Hope In The End

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.’

Thus saith the LORD; ‘Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.’ ” Jeremiah 31:15-17 (KJB)

The prophecy of Jeremiah of the children after the birth of the Messiah, the Christ; and according to Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 2:16-18) is verse 15. It also may have been of near events of the prophecy as the taking of the young to Babylon, and the slaughter of innocents.  Consider Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and probably others.

There is a promise that these children would come again to their own borders.  The borders of the land of Judah and Israel. The borders of their tribes.  At any rate to the borders God would give them.  They would return.

We are all expected to have an end. This life is only temporary.  There is, however, much hope for those who are in Christ Jesus. This hope is built not upon wishful thinking, positive thinking, or the dreams of dreamers.

This hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and His righteousness.  He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.  Because of this marvelous gift of God we now have access to the very throne of God. We are redeemed, bought with a price. We are promised eternal life by grace through faith in Him.

It has been said, “All good things must come to an end”; but eternity never ends. The promises of God have no end. They are eternal. Be a part of the promises of God by coming to Him through Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Leaven and Bread

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.  And He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not?, and having ears, hear ye not?, and do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’
They say unto Him, ‘Twelve.’  ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’  And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?’” Mark 8:14-21  (KJB)

Leaven is an ingredient which causes bread to rise giving the appearance of being more than what it is.  It is puffed up.  It is often used in Scripture as representative of evil and its influence in people, and doctrines of religion and men.

The leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Herodians which the Sadducees were part of and was more political than religious.  The Pharisees were always twisting Scripture to fit their own understanding to keep the people in bondage to them, and their understanding of Scripture.  They put burdens on others that they would not do themselves.

I realize there is more to understand in the above verses than of leaven, but it was the words of Jesus ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ which aroused my attention this morning.

Using Scripture to control others as did the Pharisees, and they tried to control Jesus too but could not; is an evil beyond description.  The preacher, the messenger of the word of God is to proclaim the truth of the word of God [Scripture] with clarity, understanding, and love letting the word and the Holy Spirit convict, comfort, encourage, and draw the lost, condemned soul to God.

Having a “Must do” list in order to be saved is leaven to the Scripture.  Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is solely the work of God.  Let us leave it there.

You Are Not In Darkness

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

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

Stedfastly Set Your Hearts Unblameable

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
But now when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that you have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all even as we toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

REFERENCES: 1 Corinthians 7:5; Acts 17:15; 18:1; 26:7; Philippians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 13:9; Zechariah 14:5

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah (2)

As a Shepherd doth His Flock

“Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”  Jeremiah 31:10-17 (KJV)

Serve the LORD Only

Shiloah Baptist Church

Reading today from 1 Samuel 5 – 7…

“And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.” 1 Samuel 7:3-4 (KJB)

When a people group or one person get away from God that group or person needs to return to the Lord.  The people of Israel had drifted away from God and worshiped false gods of the people of the land that they had won.

These were snares and thorns to their lives; from loving God the LORD, and being blessed by Him.  There is no mixing of…

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Avoiding Shipwreck

The following thoughts are not original with me.  I heard it from another preacher, teacher, and apply my own thoughts and words to it; with the exception of the verses of Scripture.

Avoiding tragedy is not always possible, but if we would keep our eyes open, and our ears attentive we could see the way God is working, and hear His words of warning.

If we, like the men on board, the captain of the ship as well as the crew, with Paul ignore the warning, we have put ourselves in great danger.  The danger these had gotten into was life threatening to all on board the ship.  Paul was on  his way to stand trial in Rome, and he was going there by ship through the Med.

There are some great spiritual, as well as practical truths we can learn from these verses in chapter 27, and the journey by ship through the Med Sea.

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” Acts 27:9-14 (KJV)

From verse 9 we can learn that there is danger in being impatient.  Impatience can definitely endanger life.  As Christians it shows a lack of trust and unbelief in God’s providence, and His knowing what is best for His children.

See Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 40:31

Secondly we can learn that not all expert advice is godly or right (Acts 27:11).  The “Expert” may know the natural, but not the supernatural power of God.  The centurion was being a good soldier, and trusted the ship master and the owner, but did not believe the servant of God.  Check out 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.  Many an expert has been wrong.  God is never wrong.  See Luke 5:3-6.

Third, the places we may see of no comfort, may be a place of refuge (v. 12).  Comfort may be a peril of its own.  We Christians, especially in the U. S. of A.  are addicted to our comforts.  Comforts can draw us away from our faith which must be continually growing.  Killing our peace of heart and mind.  We must learn to be content with however God blesses us.  Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Fourth, following majority opinion may not be the direction God would have us take (v. 12).  Sometimes, if there is even one who is in disagreement; that one individual may be the one who is being led by the Spirit of God.  To make life changing decisions, even life saving decisions, and for growth, there should be “All in one accord” within the body of Christ (Acts 2:1).

Fifth,  favorable circumstances may be a sign of worse to come (v. 13).  Such times are times to be aware, and alert to other possibilities.  There are times to remain where we are; to stay put and not weigh anchor.  We must learn that judging by circumstances; whether good or bad can be disastrous.  Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.

Sixth, the surest way to avoid shipwreck (v. 10).  Listen to God’s word, from God’s messenger.  Pay attention to the signs.  Delays in schedule.  Some of these may be “Closed doors”.  Remember that God knows what is best.

Though the ship master and owner did not listen to Paul, God’s servant, they made it to safety by the grace and providence of Almighty God.  The ship wrecked, but all were saved alive, by following the direction the apostle Paul gave through the Spirit of God (vv. 31, 43, 44). Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Reverence, Rest and Results

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Chapter nine begins by telling us of Saul.  He is known as Saul of Tarsus a Pharisee, passionate about the Hebrew religion, and the death of any who spoke of the Christ as the Lord Jesus.

In his endeavors of religious lust he set out to kill, and destroy the Christian faith, and was very aggressive in doing so.  This chapter deals mostly with his glorious conversion to faith in Christ Jesus, believing in His death, burial and resurrection.

The early Church was fearful of Saul.  They fled from Jerusalem because of him; not knowing it was the will of God to scatter the Gospel of Christ into the world.  It is amazing and wonderful and marvelous how the Spirit of the Lord moves and works in our lives.

I have, for many years, found verse 31 of chapter 9 fascinating, and enlightening.  After Saul’s conversion the churches of Judea and Galilee and Samaria experienced “Rest” – the persecution had lightened up.

I want you to notice what happened, and this is a lesson for the Church of all ages;

  1.  They were walking (the Church was walking) in the fear of the Lord;
  2.   They were experiencing the comfort of the Holy Spirit;
  3.   The Church was multiplying in number – people were coming to faith in Jesus.

