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

Jesus Said, ‘Follow Me’

Being A Disciple Of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-22

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV).

ANY DESIRE FOR POPULARITY MUST BE DEALT WITH (v. 18).

* Jesus had no desire for popularity, nor should His disciples.

* The false teachers and preachers love the praises and accolades of crowds they draw by their showmanship, and “Miracles”.

THERE IS NO GUARANTEE FOR MATERIAL SECURITY – NO PLACE TO LAY YOUR HEAD – NO PROMISE OF COMFORT (vv. 19-20).

* Jesus knows the hearts of all men, and He knew the heart of this scribe, just as He knows yours and mine.

* We never hear of this man again – he is only known and remembered as “A certain scribe”, though as some kind of parable or illustration.

THERE CAN BE NO LINGERING, WAITING FOR YOUR EARTLY INHERITANCE (v. 21).

* Burying his father was not the idea, because his father was not dead, it is the inheritance that was on his mind, and that responsibility.

* We can be faithful disciples of Jesus when we disciple our families into Christ.

* The follower of Jesus Christ taking the responsibility to see that his/her family comes to Christ is the greatest achievement of that disciple.

THE COST FOR BEING A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST IS VALUING THE ETERNAL OVER THE TEMPORAL (v. 22).

* If you determine that following Jesus is too costly, then you will lose everything ( “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 10:39).

* The life of the follower of Jesus Christ is a crucified life – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20 (KJV).

* It would be more beneficial for the questioning disciple to follow Jesus; for then, there is great possibility that his family will follow too.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Standing in the Fire

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (KJV)

Considering that we are Christian by faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection, and promised coming again; and that there are going to be trials and tribulations; which our Lord warned us of; how then should we live in this world? We are given guidance, counsel, and commandments as how we should live. It is really summed up in one short sentence – “Be ye holy, for I am holy”.

Peter addresses this matter beginning with the mind. The mind is the place of our thought processes. The mind is full of imagination both good and evil. There must be a “Girding up” of the mind. That is, bring it under control. A picture can be given concerning the ancient men of Bible days. When they were in a hurry and had to run; for an emergency, to get a message to an important person as quickly as possible, or even when defending one’s home – the men of that day wore robe type garments – they would take the bottom of their robes and tuck them into their belt, shortening the robe, and giving their legs room to move.

The “Gird up of the mind” would be just taking control of your thinking. Directing your mind toward wholesome thinking, pure thinking, godly thinking. You could even say, “Pull in all the loose ends”, so as not to leave something that will cause you to stumble later. Keep the mind on the things of God. Even for the Christian man or woman the mind can be a playground for evil. We need to guard the mind and keep it for God. If we do not do so, then, when evil temptations approach us, we will not be able to stand. None of us are without temptations.

The second thing we are told by Peter is “Be sober”. Those of us who do not drink alcoholic beverage may think, “Well, I don’t have anything to worry about there”; O yes we do. This has nothing to do with alcohol. It does have to do with the ability to think clearly. It would involve not allowing any substance influencing our thoughts; be it legal or illegal drugs, and that does include beverage alcohol. You will not be thinking clearly, or soberly when you have been influenced by the world’s drink, and other drugs. The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note for this verse, and this word states, “Be sober. Spiritul sober-mindedness includes the ideas of steadfastness, self-control, clarity of mind, and moral decisiveness. The sober Christian is correctly in charge of his priorites and not intoxicated with various allurements of the world.” These allurements can be an intoxication with finances, sports, technology, etc., anything that will lure the thoughts away from clear thinking.

Our hope should rest upon the promise of the return of our Lord and Savior. This is a teaching which is becoming less and less taught in some churches. It is called the “Blessed hope”, and that should be a light that brightens our eyes and our lives. When our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29 NKJV). Jesus also said; concerning this Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19), and 1 Corinthians Paul writes, “For as often as you eath this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (11:26). The revelation of Jesus Christ is much more than Him coming into your life to live. He is coming again with that same body He was raised and glorified through, in the resurrection.

When we go to a home where children are running about without a disciplinary hand, and there just seems to be chaos in the home we usually do not think to highly of those parents parenting skills. When you see them in the stores shopping they will be the children screaming for this toy, that game, or that particular set of clothing. Sometimes they will scream and carry on until they get it. No discipline in the home. Parents who allow that will usually not be looked upon as good parents. They will usually be ones who will say things like, “Kids will be kids”, or “We just can’t do anything with them”. However, when you go into a home and there are children who listen to their parents, and Mom tells them to sit and be quiet and they obey, or Dad tells them to put their toys away and they do it without fuss, you know you have come into a well disciplined home. We, as Christians, are the children of God. How does the world view the household of God? Are we obedient, well behaved, showing forth the good name of our Father? With girded up loins of the mind, having a sober mind, and having our hope firmly upon the promise of the coming of Jesus we will be obedient children. Obedient children will be putting away the former lusts which we practiced in our ignorance of godliness. It is from the hand of the loving Father who gave His love and paid the price for our sins, that we are able to love Him in return and know that we have everlasting life and His love forevermore.

The conduct of the Christian is to be in holiness. For some reason there are many who profess Jesus as Savior, but will not submit to His Lordship. Some of these call themselves “Free Grace” believers. I have a word for them. Grace is not free – It costs God the best that He had, and that was the life of His Son. If you have not submitted to Him as your Lord, then, He is not your Savior. Some one said it like this, “If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all”. His commandment is to be holy. “Be holy, for I am holy”. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name,a nd done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV). Will He know you by the change that has taken place in your life by grace, through your faith that works?

Somewhere around the latter part of the sixth century B.C. there were three Hebrew young men who literally stood in the fire. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 3). They stood their ground in faith. No matter what may come – they stood by faith. They are forever remembered for the stand they took. They stood in the fire of Nebuchadnezzar, and we can stand in the fires of our testing only as we yield to Him our body, soul and mind. These three young men had girded up the loins of their minds, they were thinking clearly; they were not under the influence of any drug, but under the influence of the Spirit of God. They were remembering a greater purpose and Being than themselves. They knew it was not about them, but about God, His plans, purposes, and His glory. They chose to be holy. They chose to live and die if need be, for God. That is what the Christian must be and do.

-T.A.

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 – 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

…Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven

“And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. 55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. 57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. 59 But neither so did their witness agree together. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. 70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. 72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”  Mark 14:53-72 (KJV)

It was very early in the morning and the “High priest, all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes” were all assembled together and for the distinct purpose of putting Jesus on trial.  It was not the time of week they preferred, but it was the time ordained by God.  It was illegal to hold a trial this early, but there was nothing legal about the arrest of Jesus either.  He was arrested out of pure envy, because of sin in the hearts of wicked men.
We are told by the writer that “Peter followed Him afar off…”.  Peter followed all the way to the home “Palace” of the high priest.  It was there that he sat with the “Servants” and warmed himself at their fire.

