lamb who suffered, bled and died on the altar of the cross for the sins of the world.

Through Christ Jesus all our sins are cast far, far away. How far away? “As far as east is from west”. I used to think that that had limits, then I started thinking about east and west. There is no end to it. For instance; if you start traveling west, keep going west, you will end up back where you began, and still be going west. The same if you go east. North and south are not that way. So why did God not say “As far as north is from south”? Because His grace is greater than that. His mercy is greater than that.

Oh, friend, fall into the hands of your loving God and Saviour today.

Come Before His Presence with Singing

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100:1-5 (KJV)

The whole Psalm is give above. Yes it is short, so I will endeavor to keep my comments short as well.

The Psalm is merely titled “A Psalm of Praise”. Many might be asking why we should praise the LORD? This Psalm gives us the answer. First of all let me tell you who is to praise the LORD. “All ye lands” that is the whole earth, and everyone on it. No exceptions. God made us for His praise and glory.

Praising Him involves serving Him with gladness, not complaint; and entering His presence with singing. The Spirit filled Christian is to be a singer (Ephesians 5:18-21), and it is honoring and glorifying to the LORD.

We ought to praise Him because it is He that has made us; He is our Creator (Genesis 1-2). It is He who has made us, and not ourselves.

We are also the “sheep of His pasture” which is a picture of how ignorant, and needy we really are. That may offend some people, but it is the truth; I am needy. The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23), and with Him as my Shepherd I will not lack any good and right thing.

His “gates” are there to keep the enemy out, but let His people enter into His courts of splendor. We enter with thanksgiving, and go into His courts with praise. Thank Him for His blessings in your life. The apostle Paul said, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

A couple of more reasons for our worship of the LORD is His mercy and truth. He is constantly merciful, for all eternity. His truth never changes. As for His truth, there are some who things God ought to change with the times, the culture, and with society. God will never change, and because of that He is dependable, trustworthy, and stedfast.

The gospel message that Christ Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again has not changed either; nor has His promise to come again.

The Revealed Things

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 (KJV)

There are many things which belong to God that He has not revealed to us in His word or in any other way. We have been given the things we need to know that we may obey Him and His word.

Someone has said, “It is not the things I do not understand about the Bible that causes me problems; it is the parts I do understand.” At least something similar to that, and with that I sympathize. The parts we do understand are the ones we do not practice as we ought.

So why should we spend time trying to understand the “secret things that belong unto the LORD”, and leave undone the things we do understand? That is to our shame.

God has revealed to us His Son Jesus Christ. He [Jesus] is the fulness of God revealed to creation . Let us follow Him, walk in His footsteps and by the power of His Spirit within us be like Him in our living; in our words, our walk, our witness.

Praising GOD

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power.” Psalm 150:1 (KJV)

One thing a Christian can learn from reading the Psalms, and especially those that express “Praise ye the LORD”; is that we are to “Praise the LORD”.

It does not matter the time, the place, life’s situation or circumstances; the child of God is to praise the LORD.  Why?  Because He is worthy.  That is reason enough.

Let me have Charles H. Spurgeon give you his words concerning Psalm 150:1;

“Praise ye the Lord.” Hallelujah! The exhortation is to all things in earth or in heaven. Should they not all declare the glory of him for whose glory they are, and were created? Jehovah, the one God, should be the one object of adoration. To give the least particle of his honour to another is shameful treason; to refuse to render it to him is heartless robbery. “Praise God in his sanctuary.” Praise El, or the strong one, in his holy place. See how power is mentioned with holiness in this change of names. Praise begins at home. “In God’s own house pronounce his praise.” The holy place should be filled with praise, even as of old the high-priest filled the sanctum sanctorum with the smoke of sweet-smelling incense. In his church below and in his courts above hallelujahs should be continually presented. In the person of Jesus God finds a holy dwelling or sanctuary, and there he is greatly to be praised. He may also be said to dwell in holiness, for all his ways are right and good; for this we ought to extol him with heart and with voice. Whenever we assemble for holy purposes our main work should be to present praises unto the Lord our God. “Praise him in the firmament of his power.” It is a blessed thing that in our God holiness and power are united. Power without righteousness would be oppression, and righteousness without power would be too weak for usefulness; but put the two together in an infinite degree and we have God. What an expanse we have in the boundless firmament of divine power! Let it all be filled with praise. Let the heavens, so great and strong, echo with the praise of the thrice holy Jehovah, while the sanctuaries of earth magnify the Almighty One.
from the TREASURY OF DAVID, e-Sword edition

We ought always Praise the LORD; for He is worthy of praise, worship, and adoration.

