Beware the Wolves

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”  Acts 20:29-30  (KJB)

Paul, by the revelation of the Spirit of God, knew that when he was departed seducers, voracious, and evil men would come in and try to destroy the word and work of God. There are two types of voracious leadership named here.  I will let some sages from the past clarify who they are…

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…

For I know this,…. By divine revelation:
that after my departing; either out of this world, or after his leaving them now, and proceeding on, his journey:
shall grievous wolves enter in among you; false teachers, comparable to wolves, for their craft and cunning, and for their greedy, covetous, and voracious dispositions; and who would be very grievous, troublesome, and even intolerable to them; these, he knew, would enter privily, at an unawares, into their churches, and set up themselves for preachers, without being called or sent:
not sparing the flock; fleecing it instead of feeding it, making merchandise of it, and like the Pharisees, under religious pretences, devour widows’ houses, and drain the purses of men; and having as little compassion upon their souls, poisoning them with their errors and heresies, subverting their faith, and bringing them into swift ruin and destruction, as much as would in them lie.

From Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary…

after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you — Two classes of coming enemies are here announced, the one more external to themselves, the other bred in the bosom of their own community; both were to be teachers, but the one, “grievous wolves,” not sparing, that is, making a prey of the flock; the other (Act_20:30), simply sectarian “perverters” of the truth, with the view of drawing a party after them. Perhaps the one pointed to that subtle poison of Oriental Gnosticism which we know to have very early infected the Asiatic churches; the other to such Judaizing tendencies as we know to have troubled nearly all the early churches. See the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Timothy, also those to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2:1-3:22). But watchfulness against all that tends to injure and corrupt the Church is the duty of its pastors in every age.

O my friend draw near to Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God, God the Living Son.

As They Followed Him They Were Afraid

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him,
‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again.’” Mark 10:32-34  (KJB)

This was the final time Jesus and His disciples would be going up to Jerusalem.  The disciples seemed to understand that, but not really understanding the coming consequences of this trip.  They had heard Jesus mentioned His death; and they had seen the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him.

They probably were afraid of any coming backlash against them, because they were His followers; and of what would become of them following the worst they could imagine.

Verse 32 was my focus as I was reading chapters 10-12 today. There are times I am fearful.  Sometimes it is a senseless fear.  I mean by that it is something contrived in my own mind. Other times it comes from real time and life situations. When ever fear invades is usually when I am not expecting it.  When I am afraid I choose to hear what the Master says, rather than what my fearful thoughts have imagined.

I have learned that I must question my fears; never my faith.  I am still learning that.

Don’t you just love the way Jesus comforts, and encourages His disciples?  He tells them the events that are going to happen; the ones they are fearful of; but does not leave them without the promise, “He shall rise again.”

Are you going through a fearful situation? Is it something too big for you to handle? Is it a contriving of your own mind?  Either way remember He has risen.  He died on the cross for the sins of the world; yours and mine; then, He was buried, and He rose again.  He forever lives that we too might live and reign with Him forever.

That It Might Be Fulfilled

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell ye the daughter of Sion, ‘Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.’
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set Him thereon.  And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed in the way.  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.'”  Matthew 21:4-9  (KJB)

This is without question the greatest need of Christianity today, and that is that we get back to believing the word of God.  We have too many pastors, preachers, churches, and leaders who turn a deaf ear to the Bible.

“It is antiquated” they say.  It is superstition some say, which seem to me to be more non-theist than Christian.

The verses above help us remember why Jesus came.  The scene presented of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey is often called the “Triumphal entry”.  I would prefer to call it the “Presentation of the Suffering King of Salvation” or something along that thought.  I say that because His triumph was not complete until He rose from the grave; and even yet there is more to happen.

At any rate,we as followers of Jesus must recommit ourselves to the study, reading, and application of God’s word – the Bible – in our lives.  The Triumphal Entry will occur when we hear the trumpet sound, and the feet of Jesus touches the ground on the Mount of Olives.

Let us repent of our sins, and trust the word of God, to teach us along side His Spirit who will guide us into all truth.

The Plants Our Father Has Not Planted

“Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, ‘Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?’  But He answered and said,
‘Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.’” Matthew 15:12-14  (KJB)

From the Matthew Henry Commentary…

The rooting out of them and their traditions (Mat_15:13); Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Not only the corrupt opinions and superstitious practices of the Pharisees, but their sect, and way, and constitution, were plants not of God’s planting. The rules of their profession were no institutions of his, but owed their origin to pride and formality. The people of the Jews were planted a noble vine; but now that they are become the degenerate plant of a strange vine, God disowned them, as not of his planting. Note, (1.) In the visible church, it is no strange thing to find plants that our heavenly Father has not planted. It is implied, that whatever is good in the church is of God’s planting, Isa_41:19. But let the husbandman be ever so careful, his ground will cast forth weeds of itself, more or less, and there is an enemy busy sowing tares. What is corrupt, though of God’s permitting, is not of his planting; he sows nothing but good seed in his field. Let us not therefore be deceived, as if all must needs be right that we find in the church, and all those persons and things our Father’s plants that we find in our Father’s garden. Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; see Jer_19:5; Jer_23:31, Jer_23:32. (2.) Those that are of the spirit of the Pharisees, proud, formal, and imposing, what figure soever they make, and of what denomination soever they be, God will not own them as of his planting. By their fruit you shall know them. (3.) Those plants that are not of God’s planting, shall not be of his protecting, but shall undoubtedly be rooted up. What is not of God shall not stand, Act_5:38. What things are unscriptural, will wither and die of themselves, or be justly exploded by the churches; however in the great day these tares that offend will be bundled for the fire. What is become of the Pharisees and their traditions? They are long since abandoned; but the gospel of truth is great, and will remain. It cannot be rooted up.

Follow the One who gave His life on the cross for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of that grave.  He forever lives making intercession for sin.

Grace in Dispute

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, ‘Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.'” Acts 15:6-11  (KJB)

The King and His Creation

The King And Nature

Matthew 8:23-27

With many having fears of the storm of Global Warming, and thinking that mankind can destroy what God has created, we need to come to realize that the earth and what we refer to as Nature is in the hands of our Soveriegn Lord and King.

We are to be good stewards of things where we can make a difference.

The storms of life will come, but we have a Lord and Savior who cares for our needs, and He will care for our need of air, as long as we are looking to Him and being faithful in caring for the environment the best we know how. I only bring the thoughts of Global warming into this because there are men who are wracked with fear concerning this matter – whether it is real or imagined – it is truthfully in the hands of the Lord.

JESUS GAVE COMMANDMENT TO GO TO THE OTHER SIDE (v. 18).

JESUS GOT INTO ONE OF THE BOATS AND THE DISCIPLES FOLLOWED HIM (v. 23).

* Jesus went to sleep and continued sleeping after the storm came up.

* Jesus slept, and by sleeping shows us His humanity.

* Jesus needed the rest and His disciples needed the test.

A STORM CAME UP, NOT UNCOMMON, AND THE DISCIPLES PANICKED (vv. 24-26a).

* At least four of these fishermen were experienced fishermen of the Sea of Galilee.

* Could the storm have been of supernatural origin and more fierce than previous storms these men had witnessed?

JESUS REVEALS WHY THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD NO FEAR OF THE STORM (v. 26b).

* While the man slept; God was keeping all things in His hand, and not one thing can happen to the child of God without the Father’s permission.

* Jesus had a destiny to fulfill, and the Father was not about to let that be stopped.

THE DISCIPLES MARVEL IN THE PRESENCE OF DEITY (v. 27).

* Only deity can still the waves, the wind, and all storms.

* Jesus is the One who can still, and calm all storms.

* Let us all marvel in His deity, and worship Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Right Attitude

Being The Right Attitude

Matthew 5:1-12

We are looking at the beginning verses of what is called The Sermon On The Mount preached by Jesus to His disciples. It does not seem that there was a multitude at this message. It seems clear that it was only His disciples, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them,” (vv. 1-2).

Each of the “Beatitudes” are a principle for living in the kingdom of our King. They represent an attitude of the heart and the mind. Within the kingdom of Christ our King there would be peace among us with no pride – lording it over another; there would be more sorrow over sin – our own first of all; there would be a greater hunger for God and His righteousness – less worry about gaining the things of earth; there would be more mercy – thus obtaining mercy; there would be more purity – more visions of God; there would be more opportunities for being peaceable – as the children of God; there would be more persecution – we would all be living faithfully as we are in the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s first look at the definition of the word “attitude“. “The position of something in relation to something else” is one definition according to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. What is the position your mind, your heart, your life in relation to God? We will consider those things your attitude. If we line ourselves up with God, having the right attitude we are “Blessed”, and that means “Happy”. Christians should be the happiest people in the world. I am not talking about a happiness based on frivolous circumstances, and life situations, but more of a joy which cannot be taken away.

What is the basis for having the Right Attitude?

I. THE FIRST THING IS TO HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF BEING “Poor in spirit” (v. 3).

A. This possesses a disciple of Jesus Christ as King.

1. It is the opposite of being proud, haughty and arrogant; especially when considering the things of God.
2. There is absolutely no room in the kingdom for pride.
3. It is bad enough to be arrogant, prideful and haughty before our fellow man, but to do so before God has eternal consequences

B. To be poor in spirit is to have more concern for the things of God, and the lives of others than we have for our own lives

1. What is the position of our heart toward God and our fellow man?
2. Seeing ourselves as God sees us is the proper attitude, and we will be poor in spirit, and ours will be the ‘kingdom of heaven’.

II. SECONDLY, THERE WILL BE AN ATTITUDE OF “Mourning” – having grief because of sin (v. 4).

A. The attitude of mourning over some thing or things which are not morally or spiritually right.

1. First of all, seeing sin in ourselves should cause us to mourn grievously, and lead us to repentance.
2. Secondly, when we sin in a love one, and we know that it is dragging them further and further away for God; we should be mourning over sin, and for their repentance.
3. Thirdly, when we see what sin is doing to our church by those who are “talebearing”, gossiping, and “sowing seeds of discord”; all should be grieving, mourning the destruction it is doing to the lives of those participating in it and the harm it brings to us all.
4. Fourthly, when we see what sin does to our community, State, Nation and the world we should be mourning sorrowfully and be praying for repentance.

B. There is comfort for those who mourn now.

1. There are many in and of the world who can laugh when a commedian tells an indecent story or joke, but when the story time is over they are sad once again.
2. Those who mourn now will be rejoicing through out all eternity, and that does not mean we cannot be joyous and truly happy while we are here.
3. When we see a sinner repent that will by a happy occasion; those who mourn shall be comforted.