What does that mean for the Christian Church today?  We must walk in the Spirit of God; that means with reverence, fear of God, His Spirit and His Word; believing His Word, loving His Word, and applying it to our lives, in daily living.

If we are to experience the “Comfort of the Holy Spirit” that comes also loving God, and His Word.  How can a child of God through Jesus Christ grow in faith in Him without a daily diet of God’s Word?  We cannot.  Neither will their be any comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Christian Church today can only rightly increase in number as people come to Christ, not necessarily “To Church”, but to Christ Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection.

When the Church; which is the Body of Christ – has Reverence and Rest, then there will be Results.

Christmas Day Sixty Five

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want the family of my friend who passed away last Sunday to be comforted, encouraged and strengthened today as we go to his graveside service, and as God’s word is spoken, the gospel of Christ is proclaimed, and hearts and lives to be changed.

Last night at the visitation, hundreds of friends, and neighbors came in to honor Doyle, and to comfort and encourage the family.

Christmas Day 70

What do I want for Christmas today?

Those of us at the Cassville R-IV School District had a great work associate, and friend pass away suddenly yesterday.

I want for peace, comfort, encouragement, grace and mercy to permeate his family, that every need they have will be met in their loss; and want us all to pray for them in the days to come.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15

Day Two Hundred Seventy and Nine

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the people, the families of victims in the bombing in Brussels, Belgium to be comforted, strengthened, and to be drawn near to the Lord Jesus Christ through these horrible events.

Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5 (KJV)

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28

Day Three Hundred and Six

What do I want for Christmas?

I want everyone to know that Jesus must be coming really soon, because I am getting very uncomfortable, every passing day, with this world, and all that is going on in it; and I know other true followers of Jesus are growing more uncomfortable with it too.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV)

Day Three Hundred and Nine

What do I want for Christmas?

On this LORD’S Day I want the presence of the Lord Jesus to be evident in our Church at Shiloah Baptist Church of Jenkins, Missouri; and for the Holy Spirit to move in conviction where it is needed, comfort in the hearts which need comfort, encouragement, and give all boldness and courage to be the witnesses for Him that we ought to be.

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (NKJV)

Vain Preaching versus Biblical Preaching

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise Me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” Jeremiah 23:16-17 (KJV)

The word of God was despised in Jeremiah’s day. They claimed to hear it. They claimed to believe it. The prophets of whom God is speaking through Jeremiah were those who went by their own visions and dreams; not the Word of God.

No visions of men or women can be trusted when they in fact go against what God has spoken and said through the written word. God says, “The words of the prophets… they make you vain…” These prophets spoke comfort, encouragement, and peace when the priests, and prophets were living in idolatry, and adultery, and lusts.

They were crying “Peace, peace”; and there was not peace. The enemy was all around. Most of the people were following the liars, deceivers, and frauds. God’s judgment through Babylon was just outside the gate.

It is vanity for the preacher to preach peace, love, encouragement, and comfort without dealing with sin, and pointing the lost, condemned and dying to Jesus Christ and His finished work of the cross – His death, burial and resurrection. Paul the apostle wrote by the Spirit of God,

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

The cross is the means of your salvation, and the salvation of the world; for those who will believe.

O people, the earth is in trouble; you are in trouble without Christ. Evil abounds. Grace still abounds more, but not to the neglect of dealing with our sins, through the cross of Jesus.

There will be no personal peace, no comfort, no encouragement, until Jesus is your personal Lord and Saviour.

Comfort for the Broken Hearted

“Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Psalm 69:20-21 (KJV)

You have experienced it I am sure. Those times when you think a friend or loved one will stand with you, and for you; and they do not. The Psalmist David was experiencing one of those times when this Psalm was written.

Within it are 5 verses which are quoted in the New Testament concerning the Messiah. He had one of those days too. They gave Jesus vinegar to drink, mixed with gall, but He did not drink it (Matthew 27:34). That was while He was dying on the cross.

Now, what is “Gall”? It is a poisonous, bitter herb. It has come to mean “bitterness” like from others. What is reproach? “To find fault with (a person, group, etc.); blame; censure.” from Dictionary.com.

These words “Reproach”, “Gall” and “Vinegar” show us that the Psalmist was hurting and no one was coming to his aid. We have all felt that way at one time or another. Let us remember our Saviour.

Jesus was a sinless, blameless, faithful Man of God, and Son of God, who did always those things that pleased the Father/God. He was accused of blasphemy against God. He was found guilty of sin, which He was not guilty of. He was given vinegar mixed with gall for “refreshment” while He was suffering. Do you still think you are having a bad day?

Not only all of that, but then, He was rejected by the Father, because He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Can you imagine the most heavenly man who ever walked on earth, being forsaken by all of heaven; when just hours before the angels of heaven were in attention awaiting His call to deliver Him; which did not come; and they now have turned their backs to Him?

If you think you have had it so bad; you have a lot of gall.

But Jesus said,

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus knows your broken heart, your every need, and He will not give you gall or vinegar to drink.

Speed Deliverance

“Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD.” Psalm 70:1 (KJV)

Like the Psalmist most of us often feel the pressures of this life; work, home, family, friends, even society and culture; pushing us, crowding us, holding us, even destroying us.  At least that is how we feel at times.

It  is in these times we plead for help.  Many who know not God through His Son Jesus will seek out solace, and comfort from sources which will only lead to more problems, and addictions.

For the Christian, born again by the Spirit of God, it is always the right time to plead for God’s deliverance, His help, His strength, His comfort.

If you are an non believer, no follower of Christ Jesus, and you find yourself in a quandary; you realize you cannot solve the problem of life, you realize you are a condemned, dying, person; then is the right time for you to cry out to the Living God for deliverance.  He will with all speed come to your deliverance.

Christian brother and sister; never fear God makes haste to come to you aid.  You may call out to Him from what ever situation you may find yourself.  He hears, He comes, He delivers, and gives you peace.

To GOD for Deliverance

“Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.” Psalm 59:1 (KJV)

Oh that I had a heart like that of David.  David often; as we read in the Psalms; would go to God when he found himself in peril.  I try too often to deliver myself, and that is usually to my own peril until I plead for God’s help, God’s deliverance.

