Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Faithfulness in Marriage to God

Faithfulness in Marriage – Proverbs 5:1-23

Verses 1 – 6 –  The path of adultery leads to death.  We can see by these wise words that there is a likeness in marriage of one man and one woman to the relationship between men and God.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:22- 33

Verses 7 – 14 –  Give diligence to keep yourself from the strange woman.  I think it would be correct to say that any man who cannot be faithful to his wife; will probably not be faithful to God; in fact; is not faithful to God by the very act of adultery.  Not only is the man, or woman committing adultery against their spouse, but against God, because they are holding something dearer to their heart than the commandment of God.

“But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.  They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”  Psalms 115:3-8

Verses 15 – 20 –  The wife, or husband is  to be the source of the man’s, or woman’s physical intimacy, refreshing, and intoxicating.  Likewise the Lord GOD is to be the source of the man’s and womans spiritual intimacy, refreshing, and intoxicating;

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18

Verses 21 – 23 –  The LORD sees and knows the ways of man.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…”  2 Chronicles 16:9

Since the eyes of the LORD run to and fro througout the whole earth; it shoud be obvious that they will also see the wicked and know their hearts.
The best of human relationships can be found in the marriage of a man and woman who are happily serving the Lord together, in their lives individually, and in their faithfulness in marriage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Tall Order

Shiloah Baptist Church

The Scripture reading for today is 1 Kings 4 – 6…

“And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, ‘Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in My statutes, and execute My judgments, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I perform My word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.'” 1 Kings 6:11-13 (KJB)

In our text Solomon and the people were in a large building campaign of building the Temple which had been in King David’s heart to build.  It was not a commandment from God. You see nowhere where David or Solomon are given the design of it from God.  It was David’s design.  God allows its building because it was in David’s heart to always honor the LORD in…

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Raised Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O let me from this day Be wholly Thine!

and the final verse of the song…

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

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

O bear me safe above, A ransomed soul!

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

Keys to Happiness

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law does he meditate day and night.”  Psalm 1:2 (KJV)

It has been a bit over 3 years since I did some post on the first verses of the Psalms, beginning with Psalm 1. Today I am beginning a new study on the verse 2 of each Psalm or plus in some cases.  I do not think I have ever kept it a secret that I love the Hymn book of the Bible called the Psalms.  The whole of the word of God is blessed, sacred, and holy; and I love it all; even when it hurts.

I want us to consider verse one.  The link above will take you to that study.  “Blessed is the man…”  The word blessed means “Happy”.  The happiness of Adamkind is really fleeting in most cases.  We can be happy in one instant, and downtrodden, discouraged, and in despair the next.  When I speak of “Happiness” I am speaking of Godly happiness which comes from the fruit of the Spirit of God called “Joy” (Galatians 5:22).

The first key to “Happiness” is to “Delight in the law of the LORD…”  You make the word of the LORD an integral part of your thinking.  You awake every day, every morning with the desire to open the pages of the sacred book to hear what the LORD has for you to hear today, and you pick up the word to hear God speak.

The second key is that you do not just read His word, but it does become part of your decision making during the day.  You meditate on Him and His word gives you direction, conviction; both of sins committed and conviction to stand on your Biblical principles and beliefs; comforts, encourages, and strengthens you in your walk with God.

It has been one of my goals in ministry and life to get the people I pastor and lead; to get them into the reading, study, and meditation, and application of God’s word in our daily lives.

It begins with knowing Jesus Christ.  When you have Him in your heart, soul, and life you will love His word.

Fear None of Those Things…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Day Twenty and Six

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want everyone to know that every word God has spoken will come to pass; that it will be fulfilled just as He spoke it; than every word He has spoken has already came to pass, is coming to pass right now, and/or will come to pass later; to know that not one word will fail; that you might repent of your sins, and believe in the One whom He has sent – that is Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

“Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for My mouth it hath commanded, and His Spirit it hath gathered them.” Isaiah 34:16 (KJV)

Christmas Day 50

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and to never balk, or bail my responsibilities as a Christian man who loves the Lord Jesus and is expectantly awaiting His coming.

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (KJV)

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred and Fifteen

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be faithful and diligent in prayer, praise and thanksgiving to my God and Savior Jesus Christ; to live for Him that His name be glorified in me; and that I never do these things as defiance against human laws, but always in faithfulness to God.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Thirty and Two

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (KJV)

Though the prophet Jeremiah is lamenting the tragedy of Judah and Israel, he recognizes that the mercies of the LORD  are without fail.  They are “New every morning”.  Mercy is a great power and offering from our Lord to us every day.

What do I want for Christmas today?

When I wake up of the mornings I want to be thankful for the LORD’S mercy that He has given me another day, that I am breathing, that I have a beating  heart, for all the manifold blessings He has given me; and I want to share that mercy, those mercies, as much as within me, with my family, friends, neighbors, and those who may not be at peace with me.

Through the mercies of God we can know His grace through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus, God the Son.

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day 190

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV)

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post…

What do I want for Christmas?

Persecution – Christian persecution is not something believers go looking for; but when it comes I want to be able to stand in faith no matter what the enemy of God may hurl at me; and I want all my brothers and sisters in Christ to be faithful to Jesus as well; and let it begin by being faithful to the Lord in the “Little thing” – reading God’s Word, prayer, witness, fruit bearing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads.

Christmas Day Two Hundred and Sixteen

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to love what God loves, and to hate what God hates.

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” Amos 5:21 (KJV)

“But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” 1 John 2:5-6

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:17-21

Day Three Hundred and Nineteen

What do I want for Christmas?

I want you the reader to share with me [in the comments] what you want for Christmas.

Remembering that this is to see each day as we do Christmas.  What do you want for Christmas?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4 (NKJV)

Hearing God: Repentance

“Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath He covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.” Isaiah 29:9-12 (KJV)

At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy there was much religion, but little actual faith. There was a faithfulness to ritual religion, but no real faith. There was much repentance, but it was false repentance; because there was not real turning around.

The prophet says, “Stay yourselves” or “Stop” or “Pause” and “wonder” or “be amazed”. They talked of God, of the way of God, of their religion, and faith; but they only lived it on the Sabbath day.

Some of the more modern translations of where we read “cry ye out, and cry” read “Blind yourselves and be blind”. That is what happens when people hear the word of God and refuse to submit themselves to God and what He says. The crying out reminds me of what is said of Esau in the New Testament (Hebrews 12:17).

We can all be like the little boy who was caught taking the cookie from the cookie jar after his mother had made them, and clearly told him, “No cookies till after supper”. When he was caught with the cookies he says to his mother, “I am sorry momma”. She says “That is okay son. Just put the cookies back in the jar; and all will be fine.” “But momma”, the boy says, “I want to keep the cookies”.