III. IN THE THIRD PLACE, THERE IS THE ATTITUDE OF “Meekness” (v.5).

A. Meekness has been defined as “Strength/Power under control”.

1. Jesus was a great example of this definition of meekness.
2. It is also said of Moses, “Now this man Moses was very meek, above all men which were upon the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3 (KJV).
3. Gentleness is another term for meekness.

B. The meek are those who know and realize who they are in Christ, but do not seek to exploit their position, power or person above others.

1. The meek are quick to defend others, but often will not defend themselves, and all the time stand for what is righteous, holy and just before God.
2. Meekness is one sure sign of being secure with who you are.
3. The inheritance of the meek is the earth;

“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:9-11 (KJV).

C. Jesus tells us that the “meek shall inherit the earth, and the Psalmist says that of “Those who wait upon the LORD…” as well.

IV. FOURTHLY, WE NEED THE ATTITUDE OF “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness” (v. 6).

A. The kingdom child is hungry for God, His Word, His righteousness, His holiness, and His justice.

1. Righteousness is the way of God, and the child of God desires the way of God.
2. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; their desire is for Jesus Christ and nothing else, because He is the fulfillment of the righteousness of God.

B. Those “hungering and thirsting for righteousness has a very specific hunger and that is for those things which are honoring and pleasing to God and glorify Him

1. To devour the truth – getting it into the system in order to be strengthened, encouraged, and motivated to live right with God.
2. O, that we as the people of God grew in that hunger; never completely filled; but satisfied with Jesus, wanting more of Him, and His righteousness.
3. The thrist never completely quenched; with longing to drink from the well of the Water of Heaven.
4. Drink from the ‘river of water’ that flows from out of the throne of God Himself (Rev. 22:1).

V. THE FIFTH BASIS FOR HAVING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE IS TO BE “Merciful” (v.7).

A. When you are in the right position with mercy it is most likely because you have obtained mercy (See Matthew 6:14-15 and Luke 7:41-42).
B. Living in a competitive world many feel and/or believe it is okay to exact revenge on one who has wronged you.
C. Get-Even-Ism is not the way of mercy.

“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Luke 7:41-42

1. Mercy is what we all desire, especially when we are in trouble, in need, or just flat out busted.
2. We all need it, but when it comes to others, we are a little slow at granting it, if we do at all.
3. The question, “Who was forgiven the most?” is a pertinent question for us today – How much have you been forgiven? Much or little?

Mercy has been defined or illustrated in this manner – “It is not receiving what we justly deserve – that is JUDGMENT”. The next time you are about to release a verbiage of criticism on someone over something that has offended you; take a look at yourself. Someone has been merciful to you in the past, and probably over this same thing that has set you off. What is the position of your attitude in relation to mercy?

D. When we are merciful we shall obtain mercy.

VI. IN THE SIXTH PLACE IS THE NEED TO BE “Pure in heart” (v. 8).

A. Purity is such a sweet word. The definition of the word pure is:

“Unmixed with any other matter: free from taint’ also, ‘Free from moral fault: innocent”. From the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY.

1. Without a pure heart no one can see the Lord, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness [purity], without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14 KJV).
2. No one can appear before the presence of the Lord without pure heart – “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his sould unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” Psalm 24:3-4 (KJV).

B. There is a pure heart only by looking to Jesus Christ, and looking to Jesus you will see God.

VII. SEVENTH, IS THE HEART OF “Peacemakers” (v. 9).

A. This does not have anything to do with “World peace” initiatives or movements.

THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY on Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 211 states,

“The essentil fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflice and strife; it is the presence of righteousness”.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Rom. 5:1 (KJV).

B. As long as men and women are at war with God, not believing Him or in Him; there will never be peace with God.

1. “Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness” IBID.
2. Having peace with God makes one righteous and just by decree from God.
3. There will be peace on earth when Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom on earth.

C. Those who have peace are the only ones who can offer peace to those who do not have it.

1. It is those who are peacemakers who have the peace with God, and the peace of God.
2. It is those who alone who can be called ‘the children of God’.

D. When your position with God is right; you will have peace with God, the peace of God, and you also will be a peacemaker.

VIII. THE EIGHTH AND FINAL BE-ATTITUDE IS THAT OF THE “Persecuted” (vv.10-12).

A. As a follower of Jesus Christ we must consider ourselves dead to the flesh any way.

1. It was Paul who wrote,

“I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20). “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:4).

2. Paul also wrote to Timothy,

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12.

B. These two “Blessed(s)” are for only those who are in Christ Jesus and walking in His righteousness.

1. These persecuted do not moan and groan their persecution, they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ.
2. This was the attitude of the early church; we see them rejoicing in this in Acts 5:41 –

“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

C. Do we go out seeking persecution? That is a definite NO!!!

1. When we live righteously in Christ it will come and then, we stand and we stand in His name.
2. Persecution is not for the believer to gain God’s grace, but because of grace.

D. Those who are persecuted will inherit the “kingdom of God”.

1. It too, will be a matter of rejoicing.
2. Great will be the reward in Heaven

“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 (KJV).

IX. SUMMARY – WHAT IS THE POSITION OF YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD, HIS SON, AND HIS WORD, AND YOUR POSITION IN THE WORLD?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Religions Resistance

There are many times when the message of Christ is clearly presented that there will be resistance, even persecution, because the gospel of Christ turns religion upside down.  It is as true in 2017 as in the days of the apostles of Jesus.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:46-52 (KJV)

Paul and Barnabas were in a town where there was a Jewish synagogue, and they went there to fulfill the word of God, “To the Jew first…”.  They were made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit within them and upon them.

They had shared the history of the people of Israel; reminding them of the power of God on the people, His love, His grace, His mercy; upon the people in their journey in the wilderness.  All these as well with the Judges and the Kings of Israel, and how the LORD had called the Jews to be the messengers of God to the whole world.

Religion of men seeks to control men, women and children, and keeps people in bondage of sin.  Christianity, following Jesus frees men, women and children from the bondage, death, and scourge of sin.

What should the messenger of Christ do when opposed by the religious elite?  Do as Paul and Barnabas did.  Keep on preaching, teaching, living for the Lord.  “Shake the dust off your feet”, and go on doing the work of the ministry.

Ministry Led By the Holy Spirit

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (KJV)

In chapter six there was some contention over the neglect of some of the Grecians because their widows were not being cared for; at least the way the families thought they ought to be.

The Church in Jerusalem was growing.  People were being delivered from sin and condemnation.  The apostles were loaded with many responsibilities, thus the accusations of neglect.

The apostles were chosen by the Spirit of God to be preachers of the gospel; so in that they would, and should give themselves to the ministry of prayer, and the preaching of the word.  O that the preachers of God’s word today would get that burden; for if we are not in the word of God and prayer we will be powerless, and find ourselves struggling with emptiness of heart and soul, wondering about if we are doing what we are called to do or not.

It is not that the apostles, or the preacher today would be neglecting their duties of service, and ministry; they are rather giving themselves to the greater responsibility of calling people to Christ, and His work in and through them.

With every Christian gifted by the Spirit of God to serve one another, the Church is blessed and it grows as God blesses and leads.  See Romans 12:3-15;  1 Corinthians 12.

The Church chose seven men.  The most remembered one is Stephen.  These seven men were full of the Spirit of God, they did the work they were chosen to do, and the apostles were able to do the work they were called and chosen to do, and the Church was blessed…

“…Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:6-7

You will note also, that, many priests of the Hebrews became believers as well.  Is God good, great, marvelous or what? He is.  He is indeed.

Day Three Hundred Twenty and Five

What do I want for Christmas?

That the world may know that we are Christians by our love for one another.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)

Amazed by the Power of God

We ought always be amazed by the power of God. We ought always realize that God is working, moving, accomplishing His purposes in the world around us and in our own lives.

Previous to the verses we look at today Jesus had been on the Mount called “Transfiguration”, and He was speaking with Moses and Elijah. A wonderful experience for Peter, James and John, and where they heard the Father say, “This is My Beloved Son: hear Him”.

Coming down from the mountain they encounter a man who has a son possessed of a demon, and is tormented by the evil one; tearing, tossing, torturing him with great pain, and grief to the father of the son. The other nine disciples have been powerless to cast out the demon. Jesus has come and speaks to the “unclean spirit”, and the demon leaves, the son is healed, and is delivered to his father (Luke 9:28-42)

Jesus knew the time of His death was near. He had spoken to the disciples of His death on previous occasions, but they did not yet understand.

“And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.” Luke 9:43-45 (KJV)

In verses 51 and 53 we can note that Jesus had His “face set to go to Jerusalem”, and that means all the way to the cross, and to death for our sins.

In the words of the text above Jesus wanted the disciples to know and to understand; but it just had not happened yet.

In the Gospel account of Matthew Peter attempts to rebuke Jesus after Jesus has spoken of His coming death (Matthew 16:21-23). A disciple rebuking his Master? I almost laugh at the thought; but Jesus rebukes Peter, and even tells Satan “Get behind me Satan”. For man, or the whole human race to think that they can thwart the power, plan, and purposes of God is even more laughable. See Psalm 2:4.

For the Christian today we can understand what has taken place; yet we must have the heart, mind and soul for hearing it, hiding His Word in our hearts, and obeying it. We can pray for understanding and wisdom in the Word; but if we never read it, and study it, there will not be any of wisdom or understanding. There will also be no growing faith in Him.

O Christian; hear Him. Do His word. Let these sayings sink down into your ears; and your heart. Jesus has been delivered into the hands of men. He died, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of that grave, and He ever lives.

Betrayed? Continue On

Have you ever felt betrayed? It can be from a friend, family member, work place employee, or even a spouse. Betrayal is not pleasant to experience. Have you ever sensed that it was coming?

I am not talking about a paranoia; but rather a reasoning thought that someone is about to leave you with the cat in the bag. I cannot begin to imagine how being sinless, and the perfect Lamb of God, and knowing that there was one of my followers about to betray me; how that would feel.

Jesus had that happen. The verses for today tell of that; at least that it was near. We read,

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2 (KJV)

Jesus knew this was about to happen, yet, He goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, and He knows it will be His last.

When we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour it is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). When He lives in us we must die daily to the desires, lust, greed, and anger of the world (1 Corinthians 15:31).