Here are Spurgeon’s words on this verse,

“Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God.” They were all round the house with the warrant of authority, and a force equal to the carrying of it out. He was to be taken dead or alive, well or ill, and carried to the slaughter. No prowess could avail him to break the cordon of armed men, neither could any eloquence stay the hand of his bloody persecutor. He was taken like a bird in a net, and no friend was near to set him free. Unlike the famous starling, he did not cry, “I can’t get out,” but his faith uttered quite another note. Unbelief would have suggested that prayer was a waste of breath, but not so thought the good man, for he makes it his sole resort. He cries for deliverance and leaves ways and means with his God. “Defend me from them that rise up against me.” Saul was a king, and therefore sat in high places, and used all his authority to crush David; the persecuted one therefore beseeches the Lord to set him on high also, only in another sense. He asks to be lifted up, as into a lofty tower, beyond the reach of his adversary. Note how he sets the title “My God,” over against the word “mine enemies.” This is the right method of effectually catching and quenching the fiery darts of the enemy upon the shield of faith. God is our God, and therefore deliverance and defence are ours.

from THE TREASURY OF DAVID

Do you find yourself in a world of hurt, pain, despair, doubt, fear, anguish?  Your only help that will give you peace, and comfort is found in the One who made you from the dust of the earth.  He may not end the trouble or trial; but He will give you peace through it.

All That Your Eyes Have Seen

All That Your Eyes Have Seen

Deuteronomy 11:1-9

1.  Israel had seen the loving hand of God (v. 2).

2.  Israel had seen the miracles of God (v. 3).

3.  They had seen how God deals with rebellion (v. 6).

4.  They are called to keep the commandments (v. 8).

 

I.  THE CHRISTIAN CANNOT BEGIN TO NAME ALL THE THINGS WE HAVE SEEN OF GOD (1 Cor. 2:9; Isaiah 64:4).

II.  THE CHRISTIAN COUNTS THE GREATEST MIRACLE TO BE THAT OF NEW BIRTH IN CHRIST (John 3:1-8).

III.  THE CHRISTIAN IS COMFORTED, CONVICTED, AND CORRECTED BY THE ABIDING PRESENCE OF GOD’S SPIRIT (John 16:7-11).

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).

 

1. We ought to always be watching – on look out for the working of God.  If not in ourselves in the lives of others and places and things around us.

2.  We need to be open for God to work a miracle in our own hearts and lives every day.

Having a “Bad day” is that opportunity for God to work.

3.  We ought to always have our hearts and ears and eyes open for the comforting, convicting, correcting work of God’s Spirit in us.

4.  We are to always keep the commands of our Lord.

Loving God; loving one another is the work of God in us.

Watch always for the “Great acts of the LORD”.

They Shall Be Comforted

The Beatitudes continuing…

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (KJV).

Remembering that the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY definition for ‘attitude’ is ‘the position of something in relation to something else’ we can see this Beatitude as the attitude of sorrow for something that is not correct. Seeing ourselves in ‘the position of sin and against God’ should bring us to tears and sorrow. Seeing others in sin should cause us to mourn for them.

Because we sin, and when we realize our sinfulness, that should bring us to our knees. People of our day love laughter. They will pay really good money to go hear a comedian make them laugh. They will sit for hours watching situation comedies on television for the laughing. People will set around telling funny, though sometimes vulgar stories just for a laugh. Am I against laughter? Not at all. Are we supposed to spend all the time of our lives in mourning? I do not believe so. There is a time for everything, for everything a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). As a matter of fact the Bible even mentions laughter. Isaac; the son of Abraham and Sarah was named laughter – that is the meaning of the name Isaac. The writer of Proverbs said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” Proverbs 17:22 (KJV).

For the most part; considering the condition of the hearts of people, and even professing Christians, we should be mourning the situation of our hearts and lives before God. Our lives and the lives of friends and loved ones. Laughter helps us feel better now, but still people are perishing, our lives grow colder, and more distant from God, and we laugh. While we mourn we pray for the perishing; we pray for our growth in grace; we pray for our friends and family. There is comfort for those who mourn.

There will be comfort when we see that lost loved one come to faith. There will be comfort when we can see our lives growing in grace. There will be comfort as we see family and friends blessed. There is an ultimate comfort for those who mourn. It will be when we are forever in the Kingdom of our King. O, such laughter and joy there will be. We can have it now as we see the lost redeemed; as we see brothers and sisters growing in Christ.

Happy in the Kingdom

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”  ~Jesus   (Matthew 5:1-12)

Is God Missing In Your Life?

The Word of the LORD is important to the prophet of God. Without the Word he has no message. No message of any importance anyway. The most important message the people need is that of what God says.

It is sad when we hear news reports of missing people. Here, of late, we have heard especially of young women, wives, and mothers missing. Some of them end up being found dead. No one enjoys hearing of a missing individual, but how would we feel if God were missing? Would we even notice?

For the second time in the second chapter of Jeremiah we have a “Thus says the LORD…” (vv. 2, 5). Jeremiah realized that since God had called him to be a prophet, and not just a prophet of men, but a prophet to proclaim only the Word of the LORD, with promise of protection, keeping, and power in the words He would proclaim (1:17-19).

In verses two and three God reminds them of their early faith, and holiness. Now the prophet addresses, at God’s direction, their forsaking God. They had gotten to a state of comfort, which led to a lethargic, complacent mindset, and then, completely turned their backs on God.

Hear the Word of the LORD:

“Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.” Jeremiah 2:4 (KJV).

There seems to be a message of warning in this phrase alone. The name “Jacob” was a name of self-dependence; of one’s using their own methods to accomplish their own ends. Jacob had trusted the LORD God, and God changed his name to Israel. “Jacob” actually meaning ‘Heel catcher’ because he had a handhold on Esau’s foot when they were born. “Israel” meaning ‘Prince of God’, or ‘He struggles with God’. (NOTE: You can find this history in Genesis 32:22-32). So in addressing them as “House of Jacob” could it be that the LORD, through the prophet, is reminding them from whence they came; that they have forgotten their faith?

 “Thus saith the LORD, ‘What iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? Neither said they, ‘Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?  And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled My land, and made Mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, ‘Where is the LORD? And they that handle the law knew Me not: the pastors also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.'”  Jeremiah 2:4-8 (KJV)

Easy living, comfort, the fatness of the land, or a good economy, are some of the things that lure people away from faith, and trust in the LORD God. It can happen so easily. For a Christian today it starts by neglecting your daily quiet time with the Lord. It continues as you neglect your prayer life. The next thing you know you missed a Sunday morning worship gathering due to being up too late Saturday night – you were out with friends, went to a movie, or just did not take an initiative to be in bed to get to church as usual. It really does not take much effort for a child of God to get away from godly practice.

The worship of Baal can be as simple as seeing other things as more important than that personal quiet time with God. Be careful. Be careful to maintain that quiet time, that special time you have with the Lord Jesus each and every morning. In this quiet time you receive strength, and encouragement for the day. You may not think so at the time, but that strength will be there as you need it.

When we start neglecting that personal time with God, the next thing to go will be our worship of God, and fellowship with other believers. The house you live in, the boat, and going to the lake for water skiing or fishing begins taking the place of God, fellowship with Him and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When this happens; you have become a modern day Idol worshiper. Just a thought – is an idle worshiper and Idol worshiper? My answer to that is YES!!!

