The Lord of the Harvest

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples,
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.”   Matthew 9:36-38

When Harvest Comes

“And He said,
‘So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.’ ” Mark 4:26-29

Discretion and Knowledge; Sowing and Reaping

“My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.”  Proverbs 5:1-2
“Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?’ Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, ‘One soweth, and another reapeth.’
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.”
  John 4:35-38

We need to ask the Lord to give us always the heart and mind for sound judgment; that requires wisdom, understanding and knowledge. That also requires us listening to others – even those we disagree with on certain things that we might grow in knowledge.

Since Jesus tells us that the harvest is already ready, then we need to see the great need for telling the lost and the condemned and the perishing that Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God gave His life on the cross for our sins, He was buried carrying away all our sin, guilt and condemnation, then He rose and came out of that grave alive justifying those who will believe, forever. O what a glorious harvest Jesus is reaping.

Consider The Ant

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”   Proverbs 6:6-11  (KJB)

Sowing and Reaping

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (KJB)

Well I am back. I never really went anywhere; just felt I needed to take a break from this blog, and focus on some other things.

The following is from a former post back in May of 2013.  It is just a portion of that dealing with verse 12 of Hosea 10.

“The “Fallow ground” of verse twelve is land that had previously been plowed, but now left unused.  God’s Word and His Spirit is the plow that is needed to break up the soil of a hard heart (See Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23).  Hard hearts cannot yield crops of righteousness and mercy.

It is a prominent theme in Hosea that the children of Israel will reap exactly what they have sown.  It is a law of God’s created order to reap what we have sown – and that, no matter the timeline, culture or society which we may live.

Hosea gives us three steps to heal the land:

  1. Break up your fallow ground (v. 12);
  2. Put God’s Word in your heart – “sow with a view of righteousness” (NAS v. 12);
  3. “Reap in accordance with kindness (NAS) referring to the breaking of their hard hearts through repentance and sowing the seed of God’s Word in their lives.

God gives Israel every opportunity to repent.  It is God’s desire then to cleanse them, and make them a vessel of His grace.  Judgment would come.”  From BROKEN PIECES of May 04, 2013

There is a very relevant need for Christians of 2019 to realize the seeds we are sowing.  We are in the time of year where in the agricultural world there is harvesting going on.  That does not happen by accident. The farmers sow seeds to bring in a harvest, and when God blesses with good soil conditions, and rainfall these men and women have a great harvest when the time of harvest comes.

They sow seeds of what they desire to harvest. They desire to reap a harvest like the seed they have sown; and they will not reap any other type seed.

There is a real life lesson for us in this and it is found in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Church of Galatia…

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-8

The only fruit worth the harvest is the fruit we bear because of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. We can only do that through faith in Him; faith that works; not for salvation, but because of salvation by grace.

Waiting Patiently

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.  Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:7-8 (KJB)

The farmer prepares the land, the ground where he is sowing a crop, then he sows the seed, and he waits.

What does he wait for? A harvest of much more than he/she has sown in seeds planted.  Some call it a gamble or chance. I call it faith that is based on the basic promise of the rewards of sowing and reaping.

The deeds we do, good and bad, are as seeds we sow.  The good seeds we sow will bring a harvest; but also the bad seeds will bring a harvest.

As I sit here writing this post it is raining.  It is a blessing to the beef,  dairy, and grain farmers around near and far.  The reason I mention this is because it is August, and usually  the month of August is hot and we are in the midst of a drought, or at least really dry. The farmer is very dependent upon the mercies and graces of  our God and Father to even have a crop of hay or grains. Cattle need it to live and produce milk, and meat that is used by billions of people around the world.

The grain farmer waits for months to bring in the harvest from the seed he/she has sown; and the typical gardener as well waits for several weeks before they see a good harvest.  The the average beef farmer produces more cattle through the cattle they have through reproduction, then when those calves are born, they wait until they reach the preferred weight, then they take them to the stockyards for sale to the meat packers.  These also have waited several months.

Anyway, I hope you may be asking; it you do not understand where I am going with this; “What has this farming got to do with me?”  You too are sowing seeds.

There are good seeds in your life’s living; and there are bad seeds in your life.  If you have not been redeemed by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ your seeds are bad, and your harvest will be weeds and destruction (Galatians 6:7-8). Your harvest will be delayed too. Someone has said, “There are many sowing their wild oats, and then pray for a crop failure.” I understand that.  There will, however be a harvest; one without great reward.