The boy was not sorry for taking the cookies. He was only sorry he got caught. That is how the unrepentant are with God and sin. Too many times we are not sorry for our sin; we are only sorry we got caught. Too many times in our culture, and with society today there are many, even professing Christians who do not even acknowledge sin.

Christian; when God speaks, calling for repentance we best hear Him. When we refuse to hear Him we will receive discipline if we are His (Hebrews 12:7-8). When we are disciplined, then we need to know to repent; turn away from our sins; and believe the LORD. When we cease hearing God He can be silent to us as well.

If you have not heard from God for awhile; maybe you need to check your life, and judge it.

Unaltered, Unbroken

“If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; if they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” Psalm 89:30-34 (KJV)

The Psalm has much to do with God’s promises to the Davidic line of the kingdom of Israel. Written by Ethan the Ezrahite; possibly a Levitical singer mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:43, and 15:17-19 (From the MacArthur Study Bible note on Psalm 89: Title).

One of the things that I have noticed in the study of Scripture over the years; that there is one thing that truly stands out; and that is that God loves His people, and receives us just as we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. That is why He chastises, disciplines, and corrects us.

No one of us would ever think or say that the discipline or chastisement of the LORD is a pleasant thing; no more than we would say that when our father took us out behind the wood shed that that was a pleasant thing. We learn from our Father’s chastisement; and we should be grateful for it.

Even though God chastens His children He will never forsake us. His covenant will not be broken, neither will the thing that has gone out of His lips be altered.

Something those who claim to be Christian and God’s people need to realize in our day. God, neither His Word, neither His covenant changes with the times or the seasons. He does not change to fit the culture; neither does His Word.

God’s word is sure, stedfast, relevant for the day, and it is still powerful; and every jot and tittle will be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). Stand with God, and His Word; or fall for anything.

Righteous and Faithful

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Psalm 143:1-2 (KJV)

There is no question in David’s mind about the faithfulness of God, or His righteousness.  He also knows himself well enough without assuming that in the sight of God no man living can be justified.

What is justification? Someone once explained it “being made just-as-if-I’d never sinned”.  I have always remembered that.  How can a man or woman be justified in the eyes of God?  There is no  hope for us within ourselves.  It must come by a declaration of God Himself.

First our sin debt must be paid for.  That is the reason for the cross of Jesus. Jesus the spotless, Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  He had no sin; but became our sin.  By His death the sin was paid in full.

Second one must repent of sin, believe that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is sufficient to deliver us from sin and death.

Then, God Himself declares you “Righteous” “Just” in His sight.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”  Romans 5:1

When you believe in Jesus, and His finished work on the cross you are justified by God.  The Rich became poor; the the poor might become rich in Him.

O, will you believe Him today?

A Song to Sing

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 89:1 (KJV)

A Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite is the title of this Psalm.  A song of instruction; and surely there is not much else to sing of than of the LORD and His mercy.

The mercy of the LORD is everlasting.  There is another of the Psalms which magnifies the mercy of the LORD.  Psalm 136 has every verse ending with “For His mercy endureth forever”.  The mercies of God.  Let that be your song for today.

Part of His mercies is also that He is faithful.  He is faithful to every generation.  He is faithful to all the earth, and to all His creation.  He is faithful to His own glory, power and praise.

Sing a song today; and let it be a song of His mercies.  The greatest display of His mercy was by the judgment of His Son Jesus on the cross for your sins and mine.

When GOD Gives an Invitation

When GOD Gives an Invitation

 

Exodus 24:1-18

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

The events that follow are guidlines for people today.

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

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

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

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

Through the Bible in a Year – 082513

Always Faithful

1.  APPRECIATE THE FAITH OF OTHERS WHO ARE FAITHFUL (Colossians 1:3-8).

2.  ACKNOWLEDGE THE HIDDEN TREASURES WHICH ARE IN CHRIST (2:1-3)

3.  PUT TO DEATH THE WORKS OF THE FLESH (3:5-11).

4. APPRECIATE THE FAITH OF YOUR FELLOW SERVANTS AND WORKERS (4:7-11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 061813

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”  1 Corinthians 4:1-2  (KJV)

It is the stewardship, and accountability of the leadership of the Church to deliver the message of God’s Word without fear or favor; and it is the stewardship and accountability of the people to listen, hear, and do the Word of God along with the leadership.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Compromisers

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; ‘These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; ‘To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”  Revelation 2:12-17 (KJV)

You might want to follow this link and go read THE CUTTING EDGES for further study.

-T.A.

Chief of Sinners

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.  Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Timothy 1:12-17 (KJV)

It is quite often we make judgments about other people’s sins.  There is a time and place for doing so, and that is after we have first examined our own lives; to be sure we are not guilty of sin; the same sin as the one we accuse.  We also need to know “I am a sinner” too, and be gracious and merciful in our judgment.

I heard the story of a preacher who had been experiencing great trouble in the church congregation.  Accusations of others sins; bitterness, and anger against others.  It had not bee too pleasant for any in that church; then, one morning following his sermon, the preacher announced, “In this evening’s service I am going to declare the greatest sinner  in this church, and the biggest problem of this congregation.  The people passed the day with anticipation.  They were eager to return to evening service that night.  “Who could it be?” was the chief thing on their mind.  “Who would the preacher declare to be the greatest offense to this church?”  It came time for the meeting, all eyes were looking elsewhere with questioning eyes, asking, “Is it my neighbor?”, “Is it the deacon?”, “Is it… ___________?”  The preacher stepped into the pulpit, began his sermon; and when he ended the message he ended by saying,  “I promised to tell you who the greatest sinner was this evening, and I will.  It is me.”

Paul the apostle saw himself as the chief of sinners.  That is how every Christian should view sin.  I have no right to condemn my brother, sister, or my lost neighbor.  We are to see ourselves as the greatest offense, the greatest sinner around.  When we see ourselves in the light as sinners having received mercy and grace, then we too can be merciful and gracious.

Just so some will know.  I am not advocating not making wise judgments, but doing so with mercy and grace.  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

-T.A.

 

Flame of the LORD

Flame Of The LORD

2 Samuel 11:6-17

In this story of the fall of king David is also the story of a man who was faithful, to God, to his wife, to his country and to his king. In this event in the life of David, Uriah is a contrast to David, and gives those of us who aren’t born into a godly home, or godly atmosphere some hope.

