Be Not Afraid, Only Believe

“While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, ‘Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?’ As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Be not afraid, only believe.’ And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, ‘Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.’ And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, ‘Talitha cumi;’ which is, being interpreted, ‘Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.’ And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And He charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  Mark 5:35-43  (KJB)

In the previous verses of this chapter they include the woman with an issue of blood for twelve years, and she had no healing from the physicians who had taken all she had financially.  The child of only twelve, was dead, by the testimony of these who had came to find their ruler, and those present at the home of Jairus who had been waiting.

A woman, a child. One an adult; the other a child.  Both are affected by sin.  There is no living individual who does not have sin affecting their lives.  Adults die.  Children die.  Death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).

The adult can willingly reach out to Jesus and be healed.  The child cannot; at least this daughter could not;  she is dead.

Folks, we who are Christians were all dead in the trespasses of sin (Ephesians 2:1), and Jesus called us by name, and gave us new life in Him.  Like the little girl.  Jesus raises us to life.

Words of the Prophets – Ezekiel (4)

Come Up Out Of Your Graves

 

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, Thou knowest.’
Again He said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.’
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said He unto me, ‘Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then He said unto me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.’ Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it,’ saith the LORD.”  Ezekiel 37:1-14  (KJB)

Use Your Words Wisely

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” Proverbs 18:4
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” 18:21

Using Words Carefully – Proverbs 18:1-24

Verses 1-4 –  These verses carry over from verses 27 and 28 of chapter 17.  There is much in the Proverbs of speech, the tongue and words.  We are taught to choose and handle words carefully; and not deceitfully.  The fool is one who cares only for his own words; is in the process to thought while another is talking; and only to have something further to say.
On a first look verse 1 could seem to have a positive intent; however with the word “intermeddleth” it means that the individual contends with wisdom.
Verses two and three then show the intent of the heart of verse one.  On verse 4 see Proverbs 20:5

Verses 5 – 9 –  Speaking good of evil, and evil of good to overthrow the righteous is not good.  Backbiting,  and slander is the heart of the destruction of the fool’s mouth.
A lazy individual is akin to the great waster (v. 9).

Verses 10 – 11 –  Many a wealthy individual has all their hopes in their wealth, investments, and possessions.  An island of safety in the midst of words of warning and hope (v. 10).

Verses 12 – 21 –  You can see that the words of the foolish individual is more important to him/her than listening to others in verses 13, 17.  Verses 16 speaks of giving gifts – not bribes to buy off judges, law enforcement, etc.  Probably could be likened to a gift someone might bring to the King’s birth.
In verse 18 there seems to be some wisdom in “casting lots” for the ceasing of contentions.
There is reward or destruction in our use of words.  They can be the difference in life and/or death; destruction or building up.

Verses 22 -24 –  See Proverbs 12:4; 19:14.  Marriage is good if it be found in the way of God.  For a marriage to be good the man and a woman must choose and use words carefully.  Good communication is a key.
In verse 23 we have a contrast between the poor and the rich.  The poor is humble before others when asking something from them.  The rich have no need of anything so they speak roughly to others.  Again whether one is rich or poor really makes no difference when it comes to our choosing and use of words.
In verse 24 we have a sentence which is familiar, “And there is a friend who sticketh closer than a brother”.   Before that we learn that if one is to have friends, then, we must be a friend.
Friends choose and use words carefully.  The choosing and using words carefully has nothing to do with “Political Correctness”; but using words to build up.  A lot of times hard/truth words need to be used to bring out good quality in another.

Words of the Prophets – Ezekiel (3)

Why Will You Die???

“Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?  Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.  When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.  Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;  If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.  None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.  When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.  But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.  Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.” Ezekiel 33:10-20 (KJV)

Words of the Prophets – Ezekiel (2)

God Has No Pleasure…

The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,  What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.  Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.  But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,  And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,  And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, Hath walked in My statutes, and hath kept My judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,  And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,  Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,  Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.  Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,  Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,  That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in My statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.  Yet say ye, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.  The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.  Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?  When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not My ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.  Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:1-32 (KJV)

Woman Wise; Woman Folly

The Woman Wise, and the Woman Folly – Proverbs 9:1-18

In this chapter we have already spent one study on verse 10.  We continue in this chapter by looking at the comparisons, again, of Wisdom and Folly or foolishness, and seeing both as personified in a feminine personality.

Verses 1 – 6 –  Wisdom’s Divine Invitation.
The house wisdom builds is a complete, perfect, holy, unified, house of blessing; represented by the number seven [7].

Jesus Christ has prepared Himself the Church (Ephesians 5:23-27).  She is wise, beautiful, and complete in Him.  As individuals within that body called the church; we are to be wise; through reading and spiritual understanding of the word of God

The table of Wisdom and the table of the LORD are filled with delicious delacacies of food and drink.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”.

Verses 7 – 12 –  Warnings of Wisdom to the Wise.  (Matthew 7:6).

John Gill writes of verse 7;

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame,….Intimating, that though the simple, and such as want understanding, and of whom there is hope of doing them good, are to be invited into Wisdom’s house; yet not the haughty scorner, the abandoned sinner, the scoffer at all religion, who walks after his own lusts, and is quite irreclaimable; it is but casting pearls before swine, and giving that which is holy to dogs, to reprove and exhort such persons; though the Gospel is to be preached to every creature, yet when men despise it, and make a mock at it, they are to be turned from, and no more is to be said to them; as the Jews of old, they were the first invited to the Gospel feast, the same that is described in the context; they made light of it, contradicted and blasphemed the word, and so judged themselves unworthy of it; wherefore Wisdom’s maidens, or Christ’s ministers, were bid to turn from them, and go to the Gentiles, and preach it to them; for it is to no purpose to address such persons; “shame” is the sure consequence of it, because a man is disappointed of the end he has in view, which is doing good;

and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot; this shows who is meant by a scorner, a very profligate man, bent on his wicked ways, and quite incorrigible; to rebuke such an one is not only labour lost, and in vain, but the rebuker getteth himself an ill name, and is sure to have the dirt of reproach and scandal cast upon him; though this a man might patiently bear, if there was any hope of doing good.”

Verses 13 – 18 –  Folly’s Invitation to Death.
The woman known as folly may be beautiful in appearance, yet, vain, deceitful, malicious, hating God and all that is holy.  Revelation 17:3-5.

Her destination is Hell, and she will lead others in that same direction, to that same eternal destination.

Pastors and Preaching the Word

The Bible says, or ‘Thus saith the LORD’,

“Preach the Word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teaches, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3

Paul said,

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:27

Having read these passages of Scripture, the ‘Thus saith the Lord’ how, in the name of God and His Son Jesus, can a pastor dare stand in the pulpit every Sunday, and preach nothing but words which comfort and encourage people.  We definitely are to preach Jesus, His death, His burial, and His resurrection.  There was a reason for His death, burial and resurrection, and that was that we are sinners, God in His love and grace desired to save us, in order that we might glorify His name.

A pastor/preacher who never confronts the sins of his people, or the sins of our society or culture is no man of God at all.  He is either a puppet of the people he professes to serve, or he is a man after the devil’s heart.  A few years ago I was told of a pastor, whom I  knew, who was asked about the stem cell issue by one of the members of his congregation, and his answer was, as it was told to me, “There are two sides to this issue…”  The all around implication was “I am not going take a stand on this issue”.  Is that the attitude of a pastor or a coward who is posing as a preacher?  I will say that he did later come to a change of mind.

There are other issues in 2018 we need to speak of, and the Biblical declaration for and against a thing.  God’s word never changes.  If it was declared sin by God; it is still sin.

Our churches, our people, the States we live in and serve, and our Country needs men of God who will without fear or favor to men, stand in the pulpit with God’s Word in their hand and on their heart, speak the Word as clearly, distinctly, with conviction, boldness and courage that the people will know they have heard the Word of God.

The man of God will preach the Word of God to get conviction in the hearts of the people.  There must be a conviction of sin in God’s people.  If God’s people will not be convicted of sin, how do we expect to ever see anyone be saved.  Why would we even pray for anyone to be saved since we have no conviction of sin, thus no need for salvation.

Wake up pastors, Preach the Word.  It is not a time for slacking in the Word.  It is time to preach for conviction.  It is time to preach holiness, righteousness, and judgment.  Let the people see the plight of sin, and the blight of sin.

Preachers and pastors – PREACH THE WORD, not comfort.  Now is the time to be uncomfortable.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Since God Be For Us

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Since God Is For Us

Romans 8:31-39

When you get to thinking about the goodness, grace and mercy of God, and you see things taught us in Scripture as, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8); and, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” (5:10); would it not be perfectly fitting of God to do even more wondrous things for those who are no longer His enemies.