When it comes down to it for the Christian – the follower of Christ – we like Him go on with our work, our ministry, our lives; trusting the Lord of all with what happens in our lives. The devil is the ultimate betrayer.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Feeling betrayed today? Remember Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God. He was betrayed and He went to the cross, bled and died for us.

A Journey of Passion

This was Jesus’s final journey to the city on the hill. He would not make it again, and He knew it. Yet, He journeyed to the place where He would die.

Would you with joy, and passion go to the place you knew would mean your death? Of course you or I cannot know those things, as He did. We do need to know, though, that every day could be our last. None of us have any assurance of the next day.

Knowing His days on earth were few; Jesus traveled on teaching His disciples, and telling them what death He would die:

“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again.” Matthew 20:17-19 (KJV)

We read in other places that He had his mind set on going to Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21; Luke 13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:28). Some have called this journey “His Passion”, and I think that to be a good description of His heart and mind.

He came to live for the righteousness, and glory of the Father; and to die for the sins of mankind; to conquer death, sin, hell and the grave. That is what He means when He says, “And the third day He shall rise again”.

His journey in life was to glorify His Father, and to do so through obedience, even unto death. He died for you and me. He carried our sins, and its condemnations away in burial, and left them there; and rose bodily from the grave. He forever lives and saves all who will come to Him.

Jesus Is In the Boat

“And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him.  And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.  And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us: we perish.’  And He saith unto them, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  But the men marvelled, saying, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!'”  Matthew 8:23-27

Rest and Worship for Mankind

“And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.  And the Pharisees said unto him, ‘Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?’  And He said unto them, ‘Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?  How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?’  And He said unto them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath.’” Mark 2:23-28

Through the Bible in a Year – Evening 011313

Scheduled for the evening message of January 13, 2013; however, we did not have services due to sickness in the congregation.

The Greater of Jonah, and Solomon

Matthew 6 – 12

1.  The Giver of a Greater Commandment (6 – 7);

2.  The One who calms Storms, and Heals (8);

3.  He is the One who Forgives Sin, and sends Laborers to the Harvest (9);

4.  He Calls His Disciples to be Empowered for the Task at Hand (10);

5.  The One who Shares our Load, and the Burden is Light (11);

6.  He Speaks of a New Day of Rest (12).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Walking on Water

“And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit;’ and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’  And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.’  And He said, ‘Come.’  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.'” Matthew 14:22-33 (KJV)

 

Why Are Ye Fearful…?

Fear is an emotion we all face at times.  There are some who seem to be fearful much of their lives.  I have known some who were fearful of leaving their home, or new home for a night or so; for fear that someone might break in and steal their possessions or do harm to their home.  Now, there is a needless fear.

It would probably surprise us what many people are fearful of.  There are some parents who are constantly fearful that their child or children will fall down, get hurt, be hurt by someone else; well you get the picture.  Children need to learn, and their falling, experiencing pain is part of growing up.  Fear can be dangerous to one’s health.

We live in an era or time when people are fearful of what the economy will do; or how the stock market will perform.  In this post today I want us to look at two portions of Scripture.  First from the New Testament we hear from an event in the life of Jesus’s disciples and the words of Jesus;

“And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him.  And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.  And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us: we perish.’  And He saith unto them, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  But the men marvelled, saying, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!’”  Matthew 8:23-27 (KJV)

Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus is asleep in the boat, a storm comes up, Jesus remains asleep undaunted by the storm; and His disciples are fearful.  Had they forgotten what Jesus has told them?  Do they not know who He is?  Of course it is a normal part of life to get fearful in the midst of a storm; at least for many people it is.  However, when you have the Son of God with you, having heard His words; what is there to fear?  Some wise Christian from years ago said, “If we fear God we do not need to fear anything else”.  Jesus said to His disciples “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”, then He “Rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”  Now, do you suppose that calm was just the ceasing of the wind and the seas?  I think not.  The calm entered the hearts of His disciples as well.

To continue of this thought lets look into the lives of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis;

“And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken.  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.  And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.  And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.  And Sarah said, ‘God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.’  And she said, ‘Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age.’  And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.” Genesis 21:1-8 (KJV)

Now Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son by God.  They had gone to extraordinary means to try and accomplish God’s will in their own way.  First by the surrogacy using Hagar Sarah’s servant.  As a result of this Ishmael was born and Sarah was despised by her servant, and when God did give them the son He had promised this promised son was hated by Ishmael.  Where did this deed come from.  It seems to have been spawned by fear.  Fear that they needed to do something which God had not commanded, nor commended.

Some might think, “Well where does faith fit into the picture with Abraham and Sarah?”  Despite their actions they did believe they were aiding God in giving them a child; but it still was contrary to His will.  Yet God uses this fear and its fruit to later discipline His children.

They believed God in their lives, and God honored their faith.  In Genesis 15:6 we are told of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

The word for today.  No matter what the devil and life may throw at you; do not fear for God is the Master of your life.  You do not need to use schemes, or the wiles of the world to accomplish the works of God.  He works His plan and accomplishes His will for our good and His glory.  When we do our own plan, our own way, “The chickens will come home to roost”.

“Why are ye fearful…?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Messengers Going

These sermon notes were originally posted at Fire and Hammer.

The King’s Messengers Going

As we look at this tenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we will see some great things concerning those who were Jesus’s disciples during that time while He walked as man among mankind whom He created. We also see some great things concerning disciples of Jesus through all of time.

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matthew 10:5-15 (KJV)

The disciples of the King are sent forth and they go where He sends them. He tells them not to go to the Gentiles. His message is first to the house of Israel; His people by birth (“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” John 1:11 KJV). This was a “Command” of the King. “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and as Paul the apostle wrote, “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”.

Jesus will not always send His disciples to the most comfortable places. For the most part the places where it is needed that we go may be the most uncomfortable, and seemingly forsaken. It is the King’s command to go. He sends us to where He will.

Of all the people who should have known and recognized Him it should be the house of Israel. Why? They had the writings of the Word of God. They were a called out people to a special task. They had been chosen by God to receive the oracles of God, preserved them, present them to the world, and to live them for the glory of the Lord. They had continually received the mercy and the grace of God; and were on display to the world of the graciousness of God.

The very fact that their Messiah would send His messengers to the house of Israel shows that He saw their greatest need. That greatest need was not miracles. It was Himself; but they finally would reject Him, try Him, find Him guilty, mock Him, crucify Him, but ultimately they will be delivered by Him.

The message of the heralds/disciples is that the kingdom of the King is at hand. The kingdom for which Jesus addresses is His kingdom, and it is near. The time of His rule on earth is coming soon. Some may look at this and think, “Well! It has been nearly 2000 years since He spoke these words and it is not here yet”. On that I would differ. He has said that it is near and that it is “In you”. The message of John the Baptist was “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 3:2 (KJV). The message of John and Jesus were the same. A call to repentance because the kingdom was approaching soon.

My idea of the kingdom of heaven is probably unlike many of our day, particularly in Baptists circles. The kingdom of heaven is the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in all creation. It is not the salvation of the lost, though, it could include that. It is not a program to get Christians active in doing the “work of the kingdom”. It is the present activity and reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of people, and all the created order. We cannot help but be involved in it. We can decide whether we will be active or passive in our involvement, in proclaiming the message of His kingdom. The message of repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is still a needed, and pertinent message. We must proclaim the kingdom of our King.

Usually when we decide to go somewhere, particularly if it is of some distance and will take some time, we prepare and get ready to go. This commissioning/sending is urgent. It requires leaving without preparation, packing, and there is certainly no time for parking. People are perishing is the urgency of the call. This is not saying that one does not need to be prepared with knowledge of the Word of God, and dealing with people. When you have got filled up body, mind and soul, the work of the gospel of the kingdom is not one that requires a lot of baggage. The beginning of Abraham’s journey of faith shows us quite clearly that when we begin the journey with excess baggage God has a way of getting shed of it. On the beginning of his journey his father died. When they got into the Promised Land to stay the herds of Lot and Abraham grew where the herdsmen of both men began to quarrel, and so they separated there, thus Abraham is now without the baggage he began with.

The things Jesus spoke of in verses 9-10 was baggage. Baggage they would only have to keep up with. It was a way of dealing with only what is important in life. It is the way of the King to say, “You will need to trust Me on this mission. You may not understand, but I will provide all your need, as you walk with Me”. There will be those on the journey who will come to your aid, and you will not be tied to all those worldly possessions. It allows us to do what we must do with diligence and haste, in the fear of the LORD.

Wherever the disciple/herald of the King goes he needs to be a stable influence on the people where he/she is. If the disciple moves from one good home to another there is absolutely no picture of stability. John Gill writing on this writes:

and there abide till ye go out; of that city or town, to another city or town: for to be often changing houses would bring upon them an ill character, as if they were difficult to be pleased, not content with the provision made for them; and would look as if they sought to serve their own bellies, and gratify their appetites, more than to do good to the souls of men; and besides, moving from the house of a bountiful man, might bring some reproach upon his character, as if he had not used them well, and therefore left him. In short, Christ’s meaning is, that he would not have his disciples be difficult, and dainty, or fickle, and inconstant, but be content with such things they should have provided for them; and not seek for other, and better quarters, nor fear being troublesome where they were.” From e-Sword commentary on Matthew 10:11.

The disciple is to be a source of faith and stability, and not one that seems to be always uneasy, unsure, and dissatisfied. How stable do the Christians of 2007 and beyond appear before a world who needs the message of the King, and the King Himself.

One thing that is most needed by the disciple of Jesus Christ is discernment. It looks to me like there are many Christians who are laying “discernment” aside for the sake of “Unity” so called. Giving up on presenting the Christ like life as one of holiness, sound thinking and a sound mind. Many are more concerned with what draws a crowd than they are with holiness, and being separate from the world. Use it if it draws the people is the pragmatic approach in “ministry” of the day. The early disciple never used that approach. What did they do? They proclaimed the message of the King, and left the results up to the Spirit of God and each individual heart who heard the message of the kingdom.

Most of us, I am fairly certain, have been in the home of an individual where you had been invited in, but you just did not feel at all comfortable. As a matter of fact your thoughts were, “I am getting out of here just as quickly as I can”. It is sad to say, but in far too many homes the Christian and the message of Jesus Christ is not at all welcome. They do not want to hear it, most of them will tell you so, and there is no light in that house at all. The disciple of Jesus is not to have any part in that house, but go to the other where there is a warm welcome waiting.