It is very likely that Uriah, being a Hittite; had come to believe and trust in the God of Israel and David; and had given himself to the service of God, the people and the king. His name means, “Flame of Jah”, thus the title to the message being “Flame Of The LORD”. Oh, that the Christian of today had the fire of Uriah.

I. URIAH WAS FAITHFUL; THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).

A. “It is 10-O-Clock. Do you know where your children are?”

B. Uriah was known as a good soldier, even a “mighty” soldier (23:39).
1. He is called one of David’s “thirty mighty men” (23:8-39).

C. God is faithful; He will always be faithful to His Word, His will, His children and His promises.

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (KJV)

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

II. URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).

A. Uriah was probably wondering about the purpose of his being called back to Jerusalem.
1. He may have thought, “The king desires that I get some rest and relaxation”, but his heart had no desire for it.

B. Uriah was obedient to the king’s call.

C. Christian, let us who have been called by our King, hear His voice, do His bidding and when He calls us home do so with the earnestness of this hero of Jerusalem, Israel and Judah.
1. We can rest assured that when our King Jesus calls us to His home He will not have some devious intent in His heart and mind.

III. URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).

A. He is not only loyal to his king, but loyal and faithful to the other soldiers who are not getting the call from the king that he received.
1. Uriah would have made a good United States Marine Corp Officer or soldier. “Semper Fi” or “Always Faithful” is the motto of the Marine Corp, and that seems to have been Uriah’s creed as well.

B. Uriah would not go home to his wife, his heart was on the welfare of the king and his troops on the field.
1. The good soldier is thinking about the safety of the others, and their leader and nation.
2. The heart of Uriah at this point in time puts the heart of king David to shame.

C. David jumped headlong into this adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, because he was not doing what he should have been doing.
1. The first verse of chapter eleven includes the following words, “at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah.
2. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

IV. URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).

A. King David upon realization that he would not convince Uriah to get home anytime soon; sent a death warrant by Uriah’s own hand to the General in the field – Joab.
1. Unknowingly, most likely, Uriah takes the hand written message written by the hand of the king that would cause him to die.

B. We have a Savior who was faithful to His Father; all the way to Jerusalem; all the way to Calvary; all the way to the cross; all the way to the tomb; and all the way to His glory which He had with the Father from the beginning (John 17:5).
1. We by faith in Him and His finished work on the cross put on His righteousness, His garments, and take on the characteristics which led Him to the obedient, faithful, loving life that led to His cross; His place of death and dying for the sins of the world.

C. Uriah means “Flame of Jah” or “Flame of the Lord”, and surely he was the flame of God burning in Israel when the “man after God’s own heart” had plunged into darkness of sin.

D. Oh, Christian when we see a brother or sister in Christ; who has plunged headlong into sin; whether they be a church leader, leader’s wife, or the man or woman in the pew; that is the time to be the “Flame of the LORD”. (Galations 6:1-2)
1. Stand as an example of faith and light, be faithful to God, and don’t let the darkness of sin pull you in and down.
2. Jesus said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” Luke 12:49 (KJV). His Holy Spirit within His followers are the possessors of that Fire; and that Fire possesses us as well. Let us walk in the light of that flame.

Elijah, and the Challenge by Fire

As a young boy I can remember being fascinated by fire.  I took matches, and would set old brush piles on fire, while I got up the milk cows for milking, and watch it burn.  I never deliberatly burned anything that did not need burned, but I was still moved by watching the flames as they flickered and flared upwards.  As a teenaged boy I would go camping with friends, we would build fires for the light and the heat; and even then I was enthralled by the flames, watching it devour the wood fuel which was put on the flames.  It would seem that I am still fascinated by fire.

The name of this blogsite “FIRE” and Hammer’, which comes from Jeremiah 23:29.  And my prayer, and heart longs to see the fire of God fall on His people; and for the glory of the LORD to be revealed to the world; and it one day will.

I wrote all this to lead us to the prophet Elijah’s challenge of fire to the prophets of Baal, and the Northern kingdom of Israel.  The drought had been on the land now for about 3.5 years according to the apostle James (5:17) and Jesus (Luke 4:25); and God had told Elijah it was time for some rain (1 Kings 18:1).  The nation, however, needed to know who was sending the rain.  They could not possibly go on thinking that it was Baal who through temple prostitution, illicit behavior, music and deceptions was doing the provisions for the people.  The drought would prove nothing for the glory of the LORD to just send rain.

Elijah gives word to king Ahab,

“Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.’  So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.” 18:19-20 (KJV)

Now the stage is set, the challenge is issued; the faith of Elijah is on display for all to see.  I am sure there were those who were thinking, “What is Elijah doing?  God does not work like this.”  My thoughts are “Oh Really!”  One thing Elijah was sure of and that was that those prophets of Baal were deceivers, masters of deception; and in the challenge of fire he put at least one stipulation on the trial;

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.’  And the people answered him not a word.   Then said Elijah unto the people, ‘I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.   Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:   And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.’  And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.” 18:21-24

Notice, if you will the stipulation of the challenge; “…Put no fire under”  which indicates that Elijah was pretty positive that deception was at the heart of any power the priests or prophets of Baal had.  They would put a hidden flame under their altar, than call for fire, and with some oil, fire would arise from the altar; thus amazing and deceiving the people.  He too would “put no fire under” and would depend solely upon the presence, power and glory of the LORD for the fire to come down.

The prophets of Baal built their altar without any deceptive fire; killed their sacrifice; danced and shouted with all their might; all their heart; maybe they were sincere in what they believed, but what they sincerely believed just was not true.  They finally ended up cutting themselves, bleeding they continued to plead with the god who could not hear; because he is only the god of human imagination, human evil, human greed and lusts.  The sincere efforts of the worshippers of Baal failed; they wore themselves out physically; trying to appeal to this deity of the human heart (18:25-29).

Now, it is Elijah’s chance.  He is confident in Jehovah.  Why?  Because Jehovah/YaHWeH has sent him.   He does not build a new altar, but repairs the “altar of the LORD that was broken down”.  The altar of the LORD had been neglected, and rejected, and now was being repaired by the man of GOD, and He was going to be glorified again in Israel.  You can read the rest of the story.

Let me tell you, that Elijah simply calls out to GOD; after having the altar and the offereing and the wood drenched in water; and God answers by fire from the heavens,

“Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.’  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” 18:37-38 (KJV)

“The fire of the LORD fell”  it came down from above.  The LORD He is God.  Elijah knew that.  He was much more than sincere, he was faithful to believe the word of the LORD.  Christian, revival will not come by dancing, cutting, music, and alternative styles of worship.  Revival will not come through evangelism or evangelistic efforts; which are usually nothing more than human effort, with fire under the altar; rather than the fire of the LORD.