The prophet Jeremiah reminds the recipients of this message of the work the LORD has done for the Nation (vv. 6-7). God had indeed brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, where no one lived. Though it is not mentioned, per se’, He also provided them with water from the Rock. He is our Water in a dry and thirsty land where no water is (Psalm 63:1).

Twice it is mentioned in this text; the question, “Where is the LORD?” First it was the “fathers” (v. 6), then it is the priests (v. 7). They were not even missing the presence of the LORD. Why would you ask, if you do not even notice that God is missing from your “worship”.  The LORD has come and dwelt among His people.  He went to the cross and died for our sins in the Person of His Son Jesus the Christ.  He was buried carrying all our sin, our guilt, our shame, our condemnation away; then He arose bodily from the grave, and is now seated at the Father’s right hand always interceding for all who will come to Him.

The one’s who saw to the keeping of the scrolls of the law were doing it, and not even knowing the Person of the Law. The Living Word of God appeared to these in His day, they saw His works, they heard His teachings and testimony, and they still rejected Him. They did not know what they had been copying. It was just a job, a task to perform and keep them busy. Something upon which to boasts.

The rulers turned their back on the LORD. They had grown to despise the true prophets of God and chosen the false prophets of men, ie., Baal. That way they heard only what they wanted to hear. There is no profit in the false words of the profit [prophet] makers.

Is God missing in your worship, or have you even noticed?  He is as close as His name.  Jesus.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living – Our Comfort

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (KJV)

In times of sorrow from loss of a family member, a friend, or in times of financial chaos; or some other catastrophic event it is an encouragement to a Christian to know that GOD is the one who comforts us.  He is the source of all our comfort.

Of course we need to realize that He comforts us many times through friends, family, neighbors and loved ones.  Sometimes though these may fail us; and it is then that God will give us peace and comfort through His Spirit who abides within and through His Word.

Through our own trials and tribulations we learn to console and comfort others.

Words for Christian Living – Speech that Edifies

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”  1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (KJV)

Someone once said, “It is better to be thought a fool; than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

In Paul’s writing above he speaks of the spiritual gift of “Tongues” and “Prophecy”.  One of the things I have noticed is that many of  those who claim the “Gift of tongues” want to make it a requirement for the “Baptism of the Spirit”.  Now I am not going to get into that; just saying.  Those may have a bigger problem controlling the tongue, speaking for the glory of God, rather than cursing.

At any rate Paul says Prophesy or Preaching the Word of God for building up, calling for a decision, and comfort is something that will “Edify” the Church; while “Tongues” edifies self.  That is plenty clear to me.

As Christians our speech – the use of our tongues – is to glorify God, build up and encourage, strengthen – by calling for commitment, decision, and trust in the Lord – and comfort the Body of Christ.  Also see James 3:1-12.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Pride, Fulness, and Idleness

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”  Ezekiel 16:49-50 (KJV)

Those who are always fighting for the “marriage” of same sex couples are bringing up the thought that the Bible does not mention the sin of homosexuality as being the cause of God’s judgment upon Sodom.  Well take a look at the above verses.

The “pride” is instantly recognized as setting themselves against the plan of God – going their own way.  Pride of that fashion affects the way people handle their blessings; leading to fulness without sharing it with others; forsaking the poor and needy.  “Haughty” arrogant attitudes lead to any “abomination” you could imagine.  And GOD calls Sodomy/homosexual behavior an “Abomination”.  See Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; and Romans 1:25-28, and there are others throughout the New Testament warning of the perils of this kind of rebellion against God.

-T.A.

The Enemy Within

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

Someone once said, “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”  I do not remember where I heard that or who said it; however, it can be so true; for a nation, a family, community, State, church; and as in the above case; the people who are called by God’s name.

When those who call themselves by God’s name oppose the very Word of God; they become the enemy within, and wreak judgment upon their families, and rob God of the glory that belongs solely to Him.  These same people will begin listening, then, to anyone who will give them comfortable words, lifting them up emotionally; and deny the truth of the Word of God.

Listen people.

-T.A.

 

Day 77 – Shipwrecked, Sin, and Slavery

The world we live in with all the conveniences, comforts, and wealth is not often viewed with slavery, or sin in mind.  As a matter of fact most of the human race would just as soon forget the idea of sin and chalk it up to being an antiquated idea.  An ancient superstition or fear that was in the hearts and minds of people of times long ago.  We are beyond that are we not?  We are a civilized, educated, knowledgeable and technological society free of this “sin idea”.

We better back up and rethink this thought of sin.  My reading this morning of April 17, 2012 was Acts 26-28 and Romans 1-7.

In the reading we find Paul on his way to Rome by ship and the lives of the people on board are in great jeopardy, fear, and loss of life is seemingly imminent.  (I use the word “seemingly” because there is a divine factor involved.)

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, ‘Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.’   Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.”  Acts 27:9-11 (KJV)

The godly wisdom of Paul told him, and I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit gave him enlightenment in the situation as well, that there was great harm awaiting the people and ship if they set sail at this time.  The “Centurion” (Roman soldier) did not listen to Paul, but rather to the captain of the ship.  That seems like the logical thing to do, but it was not the right thing to do.

The ship ends up in a storm.  For fear of their lives cargo, much of the ships gear is cast overboard.  They were in this storm for many days, going without food, and began losing hope of ever seeing land again (Acts 27:20).  Paul has received a visit from “the angel of God” and gives them assurance,

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, ‘Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, ‘Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.  ‘Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.”  Acts 27:21-26

It was just as Paul told them.  They shipwrecked upon an island, are served by the people, and Paul preaches the gospel to them.  Paul goes to Rome, and it is from Rome we receive the Roman Letter.

In Romans 1 Paul deals with the issue of the sins of the nations.  In chapter two the sins of Israel, including the Jewish religious leaders.  We are told that our sins have brought us short of the glory of God (3:23), and that is God’s intent for humanity, ie. to glorify Him.

The idea of slavery comes into this post by way of  chapter 6 and verse 16 through 18,

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”  Romans 6:16-18

Some people do not like to think about, and there may be some who honestly do not even know it; but there is slavery in our technological society.  There is still evil in this world.  There is a slavery where women, children and some men are kidnapped, and taken and sold for outrageous prices (Of course selling people at any price is outrageous).  These are often sold as sex slaves, placed on streets in foreign cities and in the United States.  However, there is a slavery which we all need to deal with on a personal basis; and that is slavery to sin.