When those disciples went into a house or a city and they were not welcomed warmly, that place was to be treated as though they were heathen by the Jews. “Shake off the dust of your feet” was the words of Jesus. Sodom and Gomorrah would be treated better in the day of judgment than that house or city who does not welcome the disciple of Jesus. Some do not agree, but the Bible does teach degrees of punishment in eternal hell. Verse 15 here in our text, and others. From Vine’s Word Study of e-Sword:

Mat 10:14 – Shake off (ἐκτινάξατε) “The very dust of a heathen country was unclean, and it defiled by contact. It was regarded like a grave, or like the putrescence of death. If a spot of heathen dust had touched an offering, it must at once be burnt. More than that, if by mischance any heathen dust had been brought into Palestine, it did not and could not mingle with that of ‘the land,’ but remained to the end what it had been – unclean, defiled and defiling everything to which it adhered.” The apostles, therefore, were not only to leave the house or city which should refuse to receive them, “but it was to be considered and treated as if it were heathen, just as in the similar case mentioned in Mat_18:17. All contact with such must be avoided, all trace of it shaken off” (Edersheim, “Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ”). The symbolic act indicated that the apostles and their Lord regarded them not only as unclean, but as entirely responsible for their uncleanness. See Act_18:6.

The disciple of Jesus the King needs to realize the tragedy of rejecting the message of the King and His kingdom. We should also warn all those who are in the way of rejection. God is never pleased that the wicked perish. (Read Ezekiel 18. See verses 23 and 32). Thus, the message of the King’s kingdom must continue. Receive the King and His kingdom.

-T.A.

Day 73 – Born Blind, Now Seeing

There are many religious folk in the world.  Many of them think they are seeing, even though they are blind.  My reading today was John 3 through 16, and what wonderful words I read this morning.  It was mostly the words of Jesus.

When Jesus spoke in chapter 6 of “eating” His flesh, and “drinking” His blood many of those who were following Him went away.  The sayings were too hard for them.  They were blinded by their dull and unbelieving minds.

In chapter 9 Jesus heals a man who was born blind.  This, at least by human standards, just did not happen.  If a man such as Jesus did it on the Sabbath day that made matters even worse.  Hear the act as the Scriptures declare it;

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.  And His disciples asked him, saying, ‘Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’  When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam,’ (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  John 9:1-7 (KJV)

It all began with the disciple’s question about “Who has sinned?”  He then, made clay, and anointed the eyes of the blind man then, told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.  The man did just as Jesus had said, and now he sees.

Then the religious folk get upset, again, because this took place on the Sabbath day.  These men, just do not get it.  You do not do good on the Sabbath day – you do nothing.  Now, that is my sarcasm coming out.  These men confront the blind man who now sees, and they ask him “how he had received his sight”.  “He put clay on mine eyes, and I washed, and do see” (v.15).

This now seeing man is not intimidated at all by this religious mob.  He speaks very forthrightly of God, and His healing.

“Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, ‘Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.’  He answered and said, ‘Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.’  Then said they to him again, ‘What did He to thee? how opened He thine eyes?’  He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be His disciples?’  Then they reviled him, and said, ‘Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.  We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is.’  The man answered and said unto them, ‘Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes.  Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.  Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  If this man were not of God, He could do nothing.’  They answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?’ And they cast him out.”  9:24-34

I just love this part in here where the man tells them, “Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.  Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.  Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  If this man were not of God, He could do nothing.”  In looking at this he puts them in a very unbecoming situation.  Because of His faith they cast him out of the temple and worship there.

When we read the gospel of John we ought to very clearly see that Jesus is the incarnation of God – God in human flesh, the God/Man, the Ancient of Days.  Who is Jesus to you?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Stone Rolled Away – Mark 16:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Body of Jesus – Mark 15:37-47

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.”  Mark 15:37-47 (KJV)

Jesus had finished the gruelling, cruel, task of bearing the sins of the world.  Jesus spoke seven times from the cross one of which was, “It is finished”, which is recorded by John in chapter 19 verse 30.

Mark records something that is not recorded in the other Gospels, and that is the remark of the centurion in verse 39, “Truly this man was the Son of God”.  Matthew, Mark and Luke mention the “Veil of the temple was rent” with Luke’s version leaving off that it was torn from top to bottom.

The “Veil” separated the “Holy place” from the “Holy of Holies”.  The “veil” allowed only limited access, and that was only once per year on the day of Atonement by the high priest, and with the blood of a spotless sacrifice.  The significance of the torn veil is that now the way has been made for all people to come into the presence of Holy God.  Remember Jesus’ words, “I am the way…”.  He parted the veil and “The Way” has been made.  We can all now, “…Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).  The special significance of the veil being torn from “top to bottom” is that it was done by God, not by man, showing that the only way to God is not by the works of flesh and law, but only by God’s grace.

The centurion was so amazed by the strength, power and authority of the voice of Jesus at His last words from the cross it made a lasting impression on him.  Being a “centurion” he would have been in charge of 100 men, and according to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 27 verse 54,

“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those     things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.   Matt 27:54 (KJV)”.

John MacArthur writes of this in the Study Bible,

those with him. These were probably     men under his charge.  Mark 15:39 says the centurion was the one who uttered  the     words of confession, but he evidently spoke for his men as well.  Their ‘fear’ speaks of an     awareness of their sin, and the word ‘truly’ suggests a certainty and conviction that     bespeaks genuine faith.  These men represent an answer to Jesus’ prayer in Luke 23:34.”

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.  (Luke 23:34).

It is not improbable nor unlikely that this man and those with him are with Jesus in heaven.

At His death there were also several women who were there.  Some of them are named here – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses, and Salome, and others.  My how the work of women has improved since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  The New Testament tells us nothing of any wicked women or wicked deeds compared to that of the Old Testament.  Here we see the women had less fear for themselves than the men did, and they were closer to Jesus in His death than many of the disciples were.

At His death there was a man we do not know much about.  He was one who “Waited for the kingdom of God…” and went and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  He must have been a silent follower before or became one at His death.  Anyway he has the bold courage to appear before Pilate and asks for the body.  Joseph of Arimathaea is the man.  After Pilate had affirmed that Jesus was dead he gave Joseph the body.  Joseph, then, took the body of Jesus and prepared it with the proper perfumes, wrapped His body in “Fine linen”, and “…Laid Him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher”.  Matthew writes, “And laid it in his own new tomb,…” (Matthew 27:60).

The final verse of our text tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.  They would not leave until they knew where Jesus would be buried.  Jesus had no personal means of paying for a burial.  He knew that would be taken care of by His Father.

So!  Who was really on trial here? Who should have been crucified? Yet, He hung, He bled, He was accursed and died in our stead. It seems to me that what we see here in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus is the wicked, vile, sinful nature of mankind.  That was what sent Jesus to the trial and to the crucifixion.  It was His love that kept Him stedfast, and faithful to the finish.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 031011

Our reading today is from Matthew 20 – 22.

The matter of “faith” is one of great discussion.  The subject has been abused, misused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted.  I pray that I do none of those things with this observation today.

Faith, in some circles, has been and is seen as some what like a “genie in a bottle”.  Some tell us, “If you have faith you can live without sin’, ‘drive the finest cars’, ‘never be sick’, and ‘have a large bank account.”  Now they may not say it quite like that, but I believe that is clearly a misuse and abuse of the following verses,

“Now in the morning as He returned into the city, He hungered.  And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, ‘Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.’ And presently the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, ‘How soon is the fig tree withered away!’ Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:18-22

Now, to be honest with you, as I read these verses my thoughts are, “Man!  I would love to have faith like that.”  Then it occurs to me, “Just what is faith?”  Is faith the object of power or is our faith to be in something or Someone?  The answer is the latter.  My faith is to be in the Someone who is Jesus Christ.

I must also ask the question, “What is my motive for wanting this power?”  The answer comes back, “So I can use it for myself.”  What must this gift of grace and faith be “used”?  For the glory of our Lord, and no other.

It seems to me in this observation, that I already have this faith.  It is a gift from God.  It is not to be misused, abused; but rather to bring glory to the LORD of all creation.

Faith in Jesus Christ gives us the gifts that Jesus Christ Himself possesses.  We are “joint heirs” with Him (Romans 8:17).  Through Jesus Christ, and His authority we can move mountains.  Not only that we can move the world.  The only problem is we aren’t doing it.  We aren’t believing.

There is a story of two farmers who prayed for rain.  One was always going out to his tractor, going to the field, crying, pleading for rain; but nothing happened.  The other prayed for rain, and took an umbrella with him as he climbed on the tractor and went to the field to plow.  Now, which of them actually believed God would send rain.

Let me remind you.  Faith is not the matter of belief.  Jesus Christ is.  Faith in faith will get you nothing.  Faith in Christ Jesus “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030811

Matthew 14 – 16 is our reading for today.

The text we look at today is from the 16th chapter following Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Who do men say that Jesus is?  The disciple’s answers were that He was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other of the Old Testament prophets; giving answer to some comments people had made as to who He was.  The all important question asked by Jesus at this point was, “Whom say ye that I am?”  That is the clincher for the actual answer.  Peter’s answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, and that is the answer by all who will have eternal life.

Following this confession of Peter, however, it seems that the devil himself confuses Peter, and is rebuked for his speech;

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’  But He turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)

From the time of the confession of Peter Jesus begins to teach them that His destiny is to go to Jerusalem and die.  This is what the disciples were hearing, and that is the reason for Peter’s words of denial in the above passage of Scripture.  Jesus didn’t leave the matter without hope; He did speak of His resurrection of being “raised the third day”, yet Peter’s response comes from the dark recesses of his being.

We must think about this for an instant.  Peter loved Jesus, and to hear him speak of His coming death was a shock to his ears and heart.  That, nevertheless, does not excuse his mind being opened for the devil’s use.  Peter has been called “The disciple with the foot shaped mouth”, slow to think, quick to speak.

Can you just see Peter taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him.  Peter, do you know what you are doing?  He is thinking from the way of men, not the way of God, God’s Word and God’s will.  Many a time I have heard said that Jesus is calling Peter “Satan” in His words.  Not so.  Jesus recognizes who the infiltrator is, though there is a two fold action here.

Jesus first directs His rebuke to Satan who has tempted Jesus before (Matthew 4:1-11); and then to Peter telling him that his heart is not on the things of God, but those of men.  It is my conviction that the devil never wanted Jesus to go to the cross and die; he tried to misdirect our Savior from His atoning work; thus the temptations of chapter 4; the temptations from the masses to be king, and so forth; and now through Peter the devil attempts it again.