We are called on to be faithful in worship to the LORD, loving Him through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour; the reading and study of the Word of God and prayer.  When God’s people get right with God, then there will be great preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and many trusting Him.

The fire of GOD will fall.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 83 – Living, Until Jesus Comes Again

Most of us can say we enjoy living.  Though Christians have a longing to see Jesus face to face, and that would mean leaving this life; the life we live in the here and now; we  too have a joy for living in this world and life.  That is as it should be.  My reading this morning was Colossians 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5, and 2 Thessalonians 1-3.

There are many who are believing that the freedoms we have in Jesus Christ means there are no laws or rules we must obey.  What it really means to be free in Christ is that we have even greater responsibility to live right, just and holy in this world for the glory of Christ our Lord and Saviour.  We have living within us the presence of the Holy Spirit; which is Christ in us.  He lives in us to make us more like Jesus.  We are no longer free to sin; we are, however, free from sin.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power…”  Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)

The world we presently live in is out to pervert the gospel of Christ through the teachings of men [philosophy].  Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a life to live; a life to give; a fellowship with the One who gave His life for us.  Our lives are not our own.  Christ Jesus is the “Fulness of the Godhead bodily”.  Remember what Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was one about living in this world too.  In the Thessalonian letters he does address the second coming of Christ, even the rapture of the church; which I know some Christians do not believe in, or believe that Jesus has already returned; but so did some of the Thessalonians.

There are five chapters in the first letter addressed to the Church of Thessolonica.  Each chapter ends with a mention of the return of Jesus Christ,

“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”  2:19-20

“Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  3:11-13

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  4:14-18

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  5:23-24

In each of these letters Paul admonishes believers to live faithfully in this world.  He even addresses the issue of not working.  It would appear that some Thessalonian Christians had quit their jobs, because “Jesus was on His way” and they did not need to work anymore – so they thought.  The apostle has written,

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.   And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 (KJV)

How should we live until Christ comes?  As though His coming might be today; yet living in this world, working, faithful toward God, as though it might be a thousand years away.  Jesus’s words, were “Occupy til I come” (Luke 19:13).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Friends and Enemies

It seems that we are all a bit fickle.  We love our friends; as long as they are kind and never say a harsh or critical word to us.  Yet that is not friendship.  I will not spend a lot of time or words with this, but really, a true friend should be someone who will tell you your weaknesses, when you have done something wrong.  A friend is someone who will sharpen your ax blade, so to speak; or at least aid you in doing so yourself.

Is it a friend who is always telling you the good things you do?  How bright you are?  How handsome or beautiful you are?   A friend will appreciate the good and great things about you, and tell  you so; however the friend will also pick you apart, and cut away, and may hurt you to help you.  There; I said it. Now let us see what the wise man of Proverbs says.

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  Proverbs 27:5-6

There will be those who call themselves friend, but never really help you shine.  They are really your enemy; never wanting you to improve; wanting you to remain in their league.  Their kisses are venom, poisonous and deadly.

Let’s hear what Matthew Henry has written of these two verses;

Note, 1. It is good for us to be reproved, and told of our faults, by our friends. If true love in the heart has but zeal and courage enough to show itself in dealing plainly with our friends, and reproving them for what they say and do amiss, this is really better, not only than secret hatred (as Lev. 19:17), but than secret love, that love to our neighbours which does not show itself in this good fruit, which compliments them in their sins, to the prejudice of their souls. Faithful are the reproofs of a friend, though for the present they are painful as wounds. It is a sign that our friends are faithful indeed if, in love to our souls, they will not suffer sin upon us, nor let us alone in it. The physician’s care is to cure the patient’s disease, not to please his palate. 2. It is dangerous to be caressed and flattered by an enemy, whose kisses are deceitful We can take no pleasure in them because we can put no confidence in them (Joab’s kiss and Judas’s were deceitful), and therefore we have need to stand upon our guard, that we be not deluded by them; they are to be deprecated. Some read it: The Lord deliver us from an enemy’s kisses, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
From the Matthew Henry Commentary – Libronix Library

Remember too, that a friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).  Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God is your dearest friend.

-Tim A. Blankenship

What Has Happened to Godliness

When I read Psalm 12:1 this morning my first thought was that it sounds as though David was living in 2012.  That may be a bit cynical, but I do not think too much so.  I do know some people I consider to be godly and they are Christians.  I do not consider any one who know not Christ to be godly.

The Psalmist cries out for help from the LORD.

“Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”  Psalm 12:1 (KJV)

It is a grievous thing to look at our Nation (the USA) and see so much degradation; such flaunting of unrighteous, ungodly behaviors, drunkenness, gluttonness feasting, and much gluttony without any thankfulness to the One who provided it.

David saw that the “godly man ceaseth”, that “the faithful fail”, and he asks GOD for “Help”; and so must the follower of Christ Jesus today.

The following is a quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Psalm 12:1-

“When there is a general decay of piety and honesty among men the times are then truly bad (v. 1): When the godly man ceases and the faithful fail. Observe how these two characters are here put together, the godly and the faithful. As there is no true policy, so there is no true piety, without honesty. Godly men are faithful men, fast men, so they have sometimes been called; their word is as confirming as their oath, as binding as their bond; they make conscience of being true both to God and man. They are here said to cease and fail, either by death or by desertion, or by both. Those that were godly and faithful were taken away, and those that were left had sadly degenerated and were not what they had been; so that there were few or no good people that were Israelites indeed to be met with. Perhaps he meant that there were no godly faithful men among Saul’s courtiers; if he meant there were few or none in Israel, we hope he was under the same mistake that Elijah was, who thought he only was left alone, when God had 7000 who kept their integrity (Rom. 11:3); or he meant that there were few in comparison; there was a general decay of religion and virtue (and the times are bad, very bad, when it is so), not a man to be found that executes judgment, Jer. 5:1.”

What is godliness?  To live as God would live; or at least work at doing so.  Will that save you for all time and eternity? NO!  Only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work can save you eternally.  When you are saved for eternally you will desire to be godly.  We are called to live godly even when ungodliness seems to rule the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Friday Baptist 072911

The following are the main points to a sermon by Jack Woodard titled “Lessons From Haggai” –

#1. UNFAITHFULNESS TO THE LORD HAS SEVERE CONSEQUENCES: [1:2; 2:2]

#11. REPENTANCE MAY NOT MEAN EVERYTHING WILL BE AS IT WAS: [2:3]

#111. IN THE COMING KINGDOM AGE JESUS WILL MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER THAN IT EVER WAS: [2:7-9]

You may follow this link to Jack’s blog for the rest of the outline.