Apart from Jesus Christ there is no real freedom.  If sin has dominion of your life you are in bondage.  People say things like, “Religion is bondage” or something like that and try to present the picture that freedom is “Doing as one pleases with their lives”.  One’s who are in Christ Jesus are truly free to do as they desire, because it is God who gives us our desires when we are walking with Him (Psalm 37:4).

Paul says at the end of chapter 7,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  Romans 7:24-25

Turn to Jesus Christ.  The only source of peace, joy, freedom and forgiveness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

To Dwell at Ease

We people who are citizens of the world enjoy our comfort and ease; especially those of us who are citizens of the USA.  We hardly know anything but our own comfort and ease.  Even the poorest among us is far more wealthy than some of the people in what is known as “third world countries”.  Where did that term ever come from anyway? “Third world country”.

God has given a promise to a certain lot of people for an ease to life through the words of the Psalmist –

“What man is he that feareth the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way that he shall choose.  His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.”  Psalm 25:12-13

Fear is a part of human life.  What we fear, and sometimes who we fear will affect how we live.  There are people who fear the unseen, the unknown, the future.  Fear of these things are fruitless and can help no one except cause you pain and grief.

There is a fear that is worth while for all the human race, and that is to fear God, the LORD.  It has been said by godly men down through the ages; I do not think it can be credited to any one individual; that “If a man fears God he will not, nor needs not to fear anything else”.

The Psalm above shows us a bit of that thought.  The one who fears the LORD the LORD will teach him in the way he chooses.  When we fear God we will choose the right way, the right things, the godly things and God will bless them.

To dwell at ease does not mean there will be no problems; but that even in the midst of our problems we will be at ease knowing it is in the hands of our Lord.  The choices the righteous make, or the ones God makes in their lives will be a blessing even to their heirs.

From the Matthew Henry Commentary we read –

Him that feareth the Lord he will teach in the way that he shall choose, either in the way that God shall choose or that the good man shall choose. It comes all to one, for he that fears the Lord chooses the things that please him. If we choose the right way, he that directed our choice will direct our steps, and will lead us in it. If we choose wisely, God will give us grace to walk wisely.
2. That God will make them easy (v. 13): His soul shall dwell at ease, shall lodge in goodness, marg. Those that devote themselves to the fear of God, and give themselves to be taught of God, will be easy, if it be not their own fault. The soul that is sanctified by the grace of God, and, much more, that is comforted by the peace of God, dwells at ease. Even when the body is sick and lies in pain, yet the soul may dwell at ease in God, may return to him, and repose in him as its rest. Many things occur to make us uneasy, but there is enough in the covenant of grace to counterbalance them all and to make us easy.
3. That he will give to them and theirs as much of this world as is good for them: His seed shall inherit the earth. Next to our care concerning our souls is our care concerning our seed, and God has a blessing in store for the generation of the upright. Those that fear God shall inherit the earth, shall have a competency in it and the comfort of it, and their children shall fare the better for their prayers when they are gone.

There are many things in this world to fear.  You can find them, even without looking; but if you will trust the LORD you can face those fears, by knowing that all is in His hands.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Comfort For Hard Times

No one needs reminded of the times in which we live; I am pretty sure of that.  Unless of course you are living on a deserted island somewhere and you would not be reading this anyway.

The economy is in ruins, and the only promises for change is in words of men, it seems at times.  Except for those who find their comfort in the Lord of all creation.  He is our Sustainer, Provider, Protector, Sword and Shield from the enemy who seeks to destroy, maim and kill.

The prophet Isaiah prophesied of judgment coming on Israel in the first 39 chapters of the prophecy; warning them of the coming wrath of the LORD of hosts.  Babylon was coming as God’s agent of judgment on a nation that had forsaken God.  Then we reach chapter 40 and the prophecy changes.

There are scattered words of hope and comfort in those first 39 chapters, however from chapter 40 through chapter 66 there is much more on comforting the people, encouraging the people, and the LORD encourages Isaiah to “Comfort My People!”

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people’, saith your God.  ‘Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”  Isaiah 40:1-2 (KJV)

The world right now is being judged slightly because of flagrant living, loose living, and God’s people forsaking Him and His word.  When I say “God’s people” now I mean those who are Christians.  Those who proclaim they are followers of Christ yet are indulging in the sins of the flesh along with the other bar hopping, lascivious living, and yet announcing to the rest of the world, “I am a Chrisitan”.  If you can live like the world, enjoy its sinful ways, and never hunger for righteousness; you are no Christian.  At the least you are a deceived Christian.  At the worst you are yet in yours sins, and hell is your eternal resting place; unless you turn to Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Well, that does not sound much like comfort does it?  There is comfort for those who live for Jesus.

Just as the prophet was told to comfort God’s people of that day; I can comfort  those who are living for the glory of Jesus Christ today.  There is hope in Christ and living for Him.  There is comfort from the turmoil of this world and its economic distress, diseases, fears and failures.

If you are a Christian and you are miserable living in sins of the flesh, you have left your love for Jesus, His word, and have been disobeyed the leadership of  the Holy Spirit; you are miserable,  and the Lord Jesus is waiting for you to turn back to Him.  He loves you.  He died for you, and rose again from the dead.  Sin no longer controls your life.  Look to Jesus and be free.

The warfare is accomplished – Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death.  Your iniquity has been pardoned – Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross.  O, how marvelous is the grace of our God.  Jesus Christ lives forever more.

Jesus is the only true comfort.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Morning with Spurgeon 072911

The following is the morning devotion by Charles Spurgeon from Morning and Evening:

Psalm 73:23

Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.

    “Nevertheless,”-As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God’s presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings “nevertheless I am continually with Thee.” Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph’s confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say “nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!” By this is meant continually upon His mind, He is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before His eye;-the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in His hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on His heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart for ever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of Thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, Thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in His blood, and thus I stand accepted in Thy presence. I am thus continually in Thy favour-“continually with Thee.” Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within-look at the calm without. “Nevertheless”-O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.”

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Blessing In The Storms

As I sit and write this morning rain is coming down in our area.  Rain is a much needed item here in Southwest Missouri for hay, crops which are grown here, and for all our gardens.  Rain, in short, is a wonderful blessing.  However, there are times it may seem a bit like a curse upon us when we get what we may deem ” a little too much”.

We can see the rain as a blessing when the ground gets too dry, and especially after drought conditions have prevailed for several months.  I think we are in a drought condition spiritually.  I need some rain, and maybe even some storms to come into my life.  We all do; or we just dry up.

I think we need to hear what Job said to his wife when she told him, “Curse God, and die”.

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”  Job 2:9-10 (KJV)

How would we know comforts if we did not know discomfort? How would we know pleasure, if we knew no pain? How would we know good, if we knew no evil?