Searched and Known

“O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.” Psalm 139:1 (KJV)

Sometimes it is sad to realize that we are living in a world where we can be seen by people, particularly governments or government bureaus wherever we are and in whatever we do.  There are cameras at many traffic lights, that can see us as we go through intersections.  There are cameras at more and more corners on the streets.  There are satellites that can zoom in on us and see our license plates on our automobiles.

In some ways that troubles me.  In other ways it does not.  I have been watched all my life; and even before I was born, and yet in my mothers womb, I was seen and known.  So it is with each of us.

The LORD has had His eye on us from conception, and keeps them there to the grave.  He searches, He examines every motive, every action that we make, and He knows our hearts, and why we do what we do.  He is Omniscient or All-Knowing, and He knows you, even better than you know yourself.

There is nothing about you or myself that is a secret to Him.  Nothing about our lives surprises GOD.

He knows your need for Him; for salvation from your sin and its condemnation.  He has provided that through sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, He was buried, and He rose bodily from the grave.  One day He is returning.  Be ready for that by trusting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today.

He Dwells in the Heavens

“Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.” Psalm 123:1 (KJV)

To the child of God who reads this verse it should be quite obvious who the subject is.  He dwells in the heavens.  There is only one.

It is to Him that the child directs his/her gaze.  It is to Him that the child of God places their trust, and receives comfort, peace, rest, and salvation.

Yes, the Holy One dwells in the heavens, and He also dwells in the hearts of His children.

Make sure today that He not only dwells in the heavens, but that He also dwells within your heart; and that He shows through.

For the LORD is Good

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 107:1 (KJV)

I pray that all who are reading this today is planning, is already on their way, or will be attending worship services in a local Church today.  That is one way Christians show their love and thanks to the LORD who alone is worthy of our worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

The LORD is good.  He is great.  He is merciful.

There is no way the follower of Jesus Christ can ever grow short of thanking the LORD.  You may be overcome by debt, fear of losing all you have.  You may be overcome by an illness or disease and fear losing your life, or the life of a loved one.  When you are in Christ Jesus we can still thank the LORD for His goodness and mercy.  There is always something to be thankful for. So thank Him.

YHWH is always merciful.  His mercy endures forever.  When we realize His great mercy, we can then rest in His grace; which has been demonstrated to us by the death of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good…”

A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee.” Psalm 102:1 (KJV)

The title of this post is the title of the Psalm.

Have you ever prayed the above prayer?  I have.  I am fairly certain that many Christians have prayed it, and not just one time.

In times of affliction.  In times of sorrow.  In times of need.  In times when we feel as though God may not be listening our cry goes out “Hear my prayer, O LORD…”

If you are feeling afflicted today, overwhelmed, rejected, neglected, then pour out your prayer, your complaint to the One who alone can hear and answer your prayer and  your need.

Remember that God loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Confidence and/or Confusion

“In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” Psalm 71:1 (KJV)

The LORD is the place for our trust.  We far too often place our trust, our confidence in our own abilities.  We are blessed, and we are a blessing unto the Lord Jehovah when we affirm with our words of prayer and praise that our trust is in Him.  That is what the Psalmist is affirming here.

Will I daily; and will you daily affirm with me that our trust is in the LORD?  I pray that you will, and speak it loudly to Him, and show it loudly to Him and the rest of the world as well.

If we will not walk with Him, putting our trust, our confidence in Him and His Word then we will be put to confusion.  Confusion is not of God.  The apostle Paul has written,

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

When a professing Christian is not putting their trust in God, but walking after their own lust, and passions they will be confused, there will be confusion in the world concerning what Christianity is; and it is quite obvious we have that today.  Trusting the LORD means believing His word, and living according to what He says, not what the rest of the world is living and saying.

Have confidence in the LORD and His Word; and you will not be confused.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I thank God for all who have visited this blog.  To think this is visited by people from 93 countries.  My prayer is that all who visit here know my Lord and  Saviour Jesus Christ.

What We Have Forgotten

The prophet Jeremiah’s heart is grieving for his people as he views their lives through the eyes of the LORD. They don’t and won’t. At least for some time to come. The generation the prophet is addressing is one who has refused to see and hear the Word of the LORD.

The LORD asked a question, “Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of darkness?” There is a contrast the LORD desires them to see. Have I been barren and left you with nothing or has My witness to you been that of darkness and not light?