-T.A.

Quiet from the Fear of Evil

The following is from Morning and Evening a daily devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon.  I found this very encouraging and thought it might be for someone else as well.

Morning …

Proverbs 1:33
Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it  shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but He had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah. Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030811

Matthew 14 – 16 is our reading for today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Horrible Thing

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

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

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

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

Hear the words of God to the prophet –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Without Faith In Jesus

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

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

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

and then delivers the young man from this demon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“O faithless and perverse generation…”?

I pray not.

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

In The Love Of God

“…Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 21 (NKJV).

We are continuing with the theme of personal and individual Christian responsibility. It is our personal responsibility, led by the Spirit of God, God’s Word, and through praying in the Spirit to build up our faith (v. 20). It is also the personal responsibility of every Christian to keep themselves “in the love of God”.

That “keep yourselves in the love of God” is accomplished much like “building your faith”, and that is through the power of God in us; given us at our new birth. That power is the presence of the Spirit of God. Paul wrote to the Romans, and one of the things he was inspired by the Spirit of God to write was, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9b). The “Spirit of Christ” is the same Holy Spirit who lives in all believers/followers of Christ Jesus. That Spirit is the same Holy Spirit who lived and abided in Jesus as He lived and ministered walking on earth.

The love of God cannot be taken from us. We have this promise of God from another of the apostle Pauls writings, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 8:38-39, NKJV). The love of God is immeasurable. It is wonderful. It is powerful. The love of God is really beyond the common man’s grasp; anyone’s grasp. It can only be received as a gift, a gift from the giver of love.

“Keeping ourselves in the love of God” is done through persevering in the faith. Ministering to others in love, expecting nothing in return. To be always faithful in obedience and faithful in living out the salvation which has been so freely given to us.

We are to always be “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” by the expectant heart for the return of Jesus Christ. That will be the fulfillment of His mercy. That should be the expectation of the heart of every believer. Looking for the return of Christ Jesus. Jude was looking for that day. That will be the day of mercy, unlike any other day we have seen. It was so good and wonderful and gracious of the Lord to give us assurance of salvation, grace and mercy on that day we knelt before Him acknowledging Him as Lord, and receiving Him as our Savior, by His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection; and put within the heart of every follower of Jesus Christ is the desire to see Him face to face.

Remain in the place of obedience. The MacArthur Study Bible note for this verse notes, “It means to remain in the place of obedience where God’s love is poured out on His children, as opposed to being disobedient and incurring His chastening (cf. 1 Cor. 11:27-31; Heb. 12:5-11). Keeping ourselves in the “love of God” is done through an obedient love for God. It is not a task or a burden. It is really a joy for the true child of God to live in and keep the love of God. It is also a joy to live for and expect that day when Jesus comes and takes us to be forever with Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Conspiracy Theorists

Prophets were often accused of conspiring with enemy forces. Isaiah was no different. Isaiah was involved in a conspiracy, but not with the enemy of Israel or Judah. He was in a conspiracy with the LORD of hosts. That is “The Conspiracy” I write of in this article. If preachers are to be the men of God we have been called to be we will be accused at times of conspiring against our church, our people, and sometimes even accused of going against tradition, when we really are not.

The prophet Isaiah is told by God, “not to walk in the way of this people”. When our people are going astray, when they are living out of the will of the LORD, when they are in feuds with one another, when they are charging the preacher of conspiracy, then is the time for that preacher to stand and preach like he has never preached the Word before. It is not the time to back down.

Hear the Word of the LORD spoken to Isaiah:

“For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,  Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.  Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Isaiah 8:11-15 (KJV)

The prophet is being directed by the LORD to have no walk in the way of his people. They were actually accusing this man of God of conspiring with the enemy, and they wanted to pronounce judgment upon this man Isaiah.

As I look as this passage of Scripture I find myself wondering, “What did they fear?”, “What did they dread?” Were they fearing the dreaded enemy that they had heard was coming? It seems to me that they were probably fearing the failure of the economy. The failure of their insurance policies, ie., their walls. They may have been more fearful of their health failing them as well. What ever they feared Isaiah is told not to fear the same things, but rather to “Regard as holy” Him who is speaking to the prophet. He is assured that God will be his sanctuary – a place of protection and solitude.

The prophet is also told “Let Him (ie., God) be your fear, and let Him be your dread”. The only hope anyone has is in the LORD. It does no one any good whatsoever to fear and dread anything that is human, or thing, or thought, or act of another. We have absolutely no control over other’s lives; but God does.

We can stand assured by God and His Word that those who stand against God, His Word, and His men will find a Rock of offense, they will stumble, they shall fall, and be broken. If there is a conspiracy among the men of God; let “The Conspiracy” be that we are faithful to God, His Word, and His way. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the Word, warning the people, encouraging the people who are weary, “comforting the afflicted; and afflicting the comfortable.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Flame Of The LORD

The story that is told in chapter 11 is often one of David’s sin; after all he is the character, the king, of whom much is written, and to whom many promises have been made by God.  Of his throne having no end, and having an everlasting kingdom.

King David, however, is not the intent of this message.  There is a man in this story who received a bum deal, from the man in whom he had placed his life, the lives of the people in the city of Jerusalem, including his own wife.  This man is none other than Uriah, called, “the Hittite”.  Being a Hitite would have made him not only a foreigner to Israel, but he would have previously been an enemy of Israel.

In this story of the fall of king David is also the story of a man who was faithful, to God, to his wife, to his country and to his king.  In this event in the life of David, Uriah is a contrast to David, and gives those of us who aren’t born into a godly home, or godly atmosphere some hope.

It is very likely that Uriah, being a Hittite; had come to believe and trust in the God of Israel and David; and  had given himself to the service of God, the people and the king.  His name means, “Flame of Jah”, thus the title to the message being “Flame Of The LORD”.  Oh, that the Christian of today had the fire of Uriah.

OUTLINE 2 Samuel 11:6-13 –

I.  URIAH WAS FAITHFUL BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).

II.  URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).

III.  URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).

IV.  URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).

URIAH WAS FAITHFUL BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).  “It is 10-O-Clock.  Do you know where your children are?”  This was a question posed on a television commercial a few years ago.  It was asked to draw attention to parents and children, that parents are responsible for their children and need to know where they are.

One of the signs of faithfulness is that people who know you will be knowing what you are doing, when you are doing it, and where you are.  You can and are depended upon for your faithfulness.  Uriah was that faithful man; faithful soldier; faithful husband; faithful to God and king.