Things we can see which God has done for us, and gives us, and continues to do in and through us:

1.  Christ was given as our Substitute for sin; to freely give us all things; that is basically forgiveness. That is the most wondrous thing, along with the fellowship which we can have with the Father. We no longer have guilt, excusing us to flee from God’s presence, and we now have the presence of God within us who calls us to the throne of grace to receive forgiveness (vv. 31-32);
2.  There is no charge that can be brought against us. The only Ones who can bring any legitimate charge against us will not, because we have been cleansed and forgiven by them. When you forgive someone a debt owed to you by them; you are the one who paid the debt. That is actually what forgiveness is. Until a debt is paid; it is owed. God could charge us with sin, but instead He has justified us; Jesus could also, but He died for us, rising again, is seated at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (vv. 33-34);
3.  There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. Sin has been the source of all our separation from God; now sin has been dealt with in a death blow that is for all eternity; It is the love of Jesus Christ which is being spoke of in verse thirty five – in all these things mentioned they are rather sources of strength building rather than sources of separation and they are building blocks of our faith. We are at our Lord’s mercy, and for His glory (vv. 35-36);
4.  The term, “More than conquerors” is one that is sometimes heard in other places other than church and Christian atmosphere. It is heard on school campuses. It is heard in youth discussions; Come what may, let the devil beware we will stand. We must understand that we cannot overcome, we cannot be “Conquerors” in our strength – it is in the power, Spirit and glory of Jesus Christ that we conquer (v. 37);
5.  There are many things which Paul uses here to show us that there is nothing that can separate us from the “love of God…in Christ Jesus”; Notice if you will the first two – “Death nor life”; now death is separation of life from the body; but what is this doing here – especially ‘Life’? There are times we can let life get between us and God; however, if we are God’s that is not the end; “…angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing (even yourself), shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

O, what a wonder and glory it is; this thing called grace, this privilege called grace; this merciful eternal act of God. None deserve it. Few receive it. All who receive it will glorify Jesus. “Since God be for us, who can be against us”? No not one.

-Tim A. Blankenship

No Condemnation

NO CONDEMNATION
Romans 8:1-9

In this study of Romans we have had Paul take us from the total depravity of sinners, to justification, and then, to sanctification. He took a moment to let us know that the work of sanctification was not easy (chapter 7), and now he tells us how we can be victors through the battles of being set apart for Him. Paul wants the believer to know that in Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit there is victory.

The “Spirit” has only been mentioned one time up until this present text. In this chapter alone ‘Spirit’ is mentioned at least 19 times. Without the Holy Spirit we are weak, miserable, and failures. We cannot know Christ personally without the Spirit. We can have no eternal victory whatever without the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. Jesus promised He would send Him (John 16:7). Jesus also told us about His ministry and work (John 16:8-15). His presence abides with us forever (John 14:16). Paul writes elsewhere, “…Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (guarantee) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

In this study we will see the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit there can be no salvation, there could be no sanctifying work, and there would be no glorifying work. We would be without God (v. 9).

If we will study these next few lessons carefully we will see at least six things which reveal to us that we are walking in the Spirit. Remember the absence of these reveal the opposite. First of all we see…

NO CONDEMNATION – THE EVIDENCE OF A RESURRECTED LIFE AND LIVING (vv. 1-9).

The first verse tells us that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus and walking in the Spirit of God. When you are walking in the Spirit you do not hear those voices telling you that you are no good. Walking in the Spirit means you are rejoicing in the fact that you are walking in the good grace and mercy of the Living Lord who died for your sins.

In these nine verses we see a contrasts between “Walking in the flesh” and “Walking in the Spirit“. If you walk in the flesh there is condemnation. Even when you are saved and you have experienced walking in the Spirit, and you backslide into self and just get sidetracked; you will experience condemnation. There will be guilt, shame, embarrassment, and just an all out feeling of disgrace. It is God’s way of letting you know where you should be.

When we were “Dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph. 2:1) we were “Walking dead”; we were outside of God. In fact this part of this chapter tells us clearly that “to be carnally minded is death” (v. 6), and “the carnal mind is enmity against God…” (v. 7). Those who are carnal are walking in the flesh, and are opposed to God. How sad it is for a redeemed individual to be walking in opposition to the One who redeemed them from their life of darkness. Oh, how the Christian must need to remain watchful, diligent, and earnest in daily Bible reading and prayer.

Before we were redeemed by the blood of Jesus we did not know God; and could not know Him without Him reaching out to us. We did not even care about the things of God, nor for God Himself. We were condemned to die, and deserving of death. The works that we worked were the works of death. Our condemnation was certain, sure, and sealed without God’s intervention.

The power and strength of the law’s condemnation was sin. This condemnation was taken away by the shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. Take note. It is true only for those “Who walk in the Spirit”. It is not God’s desire to condemn; as a matter of fact He does not; sin condemns us, and God offers us His salvation. Jesus Himself said, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). If God sent His Son to save the world, then, it would stand to reason that the world – people – were/are condemned.

When Jesus came He became sin – when He was hanged on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). That is, He took on Himself the sins of the whole world, and received the judgment of God on behalf of the condemned. In His work on the cross; “…In the likeness of sinful flesh…’ ‘…He condemned sin in the flesh”. In the death of an innocent, sinless, blameless, spotless, Lamb sin was defeated. It can no longer condemn anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ.

The person who has trusted Jesus is indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit is the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus, as a man, to walk with God. The Holy Spirit causes the inhabited person to desire to know God in a greater way. The person desires to love God, to walk with Him, and to please Him – not to obtain His favor, but because of His favor already given.

The attitude of the person who does not know Jesus, and does not have the Spirit of God; is one of the flesh. Doing only what pleases themselves; doing good only to achieve recognition from others, and maybe even trying to obtain the favor of God. These have a “carnal mind” or are worldly oriented and cannot please God. They are, in fact, hostile toward God (v. 7). They will fight, kick, and bite against the will of God all the way to Hell, and then some of those will cry out for His mercy, but too late.

The Spirit of God in you empowers you to put the flesh to death: “ Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:11). The believer is no longer subject to sin because of the Spirit’s power. It is not the power of the individual believer, but of the Spirit. The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, “Shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal [earthly] bodies, by His Spirit that dwells in you” (v. 11). Death truly awaits all who are in the flesh – following its passions and lusts. If, by the Holy Spirit’s power we put to death our selfish passions, desires, and deeds, then, we shall live eternally. That is the work of the Spirit of God and every believer walking in the Spirit.

NO CONDEMNATION is experienced and evidenced by the faith of the child of God. In the darkest, bleakest, most severe tests and trials of life faith is strengthened. It is evidenced by following the Spirit’s direction – in accordance with Scripture – to faithfulness to Him, His ministry, and His Church.

In verse nine we are told clearly, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. One thing is for certain, and that is that we are to be perfect, and perfection is a work of God’s Spirit. In the flesh there is no perfection. In the Spirit, if the Spirit dwells in us. If any does not have the Spirit we are not His. Without Him we stand condemned.

-Tim A. Blankenship

We All Have a Master

RECOGNIZING YOUR MASTER

Romans 6:1-23

OUTLINE –

I. LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH; LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION (vv. 1 – 10).

II. TAKING AUTHORITY OVER SIN IN OUR LIVES (vv. 11 – 13).

III. SERVING THE ONE WHOM WE OBEY (vv. 14 – 22).

IV. WAGES OF SIN; AND THE GIFT OF GOD (v. 23)

Does grace give a license to sin? That was the basic question Paul had to answer from his critics – the critics of the true gospel of grace. Does a dead person sin? Not any longer. They are free from sin, but not necessarily from sins wages.

If grace abounds ‘much more’ because of sins intensity, brought about by the law, then, does it not seem that to willfully and deliberately sin would be good? However, for one to be made alive in Christ there must be death and resurrection. This death is the putting away of sin (Col. 3:5). The resurrection is the ‘newness of life’ that only happens through faith in Jesus.

Paul has revealed to us that all people are sinners; “There is none righteous…”, “There is none who seeketh after God…”. He then tells us that the only way for us to please God is by grace through faith. By grace, God declares righteous [right with Himself], those who believe in His Son Jesus. Now, in chapter six Paul turns to the continuing work of God’s grace in those who believe. The Word is sanctification. To be sanctified is a process, a daily process, by which God works in the believer’s life to make us in ‘the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).

If a person is still controlled by sin that individual has not yet died, nor been resurrected to life by power of Jesus’s resurrection. Before resurrection there must be death. The question we must ask is, “WHO IS YOUR MASTER”?

Is there anything which you desire/crave more than anything else which is not a necessity for living and life? Are you addicted to it? If it is something that causes you to become irritable, rude, obnoxious and angry to be without, then, it is probably something that controls you. “WHO IS YOUR MASTER?”

IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, AND THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION (vv. 1 – 10).

“Where do my good deeds fit into the scale for salvation?” Do they fit into salvation at all? Here is what Paul has previously said, “If it is of works, it is no more by grace; God becomes indebted to us” (Paraphrased from Rom. 4:4).

By faith the believer trusts God for their salvation, and not their own works. Good works, for the glory of God are a by-product of our faith. God produces fruits in us as we root ourselves in Him.

Trusting Him completely; means that we die to ourselves, and our own believed abilities to

earn God’s favor. There must be a death to self rule in order for God to rule in peace and harmony.