Hear the Word through the prophet:

“O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of darkness? Wherefore say My people, ‘We are lords; we will come no more unto Thee’?  Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.” Jeremiah 2:31-32 (KJV)

The people had become self dependent rather than depending upon the LORD God. Some people have said and believe that faith is a crutch, or that God Himself is a crutch. Some have said things like, “Only the weak need God.” I need God, and I can only have God in my life as God gives Himself to me through His Son Jesus Christ. Am I weak? You better believe it. When it comes to the things of God; when it comes to pleasing God; when it comes to getting into the very presence of God; when it comes to having a relationship with God, and fellowship with Him; yes! I am weak. None of those things can be mine on my own. They are given to me as a gift of God.

You may be your own lord, but you do not know God; nor can you as long as you have that attitude and heart. If God wants you He will have you. You will submit to Him and He will have His own way in your heart and life.

The virgins of Jeremiah’s day wore special ornaments, which was a reminder of their virginity, and their purity. Brides, as always, seem to greatly admire their wedding gown, and may even become quite prideful in that attire. There is something quite beautiful about a bride in her gown, coming down the aisle, and it causes the groom to take a deep breath, and gasp at her beauty. “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?”, seems to indicate that these had more care for their ornaments and their gowns, than they had for the Word of the LORD. They had not forgotten their ornaments, nor their beautiful clothing, and gowns, but they had “Forgotten” the LORD; “Days without number”.

I can see this as very similar to our own day of 2013 in the United States of America.  Many pride themselves as “Christian” yet live as though the filling of lustful desires are what this life is about.  It is time that the Church in the U. S. of A. repented of her sins, and returned our focus to the One who bled and died for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose from the grave; and He lives forever more.

Christian, may we never forget the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. May we always be reminded of the body and the blood of Jesus; broken and shed that we might know God. The only true and righteous One who loves us, and gave Himself for us.

For those of you who have not believed, and trusted the finished work of the cross of Christ; the day is drawing near when He will return.  Then  you will see Him as He is.  You will stand before His great white throne of judgment and be found guilty.  Why allow that to happen when He has already paid your sin debt.  He offers it to you as a free gift of grace.  Repent and believe.

He is coming again. How will He find us?

-by Tim A. Blankenship

What the Preacher Says

There are some who have much to say but say little biblically.  There are some who build up the hearts of men with their words, but build not up the heart of God with His Word.  Then, there are those who are like Jeremiah who heard the LORD speak,

“Say not, I am a child:  for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.”  Jeremiah 1:7

Consider this before you enter the sacred desk next time.

What does the preacher have to say?  Only the Word of God; nothing else.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?

The following is the morning reading from “Morning and Evening” by Charles H. Spurgeon.  Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

Malachi 3:2
But who may abide the day of his coming?

His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for Him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting Him when He came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will His second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.” When in His humiliation He did but say to the soldiers, “I am He,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of His enemies when He shall more fully reveal Himself as the “I AM?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, He shall summon the quick and dead before Him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest He be angry! Though a lamb, He is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though He breaks not the bruised reed, yet will He break His enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of His foes shall bear up before the tempest of His wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of His indignation; but His beloved bloodwashed people look for His appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them He sits as a refiner even now, and when He has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of Him sincere and without rebuke in the day of His appearing.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Spurgeon – Go Again Seven Times

The following is the evening devotion by Charles H. Spurgeon from Morning and Evening for September 28.

1 Kings 18:43
Go again seven times.

Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.

Let’s avail in prayer.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Psalm 71:1

The following is a quote from a study on Psalm 71 and verse 1 from The Treasury of David, by C. H. Spurgeon.  The quote is by Musculus.

“In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.”  Psalm 71:1 (KJV)

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” As if he should say: O Lord, permit not those who put their trust in thee to be confounded, and to be held up as a laughing-stock. I have placed all my hope in thee, and thou art that God who, for the sake of thy goodness and truth, hast never deserted those who hope in thee. If thou shalt suffer me to be confounded, the enemies to triumph, and my hope to be placed in thee in vain, certainly this shame shall fall upon thine own name … Let us, therefore, learn from this place to be more anxious about what may happen to the name of God through us, than to our own; whether it be through us in doing, or in us in suffering. The prophet is fearful lest he should be confounded on account of his hope placed in God, although it was not in his own power, nor could he prevent it…
It is necessary, first, that we should be of those who place their hope in God, then it is necessary that this piety of our hearts should not be confined to ourselves only, but should be known to all those who come in contact with us, even our opponents and enemies; else it is not possible for us to dread this kind of confusion feared by the prophet, when nobody knows that our hope is placed in God. No artist suffers confusion, if he has never shared the good opinion of his fellow men. To no sick man can it be said, Physician, heal thyself, if his reputation for medical skill has never stood high. So of those, it cannot be said, They hoped in God, let him save them if he will have them, of whom it was never remarked that they placed any hope in God. This solicitude, therefore, belongs only to those whose hope is in the Lord: upon others it cannot fall. – Musculus.