God is working for the good of those who love Him; and for His own honor and glory.  Let’s rejoice in the storms and evil which comes our way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Horrible Thing

Being told that the word God gives you is going to be as fire and the people to who you speak as the wood would be a very serious thing.  This is what has happened to Jeremiah.  In verse 14 of chapter five Jeremiah is told just that; “…I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”

The weeping prophet I am pretty sure would have been weeping, sorrowing over these words.  He had probably been weeping over the spiritual condition of His people.  Their spiritual and moral condition was not good.  They had an impending threat against them which they were oblivious of.

It is amazing how in a blessed society, of any age, or time how people begin wandering away from the One who has blessed them and begin attributing their blessings to human ability, or human achievements, or maybe even a religion of sorts, and their “faithfulness” to perform their rituals at the expense of truth and faithfulness to the One who has called for their faithfulness.  Those things are what had happened in Judah, Jerusalem.

These things have happened in the world today in nations who once knew God, but have turned away from him.  When they have done so they progressively become prone to dismissing evil actions as being good.  Many of them will claim a rich history of faith, but have none now.  It is a very sad thing when our Creator must speak words of judgment against us to call us back to Himself.

Hear the words of God to the prophet –

“Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.  Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.  Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.  And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.  Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,  Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:  Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?  But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.  For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.  As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.  They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?  A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;  The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”  Jeremiah 5:15-31 (KJV)

The LORD will not leave sin in the midst of those who profess His name.  He will deal with those sins that offend Him.  Those things which offend Him seem not to offend wayward people.  Forsaking Him is the one thing that many seem to be doing today.  It is, however, wonderful to know that there are many who are also coming to Him, and many who are faithful to Him.  What is your relationship with the LORD today?  How is your fellowship with the LORD today?

The prophet is being told that an army is coming which will destroy the nation, the temple, the way of life that they have grown so comfortable with, and yet so lax in sin.  They have presented themselves as a godly people without worshipping God.  They have turned their backs on fellowship with God.

Fellowship with God comes through faith in Christ Jesus.  Fellowship with God is walking with Him.  The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)  That simply means that to walk with God we must walk in agreement with Him.  You aren’t walking with Him when you aren’t walking obediently.

In the middle of this Scripture we do find a promise. It is this, “Nevertheless, in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.” (v. 18).  Even with judgment lurking at the door; they have the promise of God that He is not finished with His people.

I have said it before, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon that, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.  When we sin against Him the Holy Spirit within us will afflict us, make us very uncomfortable with our sin, and bring us back to Him.  We cannot dwell/live with sin in our lives.  To live with sin in our lives, and remain unconvicted, unrepentant, and unmoved would say quite loudly that we are not His.  When we are His God will do whatever is necessary to bring us back into fellowship with Himself; even to the point of taking our wealth, our health, our family, our friends, or our freedom.

This is how the LORD worked in Judah and Israel.  This is also how He can and does work in the lives of Christians.  He is the One who is holy, righteous, and undefiled; and He will have His people to be holy, righteous and undefiled as well.  When He speaks we better listen and obey.

How did Judah and Jerusalem end up with this looming threat over their heads?  Verses 30 and 31 tell us;  “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, the priest bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”

People turning their backs on God because the prophet (preacher) and the priests (the spiritual leaders) do not proclaim the word of the LORD, but their own visions, dreams, hopes [empty] and desires.  They have wanted a following for themselves rather than a holy people for God.  They have feared the people rather than God.

Within Christianity every child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection; is a priest of God.  We all have access to the very throne of grace, before the face of God.  When we fail to have personal time before the throne we fail God, and the people we are witnesses to.

I wonder sometimes just how many churches and pastors there are in our country and the world who actually proclaims the word of God in the language of the people, from the throne of grace?  By our silence of God’s word we condemn the people. We don’t help them with a message of prosperity, self helps, and or self praise.  The word of God is what is needed in today’s world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Pleasure Party of Destruction

The second “Woe” Isaiah mentions is toward those who live in a party mentality most of the time. They love their beer, wine, and hard liquor; and drugs of choice. They live for the time they can lose their mind or minds to feeling nothing. They want to lose control, and be out of control.

Even when these “Hearty Partiers” are sober they are living for the moment they can let it all go. Personally, I have never been able to understand why anyone wants to lose it all. All their money. All their purity. All their senses. All their ability to be in control of themselves – They have worked in factories, offices, different business forms, and under someone else’s control, yet they want to lose control through these drunken parties. No sense.

The New Living Translation (NLT) calls this word “Destruction”. In verse eleven of Isaiah 5 we are told, “Destruction is certain for you who get up early to begin long drinking bouts that last late into the night.” Just the mere act of getting drunk is going to lead to destruction; the destruction of your life and maybe someone else’s.

Many of the children of Judah in Isaiah’s day were living in a ‘party mode’. The land was wealthy. They were wealthy. They had it made. Nothing could happen to “God’s people”. After-all they had God’s assurance that He would never leave them or forsake them. “We have it made in the shade”, and “Who is this prophet anyway, that he should go around telling us what to do?” “We are God’s people. We are free to do as we please, as long as it does not violate our consciences.” So much for consciences.

These, had their music, and Isaiah calls it “Lovely music” (v. 12, NLT), “…But they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the work of His hands” (NKJV). One thing is abundantly clear in this “Woe”, and that is; that it is calling for the destruction, through captivity of God’s people as a nation. They had forsaken God for their pleasures. DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND EVEN REMOTELY FAMILIAR?

We have professing Christian people being advocates for the drinking of alcoholic beverage. “Well! the Bible does not have any provisions forbidding it”, “There is nowhere that Scriptures say, ‘Thou shalt not drink beverage alcohol”. Just because it does not out and out forbid it is no reason to defend it. I could use that same argument for slavery, abortion, polygamy; there is nowhere the Bible that forbids those either. They are definitely forbidden by principle and the teachings written in Scriptures. One of those principles could be seen here in this text. If you are for godly things, and the things of God, then you will not drink, because you know that one can lead to more, which can lead to drunkenness.

Isaiah’s words are written for the future when he writes, “Therefore my people have gone into captivity…”. They will in one hundred plus years go into captivity by Babylon. They are presently in captivity to their pleasures and lusts, and Isaiah says, “Because they have no knowledge”. Hosea the prophet wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”, and previous to that he wrote, “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:6a, 1b NKJV). Why is it that Judah has no knowledge. They have so gotten into comfort, their pleasures, their wealth, their material possessions that God is only secondary. They will give God some notice if it fits into their schedule.

When you lose your knowledge of God; it is because you have gotten away from Him, forsaken Him, His Word, and prayer and worship of Him.