These religious leaders sought for testimony against Jesus, and did not find any (v. 55).  There were many who bore “False witness” against Him, but it was not in agreement.  They kept searching until they found two who would agree as to the destroying and rebuilding of the temple.  These “Leaders” were desparate.  This testimony was on Jesus’s statement where He had said, “Destroy this temple [speaking of His own body], and in three days I will raise it again.”  (John 2:19).   There was no accusation against Jesus which would stand in a real court of law where a judge was fair and just.  But, then, all men are liars when compared to the justice of God.

Jesus is asked if He is the Messiah/Christ, and He answers, “I Am…”  He goes on telling of seeing His coming glory (v. 62).  That really upset the high priest to the point of hypocritically ripping his garment.  This was an outward show of grief, despair, even at times repentance – which he certainly needed right now, but even more later.   The sound is more and more the echo of Psalm 2,

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

At the trial before the religious leaders they began to spit on Him and strike him with their hands.  It is a grievous thing to read and think that the God of the universe placed Himself in the hands of sinners; He Himself being sinless, to give His life as the  payment for sin, and giving to those who believe in Him His righteousness.  My what  a Savior.
Peter, the disciple, John MacArthur calls “The disciple with the foot-shaped mouth”.  He has previously said that he would never be offended because of Jesus (vv. 27-30), now denies Him.  In these seven verses (66-72) we have three accounts where he does just that.

At one point he even goes into a “Fit” of cursing; denying that he knows Jesus.  He went out not believing the word of Jesus about “All being offended in Him”, and finds himself doing exactly what Jesus said.  We need not fear that the Word of God and His Son Jesus will be performed.

Peter’s weeping was not the weeping of one who silently sheds tears, but one who “Wailed” loudly where it could have been heard by people around him.  When that rooster crowed the second time Peter saw the eyes of Jesus looking at him (Luke 22:61), and it grieved his heart.

Have I denied Jesus?  Have I betrayed Him?  Do I need to ask?  Yes!  To all three questions.  I must ask for His forgiveness, and He forgives, cleanses and sets me free.

-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

…Which Thou Hast Given Me…

We continue looking at our Lord’s Prayer as He was nearing the day of giving Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

“I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word.”  John 17:6 (KJV).

The very thing that Jesus came to do was to reveal the Father unto men.  Of course, the men of whom Jesus is speaking are those who were following Him that we know as the disciples.

Jesus had told Phillip, “If ye have seen Me, ye have seen the Father” (14:9).  Everything which Jesus did He did to glorify His Father, and do the works which the Father had sent Him to do.  He had called these men to follow Him, and He recognized that the Father had given them to Him.  When the men looked at Jesus they were seeing the works of the God of all creation.  They had been extremely blessed by seeing first hand  His power over the elements.

Only God could cause the storms at sea to cease.  Jesus had merely spoken, “Peace; be still”, and all was calm – immediately.  Three of them had seen Him speaking; and in His glory ; with Moses and Elijah on the mountain.  It is a personal longing desire that I have to see my Jesus face to face and behold Him in His glory.

Jesus prays, “…and they have kept Thy word”.  They have taken the things which Jesus has said, held them in their hearts, and they would one day, by the presence and power of the Spirit come forth in written words for all to read, and hear.

Let’s be thankful today, for those men who were faithful to follow the Lord Jesus.  No!  They were not perfect.  They were people just like you and myself.  They stumbled and fell, but my oh,  my; to have Jesus pray so for us.  This prayer is for all who will follow Him.

God bless you.  Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me; bless His holy name.

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus and Children

Children are precious.  It still boggles the mind, for me, to hear of people abusing children, whether it is physically in anger or sexual molestation.  That also causes me to get a “little” angry down inside.  To think a “mature” individual could do harm to a child is beyond my understanding.

Children are trusting, caring, unless they have their minds twisted by twisted adults.  Don’t take me wrong; I am not saying children are perfect, but they are young, dependent upon those who are mature, and trust them with their welfare.

Jesus the King loved children and he calls them to Himself.  We see an example of that in Matthew’s gospel,

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”  Matthew 18:2-5 (KJV)

In verse one the disciples had come to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  That is the question many are asking today.  Maybe not with words, but in their actions and behavior.  Government actions offering more money for their state if they will go along with one thing or another.  Men offering their wives more money to stay with them rather than going public with a divorce.  Police taking money to turn their heads at crime.  It all has to do with someone being the “greatest” in their kingdom.

Upon hearing the question Jesus calls a child to Himself, set this child in the middle of them all and proceeded to tell them who was the greatest.  His answers violates the answers that the world system offers us.  “Boast of your personal assets and abilities”.  That is what the world wants of you  and I.

However consider Jesus’s words, “Except you be converted, and become as little children…”  There must be a life changing event that has happened in your life which has changed you; particularly becoming a loving/obedient follower of Jesus Christ; and that will give you the heart of a child.  Children are loving, trusting, humble; having no personal accomplishments, no real life achievements, in which to commend themselves.

When one is truly converted to Christ they lay all the self accomplishments aside, all their failures, all their sins are put away.  The life of faith is growing to become more childlike in faith.  In the physical world we grow from childhood to maturity; at least that’s the idea.  In the life of Christ we go from being mature in ourselves to growing in childlike faith.  From maturity to childhood.

That may sound a bit backwards for some, however, that is the way we are to grow.  Into completely trusting our Lord and Savior.

The ones who have this type of faith are the only ones who will even enter the kingdom of heaven.

Put aside, lay aside your achievements and personal accomplishments, and trust the King of kings and Lord of lords who has given His life on the cross for our sins.  You can trust Him for your needs.  Your greatest need is salvation from the condemnation of this world and sin.  Jesus has made the only way possible for salvation.

“Whosoever  calls on the name of the LORD  shall be saved” (Romans 10:13)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Ten – Thirteen Through Sixteen

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  Mark 10:13-16 (KJV)

Jesus loves children.  There is much adults could learn from children, if we would only listen and watch them.  We could learn to trust again.

Our area of the world collapses at times; friends forsake us by lying about us, betraying us, and our parents even can let us down at times.  As parents we get disappointed by our children’s behavior at times, and we need to discipline them to show them the right and correct way.  We can learn from them when we don’t see them as being in the way.

Little children are not without sin, because we are all born into sin.  One thing we can learn from children is “Trust”.  When a child trusts their parents, mother or father, they rely on them completely.  If a dad says to his son, “Come on now and jump off the end of the porch, and I will catch you.”;  most of the time the boy will jump into his daddy’s arms (unless daddy  has caused the son not to trust him).  That is the kind of trust we must put in our Heavenly Father, and the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  Children are dependent upon their parents.  They trust them to provide their food, shelter, clothing, and security.  Children are secure with their parents.  The only way this would not be so is, if the parent(s) are brutal, mean and abusing to their children.   I think it would be a bad parent who would teach a child not to trust anyone; even themselves.