“Baptized into Jesus” is speaking of becoming immersed in Him. By faith we are baptized into Jesus. The word ‘Baptized’ means to immerse – to put under. We have all probably heard the expression, “He is immersed in his work”, meaning, of course, that he is totally given to his job or enterprise. When we are ‘Baptized/Immersed into Jesus’ it means we are totally given to Him.

There is death that has taken place. A separation of the spirit and soul from the body of sin. Notice I say, “From the body of sin”, not from the body of flesh. The ‘Body of sin’ is really the old Adamic nature. It, by faith, has been crucified with Jesus Christ in His death on the cross.

The ordinance of water baptism every obedient Christian practices is a public confession, and testimony by symbol of the actual event that has already taken place in the believer’s life.

This baptism into Jesus is “Reckoning” of ourselves dead in His crucifixion, and raised with Him by His resurrection. To be “Crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) is to put to death everything that is an abomination to God and take away its power to condemn (John 3:18); Rom. 8:1). By His resurrection we are “Raised up” to “Walk in newness of life”. It is a “New life”, not the old life warmed over. In God’s work of “Sanctification” He makes us holy. There are no left-over’s.

If we have died with Jesus we will also live with Him. If death has no more dominion over Him, it does not have dominion over those who believe. Death is an enemy, but is not to be feared by saints of God. It is inevitable that we will die, but death has no holding power. Being dead to sin we are no longer the servants/slaves of sin.

TAKING AUTHORITY OVER SIN IN OUR LIVES (vv. 11 – 13).

There is a continual struggle with sin, and we have been given the means of having victory over it. Within these three verses we have the answer to the question of why we struggle with sin, even after we have, by faith received God’s gracious gift of salvation. Within these same verses we have the answer of how we can have victory over sin.

Even before Jesus physically died on the cross He knew that His very purpose in being the incarnate Son of God was to become sin for us, receive judgment for our sin, to pour out His life’s blood for our redemption and do it to fulfill the demands of the holy law of God, and for His glory. He, while living for the glory of His Father, had already “Reckoned” Himself dead. Do you know what happened when He “Reckoned” Himself dead for the cause of His Father? He was able to fulfill all His Father’s will in His life.

The very reason people get out of the will of God is because we do not “Reckon” ourselves dead in Christ, and we are alive for ourselves.

The best life that we could live is lived through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even after a person has received Jesus as Lord and Savior there is still sin in the world. Its temptations are strong; and often much stronger than we are – physically speaking. “Do not let sin…reign in your mortal body…” is speaking of the physical body. By the Spirit of Jesus in us we are to take control of physical appetites that cause us to sin. Some of these appetites are natural – we were created with them – but if left uncontrolled they become perverted and sinful.

One example is our strong desire to eat food, especially when we are hungry, but unless we control our appetite we will become “Gluttons”, make ourselves sick, and become overweight. We must eat to survive, but we must control the eating, and not let the eating control us. Someone has said, “Eat to live, not live to eat”. Everything must come under the reign of our own will as it has been changed by the “Newness of life” in Christ Jesus.

Notice these commands – “Reckon…yourselves…dead”, “Do not let sin reign your mortal body”. These are two directives given to aid us in living in victory over sin. There is a third one, “…Yield yourselves unto God…”. If we continue to desire to do our own thing we have not yet yielded to God’s will. We are still in rebellion against Him.

The very reason sin continues to reign in many professing Christians is because of this very thing. Jesus is not Lord. He is merely a “Life insurance policy”, or “Fire insurance policy”, only to call on in a time of great need and emergency. Like a spare tire. GOD IN A BOX.

Once again we can ask the question, “Who is your master?”

SERVING THE ONE WHOM WE OBEY (vv. 14 – 22).

The law condemns us. It offers us nothing in the way of escaping the wrath of God. It clearly shows us we are sinners unable to please God. As long as anyone is dependent upon the works of the law for the favor of God, they are under the dominion of the law, and are condemned.

Since, by faith, the believer is under grace and not the law we are no longer under the laws condemnation. Under grace we no longer desire to rebel against God. We desire to grow closer to Him, and become more like Jesus in our commitments, and living. As was previously stated, we are dead to sin (v. 11). Why would anyone who has experienced God’s grace, and newness of life in Jesus, desire to continue in sin?

You will, however, give yourself to whomever is your master. If your master is sin, then, you are a slave to sin and death is the continuing and end result. When Jesus is your Master, and in His righteousness, there is continuing growth in Him, and at the end of your physical life eternal life continues with Him.

At one time everyone who is a Christian – born again – was a servant/slave to sin. When the Spirit of God called we heard and obeyed, “That form of doctrine”, which is the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, being made free from sin we are the servants of righteousness. We can only be servants of righteousness as we yield to the One who is the embodiment of Righteousness, and that is Jesus.

The fruit of being a slave of sin is death and shame. “Being made free from sin”, the fruit is holiness. God will do whatever it takes to make us holy. Holiness is accomplished by the work of God, through sanctification. I believe that every event, every test, every trial, and every temptation of every day is a work of sanctification, and we are being made holy for God and His glory. Just as salvation is a work of God’s grace, so too is the work of sanctification a daily grace of God. “Who Is Your Master?”

WAGES OF SIN; AND THE GIFT OF GOD (v. 23).

This verse has long been one within the passages of Scriptures which are used in what has been called “THE ROMAN ROAD” for leading others to faith in Jesus.

We hear of “Wages” in every day living. If one has a job, vocation, avocation, or occupation, they know what ‘wages’ are. Wages are given for what has been earned and deserved. Humanity without God is a dying race. There is no life for we humans apart from God. Even physical life, as short as it is, is given by Him. He gives life and He takes it away.

Every one of the members of the human race is born in a condemned state – apart from God and is dying. God offers us a personal relationship with Him in order that we might glorify Him, and live. If we reject God’s free gift of grace we only get what we were born deserving – death; eternal separation from God, and Hell.

There are two absolutes given in this verse. 1) If you continue in your sin, and rebellion against God; death awaits you; 2) If you receive, by faith, Jesus Christ, believing He died and rose again for the glory of the Father, and has declared you justified and righteous by God, you have eternal life.

WHO IS YOUR MASTER?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Reckoning

Here is the final study for Romans 4.  The last time I only published for verses 1-4.  It is included in this study as well. Be blessed.

The Reckoning

Romans 4:1 – 25

OUTLINE –

I. AN EXAMPLE OF A UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
III. THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED OR PUT TO THE ACCOUNT (vv. 9-12).
IV. THIS RECKONING OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
V. IT IS THE RECKONING OF GOD HIMSELF; NO HUMAN WORKS ARE CALLED FOR (vv. 18-25).

It was, and probably still is, a popular belief among Jews of Paul’s day and Jews and non-Jews of our day to believe that Abraham was declared righteous by God due to his obedience. Paul puts the record straight.

How were people of the Old Testament saved? Was it by complete obedience to God’s law? Was it by the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, etc.? What does the Scriptures say?

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (3:20).

“Abraham believed God…” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6-9).

No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, no one will ever be saved by keeping the law. To see that it is by faith in God alone that saves God gives us ample Scriptures to prove it. For example Psalm 32:1-2; and Hebrews 11.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, David, Solomon, etc. are all evidences of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. They believing what would be; we believing what has been and shall be.

There are three words in this study which stand out as a theme. The first word is ‘Reckoned’ found in verses 4, 9, and 10. The second word is ‘Impute’, is used six times, in verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, and 24. The third word is ‘counted’, it is used only twice. They all come from the same Greek word logizomai – log-id’-zom-ahee – of these words are terms for accounting. God’s declaring us righteous, and justified.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).

Salvation by grace through faith is unique – one of a kind. There is nothing like it in religion. Grace is not possible by work. If it is not by faith it is not grace.

Since many of the Jews believed that Abraham was justified by works Paul realized that this fallacy needed correction. If Abraham was justified (declared righteous by God) by his works he would then have a reason to boast. His boasting, of course, would have to be before men. He would not glory before God. God’s glory is a glory of its own. Man’s glory cannot match the glory of God.

God delights in those who believe in Him. Those who realize they are weak and helpless to save themselves. Those who have no one else in which to turn, but Him. Those whose hearts are broken and shattered because they realize there is no other hope by Him. Those who have reached the bottom of the bottom, the lowest low. These realize then, God is my hope, my strength, song, salvation, my very source of peace, life and joy.

“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

When God called Abraham to leave his native land he obeyed, and left. Now understand, Abraham was at that time what the Jews would call a Gentile – there were no Jews. In his culture they worshipped idols, and were despicable in their behavior. Somehow in the midst of all this darkness God shined brightly His light into the life of Abraham, he saw, he heard, and he left this land of despicable sin and shame – the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). He even came out with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah as well as others who are unnamed.

If you heard God speak for the first time would you get up and leave your home, friends, ownership of your land, business, etc. to obey God? Many will not do that whose lives they say belong to Him. Abraham did. How did he do it? He believed God, then he put one foot in front of the other; over and over again. Faith is the end of any attempt to gain God’s favor on any personal merit. If you could gain God’s favor by personal merit it would be by works not grace, therefore, if the works ceased, so too would the favor of God.