We must give our hearts to God, His Word and His will for our lives.  We, like Peter, may not always be able to understand what is going on, in fact, we may never understand; we are called to trust, believe and be faithful in what God says.  Jesus was faithful unto death.  That is our calling as well.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030511

Reading today from Matthew 5 – 7.

We can be a fickle people; those of us called human being.  When asked about God and the Bible or especially being Christian some have responded with “Well I observe the Ten Commandments” or “I try to live by the Sermon on the Mount”.  I haven’t done it yet, but I would venture to guess, that those who say they live by the Ten Commandments do go to tell you how many commandments there are; and more seriously could not tell you what they are.  Those who say the other, “I try to live by the Sermon on the Mount” are only kidding themselves.  It is a noble endeavor to be sure, but the requirements of the Sermon spoken by Jesus are more difficult than the Ten Commandments.

Hear what our Lord says,

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

There are many who believe and think that when Jesus came he did away with the law.  What did Jesus say above?  “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Let’s look at this idea of keeping/obeying the Sermon in comparison with the law.  First of all the Ten Commandments only deal with the outer experiences of life; for example, the seventh commandment says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) yet Jesus says in verses 27 and 28 of Matthew 5 that to look at a woman to lust after her is adultery.  Let’s look at another; the sixth commandment states, “Thou shalt not kill”  (Exodus 20:13).  Look at Matthew 5:22,

“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.” v. 22

So, if you can live by the Sermon then you are doing quite well with yourself.  If you think you are you are only lying to yourself, and deceived of the devil.

Jesus did not do away with the law, He lived it, He fulfilled it by complete and faithful obedience to God the Father.

In our opening verses above Jesus says, “…Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  That would mean complete faithfulness to God and His commandments.  That would mean complete faithfulness to keeping the sermon on the mount.  Can I do that?  Can you do that?  The answer for us both is, NO!  We are condemned and dying unless we come to God by Someone else’s righteousness.

That righteousness that is given to us by God is from Jesus Christ.  When He died on the cross He gave those who believe Him His own righteousness, and took our own unrighteousness upon Himself.  The law and the prophets are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  He lives in those who are His, enabling and empowering His own to live lives that honor and glorify GOD; when we trust Him by faith alone.

Matthew 5 – 7 for today’s reading.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew 030411

Beginning today reading Matthew 1 – 4.

We have been reading the books of Moses, and now we turn to the first four Gospels of the New Testament.  In doing this we will keep a better focus on Whom the whole of the Bible is about.

Matthew is one of four of the gospel presentations and written by Matthew who was at the time of Jesus’s calling a tax collector (9:9).  He was doing his work, Jesus comes along and calls him to follow, and he leaves all and follows Jesus.

When we look at Matthew this gospel is related to the King of israel, and His Kingdom.  In chapter one is the geneaology of the King; in chapters 5 – 7 we have what could be called His Kingdom Manifesto; chapter 13 are parables – stories which all relate to His Kingdom on earth;  chapter eighteen deals with those who would enter His Kingdom having the heart of a child; and chapters 24 – 25 deal with when He sets up His Kingdom on the new earth.

For today let’s look at the following verses,

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.  And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.”  Matthew 4:18-22 (KJV)

Jesus has been to John the Baptist, been baptized by him; and the gospel of John at this point says that the Baptist saw Him coming and says, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  John was no stranger to Jesus; after all they were cousins according in order of family births.  In the beginning of chapter 4 following His baptism Jesus has been “Led of the Spirit into the wilderness” to be tested by the devil.  Jesus passes the test with power and authority of the Spirit and the Word of God.

The Word of God was the means by which Jesus rebuked and rejected the lies of the devil.  The Word of God is important to Matthew as he writes this gospel account of Jesus.  In the first two chapters alone there are at least 17 Old Testament prophecies of  the Christ or Messiah, and Matthew relates them to Jesus alone.

Following His temptation in the wilderness Jesus sets out to fulfill His task.  His ultimate task as we look at the gospels will be set toward Jerusalem and the cross.  While walking by the sea of Galilee on this particular day Jesus sees Peter and Andrew fishing with nets, and calls them to follow Him.  They follow.  Now this was their way of living, it was Peter’s and Andrew’s business; they caught fish and sold them at the fish market.  It wasn’t a lucrative job, but it was an income.  Leaving these nets required an act of faith in the One they were going to follow.

Jesus’ s promise was to make them fishers of men.  To be a fisher of men is to call others to follow Jesus.

There were two others who were also called “Sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) and their names were James and John.  These four would become close to Jesus, particularly Peter, James and John.

Jesus is still calling people; men, women, boys and girls to follow Him.  Have heard that call?  Follow Him, and begin a wonderful journey of life, living and eternal life with Him.

We will be in the New Testament through the gospel of John, then return to the Old Testament.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Gethsemane: “Thy Will Be Done”

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33 And He taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. 39 And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer Him. 41 And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand.”  Mark14:32-42 (KJV)

This is the place called, “Gethsemane” which means “Oil press”.  It must have been the place where the harvested olives were pressed for the oil.  There probably can be no better representation of the “Press” Jesus Himself must have been in at this moment in time.  Of course, Jesus’s press was a spiritual one; affecting Him physically; which was pressing on Him to fulfill the will and work of God in His life, and that was His will and choice as well.  He came to do His Father’s will.

Jesus tells the disciples to sit in a certain place while He goes to pray.  He takes with Him Peter, James, and John to stay a little closer with Him and to pray while He goes to be alone with the Father.  The weight, agony, passion weighs heavily upon Jesus as this is being done, and he commands the three with Him to “Watch”; that is “Be vigilant”, “Be watchful” (v. 34).

At least from the time of the beginning of His ministry at the age of thirty the heart and mind of Jesus was on the cross; dying there for the sins of mankind.  As the only blood atonement for all our sin.  That was, afterall, the plan of the Father.  That was His plan too.  Having that as His heart and mind; is the old idea we have heard the right one, or could it be that He thought He could possibly die before He reached the cross due to His physically weakened condition; due to His grief and sorrow – His agony?

Could He truly have been praying that this time of passion “Might pass from Him”? If indeed that had been His heart and mind for many years? If so it would not be that He was questioning the Father’s will, it was the agony of His coming separation from the Father that was causing Him so much pain and agony.  He is the Son of God in flesh, never away from the presence of God, and to take away the sin of the world would require separtion to provide justification, cleansing, and in the end our glorification.  His death for sin was the only means by which a holy God could save mankind from their sins, and still remain just and holy.  Jesus knew that, and thus prayed, “…Not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (v. 36).

Remember Jesus had told Peter, James, and John to be vigilant, watchful and pray, but He finds them sleeping.  In the time of His own personal crisis His disciples – the three closest to Him at that – seem unaware at what is happening to Jesus.  It may also be that they are so troubled that they are overwhelmed, and they are emotionally exhausted.  It was a very trying time for them, but especially for their Master.  That was the time for them to pray, not to sleep.

He went back to pray and returned again only to find them sleeping again.  It happened again a third time and this time He tells them, “Sleep on”.  The time of His betrayal was at hand.  There was nothing more that they could do.  Judas was coming with the mob to take Him and lead Him to trial for His murder.

One thing we can learn from this event is that we need to be diligent, alert, and aware in our praying.  Sadly, there are far too many Christians asleep at spiritual living; especially in prayer.  At the darkest points of our lives we must be praying.  Maybe we are not even aware of those “darkest points”.  We need to be.  When we see the dark points of friends and family; we need to pray diligently.  Lord help us to pray as we ought.

Lord,  When we are in Gethsemane [the press] help us to pray, “Thy will be done”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lamb Of God Celebrating Passover

“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?  13 And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. 14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples? 15 And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. 16 And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17 And in the evening He cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.  27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. 29 But Peter said unto Him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. 31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”  Mark 14:12-31 (KJV)

Because it is drawing near to the evening of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread Jesus gives direction to two of His disciples on how to search for that place.  Whether the Lord had prearranged the event or not is not the question, though I personally do not believe that Jesus had it prearranged except through the Father.

Everything worked out just as Jesus had said.  Now we have the True Passover Lamb being prepared and preparing His disciples for the hours which lie ahead.  Ever since the deliverance of Israel from Egypt following the night of the Passover this event was prophetic of the True Lamb who would one day come to deliver mankind from sins bondage.  Just as the Passover lamb in Egypt died to deliver Israel from death, so too, the Son of God the Perfect Lamb, must die to deliver us from our sins.  It is quite fitting that it would be on the evening of the annual event remembering the deliverance from the land of bondage.

At this Passover meal Jesus tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him, and they will all flee from Him.  At the Passover meal they wonder, “Who is it?”  They even ask “Is it I?’  Even Judas to cover himself asked the question.  It seems to me that it would be proper to say that Judas was not present when the Lord instituted the “Lord’s Supper”.  According to John’s Gospel there is a place where Jesus said, “What you do do quickly…” and “…having received the sop went immediately out:…” (Read John 13:27-30).  The “Sop” would have been a piece of the unleavened bread from the “Passover meal” not that of what was the “Lord’s Supper”; that came shortly after Judas went to do his devious act of betrayal.

All we know of Judas is what we find of him in the Gospels.  He was the “Treasurer” for Jesus and His disciples (John 12:6).  We know he had equal access to the presence of Jesus as the other disciples.  He could have sought forgiveness for his treachery of betrayal, but instead he went out and hanged himself.  He could have taken part in the Lord’s Supper, but chose rather to go and betray his Master.  He slid into Hell from a church pew.  He did these things on one of the most holy weeks of the year for the Hebrew people.  He chose to betray and kill the only One who gave them hope.  By the death of the Lamb of God there was cleansing, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and restoration, justification, sanctification, and there will be glorification.

As Jesus and the eleven disciples were on the Mount of Olives he tells them they will all be offended and flee.  Peter says,  “Though all may be offended, yet, I will not be.”  Because of his brash denial of Jesus’s words to all of them Jesus warns Peter that he will deny Him three times.  All of these events happened on Passover evening.  The true Lamb of God [Jesus] is about to be put to the slaughter.

During the time of the Passover meal Jesus prepares His disciples for the hours ahead.  They are yet about unaware of what is to come.

In verse 25 we have Jesus’ promise that He will see the disciples in His Kingdom; showing us that there is a coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  It is a great promise.  Jesus also says, “…After that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee”.  That of course saying that He will not only meet them there, because He would see them before they see Him in Galilee, but He would reveal Himself to a far greater  populace of people, “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…” (1 Corinthians 15:6).  We also have His assurace that wherever we go for His glory He will go before us in leading.  If He is not leading the way will not be open.