When we become adults we often forget about trusting God.  Troubling things happen, and we can find no help in our own abilities, our own strength; like in a sickness, a debilitating accident, a major life changing event; something we had no control over.  When these things happen we need the “faith of a child”, and put our trust completely in the Lord.

“Receiving the kingdom of God as a little child” would be trusting so completely that they look no where else for security or any other need.  Is God able to supply our need for salvation?  Most assuredly.  Is He able to supply our “Daily bread” [our daily needs]; again, most assuredly.  Some of us get a little off on this latter thing, though.  We can believe that God is able to provide our salvation, but when it comes to meeting daily needs, we kind of tend to leave that in our own hands.  Is that the heart of a child.  These verses are not talking of remaining immature in faith, but having that unwavering trust in the Lord no matter what the case may be.

Without this kind of faith no one can enter the kingdom of God.

-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 LORD’s Greatness

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, ‘The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him” Ezra 8:22 (KJV).

Ezra, a priest and scribe of Israel, was much burdened for the return of God’s people back to their homeland, and for the restoration of the worship of the LORD God.  They had been in captivity in Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, and now Cyrus.

Ezra had made a big boast to the king about the greatness of God.  He would not require a band of soldiers for their protection.  He believed that in asking it would be a shame to the Lord, and show a lack of faith on his part.  The way to Jerusalem was dangerous; filled with thieves and murderous hearted culprits who hated all things good.

We can never do wrong in boasting of the greatness or our LORD God.  Boast of Him daily.  Boast of Him many times during the day, and during every hour and minute of the day.  You cannot begin to over boast of His greatness.

The LORD God is Almighty, full of grace and mercy, He holds the world in His hands, He holds the Universe in His hands, He smiles in the smile of a child and one of His saints.  There is no other god.  He is the only one.  He has made a way that all may come to Him, and that is provided only one way; that is His way through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that is.

Boast of Him today, all day long.  You will grow to love Him much more than you do right now.  Then put your boast of Him to work by faith.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Servant Of Freedom Seekers

Mark 5:1-43

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.  And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Mark 5:1-17 (KJV)

SEEKING FOR FREEDOM FROM A DEMONIC POWER AND PRESENCE. (Mark 5:1-17). If you look at the state of this man he is in a miserable condition.  If you want to know what Satan can do for you just take a look at this man and you will see.  He will leave you naked, hungry, poor, desolate, isolated, cold, deserted, lonely, and hopeless.  Is that the kind of life you want?  Is that the kind of life you want for a family member?   Is that the kind of life you want for a neighbor?  I would think not.

We live in a period of time where even some Christians are doubtful of demonic existence.  If we are to believe God and His Word, then we have no contrary opinion on the matter.  We believe it or we do not believe God or His Word.  There are some who want to equate this to what could be called “epilepsy”, “lunacy”, or “frenzy”.  How does one who does not believe in demonic influence explain “broken chains” and “cords”, and that no one could control him.
You will notice that the demon who is speaking to Jesus knows who Jesus is.   He calls Jesus, “Son of the most high God”.  It seems to me that it is the man who comes out, and seeking Jesus.  It was not just “coincidence” which brought Jesus to this side of the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus said in chapter 4, “Let us go to the other side”, and there was this man waiting there to be freed from this terrible bondage.

It seems this place is made up of Gentiles, because no Jewish people would be raising swine, and they have very little concern that a man has been freed from the bondage of a demon, and he is now in his “right mind”.  They were more concerned with the 2000 pigs that perished than they were for the man.  If we are not careful we can get so worldly minded we are of no heavenly good.  Jesus cares for the man, not material possessions.

J. C. Ryle points out these things about the situation:

‘The possession of a man’s body by the devil, was a real and true thing in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

What an awfully cruel, powerful, and malicious being Satan is.

How complete is our Lord’s power and authority over the devil.”

As born again people – born from above and into the kingdom of God – we have no need to fear demons, hell or the devil.  He is a mighty foe, and he does seek to steal, kill and destroy anything of God’s he can get his hands on.  The apostle John tells us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”  Mark 5:18-20 (KJV)

A FREED PEOPLE SEEK TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO BE FREE. (Mark 5:18-20). This man who had been possessed by a “Legion” of demons is now free and He desires to go with Jesus as He is leaving.  Jesus knows the best position for one to be in.  He tells the man to go to his home, and to tell his family and friends “how great things the Lord has done for you”.

It would only take a moment.  He had been enslaved by demons and many tried to control him with chains, and various types of bonds, but none would do.  Finally, he meets Jesus and is freed by the mere words of Jesus.  I cannot begin to think I could know how this man felt to have a clear mind, to be free from the invisible chains which drove him to such “insanity”, and “gross behavior”.  In any case it is similar to the freedom we all experience when we first trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We were bound by chains of sin and darkness, and condemned to an eternity without Christ to the fires of Hell, and when we met Jesus He set us free, and gave us eternal life in  His presence.

We have much to tell our friends and family.  Let us do it with such excitement and enthusiasm as our friend in the tombs did.  We have been freed by Jesus, just as the man in the tombs was, let us be as free to share our testimony with our friends and loved ones.  They need to know.

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.  And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,  And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.  And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Mark 5:21-34 (KJV)

A WOMAN SEEKS FOR FREEDOM FROM HER TWELVE YEAR PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. (Mark 5:21-34).  It so happens that Jesus and His disciples have gone back to the West side of the Sea of Galilee now and there is a multitude waiting for them there.  Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue” has approached Jesus concerning his “deathly ill” daughter.  As Jesus is walking through the crowd there is a woman who has been ill for twelve years with an “issue of blood”.  She has spent much of her money for “Physicians” to try and find out what is wrong with her, but to no avail.  She sees her only hope as being Jesus as he is in the crowd.  Her faith says, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed”.

When she touches Jesus’ garment she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague”.  Only thing Jesus realized there had been some  “Power” go out from Himself, and He turned to see who had “touched Him”.  Was He angry? No!  It seems to me that He was very much impressed with this woman of “Faith”.  Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  Well!  My goodness many said and we would do the same.  Lord, You are in a crowd of people, of course someone touched You.  It was a purposeful touch, not a accidental touch one might get while walking in a crowd of people.  It would be like being in a large mall and you have someone come up and purposefully grab your shirttail or coattail and you turn to see who it is and it is a friend.  I doubt the touch was as vigorous as that, but it would have a little similarity to it.