When a man or woman takes on a job (work) he/she expects to be paid. The employer is indebted to the employee until the employee receives his/her wages. In like fashion if we worked for our salvation God would be indebted to us until the debt was paid. God is indebted to no one. He did not, nor does not even owe us the possibility of salvation. In His grace He paid our sin debt, and then, when we believe He declares us righteous. What wonderful grace. “Wonderful grace of Jesus; greater than all my sin, how can my tongue describe it; where shall my praise begin.”

THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).

You are deeply in debt. There is no way out. The banks and loan companies will neither one loan you money. The creditors are calling, writing wanting the money that is due them. You do not have it. You are barely putting food on the table, your house needs repairs, but where are you going to get the money necessary to make them? The only way out is bankruptcy. You do not like it, but you finally admit to yourself, “I can’t do anything else, I am bankrupt.” In despair you tell a friend that you are bankrupt. The friend asks you, “How much do you need to get back on your feet?” You have not got a clue as to what is going on in this friends mind. A few weeks later you get your bank statement, but instead of being overdrawn you have a balance sufficient enough to pay all your debts.

The amazing part about it is you learn your friend sold some properties – prize properties – and deposited the money into your account. What a friend. Your friend gave his very best to help you out of your bondage of debt. He credited your account with his assets.

What happened above is a description of imputing or imputation. The friend above took the responsibility of paying the debt for his bankrupt friend. He took the burden of the bankruptcy himself and, and imputed, reckoned, accounted his riches to his friend.

Guess what, or maybe you do not have to guess. You are the bankrupt friend, and Jesus is the friend who gave up the riches of Heaven to deliver you from your bankruptcy of sin.

The word ‘counted’ or ‘accounted’ used in verse five (5) is the same word as ‘imputeth’ of verse six (6), and ‘impute’ in verse seven (7). It is also the same as ‘reckoned’ in verse ten (10).

David, the ‘Man after God’s own heart’ is also given as an example of a man of faith. Paul quotes from Psalm32:1-2 as an example of David’s faith (vv. 7-8). Iniquities forgiven, sins covered. The man who is forgiven and sins covered is the one the Lord declares righteous. He deserves imputed imputed sin, but rather receives imputed righteousness by the sacrifice of Jesus who paid the sin debt and imputed to the bankrupted account righteousness. The individual who is declared righteous by God is truly a blessed and happy person.

THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO AN ORDINANCE PERFORMED (vv. 9-12).

Abraham was and is the ‘father’ of the nation of Israel, the people called Hebrews or Jews. In much of the life of the nation; especially in Jesus’s time; they prided themselves of their identity with Abraham by circumcision. As long as they had kept the ordinance they were fine with God. Afterall, God had promised Abraham many things and He was obligated to fulfill them.. Only to a nation of those who believed in Him. Only to a nation who had the faith of Abraham. A faith of fear, obedience, love and admiration of God. The afore mentioned ‘fear’ is the fear of God’s wrath on sin, which leads to a desire to be delivered from sin and a personal hatred for all sin.

In looking at the history of Abraham we find that he was declared righteous by God, at least fourteen years before he was circumcised. So we see Abraham was declared righteous by faith in God, not by the keeping of ordinance or law (Gen. 15:6, “And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he [God] counted it to him for righteousness”). When God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees he believed God and departed (Gen. 11:31). When God told him he would have a son of promise he believed God (Gen. 15:1-5; 17:19). When God called him to sacrifice Isaac; the promised son; he believed God (Gen. 22:1-14). He did it because he believed that since God had made the promise – “In Isaac will thy seed be called” (Gen. 21:12); that God could raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:18-19).

By Abraham’s faith he became the ‘father’ of the circumcised who are in the faith and the uncircumcised in the faith. Faith recognizes our need of grace – God’s sufficient grace – and of God’s desire to give grace.

To Abraham circumcision was only a sign of righteousness given to him by God. As circumcision is the cutting away of flesh, so too is faith in Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Christ Jesus is the flesh of the heart cut away. The power of sin is cut away. Without the finished work of Jesus on the cross, by His death, burial, and resurrection, the cutting away of the flesh of the heart is impossible. Ordinances can only be signs or tokens of the actual event. Ordinance without faith is vain.

THE JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).

A promise is nothing without faith. Faith in the Promissor is necessary for the promise to have effect.

What good is a promise; particularly an unconditional promise; if you must earn its fulfillment? The promise to Abraham and his descendants was not going to be granted to them by keeping the law, nor was it based on the law. The promise is awarded by faith in God.

The ‘righteousness of faith’ (v. 13) is the only righteousness that is declared by God and upon all who will receive it.

The only promise of the law is wrath. The law declares all to be unrighteous, unworthy of God’s goodness, kindness, mercy, and grace. So the law could not bring in the promise of ‘Heir of the world’; not even to mention the salvation of wicked men.

Grace works only by faith. Remember faith is our quitting the attempt to please God on our own merit, and pleasing Him only through the work of Jesus Christ. Grace would not be grace, if we could earn it. It would be a debt owed us by God. He owes us nothing. Faith gives to God everything He deserves from His highest of all creation. He does not need it, but He deserves it.

Seeing the unseen, knowing the unknowable, believing what seems to be unbelievable – that is the faith of Abraham. When Sarah was 89 and Abraham was 99; God promised them anew, that He would give them a son. They believed. In other words, God brought life from death. O, will you believe God? He does what He says He will do. Justification is good for all through faith alone. No amount of works, nor law kept, no ordinance performed can justify you in God’s sight. Only by His Word are you justified, and that by faith – faith He alone gives. His faith’s object is only Jesus.

IT IS THE POWER OF GOD, NOT HUMAN EFFORT (vv. 18-25).

Did Abraham believe in resurrection power? Did he believe in the power of the resurrection? YES! and YES! again. To he and Sarah the chance of them having a child of promise looked hopeless. Sure Abraham and Sarah made a mistake, slipped into doubt, or really thought they were helping God out, for awhile; but it did not endure. Their faith in God did endure.

“Unbelief” verse 20 is a complete refusal of faith – refusal to believe. It was because of ‘unbelief’ that Israel, led by Moses, did not enter the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13:26 – 14:4; Heb. 3:16 – 4:13). Despite the waiting Abraham believed. At times it probably seemed that God was pushing faith to its limits, but when Abraham realized his physical body and Sarah’s was dead he knew all he had was God’s promise. That is faith.

When you have reached a point in your life where your realize all you have is faith that God will keep His promise; that is when God will work. He did in Abraham and Sarah, and a 100 years old man and a 90 years old woman had a baby boy. That was a miracle birth. There are not very many miracle births. There are only three in the Bible – Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus; and possibly four if you counted Samson.

Faith is believing that God is completely able to do what He said. He is able to perform it, bring it to pass – in His way, in His time and through whomsoever He pleases; if He pleases to use a whomsoever. Because of this faith – not human effort – God declares Abraham ‘Righteous’, clean, pure, sinless before God.

Since Abraham was declared righteous by faith so is everyone who believes God. Do you want to walk with God? Then, you have to agree with Him. You have to agree with Him about your sin [your bankruptcy]. You have to agree with Him that there is a wall of separation between you and Him. You must agree with Him about His Son Jesus. You must agree with Him concerning His Word – written and living.

“How can two walk together unless they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

Abraham was declared righteous by God, because he agreed with God. That just simply means he believed what God said.  He agreed with God.

Justification is not by human effort or obedience to law, and ordinances, or faith and grace have no merit. Justification is by grace through faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and raised from death as evidence of God’s approval upon His life and sacrifice giving us God’s righteousness by faith.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Empowering Confidence

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17).

One thing every Christian needs is confidence in God’s gospel. Believe it is the only means by which you are saved for all eternity from sin, its darkness, damnation, and death; and saved to Christ Jesus. Being completely unashamed to share it with others. Being ashamed is like saying we are not exactly sure of its power. When you are confident in the gospel you are willing to risk everything for the Christ of the gospel.

The gospel is the only power which transforms people from unrighteousness to righteousness – the unjust to just.

An adulterer becomes pure and his/her life becomes pure and becomes a loving adoring husband/wife – he/she seeks purity because they have a heart for Christ.

A gossip becomes a person who seeks to control her/his tongue and to speak good rather than evil of others.

A murderer is no longer a killer, but rather, a caring, concerned human being.

All sinners – which is all people – gain control over those old sinful passions and lust which control us.

This empowering helps us see it is for all who will believe. God does not play favorites – nor should we. If God does favor one over another it is in favor of those who are weak and humble themselves. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are , extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).

From beginning to end righteousness is by faith. Righeousness comes only from God – for He alone is righteousness. “Just” is another term for righteousness. Believing God is faith and comes to the individual by an act of God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit. Not only are we saved by faith, but “The just shall live by faith”. Not by any works of moral goodness. Not by any liturgy and/or religion. By faith in the works of Jesus Christ alone. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5). True faith produces works that glorify God.

In conclusion, we must be confident in the power of the gospel; that it is the only means by which a wicked, sinful, fallen race, called the human race, can be delivered from the bondage of sin, its condemnation, and death. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the power which can change the heart and life of any man, woman, boy or girl into the image of Jesus Christ.