Hear what the prophet writes according to the NLT in verse 14, “The grave is licking its chops in anticipation of Jerusalem, this delicious morsel. Her great and lowly will be swallowed up, with all her drunken crowds. In that day the arrogant will be brought down to the dust; the proud will be humbled. But the LORD Almighty is exalted by His justice. The holiness of God is displayed by his righteousness. In those days flocks will feed among the ruins; lambs and kids will pasture there”

In the United States of America we have a major problem with people departing from God for their pleasures, and still keeping God in the equation. God tells us quite clearly that there is destruction, “Woe” in doing that. If you want to have a clean heart, clear mind, and be in control there is nothing like turning your whole life over to the LORD who died and rose again for you. His name is Jesus. This Jesus Christ is the one who will judge you in these matters.

“Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.” Isaiah 5:11-17 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Married to a Backslider

Married To A Backslider

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

 

Invitation From Jesus

The King’s Personal Invitation

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 (KJV)

After pronouncing “Woe” on three cities Jesus extends an invitation. One of the things that people will answer in most lands ruled by a monarchy is an invitation from the king. If one refuses to answer the kings invitation they are expressing pride, and dishonoring the king. In such a case the king would not look very favorably upon such a person or his household.

There are some prerequisites of the King’s invitation. First of all you must be humble as a child (vv. 25-26). King Jesus is thankful that the prideful are blind to the truth. These are full of pride (the scribes and Pharisees), because of their knowledge and personal works. God is not delighted with sacrifice at the expense of a broken and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:16-17). Children are humble and dependent. This shows us that God is sovereign and that the power of salvation is solely His. He hides His truth from the prideful, ie. prideful in their education, their works, thinking that they have achieved these things, and God owes them for their efforts and accomplishments. God reveals the truths to those who are humble, and know they receive what they receive by God’s mercy and grace. There is no place in Heaven for someone walking around on or in his/her own merit (Ephesians 2:8-10). Heaven is the place of God’s own glory. There is no room for any other. Child like faith is good in God’s sight. Imagine, they have fallen from His glory (Romans 3:23), yet proceed to take it for themselves. The devil was cast out of Heaven because of his prideful attempt (Isaiah 14:12-14).

The second prerequisite is to recognize the revelation is God’s to give (v. 27). God has given “all things” to His Son. It is at the Son’s discretion who will know Him. It is also at His discretion who will know the Father. One cannot know the Father without knowing the Son. Revelation of God is given through His Son Jesus. We see by this that a pride filled individual cannot just decide he wants to know God, and thus know Him. Many times God works through situations and circumstances to humble the prideful. To break their prideful, self-seeking, selfish lifestyles; to remind them that there is a Sovereign God to whom every soul must give an account. The initiative is God’s not man’s (John 6:44). If there is no conviction of sin, and its destruction there is no revelation. If there is no belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus there is no revelation. God pity the soul who receives revelation, yet is without repentance.

There is the need for faith (v. 28a). “…Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is , and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV). Coming to Him believe that He is capable of receiving us. Faith is the gift of God, and without it, there is no pleasing God. Faith believes that which cannot be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted – at least in the physical sense. Our coming to Christ must be with the faith of a child. For some that will be difficult, because of knowledge, education, and just out in out pride. Just as a child trust their parents for sustenance, protection, loving and caring; so to must the man, woman, boy or girl trust Christ Jesus for the greatest need of mankind. We must trust Him for deliverance from sin, death, and/or eternal separation from God. We trust Him for our sustenance, protection, salvation, and eternity. When you reach the place you realize you are too weak from carrying that load of guilt, and you cannot find comfort from the load of sin you have been bearing, and you have fallen beneath that load; Jesus’s invitation is “Come unto Me…, and I will give you rest.”. You can rest in Him alone for your eternal salvation, and in Him you will have eternal joy in the presence of God the Father.

These “prerequisites” are needs that come with the grace given and received. Another one is repentance (v. 28b). Repentance is a one hundred and eighty degree turn around. You were on the road to disaster, on a slippery hope to destruction, and you decided to turn around and go the other way. In the case of God and repentance, He is the One who opens the eyes of sinful individuals, causes them to see their plight if they continue the way they are going, and also shows them the cross of Jesus – His death, burial and resurrection. If you keep going straight ahead you lose eternally. If you turn around by faith you live eternally. People are on a quest for fulfillment, and think they can find it in material gain. Those who realize that material gain is not the answer, but refuse Jesus, sometimes get into mystic religions, and cults which deny Jesus and His deity, and exalt the self, and to their eternal detriment. All of those things which lead away from Jesus are going the same direction as the seeking of material gain. There is only rest for your soul as you yield to Jesus Christ. When He calls us to “Take My yoke upon you…” He is asking us to join in His work. His work is the work of the Father, and we cannot do it except through Him. Doing God’s work requires that we do it His way, and His way is by Jesus Christ. Genuine faith and repentance are necessary alliances of salvation/rest. Faith without repentace is dead. Repentance without faith is purposeless.

Finally, for one to be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must be submissive to His teaching and training. He gives us command to take His yoke (v. 29) to learn of Him, to serve with Him, and this is what is called discipleship. Every soul who is won to Christ needs teaching and training to grow and be more Christlike. We know that His commands are not grievous or burdensome: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” 1 John 5:3 (NKJV). The Pharisees, and lawyers had heaped a grievous burden of law on the people making traditions law. They were heavy with no fulfillment. With they yoke of Jesus He is alongside us. Another name for the Holy Spirit – as “Comforter” (John 14:16) – is “Parakletos” meaning alongside of, or intercessor, consoler. He is Jesus within us as our Teacher, Comforter, Encourager, and Guide (John 16:7, 13-14). Don’t let anyone deceive you the life ahead even with Christ as your Lord and Savior will not be easy. It is not a promise to an easy road ahead. He is promising that He will remain with you, even in you through all of life’s ups and downs. In Him you are accepted. You can lay all your sins, transgressions, and the guilt that goes with it at His feet, and He will never let you down. His love abides forever.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Is God Missing???

Is God Missing?

The Word of the LORD is important to the prophet of God. Without the Word he has no message. No message of any importance anyway. The most important message the people need is that of what God says.

It is sad when we hear news reports of missing people. Here, of late, we have heard especially of young women, wives, and mothers missing. Some of them end up being found dead. No one enjoys hearing of a missing individual, but how would we feel if God were missing? Would we even notice?

For the second time in the second chapter of Jeremiah we have a “Thus says the LORD…” (vv. 2, 5). Jeremiah realized that since God had called him to be a prophet, and not just a prophet of men, but a prophet to proclaim only the Word of the LORD, with promise of protection, keeping, and power in the words He would proclaim (1:17-19).

In verses two and three God reminds them of their early faith, and holiness. Now the prophet addresses, at God’s direction, their forsaking God. They had gotten to a state of comfort, which led to a lethargic, complacent mindset, and then, completely turned their backs on God.

