Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Examples of Christian Living (2)

Examples Of Christian Living (2)

This being part two of this message I thought you might like a link to go to the first part, so here it is.

I do want to point out that these are just study notes.  They are not a manuscript of my sermon.  I do not do manuscript sermons.

These notes are from March of 2007 while I was pastor of Carr Lane Baptist Church.

Colossians 4:11-18
OUTLINE –

I. TYCHICUS WAS A MAN WITH THE HEART OF A SERVANT (vv. 7-8).
II. ONESIMUS, WAS A MAN WITH A PAST THAT WAS SINFUL (v. 9).
III. ARISTARCHUS, WAS MAN WITH A SYMPATHETIC HEART (v. 10a).
IV. MARK WAS A MAN WITH A SURPRISING FUTURE (v. 10b).
V. JESUS JUSTICE WAS A MAN WITH A STRONG COMMITMENT (v. 11).
VI. EPAPHRAS WAS A MAN WITH A SINGLE PASSION (vv. 12-13).
VII. LUKE WAS A MAN WITH A SPECIALIZED TALENT (v. 14a).
VIII. DEMAS WAS A MAN WITH A SAD FUTURE (v. 14b, 2 Timothy 4:10).
IX. THE APOSTLE WHO HAS THE MINISTRY OF GOD’S WORD (vv. 15-18).

On news programs and so called documentaries we have recently heard of a casket being found with the name Jesus on it. Supposedly bones were found that belonged to a man named Jesus. Could it have been this one; Jesus Justice? Or could it have been another Jesus? I do know one thing for absolutely certain, the bones in that casket are not the bones of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

We have looked at the first four of these men who were EXAMPLES OF CHRISTIAN LIVING. The following three are good examples of Christian living while the last of the eight is very questionable to say the least.

EVERY CHILD OF GOD NEEDS A STRONG COMMITMENT TO THE LORD (v. 11).

Jesus Justice was a man of commitment. We know that because he left his family, friends, and religion to follow Jesus the Christ, and stand alongside Paul for all those years. It is said of the three, ie., Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justice that Paul writes, are of the circumcision [of course meaning they are Jewish].

There are professing Christians living today who have no strong commitment to anything. I say that because if something goes different from how they desire it they are quick to become angry, be offended, offend others, and sometimes even decide to leave the church they are attending.

In the MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY is written these words,

“Nothing is known of Jesus who is called Justus apart from this verse. It is possible that he was one of the Roman Jews who believed Paul’s message (Acts 28:24). Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means ‘savior.’ That certainly was a difficult name to live up to, but his Latin surname, Justus (‘righteous’), indicates that he in some measure did.” pg. 196.

A thing we can learn from Justus; is that commitment means staying power even when there is no recognition, no appreciation, and that it just seems as though no one cares. Commitment will keep you in place even when the storms blow hard.

There must first be a real commitment to Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. When you are saved you need to find a local church where Jesus is loved, worshiped, served and proclaimed.

THERE IS MUCH NEED FOR CHRISTIANS TO HAVE A SINGLE PASSION (vv. 12-13).

What was the “Single passion” of Epaphras? First of all let’s remind ourselves of who Epaprhas is. He is most likely the current pastor of the church of Collosae. He is the one that saw the lurking dangers of heresy threatening the church, and had gone to Paul for support. He was also most likely the founding pastor of the Colossians church.

Epaphras carried this passion with him on the way to Rome, while he was in Rome, on the return to the Colossian people, and while he was among them. Notice his passion – “…always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (v. 12). There is a Greek word from which the word “laboring” is taken; that is the word ‘agonizomai’ from which our word ‘agonize’ comes. It is the same word that speaks of our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. This pastor was a man devoted to prayer, and agonized in prayer, because he knew he could not meet their needs, but God could.

The things for which he prayed are practical for our church today. He prayed that they would be complete in Christ [‘stand perfect’], growing in Christ, and mental and moral character. In the phrase, ‘Complete in all the will of God’ is the meaning of fully knowing the will of God. It is his prayer. It was his passion. It ought to be the passion of every pastor, of every Christian to be praying to that end for our brothers and sisters.

If we should begin praying this way it would certainly have a very positive effect on the church we worship in. There is one thing we must all realize and that is when God is moving seen or unseen, then the devil, the enemy of God and His people, will come in and attempt to divide, and cause harm to the local body of believers. That is where the heart of commitment and this single passion can so mightily work together.

THOSE WITH A SPECIALIZED TALENT SERVING IN THE CHURCH (v. 14a).