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE GREATEST POWER KNOWN ON EARTH.

-Tim A. Blankenship

His Name, Wonderful

Shiloah Baptist Church

Please read Judges 11 – 13…

“And the Angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after My name, seeing it is secret?” Judges 13:18 (KJB)

“And the Angel of the LORD said to him, ‘Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” (NKJB)

The Angel of the LORD had appeared to the woman who was the wife of Manoah, and he was working in the field.  They had no children, now, the Man had came and told her they were going to have a son.

This Man was none other than the pre-incarnate Son of God, God the Son with all power, wisdom, and knowledge of the Godhead.  He is worshiped.  Manoah is directed, commanded to offer the sacrifice to God, and it seems that He was inferring to Manoah that He was more than a man.

What is the deal about His name? …

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The Chastening of the LORD

Shiloah Baptist Church

Please read Judges 1 – 3…

“And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which He commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”  Judges 3:4  (KJB)

How the enemy gets his foot in our door, and into the house is evident from the reading of the morning.

It begins in an unbelieving heart; not believing what God has said, not practicing what He says, and teaching of the children is neglected (Judges 2:10); for they did not know the LORD.

These [children] not only neglected to rid the land and cities they had conquered of their evil inhabitants, but began practicing their evil religion and worshiped the false gods of the land.  It is a good thing to know that God will work in and with His children in disciplining them to get them where He desires…

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Love the LORD Your God

Shiloah Baptist Church

“Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.”  Joshua 23:11 (KJB)

God desires that we love Him.  We show that love by hiding the word in our hearts that we not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11), and it becomes a part of our everyday lives.

The thought is often presented, or the question is asked about the Word of God whether it is applicable for Christian life and living in 2018.  For any of us the answer is, Yes!  Are we to live by Old Testament Law in 2018.  The answer to that is –  The people given the law could not  live and obey it completely.  Who are we to think that we can?  We are to hear, and live with love for God, and His word, and His laws will be dear to us.

We must understand that the law of God was…

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You, O LORD, Are My Rock and My Fortress

In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in Thy righteousness. Bow down Thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be Thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”  Psalm 31:1-3 (KJB)

Are you feeling down, dirty, discouraged, and in despair today? There is One in whom you can place your trust.  David found that trust in the LORD our God.

The Psalmist calls on the LORD to listen to him.  He request that the LORD be “My strong rock, for a house of defence…”  I am pretty certain that David faced those times like we have too.  Lonely, afraid, desperate, and in despair; and in those times he cried out to God;  and God hear him and answered his prayer.

Though David was looking for a hasty reprieve from his dilemma, he quickly realized that the LORD was his Rock and his fortress, and simply requested that God would lead and guide him.

In the not too distant past our Vice President was mocked and criticized by a lessor known individual who called him a mental case because he claims that Jesus speaks with him.  I was thrilled to hear our VP say that.  David spoke with our Lord, and the Lord spoke back, and because of this we have the Psalms which we can read and through them the Lord speaks with us too.  That is if we have a heart for Him.

He hears the cries of His people.  The question really is today; Do His people hear Him?

Hear the Lord GOD today through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus God Son, the God Man, in whom you can give your life – heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Raised Up

I will extol You, O LORD; for You have lifted me up, and have not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto You, and You have healed me. O LORD, You have brought up my soul from the grave: You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit”  Psalm 30:1-3 (KJB)

David was a man; a King who knew where to go when he was troubled, oppressed, and in dire straights.  He went to God, the LORD of hosts.  He feels in this Psalm like he has been dead, or nearly so.  His life has been threatened in the past, and he is giving the LORD the praise and worship He deserves for delivering David.

In dedicating our homes, our families to the LORD we need to recognize from whence the LORD has brought us, and David did.  He was a shepherd boy who had faced a lion and a bear.  He was still that shepherd boy when he face Goliath the giant of the Philistines, and slew him with a stone and a sling.  David said that it was the LORD who delivered Him.

If we are faithful to the LORD we cannot hold our lives to be more dear to us than the LORD is.  Life is good, but it is not cheap.  We must not fear anything but the LORD our God, and do so through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s holy Son.

The Lord Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and raised again can raise you up from whatever dilemma you face; and through your life to the end of your life give you eternal peace.

This song came to my mind as I was writing…  MY FAITH LOOKS UP TO THEE

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lam of Calvary, Savior divine!

Now hear me while I pray, Take all my guilt away,

O let me from this day Be wholly Thine!

and the final verse of the song…

When ends life’s transient dream, When death’s cold, sullen stream Shall o’er me roll,

Blest Savior, then, in love Fear and distrust remove;

O bear me safe above, A ransomed soul!

May our hearts and lives be always remembering the grace, love, mercy, and will of God each day we live.  Give your life to Jesus Christ and truly live.

The Earth: Why it is the LORD’S

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”  Psalm 24:1-2 (KJV)

Adamkind, and that is all of us of the human race, have since sin came into the world became really tight fisted.  We want what we want, and we want it now, and we want it forever.  We grow into the mentality that this world and everything in it is ours.  The Bible has good news for us… It belongs to our Creator; the Creator of all that is… all that exists in this universe.

Let me share with you what the Treasury of David, written by C. H. Spurgeon says of verse two…

In the second verse we have the reason why the world belongs to God: namely, because he has created it, which is a title beyond all dispute. “For he hath founded it upon the seas.” It is God who lifts up the earth from out of the sea, so that the dry land, which otherwise might in a moment be submerged, as in the days of Noah, is kept from the floods. The hungry jaws of ocean would devour the dry land if a constant fiat of Omnipotence did not protect it. “He hath established it upon the floods.” The world is Jehovah’s, because from generation to generation he preserves and upholds it, having settled its foundations. Providence and Creation are the two legal seals upon the title-deeds of the great Owner of all things. He who built the house and bears up its foundation has surely a first claim upon it. Let it be noted, however, upon what insecure foundations all terrestrial things are founded. Founded on the seas! Established on the floods! Blessed be God the Christian has another world to look forward to, and rests his hopes upon a more stable foundation than this poor world affords. They who trust in worldly things build upon the sea; but we have laid our hopes, by God’s grace, upon the Rock of Ages; we are resting upon the promise of an immutable God, we are depending upon the constancy of a faithful Redeemer. Oh! ye worldlings, who have built your castles of confidence, your palaces of wealth, and your bowers of pleasure upon the seas, and established them upon the floods; how soon will your baseless fabrics melt, like foam upon the waters! Sand is treacherous enough, but what shall be said of the yet more unstable seas?

That same Creator has given life, gives life, and will continue to give life to all who live on earth.  He will give eternal life to all who will believe Him and receive Him through Jesus Christ His Son and His death, burial, and bodily resurrection.  It is all His.

Ask Life, and GOD Gives It

The king shall joy in Your strength, O LORD; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For You meet him with the blessings of goodness: You set a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked life of You, and You gave it him, even length of days for ever and ever. His glory is great in Your salvation: honor and majesty have You laid upon him. For You have made him most blessed for ever: You have made him exceeding glad with Your countenance.”  Psalm 21:1-6 (KJV)

King David was speaking of much more than what he had requested.  He was speaking of the future King of Israel, King of the world who would receive all that He requested because He had died to redeem His bride unto Himself.

On that word “Selah” I want you to remember that I look at that word and pause, think about what was just read, what it says, and reflect on it.  Now thinking on that second verse for a bit: did David get all those things?  Did he get all that his heart desired?  I really do doubt it.  He was joyous in knowing the LORD and resting in Him.  It would seem to me that it is directly related to the coming King, the Messiah of Israel, and Savior of the world.

He asked life and was raised from the dead.  He asked for long life, and will live eternally, even for ever and ever.  He is glorified in the salvation GOD has provided through His death, burial, and resurrection.

This Psalm is a song of David thanking and praising the LORD for His answer to his prayers; that they are exceedingly abundant over what he could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Ask Life, and GOD Gives It.  He gives life through faith in His Son Jesus.  Will you ask?

He Will Help, Strengthen, and Remember You

The LORD hear you in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice; Selah. Grant you according to your own heart, and fulfil all your counsel.”  Psalm 20:1-4 (KJV)

In this Psalm of David he writes that the LORD will hear you, defend you, send you help from the sanctuary, strengthen you, remember your offerings, and accept your costly sacrifices.

Let us as Christians today come with the expectant heart of David, and God will be rich in blessing toward us as well.

Looking at verses 2 – 4 of the text above; it is GOD who sends help from our time of worship.  You see wherever we are in the worship of the Most High, holy, and Almighty God that is the sanctuary; the one who worships Him though throughout the week – Monday – Saturday – will not forsake the gathering with other believers on the first day of the week as the early church did.  He is our help.

Looking at the “strength out of Zion” we can see Zion is Jerusalem the City of David.  It is the city on a hill.  A city of strength.  You can notice from Scripture that when every one left Jerusalem they were always going down to Jericho, or down to Bethel, and down to Capernaum, etc..  A picture of strength, and a reminder to the Hebrew people where their strength came from.