In having the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus was forming a bond and strength in them to help them through what lay ahead.  Peter would realize that His Lord did not make empty promises or vile statements.  He would learn to keep his mouth shut at His Lord’s word.  Peter would also learn of the Lord’s great forgiveness, and would bow at the Lord’s resurrected feet.

As the first Passover lamb was killed to provide blood for the doorposts and lintels of every home of the Hebrews and deliver them from the “Death angel”, the blood of Jesus Christ delivers all who are under His blood.  Life is in the blood.  The shed blood of Jesus gives life to all who are dead in sin, if they will but look to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Not Of This World

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is still praying for His disciples – those who are following Him – today.  The Lord’s Prayer of John 17 is such a wonderful and powerful prayer.  It is an assuring prayer, and should be a motivator to inspire us as we pray.

Last time as we looked at verse 15 we saw that Jesus prayed that His followers not be taken out of this world, but that the Father “Keep them from the evil”.  Jesus intended His followers to be an example of godliness to the world, and we cannot do that if we become isolated and separated from everyone else.

The request we look at today is quite simple and somewhat of a statement completing the last request:

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  John 17:16 (KJV).

Jesus came into the world in the likeness of sinful men, but yet, without sin.  He came into the world as one of us, but not of the world.  He came from another place.  A place of glory and splendor.  He left all of that to come and redeem us unto Himself.  He is not of this world

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is a phrase which is used several times, …them that dwell upon the earth” (3:10; 6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6;) and another similar to it, …the inhabiters of the earth” (8:13; 12:12).  These references are of course speaking of those who have no heart for God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Those who follow Him, Jesus says, ‘are not of the world’.  Not of this world we have been born again to walk in a new life, a changed life, no longer tied to the temporal things.  The heart of a believer is tied to the things of the glory of Jesus.  We are not of this world; we are still in this world, and for the purpose of showing forth the glory of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Keep Them From The Evil

There are many times that I would like to just be taken to be with the Lord.  No, do not take that to mean I dislike living or that I am suicidal, because I am not.  I enjoy this life for the most part.  I still long for the day when Jesus comes again.  On this day we have been looking at what is truly the “Lord’s Prayer” from John 17.

This is a request of Jesus in His prayer that should really cause us to have a heart full of praise and thanksgiving:

“I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil” John 17:15 (KJV).

Jesus has given His Word to His disciples, and the “World” hates His disciples.  Why would that be?  First of all, because the world hates Jesus, and secondly, because the world hates truth – the real truth.  The truth that all who are apart from Jesus are apart from God.  The truth that there is only one way to God and Heaven, and that is through faith in the One who died, was buried, and now lives again. The real problem the world has with Jesus is the cross.  The cross of Jesus Christ offends the basic selfish drive that mankind has.

Jesus does not ask that His followers be delivered from the worlds hatred, but that we be sanctified through it.  Whether we Christians want to believe it or not we will be hated by those who hate God.  Yet, we are called to serve the Lord in this world.  We are called to live for Him, proclaim Him, that those who would believe would be saved.  We will be delivered from evil, and from the evil one.

The world with its evil intent will not prevail.  The Lord’s work on the cross and the resurrection has already gained the victory.  We are to wait with patience for that day when He comes to take us home to Himself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is Jesus Praying For You?

It is one of the greatest things for a follower, a believer of Jesus Christ to know.  To know that He has prayed for us, and knowing who He is means that His prayers are answered.

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.  And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are mine; and I am glorified in them” John 17:9-10 (KJV).

There!!! Jesus said it; “I pray for them”, and He was more than sincere, that was His heart.  There are those who would and will say, “Well!  He is only praying for His disciples”.  Yes!  Aren’t you His disciple?  I am.  He prayed for me.  He prayed for you, because you and I were in His thoughts when He spoke this prayer to the Father.

He was  not praying for the “World”.  He was praying for all those whom the Father had given Him.  Jesus had said, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” (John 6:44a).  In this way the Father has given the early disciples; for whom Jesus was praying; and us, the later ones as well.  It is a wonderful heritage which we have in prayer.  To know and believe that we were given to Jesus by the Father; that Jesus has prayed for us, and still continues to intercede for us; is a wonderful, peace giving, Spirit powerful, and awesome privilege.  It is also more than privilege; it is a “Right” given to us by Jesus, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power [the Right] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” John 1:12.

Because of Jesus, His praying for us, and His atoning work on the cross we glorify Him.  That is what He prayed for and that is what He receives.

Be thankful today for this wonderful blessing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Whatsoever Thou Hast Given Me…

We are already at Memorial Day of 2010, and there are many things which can concern and worry us.  What is dear to you?  What do you cherish more than anything else?  Is it health, family, your children, your grandchildren, your spouse, your career?  There was something dear and cherished by Jesus, and He shared them with those He knew and loved.

“Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee.  For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they  have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me”  John 17:7 (KJV).

If you look at the first sentence of these two, you must ask the question “What has the Father given the Son?  That question is quickly answered by the following statement.  God’s Word is a very precious item to the Lord.  Jesus lived to glorify the Father/God by living according to His Word, preaching it, and giving it to those who followed Him.

Giving the Word of God to others is still a priority of God’s people.  It must be given.  We must ask ourselves the begging question, “Have I received the Words the Father gave the Son?”  The disciples did, and it was  His disciples for whom He prayed, “They have received them”.  It is because they had “Received them” that they were able to know, “Surely I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me”.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ; you are His disciple, and this prayer is for you too.

When you want to know the Personal Truth personally you will hear, and receive His Word.  It will be precious to you.  Jesus Christ, the Living Word; will especially be precious to you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus And Greatness

Ever since Cain and Abel there has been a struggle over greatness and who is the greatest.  Cassius Clay alias Mohammed Ali considered himself the greatest, and now is the shell of what he was.  If that.  I don’t say this to mock or ridicule a well know personality and  sports figure from the past but to make a point.

The point being all who have ever though themselves to be great, greater, or the greatest soon find themselves humbled even to death.

“Who is the greatest?” is a question asked the King by His disciples;

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Matthew 18:1 (KJV)

The question of taxes had been asked previously by the temple tax people, and Jesus answered it by sending Peter to retrieve a fish with a coin in its mouth from waters. It was enough for the disciple and for Jesus’s taxes. Now the question is “Who then is greatest”, and by considering the matter of “Strangers” and “sons” listed previously we can see that the children are to live so as not to offend needlessly.

The message of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection – the cross in particular will offend many.  We need to be humble in Christ Jesus, respect others, and treat them, and their beliefs with respect while proclaiming the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation by the grace of God.

We should not be so concerned about greatness as we are about living for the One who is truly the Greatest.  He is the One who created all that is; seen and unseen.  He is the One who gave His life to pay our sin debt, was buried; carrying the guilt, burden, and death of sin far, far away; then rose from death, and is alive forever more; coming again in all His glory.  H

He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  His name is Jesus.  No one is greater than Jesus “…the fulness of the godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

When you get too full of yourself, remember Jesus. Empty yourself of you and ask Jesus Christ to come in.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Look only to the One who is greatest.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Servant, The Word, and Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-37

“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)

If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect.  The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior.  The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.

In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands.  To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness.  Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness.  There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.

There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible.  It is not.  I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was.  They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures.  Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).

Verse 3 –  “except they wash”

G3538
νίπτω
niptō
nip’-to
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.

v. 4 – “except they wash”

G907
βαπτίζω
baptizō
bap-tid’-zo
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in  two different ways.  The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.

“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up.  As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step.  He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down.  Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.

Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.

The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands.  The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so.  Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them.  Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.

The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)

“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”;   2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”;   3)  “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”

“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)

When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart.  These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).

The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures.  They were wrong.  Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture?  How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.?  Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite?  NO!  Can we be hypocritical?  YES!

G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace’
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.

A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”.  Basically someone pretending to be something they are not.  They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it.  Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”.  They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical.  They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.

They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”.  “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents.  That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture.  They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.

The heart of man is desperately wicked.  It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean.  Nothing from without us can make us unclean.  It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”.   Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”.  Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.

J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)

“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”;   2)  “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”;   3)  “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”

“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”  Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet.  Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it.  The “dogs” were under the table.

This was a test of the woman’s faith.  How would she respond?  Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter?  She would believe.  The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed.  It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.

Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true.  That is a wonderful faith.  Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make.  Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.

J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,

1)  “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”;   2)  “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”

“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”  Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)

Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”.  That is really good advice.  It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first.  Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.

It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin.  Hear the Word of God then proclaim it.  Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16).  All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.

The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth?  If you are in Jesus Christ you have.

Ryle wrote,

1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”;   2)  “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”;   3)  “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”;   4)  “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”;   5)  “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”

If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The People Jesus Receives To Himself

“And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.  And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.  And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Mark 2:13-17 (KJV)

Jesus was teaching as He moved about from town to town.  He taught with words, parables, and acts of behavior and miracles (v. 13).

He was about to teach another lesson to a despised tax collector, and to the Pharisees who would have nothing to do with these “dregs of society”.  These “Tax collectors” were for the most part Hebrew people who had “contracted” their services to the Roman government.  It was their duty to collect taxes from their family, friends, and religious leaders and their families.  They were despised because it was believed that they had turned their back on their “religion”, and traitors to the Hebrew people, thus no one would have any associations with them, that is, at least until Jesus came along.

Jesus walks up to Levi, who is known as Matthew who wrote the first Gospel, and says to him, “Follow Me”, and Matthew just gets up and follows Jesus.  Now that was an act of faith.  This tax collecting was Matthew’s livelihood.  It was his living for he and his family.  Now, he just up and leaves it because a man whom he believes in says, “Follow Me”.  How many people this day will do that?  If you have been saved, truly saved, you have already.  Are you continuing to follow Him?  That is the question.

Jesus goes to the home of Matthew and they have a great time of fellowship, you might even call it a “party”, and it was of sorts, because Matthew had come to faith in Jesus, and now he was having his friends and associates together to meet Jesus.  The old snooty scribes and Pharisees see Jesus with them, and begin to castigate, and question the actions of Jesus.  I think they were only jealous because they were not invited.