Uriah was known as a good soldier, even a “mighty” soldier (23:39).  He is called one of Davids “thirty mighty men” (23:8-39).  Would to God that Christians would be good soldiers for the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.

God is faithful; He will always be faithful to His Word, His will, His children and His promises.  He calls us to faithfulness, and to be diligent, and vigilant to the task to which we have been called.

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (KJV)

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

Many Christians were not of the “Household of faith” concerning Judaism, and faith in God.  However, because of the grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ anyone from any race, or religion, can come to God through Jesus Christ’s death, burial and bodily resurrection.  Through Jesus Christ alone now Jew and Gentile have a way to the throne of God.  Uriah found that way through faith in God, through the promises of God’s Word.

Where are you concerning God and faith in Him?  Where are you in your walk with God?  Where are you in regards to your faithfulness to Him?

URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).  Uriah was probably wondering about the purpose of his being called back to Jerusalem.  He is one of David’s “thirty mighty men”, as has already been noted.  He may have thought, “The king desires that I get some rest and relaxation”, but his heart had no desire for it.

Uriah was obedient to the king’s call.  He returned to Jerusalem just as the king requested.  He would not, however, go to his home, rest, and relax while his fellow soldiers were fighting out on the battlefield.

Christian, let us who have been called by our King,  hear His voice, do His bidding and when He calls us home do so with the earnestness of this hero of Jerusalem, Israel and Judah.  We can rest assured that when our King Jesus calls us to His home He will not have some devious intent in His  heart and mind.

URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).  The loyalty of Uriah is clearly seen.  He is not only loyal to his king, but loyal and faithful to the other soldiers who are not getting the call from the king that he received.  Uriah would have made a good United States Marine Corp Officer or soldier.  “Semper Fi” or “Always Faithful” is the motto of the Marine Corp, and that seems to have been Uriah’s creed as well.

Remember king David had an ulterior motive for Uriah going home.  However, Uriah would not go home to his wife, his heart was on the welfare of the king and his troops on the field.  The good soldier is thinking about the safety of the others, and their leader and nation.  The heart of Uriah at this point in time puts the heart of king David to shame.

David jumped headlong into this adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, because he was not doing what he should have been doing.  The first verse of chapter eleven includes the following words, “at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

David was so desperate to get Uriah home he gave him fermitted beverage to make him drunk to maybe get him home to be with Bathsheba, to cover his own sin.  Even in his drunken state Uriah still had the mind and heart to be faithful to God, king, and country.

URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).  King David upon realization that he would not convince Uriah to get home anytime soon; sent a death warrant by Uriah’s own hand to the General in the field – Joab.  Unknowingly, most likely, Uriah takes the hand written message written by the hand of the king that would cause him to die.

We could say, “Like a lamb to the slaughter”.  The meaning of that is somewhat obvious, but let me give some explanation.  The lamb is trusting, dependent upon its shepherd, and sometimes the shepherd leads a lamb to be slaughtered for the meat.

We have a Savior who was faithful to His Father; all the way to Jerusalem; all the way to Calvary; all the way to the cross; all the way to the tomb; and all the way to His glory which He had with the Father from the beginning (John 17:5).  We by faith in Him and His finished work on the cross put on His righteousness, His garments, and take on the characteristics which led Him to the obedient, faithful, loving life that led to His cross; His place of death and dying for the sins of the world.

Uriah means “Flame of Jah” or “Flame of the Lord”, and surely he was the flame of God burning in Israel when the “man after God’s own heart” had plunged into darkness of sin.

Oh, Christian when we see a brother or sister in Christ; who has plunged headlong into sin; whether they be a church leader, leader’s wife, or the man or woman in the pew; that is the time to be the “Flame of the LORD”, stand as an example of faith and light, be faithful to God, and don’t let the darkness of sin pull you in and down.

Jesus said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”  Luke 12:49 (KJV).  His Holy Spirit within His followers are the possessors of that Fire; and that Fire possesses us as well.  Let us walk in the light of that flame.

-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

Unharnassed; No Boundaries

Do we ever stop to think what our lives would be without boundaries, without rules, without laws? It is as though we think they hinder our freedom; provoke us to evil or something. Car commercials have spoken about going outside the boundaries – usually referring to driving off road – and if they are equipped for it, then in a car, I would say, “Go for it.” However, for people, boundaries, lines, and laws give us definition, purpose, and direction.

How does it look for little children who are learning to use crayons, and a coloring book, and they get out of the lines? We will make over a one or two year old who uses their “skills” and it is cute to watch them take the different colors, and do their best, and they will always get wild and out of the lines. We tell them how good they have done, but the only thing that gives us a clue as to what they have colored is the lines under the coloring. When a child gets a little older we expect more from them, and expect them to color within the lines, and use good colors for the article, as they get older there should be no more coloring outside the lines.

Are harnesses and boundaries necessary in a free society? Most definitely. They are even more necessary in a free society. Israel was a theocratic government; meaning God our Creator was the Sovereign ruler of the nation. They were to follow the laws, commandments, statutes, word, ordinances, testimonies, and precepts of God which had been given them through Moses, the priests and the prophets. There is no country on earth that I know of who does not have laws. These laws, whether they are just or unjust are for the people to follow [when they honor God] for their protection.

The prophet Jeremiah was grieved by the treachery of the leadership of Judah; from the prophets, priests and the kings. They had forsaken God, His laws, His word, and had began following foreign gods which are not gods (v. 7). Jeremiah addresses the leadership of Judah:

“I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Jeremiah 5:5-9 (KJV)

The “yoke” is what was used for the oxen for plowing the field, pulling a cart, and other farm work. It was a means by which the farmer controlled the oxen, to plow a straight line, and to bring the oxen back to the barn for their safe keeping. We see a picture here of the leadership of Judah having broke the laws of God that was there to give them guidance, direction, and definition; and leaving them at the mercy of the surrounding enemy. One of the greatest things we can see in this picture is that God loves His children. However when God’s children break His law, His words, His commandments; they step outside the area of God’s protection and provision, and providence.

The oxen that breaks its yoke and is “free” is at the mercy of the “…lion out of the forest…”, and the “…wolf of the evenings..” and the speedy “leopard” watching over them. As the farmer would desperately try to round up the oxen, bring them back to the barn/stable; so God pleads with His people to return to Him putting away all the evil of their hearts.

Can we not hear the heart of God as He pleads with the leadership of Judah, “Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses”? God had blessed Israel and Judah for many years, and they turn against Him; forsake Him, and turn to other gods which are not gods at all, but mere pieces of wood, stone, or jewels, or precious metals. They have turned from worshipping the Creator to worshipping the creation.