The “offerings… and burnt sacrifice” are those things which David would have offered to the LORD.  In these verses he is offering praise, and worship.  The burnt sacrifice would have been the sacrifice of a bull, lamb, ram, goat, dove etc.  We do not sacrifice animals today.  We do not need to; neither are we commanded to.  So what is the offerings and sacrifices we give?  Ourselves; our surrender to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s Son, God the Son.

When we give our all to Him He gives us a desire to live for Him.  A desire to love like He does, to love what He loves; and to hate the things He hates.  He will fulfill the desires of the heart that is given to Him (Psalm 37:4); in life, liberty, and love.

GOD Knows the Foolish Heart

The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one.” Psalm 14:1-3 (KJV)

How often do we hear, “He is a good man”?  I have said it myself, yet I know in Scripture God tells us that we are evil (Jeremiah 17:9), and the above verses.  The very fact that God sent His sinless Son to die on a cruel old wooden cross for our sins is evidence enough that we need a Savior, and we are told that Jesus Christ is the only one available to us.

I have written a couple of days ago of the “Children of Men” and we can see in the world that there is evil in the hearts and lives of Adamkind. We have what some see as good people who have become addicted to drugs; legal, illegal, or illegally obtained pharmaceuticals.  Some have become addicted due to doctors prescriptions; some just for a kick or an high.  That in itself should say to us that we are a corrupt people, we are evil and in need of a Deliverer, a Savior, and that God has provided for us a marvelous, wonderful Redeemer, Savior, and Lord.

There are many people who profess that they believe in God.  So do the demons of Hell (James 2:19).  Believing in God is a good place to start, but you must also believe what He says.  For our salvation we must believe that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us, believe and accept His work on the cross, His burial and resurrection.

We do not understand when we refuse to seek our own way, do our own thing, believe our own belief, and refuse the wonderful gift of God’s grace in His Son Jesus.  It just might be more beneficial to be an non-theist, than to believe in God, yet reject His Son.  Both the believer in God who has rejected Jesus, and the non-theist will be cast into eternal torment.

Does Adamkind do good things?  Many times good things are done by our kind.  Does it do anything to honor and glorify GOD?  Most times  they do not.  What GOD does and accomplishes in those who are His will honor and glorify His name.  His saving us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus glorifies Him.  Isaiah the prophet said, “…All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Do not live as an unbelieving fool. Turn to Christ Jesus and live your life for Him.

 

Evil Unbound

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”  Revelation 9:1-6 (KJV)

In this chapter, I will endeavor to show that after man has made a mockery of Satan, hell, sin, and death, God will unleash all the forces that had been seen as unreal and fictional, sources for jokes and humor. That man has trifled with evil at the expense of their eternal souls, and that the very evil they mocked and practiced will be judgment upon them.

We have come to the fifth trumpet, which is also the first “Woe” of chapter eight verse 13, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth…”. The word “Woe” is related to great calamity. Jesus Himself as He walked among men pronounced “Woe” on Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:21.

The star mentioned is different from the stars previously mentioned in verse 12 of chapter eight. This star is a personality. The implication is that the star has fallen. “To him” shows this as a person. So, in this case, it is not a literal star. It can be likened to the “stars” of chapter 1 verse 20 and to 2:1.

This star is one who has fallen from Heaven. He will no longer be allowed to come into God’s presence to accuse “The brethren”.

Where the judgment of the first four trumpets dealt with things man can see, hear, touch, taste and/or smell, this fifth trumpet judgment appears to deal with the demon horde. We know the chief of demons to be Satan. To him is given a key to unleash the demon swarm, held captive, upon the earth.

Because these unbelievers have mocked the spiritual and believed no connection to life or living the unholy spiritual beings will be set free from their abode and attack those on the earth.
The smoke out of the pit goes up like out of a furnace. It will be like hell was unleashed upon lost mankind.

What came out of the “Abyss” is likened unto locusts. We cannot say these are literal locusts. God used a plague of locusts against Egypt (EXODUS 10:1-20), and in Deuteronomy 28:38, 42 we find that God used locusts as judgment against Israel in times of their unfaithfulness. We also see judgment upon Israel with locusts in Joel 2. These in Egypt and Israel were literal crop-eating locusts.
What makes these something other than literal locusts is their description. The first being, they have a scorpions tail [“…power, as the scorpions on the earth have power”]. The literal locust has no such tail.

These were also given a commandment. They could do no harm to the grass, nor any green thing, nor to any tree. They could do no harm to the people who had “The seal of God in their foreheads”. God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).

The genuine locust eats any green thing in its path and is a great cause of famine throughout the world. The locust here, though, attack and torment men. They are to torment, but not to kill. This is to go on for a period of five months, which, I have heard, is the lifespan of locusts.

The torment will be so great and fierce that men will seek to die, but “Death shall flee from them”. These could be some of the same ones who seek eternal life by searching for a “Fountain of Youth” use of “Cryogenics”, or even searching for the supposed “Holy grail”. Now they are seeking death and cannot find it.

“What the scriptures here convey is that in addition to the natural plagues of the first four trumpets, now wicked men are afflicted by torment of demons” JOHN WALVOORD The Revelation Of Jesus Christ pg. 161.

O, friend, this is not a time we must go through.  Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we are delivered from this judgment.  Only through Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  Call on Him and He will deliver you.

Payment Due Upon the Earth and Inhabitants

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:1-8 (KJV)

In chapter six begins a series of judgment upon the earth. A judgment, unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We have all seen some of the movies of the destruction of the earth. We are constantly being warned of the destruction of the earth, if we do not stop using gasoline vehicles, etc. People living in fear of what is called “The greenhouse effect” caused by the earth warming. People living in fear of nuclear war, and destruction of the earth. Let me just say here; We need not fear these things. What we need is a good, old fashioned fear of a Holy God. The end of sin is going to come by Him and no other hand. We can be assured of that. We can either go on in fear of these former things mentioned or rest in peace with God as our Savior, our Lord, and Redeemer.

In the near past, there have been books written about the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. We see them here in the first four seals which are opened by the Lamb. In the opening of these seals, we see the judgment of the Great Tribulation beginning upon earth. (Keep in mind, that there is no more mention of the Church – the twenty-four elders, and the wife of the Lamb – until we get to chapter nineteen.) There is a “White horse and rider”, a “Red horse and rider”, a “Black horse and rider”, and a “Pale horse and rider”. The horse is a symbol of strength, and the rider is the one in control of the horse.

The Lamb, the only one found worthy to open the seals of the book (5:5), opens one of the seals. One of the “Living ones” (4:6) invites John “Come and see”. If these “Living ones” give John the invitation in the order they are listed in chapter four, there may be a connection with each of the first four seals. The first “Living one” was “like a lion”, the “King of beast”, and here we find a ruler ruling completely the opposite of godliness. This “Living one” would be grieved by this, but indicating to John it is (the rider on the white horse’s) short-lived deceptive rule. Could this be a possibility?

The sound of “Thunder” is warning of an approaching storm. The storm coming is one of judgment and gloom upon the face of the earth.

These first four seals are introduced by the “Four living ones”. It appears that the first four are done by man after God Almighty removes His messenger of restraint [the Holy Spirit] in order that sin might work its course. The end of sin is death. The fifth seal has to do with martyred souls, during the reign of the evil one, because of their faith in God (See 12:11 and 20:4). I will try and deal with this in more detail later. The sixth seal then is clearly of divine origin. The seventh seal is not mentioned until chapter eight, and it is opened to begin the judgment of the “Seven trumpets”.

What John sees is a rider on a white horse. There are two possible reliable interpretations of who this rider is: 1) He is Jesus Christ active in His Church taking the gospel and conquering the world – this view is held by those who see the Revelation as history; 2) He is the “Man of sin” referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 7-10. Notice this rider is said to have a bow. There is, however, no mention of arrows. “He went forth conquering and to conquer” and it could be that he is conquering through persuasive and deceitful speech which would be suitable for the “Son of perdition”.

It would not make sense for the Lamb to be the one opening the seals and also the one riding the “White horse”, nor, would it make sense for the awful tragedies following His conquering, if it was for His kingdom. For Christ to appear here as conquering by peace, or whatever reason, and then appearing again in chapter nineteen, with His sword for war, would not make much sense either.

It appears to me that this rider is none other than the man who will deceive the world with his lies. With the deceitfulness of lies and trickery, the world will follow him to their death.

The second “Living one” says, “Come and see”. This seal fits with Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:6-7…

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

This will be the real thing. The second “Living one” was “like a calf” which may represent “Service”, and war would definitely be the opposite of one who is serving. One with a servant’s heart is not usually given to war and would be one to ease the pangs of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and such. He would certainly not be one to initiate them.

This horse is red, the color of blood, and that is for a reason. The peace, which the rider on the white horse promised and seemed to give, is very short lived. There is bloodshed, war. His work is to “Take peace from the earth”. Who is to say whether this rider of the red horse is not the same as the rider of the white horse and the following riders as well. The rider being the man and the horse representing a power/political agenda. It just might be a possibility. This rider on the red horse is given a “Great sword”; an instrument of killing and war.