Hear the Word of the LORD:

“Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.” Jeremiah 2:4 (NKJV).

There seems to be a message of warning in this phrase alone. The name “Jacob” was a name of self-dependence; of one’s using their own methods to accomplish their own ends. Jacob had trusted the LORD God, and God changed his name to Israel. “Jacob” actually meaning ‘Heel catcher’ because he had a handhold on Esau’s foot when they were born. “Israel” meaning ‘Prince of God’, or ‘He struggles with God’. (NOTE: You can find this history in Genesis 32:22-32). So in addressing them as “House of Jacob” could it be that the LORD, through the prophet, is reminding them from whence they came; that they have forgotten their faith?

“Thus says the LORD: ‘What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” Jeremiah 2:5-8 (NKJV).

Easy living, comfort, the fatness of the land, or a good economy, are some of the things that lure people away from faith, and trust in the LORD God. It can happen so easily. For a Christian today it starts by neglecting your daily quiet time with the Lord. It continues as you neglect your prayer life. The next thing you know you missed a Sunday morning worship gathering due to being up too late Saturday night – you were out with friends, went to a movie, or just did not take an initiative to be in bed to get to church as usual. It really does not take much effort for a child of God to get away from godly practice.

The worship of Baal can be as simple as seeing other things as more important than that personal quiet time with God. Be careful. Be careful to maintain that quiet time, that special time you have with the Lord Jesus each and every morning. In this quiet time you receive strength, and encouragement for the day. You may not think so at the time, but that strength will be there as you need it.

When we start neglecting that personal time with God, the next thing to go will be our worship of God, and fellowship with other believers. The house you live in, the boat, and going to the lake for water skiing or fishing begins taking the place of God, fellowship with Him and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When this happens; you have become a modern day Idol worshipper. Just a thought – is an idle worshipper and Idol worshipper? My answer to that is YES!!!

The prophet Jeremiah reminds the recipients of this message of the work the LORD has done for the Nation (vv. 6-7). God had indeed brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, where no one lived. Though it is not mentioned, per se, He also provided them with water from the Rock. He is our Water in a dry and thirsty land where no water is (Psalm 63:1).

Twice it is mentioned in this text; the question, “Where is the LORD?” First it was the “fathers” (v. 6), then it is the priests (v. 7). They were not even missing the presence of the LORD. Why would you ask, if you do not even notice that God is missing from your “worship”.

The one’s who saw to the keeping of the scrolls of the law were doing it, and not even knowing the Person of the Law. The Living Word of God appeared to these in His day, they saw His works, they heard His teachings and testimony, and they still rejected Him. They did not know what they had been copying. It was just a job, a task to perform and keep them busy. Something upon which to boasts.

The rulers turned their back on the LORD. They had grown to despise the true prophets of God and chosen the false prophets of men, ie., Baal. That way they heard only what they wanted to hear. There is no profit in the false words of the profit [prophet] makers.

Is God missing in your worship, or have you even noticed?

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Of Faith and Famine

Of Faith and Famine

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.” Genesis 12:10-20 (KJV)

Adverse circumstances hits all of humankind. Christian, non-christian; it makes no difference, and anyone who believes otherwise is deceived, naive, lying, and/or deceiving others. Abram the father of our faith experienced adverse circumstances, made wrong choices, sinned against God; yet was forgiven, and most of what we remember of him is his faith and faithfulness. He is truly an inspiration to our faith

Abram had come to the promised land through his new found faith, and he had much growing yet to do. That could take us back to the Warren Wiersbe quote concerning “…If your feet are going your faith is growing”. Abram, the man of God, found himself in a bit of dilemma. God had called him to this promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now there is a famine in the land. He must have heard that Egypt had it pretty good still; green grass for the sheep and cattle; plenty of food and water to eat and drink. It looks like the best time to consider your comfort in life.

He decides to leave the land of promise. This is a famine of testing. He departs from his trust in the LORD, and goes down to Egypt. He now enters a time of fear, and begins scheming and plotting with his wife Sarai. When he got away from the place of promise he became fearful for his life, and forsook the promise that God had given he and Sarai. Because of this lapse of faith the scheming and plotting is not to protect the promise, but to protect Abram’s life. It is not to protect Sarai’s life and purity, but Abram. That is the path of departure from the promise of God.

As we look at this event in Abram’s life we see that when he went into Egypt he built no altar to the LORD, nor are we told that he “pitched his tent”. At least his heart did not grow fond of the land of Egypt. His altars were still back in the land of promise. It was the LORD who was protecting the promise. It was the LORD who “plagued Pharoah and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife”. It was the Almighty who made the Pharoah aware of the deceit of Abram. There could have been shame brought into the house of Abram, but God protected him. There could have been a sin of impurity committed, but God protected Sarai from that, thus preserving the promise.

Does any of this relate to the Christian life? Most definitely. We too, have been called to leave the land of our sin and the worship of false gods. We too, have been called to a Promised Land of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; a place of new beginning and new life and promise. We are never called by God to leave this place of promise. No matter what adverse circumstances may come our way in faith or in famine we are to stay and grow and believe, and trust the LORD and His provisions through it all. Do we ever leave the place of promise? I am afraid that I have more than once. When I have God has always brought me back to where I departed from to make things right once again. When we are out of His promise we become fearful, and we too will begin plotting and scheming to achieve our own ends rather than God’s. In Egypt we see a picture of the world and its system of doing things. Their way is against the way of God. The way of Egypt is actually attempting to overthrow God and His way. Our attempts of scheming and plotting can only bring harm to relationships that have been formed through our deceit.

Here are the things Abram should not have done: 1) He left the land of promise; 2) He went to Egypt (a picture of the world and its ways); 3) He lies, leads his wife to lie and deceive; 4) In Egypt he has no testimony for God, except how God preserved the promise. Let’s look at what God does: 1) He let Abram go; 2) He protects Sarai’s purity and the messianic lineage – the Promise; 3) God enriches Abram materially; 4) God brings Abram back to the place of Promise.  Fearful thinking is one sign we have left the place of God’s promise.

When the Christian leaves the place of Promise it is because God does not put us in chains to keep us from wrong choices; we too get into worldliness, rebellion, and sin; but God has a wonderful grace in protecting us; protecting the Promise of eternal life in Christ. The riches we receive from the world can be deceptive, delusional, and powerless. Depite the fact that we leave, God is faithful to bring us back to the place where we departed from Him. The LORD Almighty has a way of keeping that Promise and will not let it escape Himself or us.

When, as a Christian, your are faced with famine – adverse circumstances – stay in the place of promise. Never leave it. Never forsake it. Rest assured, that if you have; God is faithful and you will return.