Luke was a physician. We know by that that he, like Paul was a very educated man. They both were intelligent men, and probably had very interesting conversations on their travels together. Luke wrote two of the New Testament books. The first was the Gospel of Luke, of course not Luke’s title, but given at a later date; and he wrote the Acts as well. In much of the book of Acts you can tell that Luke was present with Paul during much of these journeys. He probably served Paul as his physician. Bandaging him up after the times he was stoned for his faith, and the beatings he endured; as well as any other health need he may of had

Just as Luke had no theological training; so too are those who have no theology training needed in today’s church. There are medical missionaries who go to other places and minister by offering free health care to those who are without means. There is also need for people who are builders, diggers, witnesses, chainsaw handlers, and just cleanup work. There is a need for people of all kinds and sorts in local churches. There is no one who is not needed or wanted. Each of us have our place. All cannot be pastors, preachers, teachers, but all have a place to serve. Just because you have no college degree, does not mean you have no specialized talent or work that you do.

THERE IS ALSO SOME IN THE CHURCH WHO HAVE A SAD FUTURE (v. 14b)

Paul does not say much about Demas, just that he is sending greeting to the people of Colossae. Demas is the one we do know had a sad future. Demas was a deserter of the faith. Paul writes later to Timothy these sad words,

“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…” 2 Timothy 4:9-10 (KJV).

It is sad to note, but it is true that all those who enter the Gospel ministry will not remain in the ministry. Demas was one such man. Jesus had Judas who betrayed Him, and Paul had Demas who deserted him.

Demas had gone to Thessalonica, evidently seeking the worlds goods. He had grown discontent with being with a man who was constantly being beaten, imprisoned, and betrayed. His eyes strayed to the material things. The gold and silver sparkles blinded his eyes, and hardened his heart. Rather than seeking those things which are above he turned to seeking the temporary things of the material world.

What do our hearts long for today? The material things that glitter in the bright sunlight, or for Christ Jesus who is the beaming Son Light.

WITHIN THE CHURCH ARE THOSE, ALSO, WHO WILL PROMOTE THE SPREADING OF THE LETTERS OF GOD’S WORD (vv. 15-18).

The apostle Paul was certainly such a man. The letters Paul is speaking of is, of course, this one, and most likely the one we know as Ephesians. It is pretty commonly accepted that the book of Ephesians was a circular letter, written by Paul, to many different churches. It could be that it received the title Ephesus due to it being the final congregation receiving the letter.

This letter to Colossae, was sent specifically to the Colossian church, but then was to be passed on to the other churches. In a sense you could say that Galations, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians were circular because they were all received, and read by the others. They are, in fact, still being read by other churches.

People are not saved by promotion of circuses, shows, or any type of entertainment. People are saved by the preaching of the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit moving into the hearts and lives of the hearers.

Pass this letter along Paul says. Read the one from Laodicea as well. If you want to know what Paul wrote to the Laodicean church you need to just turn back a few pages to Ephesians. That is the most likely candidate for that letter.

There is concern also for a young man who may have been entering into ministry of the Gospel. His name was Archippus. Paul’s words to him and any other for the ministry is, “Take heed to the ministry… that thou fulfill it”. Do not neglect the ministry of God’s Word. They are the words of life; eternal life.

The apostle signs this letter with his own hand. It is signed; not with a signature, but the closing greeting.

This study in Colossians has been of the Superiority of Christ, His Sufficiency, He being First Place. The letter confronts those who would deny the deity of Jesus, and ascribe to Him as being only spirit; but not flesh and blood. Christ Jesus is the Creator, Sustainer of all that is. He is the One who showed us how to live, and how to die, and how to live again. In the epistle of Colossians we learn how to pray for one another. Let’s be sure we are doing that. People you pray for are really hard to hate or despise.

-Tim A. Blankenship

When GOD Seems to be Silent

Unto You will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if You be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy oracle.”  Psalm 28:1-2 (KJB)

This Psalm of David is the prayer of a man who is crying out to God; maybe even yelling out, shouting out to God for a hearing of his requests, or “supplications”, as he states it, which is his earnest prayer.  An individual who has a real need which they see, feel, or fear; one who knows the Almighty will go to Him with that need just as David, and plead, yearn, beg for an answer to their prayer.

In the New Testament we are told…

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  James 5:16

Now, let us get something straight.  We do have someone to pray to.  It is not prayer that is the power.  It is the One who gives the power to whom we direct our prayers.  If our hearts are not of Him, His word, His way, His will, His heart and mind, then, we will not get an answer.

I have made a commitment to the Lord which may seem empty to some, maybe brave and bold and dangerous to others.  A few years ago I was praying, and said to Him, “If you never again answer a prayer of mine, I will still trust in You.”  I can still say that.  I know that He never fails to accomplish, to finish His word. He does what He says He will do.