John, then sees, with the opening of the third seal, another horse, and rider, and is called by the third “Living one”, “Come and see”. This third “Living one” has a face “like a man”. It is in the heart of man to cheat, deceive, and defraud other men. It is in the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ to deliver us from these things, but here it becomes a judgment of men upon the earth. We have heard of and seen things like this in the United States in recent political and natural disasters. People charging exorbitant fees for the removal of trees and debris from streets. Charging more than regular prices for generators and such because of excess needs. It just seems to me, that in these times there should be generosity, not greed. During this coming time of judgment, there will be excessive greed and no generosity.

This horse is black. Black represents suffering. Famine, plague, and all kinds of suffering are caused by war.

Jesus also refers to this in Matthew 24:7…

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

These seals seem to fit perfectly with the apocalyptic words of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Famine does come often as a result of war. Economic hardship is there too. Notice the cost of food. The presence of the “balances” seem to indicate injustice in price. A penny was a regular days wage. This verse if written today could read, “It costs a day’s wages to purchase a loaf of bread”. Can you imagine paying 50 – 100 dollars for one loaf of bread?

The balances [scales] of verse five have to do with marketing – selling and purchasing for the purposes of business. These scales under the rule of an unscrupulous ruler would be unjust.

Imagine the stealing, killing, and chaos going on because of this rule. Anarchy would be the proper term.

We are now to the fourth seal, the fourth horse, and rider, and the invitation of the fourth “Living one” to “Come and see”. This fourth “Living one was like a flying eagle”. This “Flying Eagle” would represent the Omniscience of God and ability to see, and oversee all things.

What John sees now is a pale horse, a pale grey, ghastly color symbolizing sickness and death. Sickness and death would certainly follow a famine. Notice, though, the power given unto the rider. He has the power to kill one-fourth of the earth. If the population of the earth is around seven billion that means he would be destroying 1.75 billion people.

The sword, hunger, torturous death, and the use of wild beasts to kill are his instruments of death.

Keep in mind Christian, that God does not have wrath in mind for those who have trusted Jesus.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” 1 Thess 5:9-10 (KJV).

We are reminded, as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

Those who have been born again in Christ Jesus have no need to fear the judgment coming on the earth or earth’s inhabitants.  Yes, we are currently inhabitants of earth, but this earth is not our home.  We are awaiting our new home in the presence of Jesus.  See and read John 14:1-6.

Fear None of Those Things…

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

Facing sorrows through trials of our faith we find assurance, in this letter to the church in Smyrna, of the eternalness of Jesus, and His promise of eternal riches to those who are overcomers. The “Crown of Life” is promised to those who are “Faithful unto death”.

The church at Smyrna was a suffering church. They had nothing of the world’s goods or praise. They did have the praise of Jesus. That means more than anything.

Polycarp was the bishop of the church and he was put to death for his faith. In John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST he writes, speaking of Polycarp, “When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”. Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today, known as Izmir, unlike Ephesus which is in ruins. When Christians are willing to stand no matter what, it has redeeming qualities for all of society. There is also a Christian church in the city. How? By overcoming.

The church of Smyrna needed to hear from the One who is the “First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive”. Smyrna is located approximately 35 – 50 miles north of Ephesus. Like Ephesus, it too is a port city. The two cities probably struggled over which was the chief city of the region.

The word ‘Smyrna’ means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead. It was also used in Tabernacle worship, and as a perfume. The significance of this is the way in which Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Smyrna. “I Am the eternal One, which became dead, and I Am alive forevermore”.  Myrrh was used in the burial of Christ.

These are certainly encouraging words. Our Savior who was humiliated and put to open shame upon the cross, and put to death is encouraging the church to stay on course because they too will live eternally. They too may die; you may someday get to die for your faith in Jesus, but that is not the end. You have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His “I know” of verse 9 is somewhat different from His “I know” for the church of Ephesus.

The church is suffering fiery persecution. “Poor” means they were poor in this world’s material things. This partially due to them, as followers of Jesus, having no rights to worship. Their lands and houses could be taken freely because they had no legal protection, no constitutional protections as we have.

Their persecution came by means of the unregenerate people of Smyrna. Both the Gentiles and Jews persecuted the Christians.

“…Jews, and are not” implies a racial identity without a Christ-like identity. In Pauls letter to the Romans he wrote, “…He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29). If these “Jews” had been anywhere near obedience to their faith they would have remembered God’s law which says, “…the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34). Therefore, Jesus says that they “…Are the synagogue of Satan” – lost, no relationship with God, condemned, and needing salvation.

They [the persecuted Christians] are known by those who persecute them as being “Poor”. They are known by Jesus as being “Rich”. How are you known by people? More importantly, how are you known by Jesus? It is much better to be poor to the world and rich with Christ, than to be rich to the world and poor with Jesus.

Jesus is so very gracious. He speaks quite often in the gospels, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid”. Here in verse 10, He speaks the words again. “Fear none of those things…”.

“If they come and take away your houses or land, do not be afraid. If they come to take you away for torture, pain, and death, do not fear. If they come to take your family, do not be afraid. If they come to ridicule you, do not fear. If they bring false charges against you, do not fear. If they come to take your life, do not be afraid. It is not over. Your life is still in My hands”, Jesus says.

Tribulation and suffering should not be strange for the follower of Jesus. He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).
Trials and testings come into every believer’s life. Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is because of sin left unconfessed and an unrepentant heart or paying the consequences of sin forgiven. Sometimes it is to keep us from something for our own benefit and His glory.

“Tribulation ten days” is probably a reference to a short period of time. All the troubles we encounter as Christians are of only short duration compared to eternity. Many Christians suffer bad health for years, not because of sin, but for their good, and the glory of Jesus. It is only a short time compared to the glory and splendor of God’s eternal home.

The “Ten days” have also been compared to a period of time from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD. This would have represented the ten days as being periods of persecution under these leaders.

How faithful would you be to public worship and faith in Jesus Christ if our government suddenly declared worshiping God in Jesus to be illegal? Would you be in Bible study and worship next Sunday? The worship of the church of Smyrna was illegal, yet they worshiped and lived their faith. They suffered. Jesus words were, “Be faithful unto death”. “Don’t be afraid, be faithful”. Even if it means your life, be faithful. Jesus was. He gave His life as not only an act of love for you and me, but also an act of faithfulness to the Father. The reward? He will give a “Crown of life”; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12). This crown is often equated with being the “Martyrs crown”, but probably received by all who are faithful in life without fear for their lives.

Finally, Jesus says to the church of Smyrna, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (v. 11). Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will hear His voice.
The Spirit gives understanding. He is our ears to the words of the Lord Jesus. The message is now to the individual – “Hear”.

“The second death” is total and eternal separation from God. The word ‘death’, in essence, means separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from life. Spiritual death is the condition all people are born into, separated from God. The “Second death” being different, is only so in that it is eternal separation from God. There is an eternal place where the eternal wrath of God is suffered.

All who overcome are “Born of God”. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). All who are “Born of God” [born again] overcome. The “second death” has no hurt to the born again (Revelation 20:6). The second death is reserved for those not found in the book of life (20:14), ‘the fearful and unbelieving…the abominable, …shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (21:8).

The only way to miss the “Second death” is to be born twice. The second time through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone once said, “If you were born once, you will die twice. If you were born twice, you will die once.”

Troubles inevitably will come, at least while we live on earth. Some people will ridicule our faith and faithful practices. Sickness comes occasionally or regularly for some. Nevertheless, we are called on to be faithful.

If we keep in mind the humiliation of Jesus and His suffering, even though He was sinless, and the glory that is His after His resurrection, we can overcome every trouble and trial of suffering that comes our way. No material possession can keep us from the “Second death” only Jesus can. After all, He is THE RESURRECTED ONE, and has all authority to say “Fear none of those things”.

Alpha and Omega: Who is He?

There are some sects of Christianity which do not believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate – God in flesh. Yet much of what Jesus says confirms to us that He is exactly that.  The works that He performed in miracles and signs confirm who He is as well.  I am not going to take up a lot of time defending this but even Jesus said, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.” John 14:11.  We also hear Him speak in the Revelation…

“I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending,’ saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8 (KJV)

“Saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Revelation 1:11

“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, ‘Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.'” Revelation 1:17b-18

Now let us compare those Scriptures with Scripture found in the prophecy of Isaiah…

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and His Redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6

“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Isaiah 48:12

If the words of God from Isaiah is God speaking, and Jesus speaks these same words in the Revelation, then let us answer the question honestly.  Jesus the Christ, the Son of God is God the Son.

Precious Faith

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)

Simon Peter a very close friend of the Lord Jesus Christ as He walked, worked, and lived and died on the cross is the Spirit-inspired writer of both First and Second Peter.  He is one of the apostles of Christ.  At one time he was influenced by the devil when he told Jesus that He would not die (Matthew 16:23;  Mark 8:33).