The publicans/tax collectors were the lowest on the “totem pole” in Hebrew society right above the leper.  Here came Jesus and gave them the love and encouragement, and attention they needed – the grace they needed.  Now there is a bunch of old, hard nose, religious bigots who have no idea what ever of the “spirit of the law”, only their own additions to it, and they want to know why Jesus is associating with people whom they consider the “dregs of society”. The tax collectors know how they are viewed, and they also know they are needy of cleansing from sin, and in need of healing.

The question comes, “Whom does Jesus receive unto Himself?”  He receives sinners to Himself.  That means before one can come to Christ  we must know we have sinned – know that we are sinners.  He can do nothing for those who believe they are good, and can do no wrong.  Those who believe that God will weigh their good deeds against their evil deeds.  The greatest evil of all is refusing what God has given – the life of His Son Jesus.  Those who are righteous in and of themselves will never see Jesus, nor Heaven.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Without Faith In Jesus

Jesus had been on the Mount where three disciples who were with Him had seen His glory.  He was transfigured before their eyes; and He spoke with Moses and Elijah concerning the matter of His coming death and resurrection (Luke 9:30-31).  While down below, at the foot of the mount, the other nine disciples were being unsuccessful delivering a man from the power, and torment of an evil spirit – a demon.

When Jesus came down from the encounter with His glory, Moses and Elijah; and Peter, James and John; He finds disappointment with the others.  He says,

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”  Matthew 17:17 (KJV)

and then delivers the young man from this demon.

Here was a father with a son who is tormented by a demon, the disciples “faithless and unbelieving” and Jesus in His glory [temporarily] to give us a lesson of faith.

Jesus knew of His impending death on the cross and the following resurrection, and that He was going away.  In His absence -bodily – we would need faith.  The disciples left at the foot of the mountain could be you and me, who are believing in Him, in the world today; and we have troubled people all around us.

People plagued by marriages, failing marriages, children, troubled children, elderly parents, sickness, disease, joblessness, fear; various fears concerning health, finances, world troubles, and as believers it seems sometimes that we have not much to offer a hopeless world.  At least that is how we are seen.

After the disciples and Jesus leave the mountain they ask Jesus a question and He answers them –

“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”  Matthew 17:19-21 (KJV)

Why do we seem so powerless in this day of trouble?  Because we are not practicing the things of God.  Prayer and fasting is often the farthest thing from our minds, and hearts.  Prayer and fasting requires that our heart be on the things of Christ.  If there is ever a time for prayer, communicating with our Lord, and denying ourselves the desires of the world it should be now.

Jesus is away from us bodily, but with us in His Spirit, living within guiding, comforting, convicting, teaching, and showing us all things concerning Jesus Christ.  Are we listening?  When we listen do we do what we know to do?  What do we do when we don’t know what to do?  Do what we know to do?

We are the disciples at the foot of the mountain awaiting the return of our King.  Will He return and say to us,

“O faithless and perverse generation…”?

I pray not.

Let us who are the disciples of Jesus Christ be a people of faith, believing that Jesus will soon return, praying, fasting from the pleasures, and “tastiness” of this world; hearing the Lord Jesus speaking the words of peace as only He can.  Get into His Word, read it, study it; let the Word by the Spirit of God read you; believe it, practice it, and let others see Jesus in you.  When the world brings their problems – demons – to us then, by and in the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ – cast those demons – problems – out.

Let’s appropriate the power of the Spirit of Christ in us with that faith that declares Jesus is coming soon.  The focus of genuine faith is Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Teaching Baptists Distinctives

The following is by John A. Broadus on The Reason to Teach Baptists Distinctives:

I. Reasons Why Baptists Ought to Teach Their Distinctive Views
1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. We must teach these views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians, in separate organizations – from Christians whom we warmly love and delight to work with. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them. We sometimes venture to say to our brethren of some other persuasions that if points of denominational difference among evangelical Christians were so utterly trifling as they continually tell us, then they have no excuse for standing apart from each other, and no right to require us to stand apart from them unless we will abjure, or practically disregard, our distinctive views. But all this will apply to us likewise unless we regard the points of difference as having a substantial value and practical importance as a part of what Christ commanded, and in this case they are a part of what he requires us to teach.

And this teaching is the only way of correcting excesses among ourselves. Do some of our Baptist brethren seem to you ultra in their denominationalism, violent, bitter? And do you expect to correct such a tendency by going to the opposite extreme? You are so pained, shocked, disgusted, at what you consider an unlovely treatment of controverted matters that you shrink from treating them at all. Well, the persons you have in view, if there be such persons, would defend and fortify themselves by pointing at you. They would say, “I am complained of as extreme and bigoted. Look at those people yonder, who scarcely ever make the slightest allusion to characteristic Baptist principles, who are weak-kneed, afraid of offending the Paedobaptists, or dreadfully anxious to court their favor by smooth silence: do you want me to be such a Baptist as that?” Thus one extreme fosters another. The greatest complaint I have against what are called “sensational” preachers is not for the harm they directly do, but because they drive such a multitude of other preachers to the other extreme — make them so afraid of appearing sensational in their own eyes, or in those of some fastidious hearers, that they shrink from saying the bold and striking things they might say, and ought say, and become commonplace and tame. And so it is a great evil if a few ultraists in controversy drive many good men to avoid sensitively those controverted topics which we are all under obligation to discuss. The only cure, my brethren, for denominational ultraism is a healthy denominationalism.

2. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to other fellow-Christians. Take the Roman Catholics. We are often told very earnestly that Baptists must make common cause with other Protestants against the aggressions of Romanism. It is urged, especially in some localities, that we ought to push all our denominational differences into the background and stand shoulder to shoulder against Popery. Very well; but all the time it seems to us that the best way to meet and withstand Romanism is to take Baptist ground; and if, in making common cause against it, we abandon or slight our Baptist principles, have a care lest we do harm in both directions. Besides, ours is the best position, we think, for winning Romanists to evangelical truth. Our brethren of the great Protestant persuasions are all holding some “developed” form of Christianity — not so far developed as Popery, and some of them much less developed than others, but all having added something, in faith or government or ordinances, to the primitive simplicity. The Roman Catholics know this, and habitually taunt them with accepting changes which the church has made while denying the church’ authority, and sometimes tell them that the Baptists alone are consistent in opposing the church. We may say that there are but two sorts of Christianity –church Christianity and Bible Christianity. If well-meaning Roman Catholics become dissatisfied with resting everything on the authority of the church and begin to look toward the Bible as authority, they are not likely, if thoughtful and earnest, to stop at any halfway-house, but to go forward to the position of those who really build on the Bible alone.

Or take the Protestants themselves. Our esteemed brethren are often wonderfully ignorant of our views. A distinguished minister, author of elaborate works on church history and the creeds of Christendom, and of commentaries, etc., and brought in many ways into association with men of all denominations, is reported to have recently asked whether the Baptists practise trine immersion. A senator of the United States from one of the Southern States, and alumnus of a celebrated university, was visiting, about twenty years ago, a friend in another State, who casually remarked that he was a Baptist. “By the way,” said the senator, “what kind of Baptists are the Paedobaptists?” Not many years ago a New York gentleman who had been United States minister to a foreign country published in the New York Tribune a review of a work, in which he said (substantially), “The author states that he is a Baptist pastor. We do not know whether he is a Paedobaptist or belongs to the straiter sect of Baptists.” Now, of course these are exceptional cases; but they exemplify what is really a widespread and very great ignorance as to Baptists. And our friends of other denominations often do us great injustice because they do not understand our tenets and judge us by their own. As to “restricted communion,”for example, Protestants usually hold the Calvinian view of the Lord’s Supper, and so think that we are selfishly denying them a share in the spiritual blessing attached to its observance; while, with our Zwinglian view, we have no such thought or feeling. These things certainly show it to be very desirable that we should bring our Christian brethren around us to know our distinctive opinions, in order that we may at least restrain them from wronging us through ignorance. If there were any who did not care to know, who were unwilling to be deprived of a peculiar accusation against us, with them our efforts would be vain. But most of those we encounter are truly good people, however prejudiced, and do not wish to be unjust; and if they will not take the trouble to seek information about our real views, they will not be unwilling to receive it when fitly presented. Christian charity may thus be promoted by correcting ignorance. And besides, we may hope that some at least will be led to investigate the matters about which we differ. Oh that our honored brethren would investigate! A highly-educated Episcopal lady some years ago, in one of our great cities, by a long and patient examination of her Bible, with no help but an Episcopal work in favor of infant baptism, at length reached the firm conviction that it is without warrant in the Scripture, and became a Baptist. She afterward said, “I am satisfied that thousands would inevitably do likewise if they would only examine.”

But why should we wish to make Baptists of our Protestant brethren? Are not many of them noble Christians — not a few of them among the excellent of the earth? If with their opinions they are so devout and useful, why wish them to adopt other opinions? Yes, there are among them many who command our high admiration for their beautiful Christian character and life; but have a care about your inferences from this fact. The same is true even of many Roman Catholics, in the past and in the present; yet who doubts that the Romanist system as a whole is unfavorable to the production of the best types of piety? And it is not necessarily an arrogant and presumptuous thing in us if we strive to bring honored fellow-Christians to views which we honestly believe to be more scriptural, and therefore more wholesome. Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and Aquila and Priscilla were lowly people who doubtless admired him; yet they taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly, and no doubt greatly rejoiced that he was willing to learn. He who tries to win people from other denominations to his own distinctive views may be a sectarian bigot; but he may also be a humble and loving Christian.

3. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world. We want unbelievers to accept Christianity; and it seems to us they are more likely to accept it when presented in its primitive simplicity, as the apostles themselves
offered it to the men of their time. For meeting the assaults of infidels, we think our position is best. Those who insist that Christianity is unfriendly to scientific investigations almost always point to the Romanists; they could not with the least plausibility say this of Baptists. And when an honest and earnest-minded sceptic is asked to examine with us this which claims to be a revelation from God, we do not have to lay beside it another book as determining beforehand what we must find in the Bible. Confessions of faith we have, some older and some more recent, which we respect and find useful; but save through some exceptional and voluntary agreement we are not bound by them. We can say to the sceptical inquirer, “Come and bring all the really ascertained light that has been derived from studying the material world, the history of man, or the highest philosophy, and we will gladly use it in helping to interpret this which we believe to be God’s word;” and we can change our views of its meaning if real light from any other sources requires us to do so. There is, surely, in this freedom no small advantage for attracting the truly rational inquirer. But, while thus free to search the Scriptures, Baptists are eminently conservative in their whole tone and spirit; and for a reason. Their recognition of the Scriptures alone as religious authority, and the stress they lay on exact conformity to the requirements of Scripture, foster an instinctive feeling that they must stand or fall with the real truth and the real authority of the Bible. The union of freedom and conservatism is something most healthy and hopeful.