It is sad to realize that when God had blessed Judah so abundantly that their hearts grew cold toward God, His Word, His prophets, and faithful priests. As the heart grows cold toward God; cravings, desires for other things begin to affect the mind and heart. God shows that blessing without harnesses, laws, boundaries; if you will; leads to ungodly deeds, and is rebellion against God. Blessed minds without following the law of God will end with a heart as a “lusty stallion” (v. 8 NKJV, ESV). Adulterous minds, and hearts prevailed in the leadership of that day progressing into the very act of adultery with a house of prostitution; and stealing what belonged to others (Proverbs 6:26-35).

The horse that is still a stallion goes after every mare that he senses, and is hard to control. These leaders were as those stallions when it came to their positions of power; it was as though it was due them. No man’s wife was off limits in their thinking, and it almost seems that there are some religious leaders like that today [2009].

We should consider it a great, awesome, mighty, and wonderful think to have a visit from God – “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD”. This visit was not one that we should want or desire. It is somewhat like the father visiting the son in his bedroom following a day of causing Mom problems. That boy would just as soon be out of the house when Dad gets home.

The heart of the child of God longs for the visit of the LORD when He will come with arms outstretched welcoming us into His presence. We should be thankful for those visits which are as the one above when He comes to chastise us. His coming to chastise us proves that we are His children (Hebrews 12:6-8); His coming to visit Judah with all the enemies around them was evidence of His great love for this chosen people.

When we live in faithfulness to God, His Word, and His Son Jesus Christ then, we have the great blessing of our worship in Him, and great pleasure to His name and glory. There is only one way into the pleasure and glory of God and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness. When we sin we have an Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9-2:1), and we are cleansed from all our sin.

Let’s walk, live and die in His blessings. Let’s be faithful to Him in all that we do. We do it through the power of Christ within us, ie., the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself is our Harness, and our Boundary. And we are free from sin and its bondage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Substitute

Isaac, son of Abraham, the only promised son of Abraham was an obedient, trusting son.  He went all the way with his father to the place “afar off” to a mountain which the LORD showed him.  The faith of Abraham has been seen since Genesis 12, and he has been faithful to God.

Faithful to God does not mean there has not been some times of failure, disobedience or sin; it does mean that in all his faults he always trusted the LORD;  he always returned to God.  Those of us who are Christians are called to a faithful life, a life of faithfulness, and that does not mean there won’t be times we do not fail or fall into sin; it does mean we won’t stay there.

Our study today will include verse 10 once again:

“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” Genesis 22:10-14 (KJV)

Abraham, believing God would keep His promise of making a great nation through Isaac continues with an obedient act to the LORD God, takes the knife to slay his son, and then hears the “angel of the LORD” call his name.  It seems that the “angel of the LORD” stops the hand of Abraham from its downward motion.  It does not seem too far to say that the LORD stopped Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac.

There are some things in this event that we must consider.  First of all, Isaac was not a worthy sacrifice (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:10, 23).  He was human, with the uncleanness of sin, as we all are.  No sinful human being can pay the sacrifice for their sins, nor anyone else’s.  Secondly, God has actually forbidden mankind from offering human sacrifice.  Human sacrifice was the practice of the people whom Abraham left in Ur of the Chaldees, and the practice of the people in the land of Canaan, and God’s people are forbidden to practice the evil of the Canaanites.

It seems that we have sacrifice of children in the USA, and in other nations of the world.  We see no value in the unborn so in the past 36 years we have sacrificed 48,000,000 (48 million) unborns to the gods of pleasure and convenience.  Their blood cries out to the thrice  holy God, and condemns the people of the nations who have practiced this unholy act.  The blood of even these is insufficient to atone for the sins of those who committed the acts of treachery and murder.  The unborn children that have been treasonized by their mothers cry out against them, and the “doctors” who have committed treachery against the medical profession.

Abraham’s hand is stayed by our LORD from carrying out the sacrifice showing himself faithful to God.  Abraham turns and sees a Ram caught by his horns in a bush.  Now, how many times would that happen.  On a hill top far away from any other flocks of sheep, God provides a substitute for Isaac.  We are all in need of a Substitute for our sins; a Substitute who will take our place.  If we were to die for our own sins that would mean an eternity apart from God, because our death does not suffice the take away our sin; it also does not provide for us eternal life; but eternal death, apart from God; suffering eternally for our sins.  That is what we deserve.

As the Ram was the substitute for Isaac, so our Substitute is the Lamb of God.  The Ram whose power was yielded to His Father, and was willing to subject Himself to the evil hands of men, be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, offering forgiveness to all who will call on His name.

There is forgiveness to all the women who have killed their unborn children, and to the “doctors” who have committed the treacherous acts against the children, the mothers, and the medical profession by their acts of abortion.  Jesus Christ is our Substitute for our sins.  He died on the cross to take away our sins, cleanse us from sin, to be the atonement for our sin, to be the one who took upon Himself the wrath of His own Father, having become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Jehovah-jireh” our God has provided well for us through His Son Jesus.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  Be saved, be cleansed of all your sin through faith in Jesus Christ; our Substitute; today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Faithful Until The Light

References – Amos 3:7;  Revelation 22:6

OUTLINE OF LUKE 1:5-25

I.  THE FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).

II.  FAVORED BY GOD – DISFAVOR AMONG MENT (vv. 6-7).

III.  THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).

IV.  FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv.  57-80).

At the time of Zachariah and Elisabeth it had been about 400 years since God had spoken through a prophet.  There had been no prophet for God’s people.  It was a time of darkness; and there were praying and desparate souls longing/desiring for the presence of the glory of the LORD.

There was a Temple [Herod’s Temple- not yet finished], but no “Ark of the covenant”.  It had not been recovered, and returned to the place – the Most Holy Place.

There was a favored couple – favored by God; probably viewed by the people as being disfavored by God due to having not been blessed with a child.  Zachariah and Elisabeth had both been declared “Righteous” by God.  This was “Favor”.  When God declares one “Righteous” then, that one is “Righteous” indeed.

Zachariah had his once in a lifetime duty to fulfill.  The MacArthur Study Bible note states:

“Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice.”

In this of course we would see a Divine appointment.  Does God not direct the fall of the “Lot”?  Thus God gives a message to Zachariah that a messenger – foretold in Malachi 4:5-6 – is about to be conceived and born to he and Elisabeth.