Peter writes of the Precious Faith that we receive “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”; so then we must know that “Faith” also is the “Gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  The work of faith and salvation are the gift of God.  They are in fact the same.  When you have faith in Him then you are saved.  When you are saved, then you have faith in Him.  It is the gift of God.

Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 3 that “…All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23), but in Christ Jesus, we have been called into that glory and the virtue of it.  We are no longer separated from God, and even more, because we are in Christ we are recipients of the “exceeding great and precious promises… that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature.”  Having the “divine nature” means that we have been given the heart and mind of Christ. The will to think, to act, to live like Christ.  That means we no longer have the heart of sin, but we hate sin just as Jesus does, and we love righteousness, holiness, and righteousness.

We are delivered from the corruption that is in the world, and our desires are what God desires for us.

If you are still desiring to live in your sinful passions and lust, you enjoy living in sin, then you have not been delivered from the corruption of this wicked world.  You are still bound in sin and death, and you are on the road to eternal destruction and hell.  You need to call on the name of Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and He rose again.  One day He will come again just as He said He would (John 14:1-3).  Call on Him today, even now.

The Great Attraction…

The following is a portion from a sermon preached by Reuben Archer Torrey titled “THE GREAT ATTRACTION: THE UPLIFTED CHRIST”.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32 (KJV)

Note, in the third place, the words, ‘Draw all men.’

Does “all men” mean all individuals or men of all races? Did Jesus mean that every man and woman who lived on this earth would be drawn to Him, or did He mean that men of all races would be drawn to Him?  The context  answers the question.  The Greeks, as we have seen, came to one of the apostles, Philip, and said, ‘We would see Jesus,’ and Philip had gone and told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip had gone and told Jesus.  Our Lord’s ministry during His earthly life was  to Jews only, and in coming of these Greeks so soon before His death, our Lord saw the presage of the coming days when by His death on the cross the barrier between Jews and Gentiles would be broken down and all nations would have their opportunity equally with the Jews, when by His atoning death on the cross men of all nations would be drawn to Him. He did not say that He would draw every individual, but that all races of men: Greeks as well as Jews, Romans, Scythians, French, English, Germans, Japanese, Americans, and mean of all nations.  He is a universal Savior, and true Christianity is a universal religion.  Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and all other religions of a restricted application. Christianity, with a crucified Christ as its center, is a universal religion that meets the needs of all mankind.  It meets the needs of the European as well as the needs of the Asiatic, the needs of the Occident as well as the needs of the Orient, the needs of the American Indian and the needs of the African Negro; and so our Lord said,

‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself.’

The Power of Words

Words are like bullets; once fired off they cannot be recalled.  Once spoken you cannot call a word back.  We can say, “I’m sorry”, but that word still is there in the mind of the one it was spoken to.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  That is not true.  Yes!  We can shrug them off, and go on, but the hurt is still there.

It is so much more loving, merciful, kind, and Christ like to give a word of encouragement, thanks, or praise; then a bitter, angry, or destroying word.  The question is – Do we want to build? or Do we want to destroy?

Hear the wisdom of Proverbs…

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:10-21 (KJV)

Remember Jesus’s words in the sermon on the mount…

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

When we speak unloving, unkind, hateful words we speak death; not life.  See what Jesus says above “…Shall be  in danger of hell fire.”

Further thoughts…

Verses 10 – 11 – The LORD is the source of many to trust in.  He is whom many who have called on the name of the Lord for salvation have run to.  Many a wealthy individual has all their hopes in their wealth, investments, and possessions. An island of safety in the midst of words of warning and hope (v. 10).

Verses 12 – 21 – You can see that the words of the foolish individual is more important to him/her than listening to others in verses 13, 17. Verse 16 speaks of giving gifts – not bribes to buy off judges, law enforcement, etc. Probably could be likened to a gift someone might bring to the King’s birth.

In verse 18 there seems to be some wisdom in “casting lots” for the ceasing of contentions.

There is reward; or destruction in our use of words. They can be the difference in life and/or death; destruction or building up.

There is much said in Scripture of words, the mouth, the lips, the tongue.  It is with great joy I can tell you of the Living Word, and that is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth as the God-Man, and gave His life to redeem you and me from our sins that we might live eternally.  Call on His name. Believe Him and be saved.

Committed to the Gospel

The apostle Paul was greatly burdened for his people Israel.   He was burdened for Jerusalem, and was set to return there, despite continued warnings from others who were speaking for the Holy Spirit (Acts 21:4).

Paul’s response to loving people for him is a breaking heart, yet he is determined to go to Jerusalem.

“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” Acts 21:13-14 (KJV)

The following is the commentary from the Believer’s Bible Commentary…

  • 21:12–14 When the apostle’s companions and the Christians in Caesarea heard this, they pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. But he could not sympathize with their concern. Their tears only served to break his heart. Should the fear of chains and imprisonment restrain him from doing what he considered to be God’s will? He would have them know that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. All their arguments proved of no value. He was determined to go, and so they simply said, “The will of the Lord be done.”
    It is difficult to believe that Paul’s parting words were spoken by a man who was knowingly disobeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know that the disciples in Tyre told him through the Spirit that he should not go to Jerusalem (v. 4). But did Paul know they spoke through the Spirit? And did not the Lord later seem to approve his trip to Jerusalem when He said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (23:11)? Two things are clear: First, Paul did not think his personal safety was the main consideration in serving the Lord. Second, the Lord overruled all these events for His glory. From the BELIEVER’S BIBLE COMMENTARY

Paul is the one who inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote….

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galations 2:20

Let us live faithfully for the Lord Jesus Christ that we might die faithfully in His name.

To Begin Twenty Seventeen – Happy New Year

This was working out to be a Presidential election year for the United States of America.

I am supposing that one of three things has happened: 1) Some major catastrophic event has occurred and President Obama has declared marshal law which stopped the Election, and he is still in “power”;  2) The election has gone through and a Republican is our next President and will take his/her seat on or around the twentieth of this month; or 3) The spiritual, moral and intellectual failings of this nation have been revealed, and Hillary Clinton will be our President on that date.

I do pray that every Christian went to the polls and voted your Christian conscience, and that you are at peace with your vote.

If the rapture of the Church has not happened by this date January 01, 2017, my prayer is still “Even so, Come Lord Jesus, Come soon.”  No matter who the new President is.

Even if He has come for me in my death, this will still be read, God willing of course on Jan. 01.

Christmas Day Ten and One

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want the Light of Jesus Christ to shine brightly, so that children, their parents, grandparents; the whole families may see the baby born in a manger two thousand years ago, grew into the Man who lived without sin, became sin for us, was judged by God the Father on our behalf on the cross, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of the grave; and that He is one day soon returning to put an end to evil in the world over which He will reign supremely.

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 (KJV)

Christmas Day Ten and Five

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to call on every Christian to hear, receive and believe the word of God today that is written in the Bible; will be spoken from every Christian pulpit around the world; hear it, and put it to work in our lives, because it is powerful, to rid us of evil in our own  hearts, minds and lives, to set us apart from the world, to empower us as the witnesses of our Lord and God Jesus Christ who came as a baby in a manger, grew into a man, and gave His life as a ransom payment for our sin, was buried, and He arose from the grave, ascended into heaven; and soon will be returning.

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” [Jesus’s prayer] John 17:17 (KJV)

Christmas Day Ten and Six

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always remember that Christmas is about Jesus coming to dwell among mankind, as one of us, that He might die for our sins; and set us free from the chains of sin, death and eternal death; to give us life eternal.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” [Jesus] John 5:24-29 (KJV)

Christmas Day Twenty and Two

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want that person, man or woman, boy or girl that is on that slippery slope of sin and death and hell, to have their eyes of the heart, mind and soul opened to see their desperation, and doom; to know and understand there is no escape from that slippery slope except through the cross of Jesus Christ, and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and deliverance from an eternity of torment and darkness.

“To Me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” Deuteronomy 32:35 (KJV)

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:12-13

Christmas Day Twenty and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

Since it is that season of the year we are to remember God sending His Son Jesus into a world that hated and despised Him; I want to remind us of our condemnation into which each of us are born; and remind us all that God is holy, just, righteous, and worthy of all praise, honor and glory; yet He loves us.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:6-10 (KJV)

Christmas Day Twenty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to choose my words so as to build, and not to destroy; to speak wisely and constructively; to speak words of life and not death; that others may be drawn to God through His word and Spirit.

“Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20 (NKJV)

Christmas Day Eighty and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to guard my  heart, so that only words of life, and not death, proceed from my mouth.

“Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”Matthew 15:17-20

Christmas Day One Hundred Five

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be blessed by God in telling someone about Jesus Christ, and His cross, death, burial and resurrection; and to see that person call on the name of the Lord for salvation, receiving eternal life.

Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth— The LORD God of hosts is His name.” Amos 4:12-13 (NKJV)

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 Jesus (KJV)

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Twenty and Seven

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:30-32 (KJV)

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be a pleasure to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit of God; and when the body that I am living in dies I want God to be pleasured by it; so I want my life and my death to glorify Him, and I know, I trust, and I believe that God sent His only begotten Son, and that whosoever believes in Him (and that “whosoever” is you and me) shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Also see Psalm 116:15.