Trust that endures and provides is only in the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Truth: Creation

The following is a quote from Dr. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

The denial of a historical Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and the solitary first human pair severs the link between Adam and Christ which is so crucial to the Gospel.
If we do not know how the story of the Gospel begins, then we do not know what that story means. Make no mistake: a false start to the story produces a false grasp of the Gospel.

You may read the articles by clicking here and here.

The whole of the Bible is at stake, if the first nine chapters of Genesis are not historically true.  Then, the message of sin, and the good news of the gospel of Christ and His cross would not be needed.

The Bible, including the first nine chapters of Genesis are literally true, the gospel is the good news needed for the world, and Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Woes of Trust

Trusting is a necessary in many places of life.  It is necessary that husbands and wives trust one another fully.  It is necessary that friends trust one another.  It is necessary that business partners trust one another.  In these relationships, if there is little or no trust the relationship will not last long.

Trusting takes a willingness to be the one who takes the loss, should it come to that.  Take a loss without revenge, or getting even.  Trust means being the one who endeavors to right the wrongs, or absorb the wrong in behalf of the other.  This trust of which I presently speak, of course, is of human relationships.  When it comes to trusting the Divine One; our GOD, and Lord, then that trust is completely without risk, in faith.

The people of Judah were trusting in Egypt, yet failing to trust the LORD.  That is Isaiah’s message to the people when he writes to them –

“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!”  Isaiah 31:1 (KJV)

When it comes to the humanity of us we are pretty quick to trust in what we can see.  For instance, if we see a company or an individual who is successful in making wealth, we will almost automatically trust that individual or company to give us good advice, and sometimes even trust them with our wealth.  We judge pragmatically thinking, “If it has worked for them, then, no doubt it will work for me.”  We can end up being “burned”, “Scalped”, and left holding an “empty bag”.

Human reason often leaves GOD out of the matter of safety, economy, politics, personal wealth,  health, etc.  We think “That is not anything I need to concern God about”, or “I can handle this matter myself”.  So thought Israel, and they were trusting Egypt to come to their aid against Babylon, and they were defeated.

It will bring peril for an individual to place their trust in human advice alone; without seeking the LORD’s leadership.  We can go to a financial adviser/counsellor to get advice on a financial matter; however, if this adviser gives shady advice then we better have the counsel of the LORD on the matter; or we will find ourselves in the proverbial “hot water”.   Then, where will that adviser be.

Israel was about to be let down by trusting in the defenses of Egypt and her great army; because they did not have the heart and mind of GOD.

Having safety and security is not dependent upon any human government.  Our economic prosperity is not dependent upon the Congress, the Senate, or the President of the USA.  Our dependence for safety, economic blessing, protection from enemy attack comes only from our LORD, and that only when His people trust solely upon Him.

Woe to them that go to China for help, who trust in their own military might, or the power of the congress, senate and/or President, and power of the dollar; because they are strong; but they look not unto the Holy One…, neither seek the LORD!

Let’s call unto the Lord God, humble ourselves before Him, repent of our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and trust Him to forgive our sins, and heal our land, then we will be renewed and strengthened, and healed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Death Grip

Anyone who thinks or believes that living the Christian life is “easy” has not begun to live the Christian life.  Several years ago, I was preaching in a Baptist Church [my conviction] on the difficulties of living the Christian life.  I had a woman who came to me afterwards and said, “I don’t find living the Christian life difficult.”  Now, I don’t know if she quite got a grasp of what I was saying, or if she did not know what the Christian life was about; but living it is difficult; even when we have the Spirit of God living within.

Death Grip is what sin has on those who are human.  The sad part of that is; that even when someone trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we still have a battle with sin’s death grip.  Every Christian struggles with sin.  We will continue to struggle with it until this body, this shell of flesh we live in takes its last breath, and the heart beats its last beat.