4. There is yet another reason —one full of solemn sweetness: To teach our distinctive views is not only a duty to ourselves, to our fellow-Christians, and to the unbelieving world, but it is a duty we owe to Christ; it is a matter of simple loyalty to him. Under the most solemn circumstances he uttered the express injunction. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than five hundred of whom Paul speaks were present also: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The things of which we have been speaking are not, we freely grant, the most important of religious truths and duties, but they are a part of the all things which Jesus commanded; what shall hinder us, what could excuse us, from observing them ourselves and teaching them to others? The Roman soldier who had taken the sacramentum did not then go to picking and choosing among the orders of his general: shall the baptized believer pick and choose which commands of Christ he will obey and which neglect and which alter? And, observe, I did not quote it all: Go, disciple, baptizing them, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Shall we neglect to teach as he required, and then claim the promise of his presence and help and blessing?

Let us as Baptists be faithful in the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, from which we gather our Baptists Distinctives.

Posted by T.A.

Have Mercy On My Son

Jesus and three of His disciples have descended the mount of transfiguration.  The other disciples had remained down at the foot of the mountain with multitudes coming to them, and awaiting the return of Jesus, Peter, James and John.

A man with a son who was prone to epilepic seizures believes Jesus can heal him, however when he arrives Jesus is not present, only the nine disciples; and they have been unable to heal his son.

“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,  Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.”  Matthew 17:14-18 (KJV)

Epilepsy is a ailment affecting the brain, and causes dramatic seizures at times, and sometimes frozen stares; each case with  individuals varries.

In the case of this father’s son his epilepsy was brought on by a demon.  We can see by this that the devil and his minions have no love for the human race.  The devil is seeking with every opportunity to destroy, divide, kill, maim, and cause humanity to hate God even more.

Some  have wondered, “To whom was Jesus speaking when He asked the question, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?”  The answer to that question is the disciples who were unable to cast out the demon.

Jesus had given them the power and authority to cast out demons, and to heal (Matthew 10:5-10).  It seems at this point their faith was wavering.  We will deal with this issue later in our study in Matthew.

The father’s faith led him to bring his tormented son to Jesus.  Jesus was not present at his coming to the base of the mount, but His nine disciples were.  Therefore the father seeks their help, and their efforts were fruitless, and the young man continues in the torment of the demon.

The power of Jesus Christ is without question.  He simply requested that the child be brought to Him; He rebukes the demon, and the demon flees.  The child is cured.  No more demon.  No more epileptic seizures.  No more epilepsy.  The child was healed that very hour.

There is one thing for sure when it comes to being in a place of spiritual leadership; and the disciples were in that place.  There are times when we are confronted with difficult situations, and circumstances.  People will bring them to us.  We have been given authority and power through Christ Jesus and our faith is week.  We can try every thing; prayer is good; but are we praying with faith that we are being heard?

There is no doubt, that for these disciples this was a difficult situation, with a tormented child, afflicted and tormented by a demon; only divine intervention could provide the care, and heal the child.  They had the power, but were not able or faithful to use it.

What about you and me?  We have been given great power and authority by Jesus Christ our Lord; but do we walk in faith and appropriate it as we ought?  I think not.  Let us seek, through Christ, to put to work the power He has given us, and walk daily with Him.

There are mothers and fathers all around us who are hurting with hurting and suffering children.  They need our touch, love and care.  That is the only touch of Jesus Christ they can see and feel until they know Him for themselves.

Through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ hearts and lives can be changed.  Do we trust more in the efforts and “powers” of politics to change men’s hearts and lives?  Do we trust more in the human endeavors of effort and work for the good of humanity, without any thought of God?  Only to our destruction and death.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Glory Before The Cross

 

Just six days before Jesus spoke unto His disciples of some seeing Him coming in His kingdom before they died (16:28). If someone chooses to believe that the Bible contradicts itself, they could assume that there is a contradiction between Luke’s account and of this account by Matthew, and Mark’s account. Matthew and Mark both declare six days, but Luke says eight days. If we would consider that Matthew and Mark are probably not counting the day of Peter’s confession and the day of transfiguration, and that Luke does we have no contradiction; just a difference of accounting for the days.

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

Peter, James, and his brother John were the “…some standing here, which shall not taste of death till…” whom Jesus speaks of in 16:28. Matthew’s intent seems to be to direct this story to this point to bring the last words of Jesus in chapter 16 into account with this event in Jesus’s and the disciples lives. The three of them and Jesus went to a mountain without the other disciples, and were about to witness the most glorious event of their lives.

Matthew was not at the event, so this has been told him by those who were present; and recounted by the Spirit of the Lord as well. This is a trustworthy accounting. There were three witnesses to the event; and that is one more than necessary for something to be certifiably true; and the fourth witness would have been Jesus, and a fifth for recounting later was the Holy Spirit. Peter is referring to this event when he writes;

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” 2 Peter 1:16-18 (KJV)

Jesus “was transfigured before them…”; often called His transfiguration, and the place as the “Mount of Transfiguration”. What is meant by “Transfiguration”? It comes from the Greek word – “metamorphoo”, and a word, with which many people today are somewhat familiar is “metamorphosis” comes from that word. The word “Metamorphosis” means “a change of physical form, structure, or substance, esp. by supernatural means;…” THE MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. The Greek word “metamorphoo” means – “to transform (literally, or figuratively): change, transfigure, transform.” STRONGS (e-Sword edition).

What these blessed and trusted disciples witnessed, therefore, was a pre-death and pre-resurrection appearance of the resurrected glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fulfilled Jesus’s words in 16:28, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” They witnessed Jesus in His glory. This was the glory which He had with the Father, before He became flesh, and the glory He would have with the Father after his physical death, and His bodily/physical resurrection.

There were two men speaking with Jesus. One was Moses, and one was Elijah. It appears that the disciples identified them without Jesus telling them who they were. They had never seen the physical Moses of Elijah, yet they recognize them. The Law and the Prophets is represented here, along with the one is the Law Giver. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah the Prophets. These men are unique in this appearance. Moses died and his body was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:5-8); and Elijah never died, but was carried away in a whirlwind chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9-12); and they were speaking to the One who would die, yet rise again from the grave in His own power.

The following are notes from The Scofield Study Bible –

The transfiguration scene contains, in miniature, all the elements of the future kingdom in manifestation:

(1) the Lord, not in humiliation, but in glory. (Matthew 17:2).

(2) Moses, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have passed through death into the kingdom. (Matthew 13:43); (Luke 9:30-31).

(3) Elijah, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have entered the kingdom by translation. (1 Cor 15:50-53); (1 Thes. 4:14-17).

(4) Peter, James, and John, not glorified, representatives (for the moment) of Israel in the flesh in the future kingdom (Ezekiel 37:21-27).

(5) The multitude at the foot of the mountain (Matthew 17:2); representative of the nations who are to be brought into the kingdom after it is established over Israel (Isaiah 11:10-12); etc.

It also seems that Peter, James and John were sleepy and had fallen asleep, and were awakened; according to Luke’s account of the event. Jesus had brought the three up to the mountain to witness His glory, and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and they were about to sleep through it. It sounds kind of like many today. Asleep when we should be awake, and awake when we should be sleeping; and we miss those God-opportunities. Upon witnessing the appearances Peter; the one who always opens his mouth; spoke saying what seems to be the obvious thing for the human race, in the event of something wonderfully unique; powerfully spiritual; and maybe historical: “…Let us make here three tabernacles…”. Let us do something really spiritual to mark this event. Humanity has built shrines and monuments for everything; and in the end move toward worship of it.

Peter is quickly rebuked by a voice from heaven, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” It wasn’t that they were not to hear the written words of Moses and Elijah; after all they were inspired by God Himself; it was that monuments or “tabernacles” are of the flesh and will perish. The Word of God, written and Living will never perish.

When you hear the words of Moses; the Law, the songs he wrote, etc; and you hear the words of Elijah and the prophets; you hear the words of Jesus. When you hear the words of Jesus and do them, you are hearing the word of the Law and the prophets. Remember Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29 (KJV)

Upon hearing the voice of the Father from heaven they were struck with fear, and fell face down on the ground. That is a great response for all who will fear God. Jesus then came and touched them, and when they looked up the only One they saw was the One whom they had seen glorified before their eyes, and speaking with Moses and Elijah. The Law and the prophets is the Word of God, still worthy of hearing, doing, and bringing to light the light of Christ in a dark world.

In a time when we are pressured to do what we know is Biblically wrong we have Scripture as a sure footing to stand on for the encouragement of making that right decision. In order to make Biblical/Scriptural decisions you must know the Bible, and be filled with the Spirit of God, or you will fall.

How can we know that Jesus is coming in His glory? By the evidence that He revealed His glory previous to His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. His bodily resurrection was witnessed  by His disciples and over 500 brethren (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

In verse 8 of chapter 17 Matthew we have one of the Bible’s “Be not afraid(s)”. I just imagine that at that moment those three men needed that “Fear not” from the lips of our Savior. They are always good to hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Coming In His Kingdom

Jesus speaking to his disciples has told them the cost of discipleship in the previous verses.  He has told them of giving His life though they do not yet fully realize the extent of His sacrifice, and in the verses we look at now we see that He promises that some with Him will see Him “coming in His kingdom”.

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 (KJV)

Jesus speaks of coming in His the glory of His father with angels, “rewarding every man according to his works”.  This is an endtimes event which is yet to happen, and of which many followers of Jesus are expecting,  longing for, and will be with Him forever, by way of His cross.

Jesus is in no way telling us that our works will get us into His good pleasures and grace.  When He comes again to judge the world, and every  man according to his works, grace will be past, this will be judgment.  When Jesus comes back to earth it will be as the conquering, reigning King of which Israel has been looking and watching for.

Jesus’s word for the disciples concerning those who will “Not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” is a way of preparing them for what is about to happen in six days (17:1).  Don’t you know that this word from Jesus left them wondering.  Wondering, “What is Jesus speaking of?”; “Who, which of us will be the one’s who witness this “coming in His kingdom?”

The second coming of Jesus is drawing ever near.  It is nearer today than it was yesterday.  If we are to be like Jesus we must take up our cross; laying down our lives for His glory; and be witnesses for Him.

His kingdom is here.  He is coming in His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship