In a Solitary Place; There He Prayed

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, ‘All men seek for Thee.’ And He said unto them, ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.’ And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Mark 1:35-39  (KJB)

O, how Jesus longed to fulfill His Father’s will.  Jesus knew it involved much committed time with Him in prayer.  My how I fall so short on committed time to prayer.  I do try to stay in touch with God through my day, but I lack power with Him; at least it seems so with me.  Lord help me with my praying.  I need You in my life in power and glory.  I am weak, but you are Mighty.

The following is from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on verse 35 of Mark 1…

And in the morning — that is, of the day after this remarkable sabbath; or, on the first day of the week. His choosing this day to inaugurate a new and glorious stage of His public work, should be noted by the reader.
rising up a great while before day — “while it was yet night,” or long before daybreak.
he went out — all unperceived from Peter’s house, where He slept.
and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed — or, “continued in prayer.” He was about to begin His first preaching and healing circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions (Luk_5:16; Luk_6:12; Luk_9:18, Luk_9:28, Luk_9:29; Mar_6:46), He spent some time in special prayer, doubtless with a view to it. What would one not give to have been, during the stillness of those grey morning hours, within hearing – not of His “strong crying and tears,” for He had scarce arrived at the stage for that – but of His calm, exalted anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and the outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent Him! He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such communings with His heavenly Father ere His friends from Capernaum arrived in search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after such a day of miracles, that the next day would witness similar manifestations. When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the repose of his glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the usual hour; but at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently coming to see where the Lord lay, he finds it – like the sepulchre afterwards – empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of Him, Peter naturally leading the way.” JAMIESON, FAUSSET, AND BROWN COMMENTARY

The Alternative of the Rapture

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:11-18 (KJV)

The first beast (v. 1) is said to come “out of the sea”, cast out from heaven (chapter 12), and from the mass of humanity. “Sand of the sea” is often a reference to a great mass of humanity. This second beast is come “out of the earth”. This seems to imply that this one is simply a man, not possessed by Satan; because two men could not be possessed by Satan himself at the same time. Satan is not omnipresent. The “horns like a lamb” show that he is a man of religion. He will be the leader of the world religion leading people in the worship of the first beast. This one is truly a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, for he speaks “as a dragon”.

He is given power as the first beast and deceives the people into worshiping the dragon. He deceives “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), with such intensity that, “if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). We may even now be asking, “Why would God allow such things? The answer which is plausible is only to say, “To bring an end to sin”.

People always want to see the miraculous, but miracles, or at least what appears to be miracles, can only lead to deception, when not tested by faith in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. The miracles of God point to Him. Some of what seems to be miracles today often point to something or someone other than God.

Some in Jesus’s day asked Him for a sign, and He told them no sign would be given, except the sign of the prophet of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41), and they did not get it. The Word of God is sufficient enough for those who believe God. The sign of the prophet Jonah, was he came alive out of the belly of the fish, and Jesus was raised alive out of the belly of the earth. The resurrected Jesus is all the proof God needs to generate faith in His children (Romans 1:3-4).

Verse 14 says that every one should make an “Image to the beast” (probably similar to the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s of Daniel 3; of course, maybe a lot smaller). It almost sounds as though every home would have an image of the beast. It would only be speculation, but this could be some electronic device to keep track of his followers. It wold be a way of determining those who worshiped the image and put to death those who did not give him laud. Of course those who are God’s would not have the image in the first place.

These worshipers of the beast are identified by a mark, another counterfeit of God’s work. Here Satan, the dragon, counterfeits the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God seals those who are God’s to the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The mark “in the right hand, or in their foreheads” would seal these people to eternal destruction. The Church today needs to hear this message and take the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the perishing, because what awaits the lost is doom. These with the “Mark of the beast” would be able to buy, sell, and trade. They would be able to obtain the things of earth, but be kept from the eternal blessings of God. “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The number of man is six (6). It falls short of God’s perfection, “short of the glory of God”.

When man tries to obtain the glory that belongs solely to the Lord he will always come up short. So will the devil.

No one knows what this number means. There are numerical equations which figure into names. For example each Hebrew letter is also a Hebrew number. Since I do not know these things I can only share what I have read and studied. There has been a whole lot of numerical accusation and fraud, and I will not indulge in the hysterics, neither do I want to lead into conspiracies or suppositions.

As discerning Christians we can see an antichrist spirit; but let us be certain, first, that we have the Spirit of God concerning the matter. One thing we can be sure of, is that, the attempt by Satan through man will come up short. Sin will be eternally put away and Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords. Satan’s final attempt and fall is certain because of who Jesus is.

If you are outside the righteous/holy character of God, then you need to know Jesus Christ the Son of God who is God the Son who died on the cross for our sins, so that, we might have fellowship eternally with Him.  Trust the God/Man who died for you

Man of God – A Man of Prayer (1)

 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes…” Daniel 9:1-3 (KJV)

Read Daniel 9:1-18

 Daniel was first and foremost, not a prophet who could look into the future, but a man of God. He is even referred to as the “a man greatly beloved” (v. 23; 10:11). Being a “Man of God” means more than just being able to understand, tell, and know God’s will and plan for the future. It is first knowing God and loving Him.

This prayer shows us why Daniel was ‘a man greatly beloved’ – why he was a ‘man of God’. Many a preacher and pastor could learn from Daniel. Looking at Daniel we could learn to pray and know God, and know His heart. Every preacher and pastor who is leading a church, or group of Christians should be ‘a man of God’ first. Too many are now becoming “Men of the people” or “Men of the congregation”, and rather than praying they are playing. Rather than preaching the Word of God, they preach the words and philosophies of men.

In this study we will see nine different points. Six are related to the prayer, and the final three are answer to the prayer.

The first thing that we see was what brought Daniel to prayer, and that was HIS DEVOTION TO THE WORD OF GOD (vv. 1-2). It is quite evident that Daniel was devoted to the study of God’s Word – as much of it as he had – because he was reading very devoutly the writing of Jeremiah the prophet. It must have encouraged his heart as he ready Jeremiah 25:1-12 and 29:10 that his Nation would be held captive for only 70 years. He knew the time was getting close, and this got him on his knees.

That is how it should affect Christians today when we read the Scriptures, and see the signs the Word speaks of concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus again. Remembering that the signs are only of the Lord’s second coming – the time when Jesus will literally come to earth to rule and reign as King – should make us mindful that the rapture of the Church is nearer. Knowing this we ought to be in earnest prayer. Getting ourselves ready by confession of sin. Confessing how we have brought shame to the name of Jesus, and pleading the mercy of God upon us. The Word of God is the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17); and is the only weapon we hold in our hands. Of course, the only other weapon we have is PRAYER.

The second point we see is HIS CONFESSION OF SIN – HIS AND HIS NATION’S (vv. 3-5, 8-9,11,14,15). Note, how many times Daniel mentions, “We have sinned”. He does not say, “They have sinned”, but “We have sinned”, “We are a sinful nation”. Any time a preacher/prophet only points out “Their sins” he is failing to communicate the whole truth. “We have sinned” is the message of every prophet of God. If we are to get right with God it must be the confession of every prophet first of all. So many times we talk about the sins of the world, when in truth it is the sins of God’s people that hinders His work; if there is a lack confession, and not repented of.

Not meaning to jump ahead – take a look at verse 20. Daniel says, “And confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel”. We cannot blame others for our spiritual decay, and captivities. It is our sin that brought us to the place of captivity we are in.

Daniel confesses God’s righteousness. Without God’s righteousness He would not be God. In His righteousness He gave us His Son Jesus; He gave us the cross; that a holy, sinless person might die to pay the sin debt that was ours.

When we walk in disobedience to God we have “confusion of face” or “open shame”. In other words, “We have disgraced our God, our identity as the people of God, and have lost our power with God”. When that happens God will do whatever is necessary to get His people where He wants us to be.

Recognizing that our time is short here on earth. Recognizing there are many lost people who need Jesus we must dedicate ourselves to prayer, the study of God’s Word, that we might be equipped for service, and to witnessing of God our Savior to every one possible. We are going to glory. If we tell them of Jesus; they at least are warned of coming judgment, and possibly may come to faith in Jesus and be in glory also.

The third point we see is that DANIEL RECOGNIZES GOD’S JUDGMENTS (vv. 12-14). Daniel realized that the nation of Israel was being judged by God. That was the reason for their captivity.

The Christians of our day are not recognizing the judgments of God. “It’s the weather”, “It’s the way things are”, “It’s just a man-man leading mad men”, “It’s just the way of the day”. Why are Christians not recognizing the judgments of God on our nation today? They do not know God. It takes personal accountability away. After all, what can we do about what someone else is doing to us. We can do nothing about the weather.

What are some ways God is judging America – the good ole USA? Drought, flood, earthquake, tornado, storms that seem to be wreaking vengeance upon those it strikes, this would include Winter storms of excessive snow and ice. Power outages caused by these events. Terrorism from enemies. We were once protected from these things. Now, ie., in the past ten years we have had three noted terrorist attacks one of those was from a fellow citizen of our own country. One in 1993 on the World Trade Center that caused much damage, but not like the last attack on the WTC which completely destroyed it, and killed nearly 3000 people in conjunction with the attack on the Pentagon. According to some, “God is not judging our country”. These people who say such things very much need to WAKE UP from their sleep, and take a good look at God. We are also being judged by the influences of sodomy in our country.

Because we have gotten away from God we have become tolerant of all forms of evil. Because of the philosophies of men we have an excuse for every vile affection. We call ‘adultery’ an affair. We call an unborn child ‘a mass of tissue’. We call sodomy ‘an alternative lifestyle’. There are no drunks anymore they are all ‘alcohol dependent’. If a young man murders someone, it is due to their environment in which they were raised. Why can we not quit mealy mouthin’ around about sin, call it sin, and admit we have sinned, get right with God and get God’s people and His churches back in touch with the One who created us. When God’s people get right, then there will be a much better chance of reaching the rest of the Nation, and the world.

It will begin the healing, growing, and strengthening process with God when we get on our knees and pray fervently concerning our sin, seeking forgiveness, repenting, and seeking God’s power again.

In the fourth point we see DANIEL RECOGNIZES THE OFFENSES AGAINST GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 16-19). When the people of God are disobedient to Him we become a reproach to Him and to the nations or people around us. The Israelites lost their witness to surrounding nations, because they were rebellious to God, His prophets, and His Word. They began living like the world around them, they built and worshiped idols, they practiced temple prostitution, and by doing these things they committed spiritual adultery against God. Notice what Daniel prays. First, that God’s face might shine upon His desolate sanctuary; second, to purpose His ear to hear this prayer; third, open His eyes to behold the people’s desolation; and fourth, that God answer them according to His own righteousness and mercy.

Prayer is for the purpose of the glory of God. It is not a wishing well, a genie in a bottle where you get three wishes. It is not akin to tea leaves, tarot cards, or palm reading. Knowing God’s will, then praying for it to come to pass is the prayer that glorifies God. Daniel knew God’s will. He prayed God’s will, then, what he prayed came to pass. This gets us in on God’s will; rather than expecting God to get in our will. David Jeremiah said…

“Our prayers really ought to be prompted out of our deep understanding of what the will of God is”.

From ‘THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL’ pg. 175. He also went on to say…

“The biggest waste of time in Christendom is praying about things that God already said we shouldn’t do.” IBID.

God will answer the prayers that are prayed to glorify Him. That is how Daniel prayed. NOTE; Daniel prayed, “For we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies…” We do not deserve it, O God, but remember Your promise. It was God’s integrity Daniel was concerned with. He knew Israel did not deserve to go back to Jerusalem; but God must keep His Word. Daniel simply knew God never broke a promise. He was demanding nothing. He was merely standing on God’s own integrity and power.

HAVING RECOGNIZED, FROM READING JEREMIAH THE PROPHET, OF THE SEVENTY YEAR CAPTIVITY; DANIEL PRAYS FOR GOD’S WILL TO BE DONE ACCORDING TO GOD’S MERCY (v. 18).

The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:6-8 (KJV)

Peter and John, the apostles of Jesus Christ were going into the temple at the time of prayer, and there was a lame; a crippled man, at the gate begging for money, in order that he might live.

Too many times emphasis is put on the miracle, rather than the Giver of the grace of the miracle.  In this case, as in the case of all true miracles the Giver is God in and through His Son Jesus; and in the above situation through the Holy Spirit in Peter and John.

The greatest miracle that has happened to me is the day Jesus became my Lord and Savior as He gave me grace to believe that His Son Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave.  He lives today.

That is the message of this event in Acts.  Jesus is alive.  He is being preached to His own people, and some are receiving the gospel of Christ as the Spirit of God opens their blinded eyes, and heals their lame feet.

Note the words of Peter as he preaches…

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:25-26

See also Romans 1:16

Christmas Day Two Hundred Twenty and Six

What do I want for Christmas?

With today’s “Want” I am being a bit selfish.  I have a problem with my right knee which is in pain.

I want to ask those who read this, those who have a heart for God, His Word, and His Son, and prayer; to pray for healing.  In addition I want to ask God to heal your hurts and pains today as well.  God bless you, and Thank you.

Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.” Psalm 25:18 (KJV)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

Day Two Hundred Eighty and Eight

What do I want for Christmas?

I want power with God in praying, and prayer; to pray for a soul to be saved, and they are; to pray for God to show Himself strong and He is; to pray for healing in marriages, and they are.

This is another LORD’S Day; let us pray now and when we are in our houses of worship.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (KJV)

“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. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:15

Living / Walking in the Power of the Spirit

For the Christian to accomplish any thing for the glory of the Lord, and not for the glory, or boasting of one’s own self; and/or ego; it must be done by the Spirit of God in us.

It is GOD who gets things done. It is God who saves a soul. It is God who opens eyes to His revelation. It is God who gives understanding and wisdom in the ministry of His Word. How did Jesus live?

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” Luke 4:14-15 (KJV)

Following His baptism Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He then proceeded to go to the synagogues teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord; which by the way was the Old Testament. There was no New Testament written at that time. He taught them things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

In everything Jesus did or said; He did so by the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit of God. He did not move from one place to the other, except by the Spirit. He did not speak a word, except by the Spirit. He did not do any healing without the Spirit of God upon Him.

Hear what Paul the apostle says of the Spirit of God and the Christian,

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galations 5:16

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galations 5:25

This is living as Jesus lived. It is impossible without the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. Walk in the Spirit; and we will have the Power of the Spirit.

Jesus Does Good on the Sabbath Day

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, ‘Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.’ And he arose and stood forth.  Then said Jesus unto them, ‘I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?  And looking round about upon them all, He said unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thy hand.’ And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.”  ~Jesus doing good anyway (Luke 6:6-11)

Jesus Healing on the Sabbath

“And when He was departed thence, He went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?’ That they might accuse Him.  And He said unto them, ‘What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?  How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.’  Then saith He to the man, ‘Stretch forth thine hand.’  And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.”  ~Jesus healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-13)

Work in the Kingdom of Heaven

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

Healing a Withered Hand

“And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.  And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.  And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, ‘Stand forth.’  And He saith unto them, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill?’, but they held their peace.  And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thine hand.’  And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”  Mark 3:1-5

The Redeeming Love of GOD – Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

The Redeeming Love of God

The Healing Love of GOD

Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

In the study of Hosea we have seen that the doom of Israel/Ephraim was certain.  They had rejected God’s ways for their lives, and their nation’s continued prosperity.  Instead, they began to trust their prosperity and abilities, and began  to build their own gods.  God sent prophets to warn them.  Certainly, there were individuals who turned [repented], but as a whole the nation was corrupt.

We will find in this message that the indulgence of sin has eternal consequences.  Sin has the power to destroy forever, a nation, or an individual.  God in His grace, however, provides a way to defeat the power of sin.  Sin’s power could destroy Israel forever; however, God was not through with them.  He would raise them up to fulfill His glorious purpose.

“When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, ‘Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.’ Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”  Hosea 13:1-3 (KJV)

Ephraim has been used throughout Hosea to represent the total land of Israel.  Now it appears to be speaking of the tribe.  They have gone from glory to shame.