That is why as a Christian we are admonished by the Word of God to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).  The promise of the Word is that we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-17), as long as long as we “have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.  That doctrine, of course, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we struggle against sin.  Yes!  Christians still commit sin.  Not because we love it, but because of the death grip of sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope…” Isaiah 5:18.  Most of our struggle with sin is due to our own weakness to resist it.  We have the power to resist temptation because of the work of Jesus Christ and His “earnest payment” left us; the Holy Spirit.  Yet we are in that death grip.

Back during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ.  Dr. Al Mohler upset a lot of our folks by some comments he made using words, such as “Homophobic” and “Choice”.  It was falsely reported by one news agency that the SBC had recanted and changed its view of homosexuality; NOT SO.

Dr. Mohler believes as I do that homosexuality is sin.  Just as adultery is sin, murder is sin, stealing is sin, lust is sin, murderous thinking is sin, disobedience to God and His Word is sin.  Homosexuality, in scripture is called an abomination.

When an individual comes to faith in Christ we are not perfect, but we enter a state of growth where we are growing more into the image of Christ.  That, though, will not be perfected until we see Jesus face to face.

Sin’s Death Grip is like Isaiah’s iniquity, and cart rope; we still drag that sinful flesh along with us.  It is a burden, a drag, yet we desire to be free from it; and one day we will.  Until then, let us put off the works of the flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we fall, let us take the hand of our Savior, arise forgiven, cleansed, and continue on the journey.

There is forgiveness for all who will call on the name of Jesus Christ in faith.  Christian remember this, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Quiet from the Fear of Evil

The following is from Morning and Evening a daily devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon.  I found this very encouraging and thought it might be for someone else as well.

Morning …

Proverbs 1:33
Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it  shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but He had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah. Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Scarlet Thread – Manna

When looking at the series of “The Scarlet Thread” my intention in doing this is to show Jesus Christ.  As we look at the manna – “What is it?” – is the actual meaning of the word.  We must remember Jesus’s words, “I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:32-35).

Manna was a special bread provide miraculously by GOD for the children of Israel to gather each morning for each day.  It could only be gathered for six days, and enough could be gathered on the six day for the seventh day.  It was given in Exodus 16:14-15.  There is more scripture dealing with it in verses 16 -36.  For the verses we will look at in the book of Numbers I want us to remember Exodus 16:31,

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

Remembering the taste of it was as “Honey”, or “wafers made with honey”, so it had the taste of sweetness in it.

We read in Numbers 11:8,

“And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.”

Then, they go around murmuring that “There is nothing at all, beside this manna”.  Well!  Is it any wonder?  They have taken a perfect substance, made by the hand of God, miraculously provided, a daily provision; and they try to “Improve” it.

According to Jesus in John 6 He Himself is the Bread of Life.  It is not an overstatement for me to say that there is much people today trying to “Improve” on Jesus.  When people are bored with worship of Jesus preachers try to improve it by adding to the Word of God, adding entertainment to draw a crowd, adding worldly music with spiritual words, and that don’t always include the cross of Christ.  All just so they can have a crowd.  They lose their love for Jesus.

When we look at Jesus and think of Him, worship Him, adore Him; what more could we need?  What more could we want?  We are to desire to be like Him.  How can we be like Him.  He desired to do the Father’s will (Luke 2: 49; John 8:29).  We are to live for Him, just as the Scriptures proclaim; nothing of the flesh.

We are not called to draw a crowd.  We are called to be a witness.  We are called to bear the image of Christ.

The manna is the Bread of Heaven who is Christ.  Follow Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

From Dr. David Jeremiah

The following is the daily e-devotional from Dr. David Jeremiah.  I believe you will be blessed, and challenged by it.  I know that I was.

Proclaimers of God’s Word: John Hyde

You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Isaiah 62:6-7

Recommended Reading
Isaiah 62:1-7

John (“Praying”) Hyde sailed to India in 1892 to evangelize Punjab. After struggling for several years, Hyde rededicated himself to working through prayer. He believed Isaiah 62 commands us to remind God of His promises and “give Him no rest” till He answers.

In early 1908, Hyde prayed to win at least one soul to Christ per day. By December 31, he had recorded 400 converts. The following year, the Lord laid two souls per day on his heart, and his prayer was again answered. The next year he prayed for four souls daily with similar results.

Once, stopping at a cottage for water, Praying Hyde asked God for ten souls. He presented the Gospel, and all nine members of the family were saved. But what of number ten? A nephew who had been playing outside ran into the room and was promptly converted.

“Praying” became Hyde’s middle name. It should be ours as well, for the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16, NIV).