This “incense altar” was to be kept burning perpetually.  Morning and evening that one priest had privilege of tending the altar making sure the special fiery fragrance ascended to the throne of God.  The  The couple had been praying/longing/desiring a son, and as Zachariah goes about his duties he receives the answer.

It is interesting to note that the name Zachariah means “Jah has remembered” or “YHWH has remembered”.  Through 400 years of silence God was working, and never forgot His people.

FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).  As Zachariah and Elisabeth were faithful, they have been declared “Righteous” by God; so too are all who are in Christ Jesus.  When we see wickedness abounding we have a word from God that “grace much more abounds” (Romans 5:20).

We must understand that our works, words, deeds, are worthy of righteousness.  The righteousness of God is from God alone, declared by God alone.  Righteousness comes as a gift from God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Even when God seems silent; be faithful; believing light is on the way.  For many years Zachariah and Elisabeth kept on believing.  Do we believe in God only for what He can give us?  Do we believe in God only because of the good things He does?  Do we believe in God only because of His power, His might, and awe-inspiring displays in creation?  If we only believe during these things and only when they are visible to us; we will not be likely to stand faithful like Zachariah and Elisabeth during those dark times of life.  Always trust the Lord, believing that there is a greater Light

FAVORED BY GOD – SEEN AS DISFAVORED BY GOD (vv. 6-7).  Despite the seeming rejection by God, Zachariah and Elisabeth continue faithfully.  Though others could not see it; most likely; they were counted by God as “Righteous”.  Many people probably viewed them as cursed by God, and because of their faithfulness some may have wanted them to be cursed by God.  Read Psalm 3:1-3.

They continued throught he many years looking/praying/desiring/waiting for a child.  We must see, and remember that there is nothing that tells us that God had ever promised them a child.

The believer in Christ must continue looking/praying/desiring/waiting for the the promised return of our Savior.  We live for our God who has pronounced us “Righteous”.

THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).  Have you ever started thinking, “It will never happen”?  Maybe it was a desire, longing, or prayer you had prayed; you have kept asking, but deep in the recesses of your mind your thoughts were “It’s not going to happen.”

You may at this moment be praying for help with your income situation; your housing situation; matters of education; a health problem that is causing real worries or fear.  Do you believe in God appointments?  “God appointments” or “Divine appointments” are those things that to some will seem like ‘conincidences’, but to the child of God we know who ordains them.  RIGHT?  RIGHT.

God has a way of teaching us faith; growing, abiding faith, and that training never stops; until we see Jesus face to face.  Then, I could not tell you for sure, but what we may also learn throughout all eternity.

Zachariah having waited many years to serve in the Temple, had also waited for a child with Elisabeth.  It is sad to see so many people who are impatient, and cannot wait for anything.  Far too many times I have grown impatient in matters of waiting.  Who enjoys waiting at a traffic light, or even for a train to pass when you need to get over the tracks to the other side?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Is God delaying me for a purpose?”  We may never know on this side of glory, but that delayed traffic may just be a Divine appointment for our safety somewhere down the road, beginning at the light we are sitting at.

Christians must learn the godliness of waiting.  The Bible speaks much about waiting, and very little on “Hurry”.

The priest hears God speak through the angel Gabriel, and the message is good news of a son to the couple who had waited for many years.  Now, this is God’s timing.  It could not have been at a better time.  The conception and birth of this son was going to bring such joy into their home, their lives, and their neighbor’s lives as well.  Everyone was going to rejoice with Zachariah and Elisabeth.

The conception and birth of this son was going to be a fulfillment of prophecy (Malachi 4:-5-6).  They would probably not be alive at the time of this prophet’s ministry.  Zachariah is told to name his son “John”.  A very specific message, with a very specific name.

This prophet would be a preparer of the way of the LORD, and the Lord’s name is Jesus.

FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv. 57-80).  While Zachariah is in the Temple fulfilling his duties, receiving the message, but not believing it he is stricken with dumbness (both mute and deaf – see v. 62).  He comes out of the Temple, and cannot speak, and the people having seen him being so long in the Temple perceive that he must have received a vision from God (v. 22).  Yet he could not speak.

Can you imagine being in your place of worship, conducting your duties in the church, and Gabriel comes to you with the message, “You will receive what you have been asking for.”  You don’t believe this messenger, so he tells you that you are not going to be able to speak, because you have not believed.  You cannot tell others of the blessing that is on the way.  You must contain yourself, and only write on a piece of paper.  You may now want to shout, but because of not believing in the first place you can’t.

Oh, how difficult we make things for ourselves at times because of our unbelief, or doubts.

John the prophet of God was born to Zachariah and Elisabeth in their old age.  There was much joy and rejoicing.  There was, in fact, much jubilation.  When Zachariah admitted to the name John his mouth was open, his hearing returned and there was jubilation.  When the Word of God is believed, and practiced in our lives others will hear and believe.

John would be the herald; the messenger of God proclaiming the coming of the Holy One of God, calling for repentance, and for the people to get right with God.

There is a day coming when Jesus will come again.  We are the heralds of His coming today.  We can be the means of others finding peace with God through Jesus Christ.  We look forward to that day when we will stand with Jesus, worshipping Him, giving Him glory; and there will be great jubilation.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Isaiah’s Prayer of Woe

From previous chapters we see that Isaiah had seen the sin of the people of Israel. It was a time of trial for the nation; the king Uzziah was dead, and he had been a godly leader for the most part.

Because of the death of Uzziah; Isaiah was evidently mourning the death of the king, and he was greatly troubled by the death. It becomes apparent, though, that Isaiah had not seen the Lord of glory. Now things are about to change. Isaiah is about to change. When you see the Lord, exalted, on His throne and that He is holy, holy, holy you too will change for His glory.

When Isaiah saw these angelic beings it seems logical that he fell on his face, and cried these words, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (6:5). When someone sees Jesus for the first time as the suffering Savior dying on the cross for their sins, their heart cries, ‘Woe is me! I am undone…”. “Undone” simply means sinful, without hope of one’s self. God is holy, holy, holy, and you and I are unholy; yet God seeks to reconcile us to Himself. He could only do this through the death of His righteous, sinless Son.

When you become right with God your desire will be to go for His glory. God asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah’s answer was, “Here am I; send me”. that is the answer of a truly grateful heart. That is the answer for the saved, changed, made new heart.

God tells Isaiah, that no one will hear, no one will obey. Isaiah’s answered by asking, “How long do I keep preaching?” God’s answer was, “Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate…” (6:11ff.).

Loving this thrice holy God is a call to faithfulness, not recruiting of numbers. God will give the people. You and I are to keep praying, going, and being faithful.

-Tim A. Blankenship