Can you imagine being afflicted with a plague such as this woman has endured for twelve years.  Can you imagine her desperation to find a cure, healing, help in any fashion.  This could not have been good for her health.  It is really kind of a marvel that she has not died.

Jesus commends her for her “Faith”.  “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34 (KJV)”.  Then, Jesus goes on with the man [Jairus] who came for Him concerning His daughter.

Do we have the faith of this woman.  Willing to risk it all knowing that Jesus is our only hope for healing,  health, life and eternal life.  Put your faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.

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

THE DAUGHTER DIES, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID – JESUS RAISES HER TO LIFE AGAIN. (Mark 5:35-43).  Certainly, as we look at this event, of this “ruler of the synagogue” and his daughter we can learn at least two things.  First of all sin, illness, disease, death, and sorrow does not play favorites with age, and secondly, they do not play favorites with religious or political stature.  This child was twelve years of age.  The same period of time as that of the woman who was healed of her affliction.  It is bound to happen to any of us.  Death, disease, sickness, and plague hits us all, and it is to us all that the Scripture says,

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

The only sad part about this event is that this young lady of twelve years would one day die again, and this time it was without Jesus raising her again.  It is sure that one day we will die, and our age or social stature will have no way of prevention in it.

It is evident that this “ruler” had respect for Jesus.  Note the words of his servant, “Why troublest thou the Master any further?”   This “Ruler” had evidently been teaching about Jesus or this man knew who Jesus was too.  It is amazing what people will do to find healing – even in our day.  People who have the means have been known to look the world over for a cure for cancer, or any other long, drawn out illness.  What if you do not have the “Means”?  What do you do then?  You can find rest, peace, security in Jesus.

The life of this young lady is not over yet, as long as Jesus can see her.  The real faith is seen in the girls father.  Despite the possibility of suffering ridicule from his peers in the “Ministry” he seeks out Jesus.  He risks his religious reputation to find Jesus to heal his daughter.

What is the life of a lost loved one worth?  That is a question we must ask ourselves and ask it every day.

The girl had died, but Jesus says to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe”.   Jesus is laughed to scorn by those who are there to “Mourn” the death of the child.  They are most likely paid mourners who have come for this purpose of mourning the dead for the family.  Jesus says that she is only asleep.  Cannot be a funeral if she is only asleep.  Jesus “Puts them all out”, and then He takes those who will believe with Him.  He “Put them all out” sounds as though He used a little force to do it.  “Get out!  Get out!”  Can you see it?  And people are always saying Jesus was always without anger.  Not so.  He is angry with the wicked, and everyday according to the Psalmist (Psalm 7:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Secret Place

You may remember, when you were young, having a place you could go to be away from others; family, friends, etc., and have time alone.  Maybe you went there when you were angry at someone; like Mom or Dad.  This was a place only you knew about; at least you thought so.  Let me tell you about a place for all ages of folks.  A place you can go to be alone with God.  It is a place of protection, encouragement, and many other blessings.  A place for receiving His message.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” Psalm 91:1 (KJV).

This is the place the follower of Jesus Christ lives. We never want or desire to live apart from the presence of the LORD. It is a genuine, real place. When you are with Him He speaks with you. He comforts you. He encourages you. At the times it is necessary He will correct you. Oh what a place it is; to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.

Here is one of the most wonderful promises of God’s Word.  It is wonderful because there is nothing so glorious as being in the “Secret place of the Most High” God.  You might be asking, “Just where is that secret place?”.  It is quite frankly not hard to find.  God is near you.  That secret place is in His presence.

To dwell in that secret place is to live in His presence.  You live in His presence by being in His Word; reading it, studying, praying, praising, and glorifying Him in word, song, praise and worship, and in the very acts of your life: with your acts living out the words that you speak.

The “Most High” is the One who is our creator.  He is our Sustainer.  He is our hope, our tower of strength, our sword, and our shield.  He could also be called our Exceeding Great Reward.

“Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty” is a place of protection; a place of shelter; not to keep us from the storms of life, but to take us through them.  Dwell in that secret place and you shall “Abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Goes Before You…

“…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” Mark 16:7

Have you ever done something wrong, and you felt ashamed about it?  I really believe the answer to that question is, that all of us have.  We feel there is no way of recovering that friendship that was lost.  There is no way of restoring the personal credibility which was thrown away because of a word that was spoken; or words that were spoken.  There is no way they will ever trust me again.

You know?  Those thoughts are all lies.  Especially when it comes to the Lord Jesus.  You see Jesus had warned the disciples that they would flee from Him (Mark 14:27-28), but Peter had said, “If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise.” (Mark 14:29, 31).

When it had happened; just as Jesus had said (Mark 14:66-72), Peter went and, “he wept” (v. 72).  He was grieved for his denying  His Savior.  He probably felt as though there was no going back, there was no hope.  However, when Jesus has risen from the grave, the angel says, “Go… tell His disciples and Peter…”.  Jesus was still including Peter in the group.  He will with you and I as well.

Isn’t it wonderful and marvelous to know that even when we have fallen, Jesus is there to pick us up and set us back in His way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Eat Heartily

Today we look into the Prophets of the Old Testament.  These men were truly men of God who stood firm against the evil of their day; which was not unlike our own day.  We look into the prophet Jeremiah.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV).

The Word of God seems to have  been precious/dear to all those prophets of the Old Testament.  They all mention it in one way or another, and they endeavor to live by it and be pleasing to the LORD God.  There were times that the Word of God was not being proclaimed, nor was what they had preached being heard and practiced.  At those times were the times when God was being silent.

The prophet Jeremiah had a heart for God and His Word.  The Word was not lost except to the people, because they had not, nor would not hear it.  God brought Jeremiah to His Word.  Jeremiah devoured the Word, and found it to be “…the joy and rejoicing of mine heart”.  The Word of God is dear to those whose hearts are with the God of the Word.

Do you enjoy God’s silence?  I do not.  Is God really ever silent when we have His written word by our side, in our hand, and before our eyes?  Only if we do not hear it and apply it to our lives.  Let’s endeavor to be as Jeremiah.  When we “Find” the Word; let’s eat it heartily, then joy and rejoice in it.

When God is silent is the time for personal heart searching, praying, crying out to Him; and He will hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Body, And The Blood

“Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?”  John 6:67 (NKJV)

For those who do not want to accept the fact of the deity of Jesus Christ; the fact that Jesus Himself said that He and His Father are one; the fact that He said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father”, and so much more; leaving is what you have done and invented your own Jesus.

Jesus had given many hard and heavy truths concerning Himself in chapter six.  One of the last one’s mentioned is that, “…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (v. 65).  Then, we are told that, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more”.  What disciples were these?  It most certainly was not the twelve.  It was the twelve He asked the above question.  They were still with Him.