Good seed comes from the word of God through the Living Word who is Jesus Christ. There is a bountiful, beautiful harvest for all the good seed sown.  Again there will be waiting. Believer, let us wait patiently for that harvest.  We will not know how much, or how great until Jesus comes again; but we wait.

Waiting does not mean sitting down, and doing nothing.  We must be all the more diligent in our labors for life, living, and our witness for Jesus Christ. Let us be faithful in our living to Jesus.  He is coming, and could be very soon.

The Weeping and Mourning Merchants

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!  For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. Revelation 18:11-19 (KJV)

Now, the “merchants of the earth” mourn her demise.

I think it would be fitting to make this statement; What the world rejoices in, God weeps upon, and what God rejoices in the world weeps upon.

A list is given of the merchant’s merchandise. Everything on the list is the objects only the wealthy could possess.  Let us look at that list;

1) Precious metals – gold and silver; 2) Precious stones – diamonds, rubies, pearls, etc.; 3) Fine materials for clothing – linen, silk, and scarlet; 4) Scented wood – like cedar for lining closets; 5) Vessels – special made pieces of art from ivory, and wood; 6) Other metals; 7) Seasonings; 8) Perfumes; 9) Drinks; 10) Oil; 11) Livestock; 12) Transportation means; 13) Men made slaves – the government and the wealthy merchants probably enslave the common man, making them think that they (the banks and the government) will supply all their needs – shelter, clothing, food, health care; transportation, etc., only the common man will own nothing in order to have this, while capitalism will thrive for the wealthy.

“And the souls of men” just could be saying that the merchants are responsible for the deaths of many, or their enslavement.

The words “no more at all in thee” or its minor variations are found seven times from verse 14 through the end of the chapter. What the “merchants of the earth” have relied upon and trusted in has come to an abrupt end. The economy of man, no matter how prosperous it is, cannot give peace in times of calamity or in times of peace.

The city burning almost sounds like the twin towers falling on September 11, 2001. There were many nations around the world who were grieved by this calamity. Thousands of people were killed in that attack by an evil people. Sad to say many were more concerned with the economic impact than they were with the thousands who died.

It not only seems that the city is destroyed, but all the wealth as well (v. 17). In verses 16-19 the merchants are weeping more over their economic ruin than they are over the eternal ruin of their soul.

You can sow your seed, but remember God does not give the harvest the next day. You do reap what you sow – good and/or bad (Gal. 6:7).  Will you begin today sowing seeds of righteousness by coming in faith to the Son of God, God the Son who is also the Lamb of God who died to redeem us from all our sins, our shame, and condemnation?  Hear Him and believe.

Caring for the Stranger, the Orphan, and the Widow

“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” Deuteronomy 24:19-22 (KJV)

It is said elsewhere that they were to even leave the corners of their fields (Leviticus 23:22); and in these verses it includes the widow. It is called “gleaning” for the widow, the orphan and the stranger of the land to go out into the fields and the orchards, and the olive groves, and the vineyards to harvest what they could find.

This was a command of the LORD, and was a blessing from God to do so. The commandments of the Lord are not grievous (1 John 5:3). We are blessed by God in keeping His commandments. We bless others by keeping these commandments. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The above is a good thing for a Christian business man to follow today.  Sure the practice of the law above involved agriculture, farming, sowing and reaping; however these same principals can apply to any legitimate business.  There are many businesses who have more profits than they need; many CEO’s who make exorbitant salaries, bonuses, etc. why not make some of that available to their employees, and neighborhood people in need?  Gleaning does not need to be just agricultural.

If you are a Christian business man consider this way, and when you do I can see you being blessed by God greatly.

Consider the Poor

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. Psalm 41:1 (KJV)

How many times have you heard something like this said, “They are only poor because of foolish spending”  There are many various phrases similar to that one we have heard, or maybe even used ourselves.

The topic of poverty, and the poor is not an easy subject to address, or to deal with.  There are folks who have not thrived in an affluent society due to misuse, and abuse of finances.  I know that I have done my share of that as well.

Let us address who are the poor of the above text?  The Psalmist is addressing the lowly, the poor, the physically weak, and ill.  The Bible addresses poverty many more times, and how we are to help them.  When harvesting fields the land owner was to leave a corner for the poor to glean, so they too would have something to eat.  That included the orchards and other things too.

One thing I know about providing aid for the poor is that it should not be seen as a burden, but a result of our blessings; and being a blessing to those less fortunate.

This Psalm begins with a Beatitude “Blessed” which is a happiness we are to enjoy.  Those who cause the poor to prosper will be happy, and are recipients of protection and keeping from the LORD themselves.

Be “Blessed” today.

The Good Seed, and the Tares in the Kingdom

“He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 13:37-43)

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 8:1-14

Reaping the Whirlwind

Hosea 8:1-14

When the people of God will not heed; and when His Word is not obeyed, and His promises not believed; judgment is imminent and unavoidable.

There can be much learned from watching the work of a farmer.  The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments place farming as a picture of warning and hope.  Farming is the world’s oldest profession.  From this profession we learn the eternal law of sowing and reaping.

When a seed is planted in the ground you reap likewise.  A seed of corn brings a harvest of corn;  of wheat, wheat; of barley, barley and so on.  One kind of seed does not produce another kind of harvest.

What kind of seeds had Israel sown?  Seeds of sin and destruction.  The seed sown does not immediately bear fruit, but harvest eventually comes.  As the harvest comes with corn and wheat, so too does the harvest come with sin.  See Galations 6:7.

It has been said, “Some go and sow their wild oats (Debaucherous and wild living), then pray for crop failure.”

“Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant, and trespassed against My law.  Israel shall cry unto Me, ‘My God, we know thee.’  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.”  Hosea 8:1-3 (KJV)

Some of the people of Israel never looked at he possibility of fruits of sin, or sin’s harvest.  People in the 21st century do not realize that there is a harvest for rejecting God and His Word.
The prophet is told to warn the people. “The trumpet” is the rams horn, also called “Shophar”, and was used for calling assemblies or to warn of an approaching enemy, as in this case.

The warning is certain.  Judgment is certain.  The “Eagle” is the Assyrians swooping down upon them carrying them away captive in the clutches of its talons.  Why?  Because they did not listen to God and “Transgressed against My covenant, and trespassed against My law”.

Although Israel would cry out to God, “We know thee”, the enemy would still come.  The words they spoke and the life they lived were a contradiction.  Compare this verse with John 8:33-47 especially listen to Jesus as He says, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”  That would certainly mean, “No matter how loudly you proclaim otherwise”  You find yourself in complete opposition to God.  Claiming to know God, or being in the right bloodline (physically) does not mean you know God.  The fruit you bear is evidence.  Living by the Word of God empowered by God’s Spirit.

The people’s rejection of God is shown in verse three as God says, “Israel hath cast off … good.”  Forsaking the good to do evil the enemy shall come.

The enemy is likened to the eagle; which can also be a vulture.  This enemy would come silently, devouring the dying and helpless, snatching in its mighty talons anything that could be carried away.  This is the harvest of rejecting God.

“They have set up kings, but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; Mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”  verses 4 – 7

There is also the harvest of self-will.  That is the harvest we bring on ourselves because we refuse to follow the way God is leading.

If you were to look back in 1 Samuel 8:4-22 you would be reminded of Israel’s [the undivided nation] insistence upon having a king, “That we also may be like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:20).  It was a thing that displeased God and Samuel (See verses 6-7 of 1 Samuel 8).  God gave them their request.  For another time God gave them their selfish request see Psalm 106:15.  Requests of self-will, and it brought great harm to the nation.  Sometimes God gives us the leaders we desire, and then too late find out that was not a good deal.

Individuals and nations often set up kings of their own like and making.  The king in one’s life or nation is a reflection of that nation’s or individual’s heart.  Yes, God is sovereign, completely in charge; He does give us what we ask for sometimes to correct us, and draw us to Himself.

Jeroboam as the first king of the divided Israel [Northern kingdom] disobeyed God and set up golden calfs – probably similar to the calf Aaron built at the request of the people while Moses was on the mount with God – and led the people into worship away from God.  The tragedy is, that no king of the Northern kingdom ever turned from this worship of  self-will in the calfs.  Jeroboam went so far as to call people as priests who were not of the Levites; “He [Jeroboam] made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were  not of the sons of Levi.”  (1 Kings 12:31 NKJV).

These were not God’s ways.  It was completely contrary to the LORD’s direction.  It was the worship of Self-will.

In the New Testament book of Galations 6:7 the Lord spoke through His servant Paul saying, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  There is no exclusion in this verse for anyone.  This is the equivalent to verse seven of our text in Hosea.  What ever you sow is returned unto you many times over.

The next verse in the Galations text says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galations 6:8).  These are both with a harvest many times over the seed that has been sown.

To sow to the wind, they would reap the whirlwind [manifold].  The wind can be gentle and deceptive.  The whirlwind is nothing of the sort.  It destroys everything that gets in its way.  They [Israel] sowed the wind of idolatry, now they would reap the manifold harvest of the whirlwind of Assyria.

The worship of Baal and the fertility rites that go with it would prove to be fruitless as far as crops of grain and children.  The only harvest would be one of destruction – after all, is that not what they had sown?  The destruction is the harvest of the self-will.

“Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.”  verses 8 – 10

Embracing pagan allies and their practices also brings a harvest.  A bear hunter looking for a good fur coat for the Winter compromises with the bear who needs a meal.  The hunter gets his winter coat, and the bear gets his meal.  That is the destination of people who play with sin, and compromise with it.  That was the destination of the people of Israel as they gave up God for pagan allies and deities.

In obstinacy and rebellion they seek the aid of Assyria.  Instead of calling on the LORD to be dependent upon Him they go to another nation which is also under the sovereign hand of God.  This obstinacy is seen in the use of “A wild ass alone by  himself.”  Alliance with another nation for defense was another “Lover” added to their lists.

The very nations they had called on for defense would be the nation God would use to correct, rebuke, purge, and bring them back to Him.  How foolish it is to embrace others for defense instead of God, and reap a severe harvest of shame.

“Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.  They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of Mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will He remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.”  verses 11 – 13

Pet Rattlesnakes, pet Alligators,  are a dangerous thing.  How many times have I heard of someone having a “Pet snake” in the house only to end up being bitten, or their child being bitten then the adult or the child die as a result.  The same is true with “Pet Tigers” or “Pet Bear”, etc.  You may think you have them under control.  “Pet sins” are the same way.  You cannot control sin.  Sin enslaves us when we let it stick around.  That was the tragedy of Israel.

John Traylor writes in the study book, “‘Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law’ (v. 12 NASV) means that God made known His will in many different ways.  In spite of this, the people regarded God and His laws as strange and foreign.”  The law, to them was restricting and God was only trying to keep them from being “Happy”.  They had fallen victim to Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve.  “Yea, hath God said…” and “You shall not surely die…”  Believing that God was only hindering them, they want what they want, Now.

Israel continued to offer their burnt offerings, while in fact, they knew not God.  They were near the point of harvest for false and licentious worship.  Because of the sexual sin they would get diseases unknown to them before.

God would not forget their sin.  It would be remembered (v. 13).  The word “Remember” is used here in the same sense as that of Jeremiah 31:34 when God says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  In Hosea God says He will remember their sin and judge them for it.  They shall return to captivity, because of their licentious [sexual perversion] behavior they reap a manifold harvest.

“For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.”  verse 14

Forgetting God has a manifold harvest.  Rejecting God and His Word, thumbing your nose at it leads to forgetting Him.

Everything they depended on in God’s stead would be destroyed.  The idols cast down, their walls, buildings and fortified cities wiped out.  What is the reaped harvest of forgetting God?  DESTRUCTION.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 020811

The reading today Leviticus 26 – 27.

Most of us have heard the saying, or something similar to it; “If you sow your wild oats a harvest will come”.  It is another way of saying what God says  in His Word and through nature.  “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galations 6:7b).

Israel was given much, special land.  Yet it was theirs under the condition of the covenant with God.  The covenant was that they had to “walk with God”; and that means obey Him; to see things God’s way, not their own.  The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3),and the answer is no.  In the case of man with God; we must agree with God.  God does not agree with me, nor does He need to or have to.  It is my obedience, my repentence, my sorrow for sin – that is necessary for me to walk with God – not God’s.

“And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.  But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.  These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between Him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.”  Leviticus 26:44-46 (KJV)

In Leviticus 26 God the LORD has warned Israel of what will happen to them and the land should they not follow His commandments.  Both the Ten Commandments and the others that are given concerning treatment of others, their worship practices, moral issues, and the land.  If they go against God.  They are not “walking with God”.  They will suffer the consequences; and that will be judgment from surrounding nations, captivity; the enemy even harvesting their crops, rather than themselves.

God is merciful.  He even promises that should they disobey; and they do; then He will remember the covenant with them, and bring them back into the land.

Many times we may find that it is our own sins that judge us.  The prophet Jeremiah even bears this thought out when God spoke to him saying,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reproove thee…” (Jeremiah 2:19a).

It is great to know that we find grace and mercy given by God in the Old Testament; and that same grace and mercy is magnified, and personified in the person of His Son Jesus in the New Testament.  We have the promise of the New Testament:

“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteouness.”  (1 John 1:9).

and”My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…”   (1 John 2:1).

The grace of God through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of God to man, through Jesus.

Read Leviticus 26 – 27

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Twelve – One through Twelve

“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.”  Mark 12:1-12 (KJV)

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet likens the nation of Israel to a “Vineyard”.  It to is a parable.  It is the story of a man who plants the vineyard, builds a fence around it, cleaned up the rocks, even built a tower for the vineyard, but then the vineyard does not produce anything but “wild grapes” – that is “worthless grapes”.  The vineyard brought forth no useful fruit for its owner.

It seems that these religious leaders were reminded that they were the vineyard.  Jesus is showing them as a prosperous vineyard, producing much fruit, but not giving the “Owner” what is due Him.  In this parable Jesus speaks of a “Landowner” who prepared the vineyard, and then “leased” it out to others.  The idea was that the “Owner” would collect his due when the harvest was over.

The story is really one of Israel, and their trek down through about 1500 years – from the time of Abraham.  They had had prophet after prophet come to them with the message of God and His Word, but would often refuse the word of the prophet, and beat, abuse him and drive him from their presence.  Just as the people leasing the land would not give the “owner” his due, these so called “People of God” would not yield to the “Messengers” which God sent them.

The message Jesus gives through this parable is that since they would not give God what was due Him, then the Kingdom would be given to others.

We might should pause and think about that.  Have we heard God and surrendered to His Word and His will?  Have we sent away His “Messengers” without even a thought of what He said?  Are we making a mess of God’s kingdom?  Have we sent His “Messengers” away empty handed, injured and bleeding?  Maybe not physically, but spiritually?

Jesus tells us in the parable that these “Husbandmen” would do the same with the “son” when he would come to collect his due.  The prophets of God were rejected, and ultimately the Son would be rejected and put to death on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sowing Seeds

I attended the Bible Evangelism Conference of Barry County Southern Baptist Association this morning and heard some very passionate, heart pounding, convicting messages from God’s servants the evangelists who God sent our way for the week.

The one for which I get my title comes from our new Director of Missions who was filling in for an Evangelist who had to leave because his wife became ill and he had to go home.  Brother Randy challenged us to sow seeds of the gospel and for the invitation we were challenged to come and take a small packet of seeds, in a sealed plastic bag to keep where we could see it everyday and it would be a reminder to us to be faithful in sowing the seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The final verses of Scripture he read were Psalm 126 which says,

 When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.  Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.  The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.  Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. 

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

and focusing on those final verses,  “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy…rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”.

May I be a daily gospel seed sower, and trust God to give the increase.

-Tim A. Blankenship

What Manner Of Man – Worthy Of Worship

“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?  For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.  And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.  For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” Mark 4:21-25 (KJV)

For the second time in chapter four Jesus uses the phrase “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear”.  What we have been given by God’s grace can be seen by all.  Our life, our work, our play, our family, is a witness to all around us.  How bright is that light shining from me?  How about with you?  Is the light of Christ clearly displayed for all to see.

Jesus says that what has been in secret will be revealed.  The Gospel is to the unbelieving something hard to understand and is “hidden” until the Spirit of God turns on the light.  To the unbelieving the preaching of the cross is foolishness; to the Jew it is a stumbling block.

God has given to every believer the light to shine for all to see.  We have been given much, so much is required of us.  Let us not lose what God has blessed us with.  The blessed gift and privilege of sharing Christ with others can be lost if we are not sharing the story.  The more you share the gospel with others the more you will enjoy it and the better it will get.  To have a gift and not use it is to lose it.

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;  And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.  But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”  Mark 4:26-29 (KJV)

It is a marvel of God’s creation how a seed can be dropped onto the earth’s soil and it spring up and bring forth life.  Only God really knows how that happens.  It is a matter of life.

The farmer knows what he is to do, and that begins with plowing the ground – for a good crop – and preparing it for the seed.  He will then sow the seed, and wait patiently for it to grow into a harvest.  That seed will struggle and push its way up through the soil, it will grow to its highest potential, with “blades” of the plant it is supposed to be and eventually bring forth its fruit.  After reaching its time of harvest the farmer then will proceed to gather the harvest, and usually with much joy.

The good farmer knows the right time to harvest the grain.  When that time comes he puts in the “sickle” and brings in the harvest.

“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:  But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.  And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”  Mark 4:30-34 (KJV)

The growth of this mustard plant is not normal.  It even shelters the “Fowls of the air” which are seen in the previous “parable” as being representative of the devil.

There is a tree which is seen in the fourth chapter of Daniel where it is said of it that the “birds of the air” rested in its branches.  This can be found in Daniel 4:11-12.

“The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. Daniel 4:11-12 (KJV)”

The “Mustard seed” is one of the smallest seeds known to man.  When Christ started the church He began with only twelve, and over the years it has grown and flourished.  It is not without problems or problem people, but it still continues to grow.  Within this Kingdom there is good and evil, and the good will triumph because Jesus Christ is its Head.  Warren Wiersbe states, “The growth of the kingdom will not result in the conversion of the world.  In fact, some of the growth will give opportunity for Satan to get in and go to work!”  It is imperative that we understand that the church is not perfect.  It is basically a “Hospital” with “sick” people.  Someone once made the statement, that “If you find a perfect church, and you go there, it is no longer perfect.”  There are members within many churches who are not genuinely Christian.  They “came forward” during an invitation, “took the preachers hand” or someone else’s, they filled out a card and there was no giving of self to Christ as Savior or Lord.  When the local church is made up of saved and lost people it is no wonder there will be problems in the congregation.

We must note that the “birds” who are resting in the branches of the tree are not part of the tree.  They only find solace, security, and some sanctimoniousness.

What Jesus started with only twelve people has grown to be millions.  The Church of Jesus Christ will not fail.  She will prevail, because Jesus has already conquered sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave.

“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)

After giving the parables and teachings he had given on this same day he got in one of the boats and said, “Let’s go to the other side”.  Now, what is on the other side?  Gadara.  There is a need for Jesus to go there, and He goes.

On the way to the “Other side” Jesus goes to sleep in the stern of the boat.  While He sleeps a storm that frightens even the seasoned fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Even these guys are afraid that they are going to die.  Jesus is still sleeping.  Unafraid, unencumbered with the weights of this incident He sleeps.  There are three reasons a man or woman can sleep during storms of life.  First of all, physically exhausted, or dead.  Secondly, emotionally drained or depressed due to a rebellious attitude toward God.  Thirdly, they are at perfect peace with God.  Which one of those categories did Jesus fit into?  That is really a crazy question.  He is Deity, God in Flesh.  Of course He was at perfect peace with God.  He knew His destiny.  He knew God’s plan for His life.  How about you?

One thing we as Christians need reminded of from time to time is that we are still going to have some storms in our lives.  We are not exempt from them at all.

These seasoned fishermen saw that this storm was different or they would not have been so afraid as they were.  Because they were afraid they went to the right person.  They went and roused Jesus from His sleep.  Jesus was somewhat disappointed with their faith – or lack thereof.  They must not have been sure of their destiny, or God’s plan for their lives, or Jesus’ life for that matter.  If they would have believed Jesus’ previous words they would not have been afraid of the storm.  They would have kept on rowing; knowing and believing that they would reach their destination on “The Other side”.  Jesus had an appointment in Jerusalem He had to keep, and nothing would deter Him from that meeting.

At the storm they were afraid of it, now they suddenly turn their fear toward Jesus.  They really were not afraid of the storm; rather they were afraid of dying.  Now they have their eyes opened, and they receive a proper fear.   A fear of God, for here, standing with them is the One who made the elements, which causes the storm, and now calls them to be at peace.  Now the disciples can be at peace.

WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS?  That is the best question.  He is the God-man.  Jesus Christ the incarnate One; worthy of praise, honor and glory.  It is to Him alone that we owe our complete allegiance, and to no other.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Value of a Farmer

There are people living in the large cities, even adult people, who have no idea where their food, milk, ice -cream treats, vegetables, and meat come from. At least that is the way many people act. “You go to the grocery store, WalMarts, Kroger, Ramey, Giant Foods, Piggly Wiggly, or whatever and you get what you want.”

While you can go to the grocery store, which is Oh, so convenient; there are farmers “breaking their backs”, and in many cases risking their lives in order that you might have food on your table, or in front of your television. Even many of the snacks that we eat today is food that has been prepared from crops, for you to have a ready to eat snack. Doritos, Potato chips, snack cakes – being made from flour, which requires wheat, and then there is the sugar in the cookies which is from farms as well. The Sugar farmer may prefer to call his place a Sugar Plantation, but it is none-the-less still a farm.

Many of the big farms may produce much milk, grain, and fruits and vegetables, and they make a good deal of money. Don’t dare think that farming is a lucrative business. Let me give you and idea of the money that is made in farming. A farmer may bring in a cash value of 200,000 dollars per year, but by the time they pay for the fuel of the tractor, farm labor costs, feed for the cattle, fuel for their other farm vehicles; the maintenance and upkeep of all farm machinery, etc.. After all the expenses and farm costs are paid the small farmer; if he is blessed; may have 20,000 dollars per year. And that would be a fairly good year.

After they have made that kind of profit [wow!!!:)], can you believe that, then the government wants to tax more than what they actually have in spendable income?

When farmers have a bad year with a drought all our government wants to offer them is a low interest loan. When farmers in the country of Columbia want to make a deal with the United States that’s a different situation. Our farmers can just suffer, but we can’t let foreigners farming suffer. We will take their meat, their crops, and pay them a great price for it; and at the expense of our own people.

I have heard in Hollywood productions and from people who don’t know much that the oldest profession in the world is prostitution. Well that is not true. The oldest and grandest profession and vocation is farming. There were farmers long before any woman or man ever thought of selling themselves for cash.

What makes a man or a woman want to be a farmer? Some grow up on the farm and don’t know much of anything else. They decide at an early age they want to take over the family farm, or have a farm of their own. There are some who grow up and go to Agricultural Schools/Colleges/Universities to learn more about farming, the soils, trees, and vegetables. They may come back to the farm to help make it more productive, and they may not. The outdoors, fresh air, fresh turned soil, and its fragrance, sunrises and sunsets, are all things that farmers enjoy. Not to mention the planting of the seed in that freshly worked soil, watching it come up through that dirt day later, then, weeks and months later it reaches its peak, and it bears fruit. From one little seed of grain comes thousands of seeds of grain. The farmer can look at that and thank the Lord for giving the increase, and thank Him also for giving him the strength to plant and harvest the crop. Farming is one vocation that gives a person a sense of worth, and accomplishment.

The next time you go through that grocery aisle, and you pick up a head of cabbage, or broccoli, or some Apples, Peaches, Oranges, or a can or frozen bag of peas; and a gallon of milk remember there were some farmers who rose early many mornings to get that milk and cheese to you; spent many hours plowing the ground preparing it for the seeds that produced that cabbage, broccoli and other veggies. Many Orchards spend hours protecting their trees from freezing in the seasons of their blooming in order that we might have fresh fruits. When you pick them up remember where it came from. It first of all came from God who gives the increase; and it came from hard working farmers who have given their lives to feed the American citizens and the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King and the Sheep

The King Meets the Need of the Sheep

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38 (KJV).

Jesus has gone through the cities and villages and taught and preached and given healing, deliverance from the evil of demons. Yet, he looks with compassion on all and sees a great multitude in need. He sees them as being in need of a shepherd. They have no shepherd. Jesus sees a “Harvest”, a time for reaping, and bringing in the crops. This harvest represents people who are ready to be delivered from their condemned status. Their sins weigh heavy on them and they are eager to trust Jesus as their Savior, their Deliverer.

Multitudes of people stand awaiting judgment from our holy and righteous God. How will they stand before Him? On the right hand or on the left hand? Does it make a difference? It seems to make a difference according to Matthew 25:33 – “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” (NKJV); “Then He will say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…” (Matthew 25:41 NKJV).

The abundance of the harvest exceeds the sufficiency of the laborers. Jesus says, “Pray for laborers for the harvest”. One cannot sincerely pray for laborers without eventually realizing they are being sent. This word “Sent” can mean; to thrust out. Awakened to the need; out of our comforts; out of our apathy; out of our complacency. We ought to be praying that we lose everything that hinders us from being laborers to a people who are on the wrong end of God’s judgment. A double barrel, twelve gauge shotgun is a wonderful instrument; unless you are on the wrong end of it. The same with the judgment of God. The only way of being on the right end of His judgment is to be in Christ Jesus.