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Resurrection – Unbelief and Hardness of Heart; Mark 16:9-14

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”  Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)

By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Who is this Mary?  She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,

“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil.  The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her.  By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her  the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection.  When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.

According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping.  They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus.  Why, O why, would they not believe Mary?  Would not her countenance be aglow with joy?  Would not her words have been filled with excitement?  Saying,  “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive.  I have seen Him.  He has spoken to me.”  I think I would have at least been curious.  This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,

” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”  (John 20:10).

They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.

After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together.  Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus.  Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus.  These two did not recognize Him.  He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him.   When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him.  She thought Him to be the gardner.  Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him.  They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality.  Only by the power of God did they know Him.  Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him.  These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe.  By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,

“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe.  We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude.  Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.

Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief?  He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard.  They had had a wrong attitude toward Him.  He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome.  He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”.  Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s).  They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die.  If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection.  So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.

Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word.  “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”.  You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe.  Would I have been any different?  Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it.  Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Light of the Sun

As I was preparing for my Sunday evening sermon Isaiah 30:26 took on a whole new light for me.

“Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”  Isaiah 30:26 (KJV)

I noticed that verses 18 – 26 have to do with the prophecy of the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth.  It is not called that in the text, but it is speaking of a future day of blessing for Israel when they will all turn to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah.

In our day we are being warned to not go out into the sunlight for too long at a time.  “You can get skin cancer”, we are told; and that may be true, but look at the verse above.

I have for years thought this to be a part of the judgment to come on the earth due to mankinds rebellion against God and disobedience to His Word.  However, I do see now that this is speaking of the sun being a healing agent during this wonderful time of Christ’s blessing.

Notice that it says the “Light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun”.  The night sky will be so bright as to help crops grow even during the night. Also see that the “Light of the sun shall be sevenfold”.  If that means seven times brighter during the day; just imagine the perfection of the sunlight during that time.

No more need to worry about the affects of sunlight, but there will be rejoicing, and healing in the sunlight.

Even in our day there is a need for the sunlight, and there has been much of it recently.  Without the sun we would freeze to death, and not even exist.

Without the Son of God we would be forever condemned, and die and go to hell forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Morning Devotion from C. H. Spurgeon

I read the morning devotion for June 10 by Charles Spurgeon this morning, and it touched my heart.  I want to share with the few who come here.

Romans 14:8
We live unto the Lord.

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, He might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is-they are here that they may “live unto the Lord,” and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as “workers together with Him.” Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to “the praise of the glory of His grace.” Meanwhile we long to be with Him, and daily sing-

“My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
‘Rise up, and come away.'”

I pray the Lord uses this to draw you nearer to Him.

T.A.

Beauty is a Fading Flower

Chapter 28 of Isaiah the prophet begins a series of “Woe” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem; and within these woes are also promises, encouragements to lead them back to YaHWeH the Eternal, Self-Sufficient One who called them to Himself.

The Northern kingdom called Ephraim in our text was prideful and fell.  The “Woe” is warning Judah of her fall should she fail to repent and turn again to the LORD.  The problem with Judah was they were putting more faith in the power of politics, and the politicians of their day than in the LORD, thus were failing to heed God’s leadership.  Just as Israel’s pride brought them down so too would the pride of Judah bring them down; like the beauty of the fading flower.

“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!  Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.  The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.  In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” Isaiah 28:1-6 (KJV)

Ephraim had a problem with parties, drinking inebriating drinks, and their leaders all conspiring to do the same.  Their judges, priests and others; along with their prophets in drunkenness (v. 7); making rule and law in their soberless state of mind.  Is it much different in today’s USA?  Not at all.  Warren Wiersbe quotes a U.S. government official in his book on Isaiah “Be Comforted”  as having said,

“We have three  parties in this city [Washington D. C.]: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the cocktail party.”

I don’t doubt that to be true.  I wonder how many of our leaders go into their Congressional sessions, Senate sessions, and even investigations under the influence of alcohol?  Is it any wonder that our nation is in the bankrupt condition it is in.  The beauty of the United States and her glory is quickly fading and will continue until the Lord Jesus returns or their is revival in the land.

In verse sixteen we read,

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”

When God’s people are resting upon the LORD, trusting in Him there will be no need to fear or flee from what is coming into the world, or a nation.  Our hope, our only hope is in the LORD.  It is not in returning to new tax structures, political ideologies, or even only to making right laws.  We need to return to the fear of the LORD, and set our hearts on Him alone.

The LORD has said, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…” and that is not just an Old Testament thought, but one of Paul the apostle’s writings as well (Romans 9:33).  That Stone was rejected, tried, beaten, mocked, and finally hung on a brutal cross where He bled and died for the sins of the world.

In verse 21 God says He will do a “strange work”.

“For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.”

Just what is this “Strange work”, “Strange act”?  It appears to be that God will allow His people’s own sin to be their judgment.  Even the prophet Jeremiah says,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…” Jeremiah 2:19a

Maybe like your mother letting you gorge yourself on that jar full of cookies, after telling you two or three times, “Only one!”, and then you end up feeling deathly ill, throwing up, and in bed the rest of the day.  Moses said, “Be sure  your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

One thing we can be assured of, and that is that God does His work; His strange work, His strange act in the order it should be in.  That is the prophet’s message in verses 23 – 29;

“Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?  When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?  For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.  For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.  Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.  This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”

Isaiah uses the illustration of the farmer plowing and sowing seeds.  It is done in an orderly manner.  The ground is plowed and prepared then each type of seed is sown according to its own fashion.  The fitches and cummin [seeds for condiment purposes] are scattered or broadcasted around on the ground.  Wheat and barley are sown in  rows.  They are all threshed in different fashion as well.  Some of the harvest grains are threshed by beating, some are rolled with a crushing wheel.  I hope you see the picture.

God’s judgment will not always be the same for everyone.  It will, however, come due, and there will be judgment according to God’s own grace and mercy.  Remember that the judgment we are talking about is not on the world, but upon God’s own people.  Peter the apostle wrote,

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV)

Isaiah’s warning Israel and Judah is also a warning to those who are Christians.  Get right with God, and be right with God always.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Vineyard of Red Wine

The title above comes from verse two of Isaiah 27.  It is a far cry from the verses of chapter five of the prophet.  A vineyard in chaos, worthy of destruction, and to grow without care and protection from its owner.

“In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.” Isaiah 27:2 (KJV)

I know nothing of the flavor of “red wine”, but I have drank the sweet flavorful juice of the red grape, and it is fabulous.  That is what the LORD and the prophet Isaiah is telling us.  No more will Israel be judged, but, rather she will be fruitful, flavorful, and sweet.  She will blossom as a rose and her enemies will be put away.

The LORD says, “I will keep it night and day” (v. 3).  Then to leave no doubt of whom He is speaking He says,

“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”  Isaiah 27:6

Through the many years Israel has departed from the LORD and through those many years God has chastised them, and continues to chastise them.  God is working in the nation to bring them to the place where they will love Him, and He will prosper them greatly; just as He has promised for all these years.  Not one word of God will fall, or fail.

“Hath He smitten him, as He smote those that smote him? or is He slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by Him?  In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.   By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”  Isaiah 27:7-9

The LORD will not have mercy on those who had or have no mercy on the people of Israel.  He will show them no favor (v. 11).  There will be no grace [favor of God] toward those who have rejected Him and His people.  When will this come to pass.  I don’t know.  I believe it will be soon; and by that I don’t mean tomorrow or even next year; but within the years of God’s own timing.

In that time all God’s people of Israel will gather to worship their Messiah around the throne in Jerusalem;

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”  Isaiah 27:12-13

One of the things that Christians and unbelievers can learn from this is that God will carry through with His promises.  Not one word shall fall to the ground.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Rest assured Christian.  Repent and believe unbeliever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Samuel – The Ark of God is Taken

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The new Nation of Israel was a moral mess.  Its spiritual leadership was the main culprit.  They believed God to be in a box which they had carried through the wilderness for many years until they arrived at the Promised Land.

You know as long as you have God in a box you can live however you choose; believe whatever you choose; ask “God” whatever you choose.  He must answer to you.  Right?  That assumption is entirely WRONG.  It is not only a lie of evil and Satan; it is absolutely wrong.

“And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.  And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”  1 Samuel 4:10-11 (KJV)

In the text above Israel has been at war with the Philistines, and is losing the war; they send for the box; the one they have “God” in; believing that if the box (the ark of the covenant) is in their midst, then they cannot help but win the battle and the war.

This is a case of much assumption.  Yes! the ark is holy, and it does signify the presence, power and glory of God.  It is not, however, a rabbits foot, a magic wand, a wishing well, or an object of worship.

The question could be and should be asked, “Why did God allow the ark of the covenant to be taken, and Israel to be defeated?”  There are many answers.  I will give two.