The “disciples” who left were partly those who had followed Jesus because they saw Him doing miracles.  They were following Jesus because they supposed, most likely, that they would receive something from Him.  Maybe a place on His administrative board when He set up His kingdom.  Maybe they followed Him just out of curiosity, or for the power they thought they might achieve.  Even today, in business, and more and more so within the Christian community we hear things like, “You need to get near those who are the movers and shakers if yo want to become a mover and shaker”.  If there was ever a man who was a mover and a shaker it was Jesus Christ.  When things didn’t sound right to those followers they just left.

Jesus had talked to them about “eating My flesh” and “drink His blood”, and some of that may have not been understood.  It was something that demanded whole-hearted commitment.  You could not be selfish, prideful or arrogant.  When they heard Him talking and teaching; and had seen His miracles it was easy to follow Him, but now, now that He made these claims, what were they to think?

The twelve faithful disciples sat ever diligent, listening, learning, and Jesus questions them, “Do you also want to go away?”  To which the disciples responded; Peter speaking first, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (vv. 68-69).

If the other disciples would have held that belief they would have continued to walk with Jesus.  Oh, how we need to follow Jesus simply for who He is.  He is worthy of our love, devotion, commitment, and worship.  Yes!  I said worship.  Deity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is worthy of our worship.  If you have taken of the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus then, you know who He is and you worship, praise and glorify Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

How Are We Doing?

In the past thirty years or so it would appear to me that Christians have fallen away from the idea of evangelism.  We have turned to the political arena, and there have been some good things happen from going to the polls and letting “our vote count”, and we must continue to do that.  However, dependence upon the political to legislate change, moral change in particular has given us government out of control.  We are gradually losing our freedom of speech, and will eventually lose it entirely.

The power of changing lives of individuals is solely in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Forcing moral change through law has never worked, and never will.  Paul the apostle wrote many years ago –

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16 (KJV)

It would appear that we [Christians] have stopped believing in the power of the gospel of Christ.  We place more hope in our government than in Christ.  We have more confidence in the power of the president’s pen, than in the quiet, soft voice of the Spirit of God.  We have more faith in the politicians power than the power of the Word of God.

Why do I say these things?  We will strongly urge everyone, “Go and vote on election day”, but rarely do we say something like, “Be sure and tell someone about Jesus today, or this week”.

Let me give you a personal example.  I am often asked, “What do ya know?”; and my answer is always disappointing to me.  “Not much”.  Though the question is often asked as a means of getting a conversation going it should give me the chance to tell what I do know about Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection; and His second coming.  Boy!!! would that be a conversation grabber.  Now I know that everytime someone asks me “What do ya know?” they don’t really want to know what I know, but I should and could share with them anyway.  I have responded a time or two, “Do really want to know?”

At any rate the hope of this world is not power, popularity, politics, or prestige.  The hope of this world is Christ Jesus.  Paul said he was not ashamed.  No Christian will be ashamed of the very one who delivered and delivers us from our sin and eternal destruction.

Someone gave an acrostic for GOSPEL  as God Offers Sinful People Eternal Life.  That is what Jesus has done for us on His cross, and proved the power of the cross by the resurrection.  He lives, and because He lives we live.

There is no power greater than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He possesses the power to change a murderer into one who loves life – his own and others lives.  He empowers the child molestor to become a man or woman who loves children, and would never do anything to harm, molest, or torment them.  He empowers the sexual deviant to become one who is moral, and respects his/her gender and the opposite gender in the correct, moral and Biblical manner.  He empowers the sinner to become a lover of God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word; and live according to the directives of His Spirit and Word.

We must never forget that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  That means me, and that means you.  That means all with one exception, and His name is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Let’s be faithful in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes”; and it matters not what sin they have sinned.  Legislate morality all you want, still lives are not changed until we meet Jesus, surrender our wills to His, and then we are changed with the desire to be like Him.

In answer to the question, “How Are We Doing?”  It does not seem too well.  We can do better.  I can do better.  God has not failed us. He will never fail us.  As the Lord has told us in His Word,

“The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Perfection is only through His Son Jesus.  Believe on Him and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Bite And A Look

“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived”  Numbers 21:9  (KJV).

Many people do not realize the dangers of complaining.  Anyone who has ever read this chapter in Numbers realizes that God does not delight in complaints from His people.  He despises complaining, or murmuring.  In chapter eleven and verse four of Numbers there is the mention of “a mixed multitude”, and these were probably a source of the complaints, though God’s people often need no help in complaining.

The result of their complaining was that “fiery serpents” came into the camp and bit people and they began dying from the poisonous bites.  Do we realize just how poisonous or deadly complaining really is?  I don’t think so.  The individual who complains is spreading a deadly toxin throughout their body.  It may take many years for it to show up, but can lead to death earlier.  It is probably toxic to the people who hang around the complainer as well.  If we are not careful about hanging around complainers we will find ourselves complaining.  This is a complaint that robs us of faith, and puts more trust in self, or selfish desire than in God.  Complaining may come because of fear.

The people, or our text, grew quite fearful, and came to Moses for help, even confessing “We have sinned” (v. 7).  Moses prayed for the people and God gave Moses answer.  The answer was to build the brazen serpent on the pole.

The promise is, “Any man [anyone], when they beheld the serpent of brass, she/he lived”.  This serpent on the pole is a picture of a New Testament truth, with a present reality to the text.  There was deliverance that day for all who believed and looked.

Today, our hope is in Jesus Christ.  Sin was placed on Christ as he hung on the cross, becoming our sin, receiving God’s judgment [brass], and when we realize our sin and its death, we can look to Him and live.  “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”  John 3:14-15 (KJV).  Look to Jesus and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

No Payment Due

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

One of the things that many people do not often remember, or want to remember, is that everyone is born into the condemnation of sin; separated from God, and no relationship or fellowship with Him.  Jesus Himself reminds us of this when He said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”  John 3:18.

This condemnation is eternal, unless something is done about it.  Something like your death for your sins, but that would not get you eternal life with God; but only eternal judgment.  The death of another person for you would not suffice either, unless that person were without sin; perfect and  holy before God.  God, because of His great love for us gave us His Son to die and pay the penalty; the price; for sin, which was mine and yours.  All our sin was judged upon Him by His Father.

Because of this wonderful gift of God, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”  Isn’t it glorious and wonderful knowing all your sins are clean gone, and all the debt of sin is paid in full.  NO PAYMENT DUE.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sons Of God

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name”  John 1:12 (KJV).

It is wonderful to know that God has given the right, the privilege, and the power to be “sons” of God.  This only comes as the grace gift of God to all who believe.  There is one particular word to this verse I want you to note.

The word is “sons”.  Many of the female gender may find offense with this term, and many of the newer translations change this to read, “children of God”, but I find that to be very weak and without meaning.  Why?

In the Old Testament sons were the only ones who were to receive inheritance.  The older son; in most cases; always was to receive the inheritance.  In the case of the dispersing of the land of Promise; that too; was to be given to the men of the families.  There was a case where there were no sons of the family of Zelophehad, but he had five daughters, and due to that they were given an inheritance (Numbers 27:1-11 KJV).

The blessedness of John 1:12 is that because of Jesus Christ all people male and female are put on equal ground.  We are all as sons of God, when we have by faith received Jesus as our Savior.

We are adopted into the family of God and given all the privileges of Jesus Himself (Read Ephesians 1).

Now, remember who you are.
-Tim A. Blankenship

The Following Of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

You Are Responsible

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…” Jude 20 (NKJV).

Jude, clearly is writing to Christian brethren by the statement, “But you, beloved…” The “Beloved” is the clearest that it could be. He has been and is warning the brethren to guard our hearts and minds concerning what we hear taught.

It is often too easy to blame others when and if we get bad teaching, such as comes from apostate, heretical teachers. It is, however, every Christians responsibility to stand guard on their own hearts and lives concerning what they put into their minds. If we go astray after hearing false teaching, there is really no one to blame but ourselves.

The apostate’s will give an accounting of what they have done, what they have taught, and then, they will be cast into eternal darkness, unless they have previously repented, received the true Jesus, and their is eternal fruit in their lives and living.

Jude is about to end his letter to the Christians to whom he is writing, and ends with words of encouragement, and exhortation. We Christians of today need these powerful words as well. They are for Christians of every culture, century, and millennium. With these words he encourages us to “build up yourselves in your most holy faith”. It is individual’s responsibility to feed, tend, care, and grow in the faith. In the end there will be no one to blame for our slouchy, lazy, shoddy, and weak life; but ourselves.

It is our own personal responsibility to see that we sit under the teaching of teachers who will build up Jesus Christ, magnify the cross of Jesus, and when I say the “Cross of Jesus” I refer to His death, burial, and resurrection – The cross of Jesus speaks of His redemptive, imputational, work on that tree as He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is our own personal responsibility to see that we not depend on teachers, and their teaching, but that we discover for ourselves the revelation of God and His Word. Good teachers will teach you how to study the Word of God for yourself, and encourage and motivate you to do so. It is a bad and sad teacher who would tell you to depend on his/her teaching alone, and that you can have no understanding apart from them and their teaching.

Our own, individual study and reading of the Word of God is a necessity if we do not want to be led astray. There are ample living and dead examples of bad teachers; even heretical teachers who caused the death of many people, because they had been led astray. Each one of those people will give an individual accounting before God one day of why they listened and followed such a teacher and their teaching.

A better, and clearer understanding of Scriptures will come through study, and “Praying in the Holy Spirit…” This praying is a genuine, sincere, dedicated prayer that is the same as praying “In the name of Jesus”. When you pray in the Spirit and the name of Jesus you pray for things which will bring honor and glory to His name. You ask for things that He would ask. You seek for those things that He is seeking. You keep on knocking at the door for the things He keeps knocking at the door. Praying in the Holy Spirit is God honoring, Christ glorifying, and never contrary to the will of God.

Along this same line of thought the apostle Peter wrote, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV). It is our personal responsibility to grow in faith, and to become more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just as no one can be delivered from sin for you, thus, can no one do your study, and heart and mind preparations for you. How you grow is dependent upon what you eat.

Grow in Jesus Christ.

-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

Reservation Of Black Darkness

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 12-13 (NKJV).

“…Wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.“ This study brings to a conclusion up the study of these two verses, and I pray they have been helpful for your Christian growth. Jude would probably have loved to have wrote kinder, more encouraging words than what the Holy Spirit led him to write.

This letter written by our Lord’s half brother is full of discipleship, instruction, caveat’, for believers to beware of false teachers, in fact, apostates pretending to be Christian; knowing the language, but with a different meaning than what God, and His people really intend.

Those who teach things like, “Jesus came down zipped up in a suit of humanity…”. He wasn’t zipped in a suit of humanity. He was indeed deity in human flesh. He wasn’t dressed in some kind of party costume or something. He was fully divine and fully human. And, He bled. There are those in some “Christian” circles who claim that Jesus was nothing but a “wimp” and could do nothing on the cross against the devil. The devil is not the one who attacked Him on the cross. It was the Father who was judging our sins as our Lord was hanged between heaven and earth. Our sins were imputed to Him; they were placed on Him; and He paid our sin debt (2 Corinthians 5:21). Don’t dare call my Savior a “Wimp”, hanging there paying our sin debt. That debt was owed to the Father, not the devil.

Any teacher who preaches and teaches that Jesus was a ‘Wimp’ as he died on the cross is a liar, deceiver, an apostate, and false teacher. They at the least have no understanding of what took place on the cross that day. It cannot be fully understood by the finite mind of man. All we have to go on is the Word of God; and from that we gain the knowledge that on the cross, there was a transaction of judgment between the Father and the Son; and on the cross the victory over sin was won by Jesus Christ.

“…Wandering stars…” surely must be speaking of what we often call “falling stars”, which are meteorites falling through the earths atmosphere, and burning. They make a good show. I love to watch them falling, they are an awe of our Creator themselves. It is not pleasant to warn of these “wandering stars” which Jude warns us of; but we live in a day when these people are leading thousands, maybe even millions of people away from the cross of Jesus Christ into error of the world, and the devil. These false teachers are always talking about blessing from God in the material sense, but warn nothing of the curse of immoral living. Listen to them, and then, compare what they say with what the prophets of God, and Jesus and His apostles say; and you will see the error of their proclamations. You never know where they will be next. “Wandering stars”.

This “Blackness of darkness forever” is speaking of their eternal destination. There is no need for anyone to experience this horrible place when our Lord Jesus has already been there for us. For three hours our Lord experienced this darkness as He hung on that old wooden cross separated from the mercy of the Father, experiencing only His wrath, and for our sins. That sin debt – our sin debt – has been paid in full. The death of the Son of God was payment in full, and He rose bodily from His grave showing that the debt was paid, and that death had no power over heaven.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Cross

There is something special about the makeup of mankind’s heart and life.  First of all it is patterned after our Creator.  He made us in His image, though that image be marred by sin. 

The way in which it is special is that we are most at peace when we are most like Him.  That is; peaceful, loving, kind, faithful, gracious, merciful, joyful, serving, patient, gentle, and having self-control.  There are some who try and be the opposite of these things, and live in abject misery; yet thinking, “Now this is the life!”

There is only one way to be as our Creator would have us, and that is to follow His Son Jesus Christ.  He said,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)

Jesus’s own words are “If you will follow Me…”  Following Him is to be like Him and His life.  He sacrificed His time, His life in ministry to help people and minister to them.  He was never distracted from His reason for coming, and that was to die on His cross for the sins of all mankind; His destiny in this life was to give His life as the payment for our sins.  With Him; in His mind and heart; that was as good as already done when He was speaking to His disciples at this point in time.

In the verses above He calls for all who would follow Him to take up their own cross and follow.  What is our cross, if we are to follow Him?  The cross in that day was an object of death.  It was a tool of the Roman government to punish capital criminals, and put them to death.  So when Jesus speaks of “taking up your cross” He is meaning the laying down of our lives.

No woman or man can be a true follower of Jesus Christ who has not given up their very lives to do so.  To not lay one’s life down for Christ and His gospel is to lose your life.  To lay down your life for Christ is to gain your life, and eternity with Him.

Paul the apostle probably had these words in His mind when he wrote:

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

To have the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, ie., “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance…” Galations 5:22-23 (KJV), we must like Paul, the other disciples of Jesus Christ, lay down our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and showing forth the honors and glory of our Lord and Savior.

Refusing to give your all for Jesus Christ may just gain you the world, and all it possesses, but you lose your soul, your very life; and eternal peace and joy will never be yours.

The King’s Cross is the way to blessing, peace, joy, love, contentment, and eternity with our King.  The King of all kings; and Lord of all lords.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It All About Bread???

The Pharisees and Sadducees were a constant heartache to our Lord. As they were supposed to be the religious leaders of Israel during this time they were filled with doubts, unbelief, jealousy, and condemnation of any and all; including our Lord; who were not “letter for letter” correct to their own understanding. Many of these men hated Jesus, very few loved Him.

After dealing with the Pharisees concerning signs (vv. 1-4) Jesus will deal with the disciples concerning their faith, give them warning concerning evil doctrine, and hypocrisy.

“And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:5-12 (KJV)

The disciples must have had their attention diverted by physical need concerning Jesus’s caveat concerning the “leaven of the Pharisees”. It had not been so long ago that they had witnessed the power of the Lord when He took 5 loaves of bread and two small fish, and fed a multitude of 5000 men, plus women and children (14:13-21), then later fed 4000 men, plus women and children with seven loaves a “a few little fishes” (15:32-38). They had forgotten to bring food with them, except for one loaf (Mark 8:14), and they assume that Jesus is speaking of bread.

He speaks of “Leaven”. Of course, leaven is used in bread. It is, however, used to puff up, fluff up, and stuff up. It gives baked goods a fuller appearance than they would have without it. It is my belief that every time there is mention of “leaven” in Scripture, it is as a symbol of hindrance, sin, or evil. Hindrance because when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt they were commanded to prepare bread without leaven (Exodus 12:15-20). They were going to be leaving Egypt very quickly, therefore no time could be taken to allow bread to rise, thus they would have been in rebellion to even have it in their homes. Leaven also represents false doctrine, and hypocrisy (clouds without rain in a time of drought).

There are many professing Christians in our day who do not believe we need to be concerned about doctrine; whether it be right or wrong; just believe something. Anything is okay as long as you sincerely believe something; even if it is that your dog is the reincarnation of Geronimo. Jesus, however, gives an earnest warning to His disciples to “Take heed and beware of the leaven [doctrine] of the Pharisees. It is also a warning of hypocrisy. There is glaring hypocrisy in the Pharisees; requiring things of the people they lead, and give themselves loopholes around their own laws. False doctrine, and hypocrisy seem to go together.

Jesus’s warning is for all Christians of all ages, because we fall into a gross pit of oozing manure when we fall into false teaching and hypocrisy. Very often a pit that is very hard to get out of, or be rescued from.

It is not all about bread. It is not all about physical needs; Jesus meets those needs daily. It is a warning of being sure the doctrine is right and they life is right with God. This means much of the responsibility for remaining correct in what we believe and how we live lays on our own shoulders, and the Spirit of God within us. We can do this by staying true to the Lord in the reading, study, and meditation upon His Word; spending time with Him in prayer – walking with Him daily; faithful attendance to our local church as often as the door is open; and to faithfully serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves by giving of ourselves in serving others when possible, and sometimes when it gets in our way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Cleansed – Clothed in Rich Robes

In the previous verses (3:1-2), Joshua the high priest, and Satan stood beside him, before the angel of the LORD, who is most likely our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan’s position beside Joshua is the position of accusation. Joshua represents the nation of God’s people. The devil, Satan, is not only the accuser of Israel, but the accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ – the Church (Revelation 12;10). he was even the accuser of Jesus Christ. He is accusing Jesus in Matthew 4 when he says, “If you are the son of God…”, saying it twice within the event of Christ’s temptation, then, the third temptation questions His loyalty by bidding his worship for himself..

The accusations of the devil may be, and are true of Joshua and of Israel – the one he represents. The “filthy garment” definitely show us that to be true as a picture. The nation has defiled itself and made herself vile and filthy.

“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘ See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Joshua the high priest standing before the LORD must have felt the shame of the garments, and the accusations of the devil, but the LORD does not condemn him; He gives him a clean garment (v. 5). We first notice that word is given to those who were with the Angel, “Take away the filthy garments…”.

These filthy garments were probably the typical high priestly garments worn by them to conduct their priestly duties. These were filthy, and in this can be seen a likeness to Isaiah’s words, “…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). The nation was full of righteousness; the problem was it had nothing to do with the righteousness of God; only self-righteousness. They were filthy due to the pretense and hypocrisy of their attempts at worship and involving their worship to foreign gods; they were idolatrous, backslidden, and this included the prophets, the priests and the people (Isaiah 24:2; Jeremiah 5:30-31); and the prophet Hosea said, “And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:9).

God was not pleased with the priesthood of Israel, nor of the nations as a whole. That is the reasons for their continued captivities, and their recent returning to their promised land. They are still under judgment for their rejection of their Messiah Jesus.

That judgment will be changed, as this filthy garment is taken away and discarded, their iniquities will pass from them, and a new garment is given them. “Take away the filthy garments…” sounds similar to the call of Paul the apostles “Put off…” in Colossians 3:8; “Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth…” and “Lie not to one another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).

Though the “Take away…” is done by God and is seen as grace and mercy and a total work of God, and probably is a great picture of salvation, deliverance, and the “iniquity” passing from them is purely a work of God; the “change of raiment” (KJV), is a clear act of justification. When there has been the change of life through faith in Jesus Christ; an exchange of our filthy garments for His clean garments – rich robes; we are then given the power and presence of the Spirit within to put off those vile things that interfere with our Christian walk. The old is taken away before the new is applied.