What do you do when God is silent?  Keep on praying and keep on trusting in Him.

 

Some Sermon Thoughts on Ezra 8:21-23

Being Dependent

Ezra 8:21 – 23

I.  THE PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED THEMSELVES.

  1.  They had boasted of God’s Providence and power.
  2.  They had sought His way in going through the lands of trouble – evil, bandits, and murderers.

II.  THEY WOULD NOT ASK HELP OR PROTECTION FROM MAN OR GOVERNMENT.

  1.  Due to their boasting in God.
  2.  The hand of God is on those who depend on Him.

III.  GOD GRANTS THEIR PETITIONS.

  1.  He provided their material needs.
  2.  He provided their protection.
  3.  He still does, for all those who will trust in Him.

When GOD Gives an Invitation

When GOD Gives an Invitation

 

Exodus 24:1-18

In the Scriptures the LORD gives many invitations. We see one extended to the leadership of Israel; including Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu; to come and worship.

The events that follow are guidlines for people today.

1. When GOD said Come; They Went (vv. 1-2).

2. It is Necessary for the People of GOD to Commit themselves to the Work and Word of the LORD (vv.3-8).

3. When We are Faithful We too Will See the LORD (vv. 9-11).

4. We Will See GOD as a Devouring Fire, Consuming Fire (vv. 12-18; Hebrews12:29).

The Judgment Coming

Judgment is in fact already here.  Judgment has come.  As Christians we must learn to live righteously in a godless nation, godless generation, and within a lukewarm church.

For the nation of Judah it seems that the North was the direction from which judgment would come. I think it interesting to note a Psalm that directs our attention to the North without naming the North. It is Psalm 75, and it says, “Do not lift up your horn on high; do not speak with a stiff neck.’ For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” (vv.5-7). You notice the silence concerning North? Does Judgment come from the North? In the case of Israel and Judah it does.

Hear what the LORD spoke to Jeremiah:

“And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, ‘What seest thou?’ And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.  Then the LORD said unto me, ‘Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter My judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.'”  Jeremiah 1:13-16 (KJV)

The judgment of which Jeremiah warned was coming on all the inhabitants of the land. It seems that the noble people, those of notable birth, or those who have great wealth sometimes think, “Oh, that won’t happen to us” or “We can become a part of the upper society people, and we can just fit in”, but the prophet’s message from the LORD is judgment on “all the inhabitants of the land”. Judgment is not a pleasant thing to talk about, but when the LORD calls you and gives you a message to proclaim, and tells you not to withhold a word, then you better obey.

Every preacher, and especially pastors would love to spend all their preaching, preaching of the goodness, love, grace, mercy of God. We would be thrilled just to always be preaching about the good we see in our fellow human beings, because there are good things done, there are good lives lived, and people saving physical lives; and encouraging others. The preacher, the pastor is not the man of God he should be, if he preaches not that we are sinners; condemned, dying and that our only hope of salvation is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. To preach the cross of Jesus you must tell why He died on the cross, that means talking about our darkness of sin. We must tell why the Father had to judge His own perfect, sinless Son, turn His back on Him; and why Jesus went through that horrible three hours of total darkness while He was stretched between heaven and hell. We must preach that God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The judgment coming on Judah was coming from the north. It was in fact, coming from God. It was the plan of Jeremiah’s father, his family, and Jeremiah that he would be a priest in Jerusalem. That was a ministry that was much respected in Jeremiah’s day, and that of his family. Jeremiah even had plans of marriage, but that was not to come about. We will see that in a later word from God to the prophet. Prophets of God do not choose to be prophets; they are called by God to be prophets. That is the prophet Jeremiah. Prophets who call themselves serve themselves, lead others astray, and despise God’s prophets.

The judgment coming to Jerusalem was like all the kingdoms of the north were coming to set up quarters, homes, or shop right in the gates of the city. They would be encamping all around. The people of Judah would no longer be free. Not only is this against the city of Jerusalem but all the cities of Judah. This would include Bethlehem and Bethel.

The coming of these people of the kingdoms of the north was God’s utterance against their forsaking the LORD. There were those who were worshipping the LORD, but few and far between. Those who were worshipping were probably remaining silent. The priests who were praising God in their hearts and worshipping him, must have been silent concerning the condition of the hearts and lives of the people; thus were allowing them to continue to live in their sin and rebellion. Therefore, they were not the priests of God that they should have been. Take the offering the people bring no matter the true condition of their heart, or that they had been to the temple of Baal, and participated in those rituals. They will be okay as long as they are faithful to the temple of God. LIES, LIES, LIES. God is not glorified except with total devotion, commitment, and worship to Him and to Him alone.