  1. The spiritual leadership of Israel was in default.  Hophni and Phineas were being unjust in their dealings with the people and especially the women (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22), and Eli their father did nothing about it; but tolerated their wicked behavior.
  2. It would greatly appear they had the wrong view of God.  They believed Him to be in their “box”, and that by having the “box” with them they could ask anything, do anything, and have any victory they desired.  This proved to be fatally, and unmistakably wrong.  The evidence is in the fact that the ark of God was taken, Hophni and Phineas, are dead, and Eli even dies upon hearing the news of the arks being taken (4:18).  Ichabod is also born in the defeat.

There is and can be only victory when the children of God are obedient to our Master, and live doing His will.  That was the heart and will of Jesus (John 5:19, 30).

God is not at our disposal to ask a petition of Him; no matter how we live our lives; or just in the time of trouble and trials.  Those who know Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ know Him to be faithful, however, we also know that we too are to be faithful as His slaves.  He is to be trusted, believed, obeyed; and even when we feel – and let me emphasize “FEEL” – He is not near, or does not hear.

No Christian has power over God.  No individual has power over God.  When we think we rule; GOD will overrule.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Acts – 042711

There has not been much posted here on Acts, but I do want to end with one observation as we look at verses 22 – 24 of chapter 28;

“But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.  And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.”  Acts 27:22-24 (KJV)

Paul the apostle is in Rome about to be tried for the charges his own people have brought against him.  He has been charged with saying things against them, and supposedly against their God; in blasphemy.  Rather than speaking against their God he has spoken plainly, using the Old Testament scriptures they adhered to and proclaiming Jesus Christ their Messiah.

The word “sect” was used, most likely, as a derogatory term meaning that the teaching of Christianity was heretical and was worthy of judgment.  Paul took time with those who came to him expounding the Word of God, and preaching the kingdom of God, persuading some to believe and follow Jesus Christ.

We have the testimony here that “some believed”, and “some believed not” and that is pretty much how things are in our time; as every other time since Paul.

If you will believe the gospel of Jesus Christ then, you will have the assurance of eternity with Him.  If you reject Jesus and His gospel, then you will die and eternal death.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Stone Rolled Away – Mark 16:1-8

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?’ 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, ‘Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. 7 But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.’ 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”  Mark 16:1-8 (KJV)

Three ladies, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb where Jesus was laid.  Remember, they had witnessed where Joseph of Arimethea had buried Him (15:47).  There is no mistaken.  They went to the right tomb.  It was very early in the morning, the day after the Sabbath [Saturday], and so it was early Sunday morning the “First day of the week”.

These ladies had a very committed love, respect and awe for Jesus.  They, too had forgotten His words of resurrection.  The eleven apostles had forgotten and were discouraged, doubting, disabled, and in hiding.  For three days now, since the crucifixion, they had been without Jesus.

The “First day of the week” these three women have bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  The “First day of the week” they came to the tomb where they had witnessed Joseph lay His body.  They came with a question.  “How will we roll the stone from the door?  Will the guards roll it away for us?”  The stone had not only been rolled over the door, but it had also been sealed with the Roman seal (Matthew 27:66), so it is highly unlikely that Roman guards would have touched it.

Upon arrival at the tomb, they found the stone had already been rolled away, and that they could enter freely.  Upon entering the tomb, they see a “Young man” sitting there in the empty tomb.  They are “affrighted” which means, “G1568 ἐκθαμβέω  ekthambeō  ek-tham-beh’-o  From G1569; to astonish utterly: – affright, greatly (sore) amaze.”  This word means more than afraid, but rather, also “Amazed – utterly amazed”.   This was an angel, who Mark describes as a “Young man”.  He was probably youthful in appearance, but in reality he was an angel – a messenger of God.  His message to the ladies was for them to go and tell the disciples ‘and Peter’ that He had risen.

There is a particular message here for Peter.  Though, Peter was a disciple of Jesus he had denied the Lord during the trial, and was most likely feeling that the Lord would have nothing further to do with him.  This would have been an encouraging word for Peter, to let him know the Lord Jesus had not forgotten him, and that there was a place for him.  It is also an encouraging word for all Christians who, at one time or another have failed to be the Christians that we should be, that God is not finished with us and that, He still has a place for us.

When the ladies had heard the messengers words they left quickly with fear and trembling, and it says they told no one of what they had seen and heard.  Of course they went and told the disciples.

On this Resurrection weekend, remembering the day our Lord was raised from death; let’s commit anew to sharing with all whom God gives us opportunity that Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed.

-Tim A. Blankenship