The grace of God is clearly seen in the Old Testament as in the New. There is a picture, type, shadow, a “Scarlet thread of redemption” seen all the way through to the cross of Jesus Christ. From Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 we see Jesus the Christ. Our sins and the accuser is by our side condemning us, but the grace and blood of Christ takes it all away, and He clothes us in His righteousness. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Suffering King and His Subjects

 It is good to be back, and I had a great break away from blogging, but I am also glad to be back.  I will probably be posting writing from the Gospel of Matthew one week, then Genesis the following week, and posting other articles dealing with life, family, morality, legalism and such.  There will also be articles concerning Israel.  I had a dear friend who is with the Lord now who always said, “Keep your eyes on Israel”, and I have believed that too.

Jesus even told us, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28).  The Middle East is a place of war, and it mostly involves the nation of Israel.  Let’s be aware of what is going on there.

Now the message from Matthew’s Gospel:

King – Master, and Disciples

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Matthew 10:24-26 (KJV).

Jesus hid nothing from His disciples. He let them know “right up front”, that the life of a disciple, a follower of Himself would suffer persecution. It is important that the disciple strive to be like his/her Lord and Master. It would be somewhat foolish of us to think that we could follow this One who gave His life for us, suffering for our sins, and us not suffer with Him or like Him.

It is good for the disciple to suffer like His Lord – “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17 (KJV). If we were to assume that our Christian life is to be without persecution it would be an insult to the ministry of Jesus.

When the disciple of Jesus follows Him all the way to the cross there is nothing to fear, or dread. When they have called Him who is the essence of holiness, the embodiment of God who is Righteous, Just, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable; Beelzebub, ie. the devil; then we can know too that we can be called that or worse. It does not matter what the enemy of God says about those who follow His Son. The truth will be revealed in the end, and those who hate the Truth will be seen.

Just as it will be revealed that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel; it will also be revealed who is vile, evil, and the God deniers, and God haters.

Jesus loves you and has shown that love by dying for your sins; and He desires that you come to Him, and receive eternal life.

The King’s Messengers Going

The King’s Messengers Going

As we look at this tenth chapter 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.

The Power of the Disciples

The Power of the Disciples

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” Matthew 10:1-4 (KJV).

We could look at the disciples as ambassadors for the King. Ambassadors are chosen by the ruler of their nation, and sent to be representatives of other nations. They are given power by the ruler of the nation they represent. The ministry they do is in the name of the ruler of their country.

According to Matthew Jesus had called unto Him His twelve disciples. We have seen where He called some of them previous to this account. Matthew is called in chapter nine beginning in verse 9. In chapter 4 we see where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, and these four are always mentioned first. Peter and Andrew are brothers; and James and John are brothers. These were fishermen, and when they were called were fishing, and mending their nets.

When we have come to faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit of God, it is because we have been called or chosen by King Jesus to be His disciple as well as a child of God. A disciple is a follower. There are many who do not like to be followers, but that is what a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ is. The disciple of Jesus Christ is a follower of the King.

It is a great honor and priviledge to be called and chosen by the King of heaven, the King of Jerusalem, and the King of souls. This King Jesus is the Lord of our Salvation. He is our Redeemer. When you have been called by Him and chosen by Him it should be counted as a gift of grace, because we are unworthy servants. We are condemned and dying sinners. To be called and chosen by the King means we have been called to turn from our sins and past to follow the King into a the life of grace, faith, glory and power.

If the disciple is also an ambassador representing the King and His kingdom, we are then equipped with the power and authority of the King. There are several times in the New Testament where we are told, “All power/authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” chapter 28:18. “But you shall receive power…” (Acts 1:8). Paul writes to Timothy and said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). This power comes only from the King Himself. There is another verse which I must not overlook, and that is John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power/the right to become the sons of God, to those who believe on His name”. Where does this power come from? The King.

It seems that we the people of God’s creation are a hungry lot. The thing for which many crave is power to rule. There are some who crave it for the popularity. Some crave it to lord over others, and have all the material possessions that they can cheat or steal away from others, and sometimes that is done by evil governments through taxes. The greatest power of all the the power that is Jesus Christ Himself, and He will not allow His chosen ones to lord over people or to take from them. Those who try will quickly fall.

Resting in the power of Jesus Christ our King, and Him alone is the way of blessing and the glory of the King.

The ministry of King Jesus is the ministry of His disciples or ambassadors. An Ambassador of the United States in the country of Israel is there not representing Israel, but the United States of America. When he appears before the ruling agencies of Israel he presents the desires of the President of the USA, or at least he should. The same is true of an Ambassador to any other country.

What is the ministry of the disciples of the King? They are listed here. The disciple of Jesus Christ has the ministry of casting our “unclean spirits”, and this is done through the power of Jesus’s name. Another ministry is that of healing “all manner of diseases”, and we are not healers, but God in His sovereignty and will does so at His own will and discretion. There is also the ministry of “healing sicknesses”, this is sicknesses such as fevers, even leprosies, etc., but by the power, will and discretion of the Lord Jesus. Now with the first disciples they had that power for the purpose of showing forth the power of Jesus Christ, preparing people for the coming kingdom. It would not surprise me to find out that many of those who applauded Jesus for His healing power and miracles may have been at His trial crying our “Crucify Him, crucify Him”, and they had received such wonders from Him.

These first disciples were given this power to show forth the glory of Jesus as the God-man come to earth. Would the Jews receive Him as their Messiah? He gave orders to the disciples that they take the message only to the “house of Israel” (vv. 5-6). The nation saw the power of Jesus, their Messiah, but they hated Him, rejected Him, tried Him, then hung Him on a cross where He died for the sins of the world.

We may ask what is in the names of these disciples. The first four mentioned are always mentioned first, and are the ones who seemed to have participated most in ministry with Jesus. Jesus’s home base of ministry was in Peter’s home at Capernaum. From the MacArthur Study Bible note on the names,

10:2 the names of the apostles. The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mark 3:16; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups–but Judas Iscariot is always named last. Peter…Andrew…James…and John. The first subgroup of 4 are the most familiar to us. These two sets of brothers, all fishermen, represent an inner circle of disciples often seen closest to Jesus.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1409, (NKJV).

Jesus knew these disciples by their names. It is a representative thought that He knows all those who are His by name. He choses and calls us by name; equips us by name, and sends us out by name.

If your name is not known by the King of all creation, then you are in a bad lot. There are some who are going to say, “Well! He knows all people by their names.” I Biblically beg to differ. There is a day coming when He will say, “I never knew you. Depart from me; ye workers of iniquity” (7:23; 25:12; Luke 13:27). We are also told of a book where the names of all He knows are written called the Lamb’s book of life. If your name is not written there, then He does not know you (Revelation 20:27). With Jesus you are not a number, but a name. When you are in Christ Jesus you are as good as in heaven.