Even though a man and/or woman may attend worship on Sunday morning, evening, Wednesday evening, and anytime the church house door is open, but they live for themselves the other days of the week, the rest of the time, and glorify not God with their life and living; they worship not, and love not the LORD with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They have, in fact, forsaken the Lord, and “worship the works of their own hands”.

I want no man, woman, boy or girl to be without hope.   I do, however, want you to have meaningful hope.  Hope that will come to pass.  Meaningful hope endures the times we face.  Meaningful  hope looks to the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ; and His promise of returning to earth to reclaim.  That is the Christian’s hope.  We look forward to seeing Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living GOD.

The Following Of Jesus

But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,  And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.  And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.  For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.  And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.  And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.”  Mark 3:7-12 (KJV)

Great numbers of people with sicknesses sought Jesus for healing. It is sad that many who were healed by Him never really followed Him.  This following was a temporary following.  In fact it is quite possible that many who were healed by  His touch were in the crowd some months later who were crying out, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him”.

So many today want the blessings that Jesus can give, but not the commitment of a life that is changed by His touch on the soul.  A fickle lot the human race is.  Thankful one moment for the work of the One who touches, heals and makes one well; and the next moment calling for the death of that same One.  Everyone living has received the benefits of living; general blessing if you will.  However, many who receive His blessings, still curse Him with every breath of His sweet oxygen.

While physical ailments were the needs of many, others came seeking deliverance from the demons which were possessing them, and making their lives miserable.

Those who were demon possessed came and began to proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God.  Jesus told them to be silent.  Jesus who is holy does not need vile, venomous, hateful spirits proclaiming His presence.  It does not say it in the text, but I am certain that those who were demon possessed and came to Jesus were delivered from their possession.

The very fact these “spirits” [demons] recognized Jesus declares Him to be Deity, the Son of God, God in flesh – who is worthy of all our respect, praise, worship, and adoration.  The demons recognized Jesus and Paul, “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? Acts 19:15 (KJV)”.  Do the demons of Hell know us?  If we are in Christ Jesus, of course they do.  It is a good thing to be known in hell.  All hell trembles before those who are in Christ Jesus and are living for Him.  Are you known in hell?

When we are known in hell we need to realize that the devil and his demons are out to get us, and destroy the testimony of Christ in our lives.  If you have no testimony in Christ you have nothing to watch out for.  You do have everything to fear.  It is almost a “good thing” to always have the devil breathing down your neck, tormenting, tempting, and wreaking havoc in the Christian life.  That only means you are tormenting Him by your life, and commitment to Christ.  The devil cannot stand a life that is committed to Christ.  He hates Jesus and he hates you.

If you need help to stand; help is as near as the written word and a prayer.  Always look to Jesus.  There is strength and deliverance in Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Marriage in the Garden

As a young and very inexperienced preacher I was asked by a cousin and good friend, to conduct his wedding ceremony.  He and his fiance’ wanted to have their wedding small, with just a couple of witnesses, myself and them.  They also wanted to have it on the cliff overlooking the spring pool at Roaring River State Park.  Being my first wedding I was thrilled to do it.  The sad part is the marriage did not last.  Within a few short years they had a young daughter, and they divorced. 

Divorce is a sad element in society today.  Christian marriages are failing just as non christian marriages.  It seems that the word “commitment” is a lost word.  It seems to mean nothing anymore, and that truly saddens me.  Love means lust instead of joy of endurance in marriage.  God’s way of marriage is to be a lifetime together, truly loving one another.  Helping one another grow in Christ.  When one is sick the other aids the one who is week.  When there are good times both rejoice together.

Hear God’s Word on this matter:

“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ 

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  Genesis 2:23-25  (NKJV).

God officiated at the first marriage.  He formed the woman from Adams’s rib, taking her from his side to be together with him, walking side by side.  Each would encourage the other.  Each would love and enjoy the other. 

Following Adam and Eve each child when they married would need to leave the protected home of their parents, and make a home for themselves. 

Marriage is a very precious matter.  God made them male and female to love, enjoy one another, and to propagate the human race.  Marriage is precious union between two adults who covenant together to love, cherish, live, and at times to even endure one another.  The married couple will know things about one another that no one else knows.  That is part of what the Scripture means when it tells us, “they were both naked…and were not ashamed.”  In marriage, between husband and wife, there should be no secrets.  Everything should be out in the open for one another.

When an individual starts doing secretive things, without the spouse knowing, then, there is a marriage headed for trouble, and if not corrected will sadly end.  At the least trust will end.  At the worst divorce will come.  Be unashamed before one another in all things.  And by the way – I am not speaking of the purchasing of special gifts – concerning the secretive things.