Ephraim was a respected tribe, and spoke with authority.  Joshua the son of Nun was of the tribe or Ephraim (Numbers 13:8, 16).  He, as you may remember, was Moses’ successor who would lead the people into Canaan, the land of promise.  He would lead them in battle, and the settling of the land.  By this tribe’s faithfulness to God they were exalted among all the people.

When Israel split as a nation, Jereboam also of the tribe of Ephraim, led the people into the worship of false deities, and rejected the true Go.  Because of this they would die.

Molten images, the work of their own hands, became the object of their worship.  Because of this they would soon disappear, as the chaff of whet, smoke from the chimney, the early dew, and the morning cloud.

“Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but Me: for there is no saviour beside Me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.”  Hosea 13:4-8 (KJV)

God would go from being their Saviour; to being their Destroyer.

From the time that Moses came back to the land of Egypt to the time of Canaan God brought them through.  He worked powerfully  in their deliverance from Egypt.  He fed them, gave them water to drink, even when there was no water He was their source of supply.

God blessed them abundantly in the “Promised land”, and they soon forgot Him.  They began to neglect the reminders of His deliverance for other things.  Afterwards, they began to reject God’s will and way for them.  Finally, they would forget God and be destroyed.

God would become to them as ravenous beasts seeking its prey.  The lion is strong and brave.  The leopard is an animal of stealth and speed, sometimes lying in wait to surprise its helpless prey.  The mother bear is extremely dangerous, especially, if she thinks her cubs are in danger (Proverbs 17:12).  They would be torn and ripped to pieces because of their sin.

There is hope for them. Because there would be a remnant left from which to accomplish  God’s purposes.

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities, and thy judges of whom thou saidst, ‘Give me a king and princes?’  I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.”  Hosea 13:9-11 (KJV)

They went away from God as King to destructive leaders.

Israel, was destroying themselves.  It began when they determined to be life “Other nations” and wanted a king (1 Samuel 8:1-7).  God was their King.  In their unbelief they rejected God as King, and chose to have a foolish, and obstinate man rule over them.

Sure, God anointed Saul as king, but Go also knew that Saul would be representative fo the majority of the kings in Israel.  In his rebellion and pride he rejected God’s way.

“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”  Hosea 13:12-16 (KJV)

The judgment of God is not fro revenge, nor only punitive.  In judgment He seeks to redeem.

“The iniquity… is bound up” is communicating to us that God has a record of Israel’s/Ephraim’s sin.  They cannot hide it (v. 12).

God likens their judgment to that of a woman giving birth to a child.  He is a stubborn child.  Unwilling to be born into what God desires, causing greater pain for his mother.  The child represents the individual – the mother Israel.  Before the nation can be healed, the individual must repent and accept the ways of God (v. 13).

“Death ultimately involves eternal punishment in hell (‘The second death’) for those who refuse God’s redemption (Revelation 20:13-15).  Taken together in the larger biblical context, Sheol and death picture sin’s power to demand the penalty of eternal death.  In the case of the people of Hosea’s day, Sheol and death would be the power of their sin to destroy them forever as God’s  people.”  John Traylor page 120.

God was determined to redeem Israel.  He would ultimately do that through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross.  Placing all the sins of mankind upon Him, God put the power of sin to death.  Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”  (NKJV)

The law of God demands eternal death because of sin.  God says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave.”  See 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.  God would raise Israel up once again.  God would have compassion  on them (v. 14).

Death, through judgment would have to come before resurrection.  This shows the power of God to redeem.  When there is no hope that appears, there is hope and possibility in God.  He is the God of resurrection – of New Life.

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ‘Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.'”  Hosea 14:1-3 (KJV)

God calls for Israel to truly repent.

Forget the rituals, the gifts of offering, and sacrifices.  Offer to God “Words”.  Not empty and vain words, but “Words” of a heart that is truly broken and repentant.  Life that is changed, turned around, by God is true repentance.

Israel had to turn around to realize there was no hope in anyone or anything, but God.  In God is mercy, grace, and hope.

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found.”  Hosea 14:4-8 (KJV)

After true repentance great things begin to occur.

Remember, God has brought them to repentance.  God heals their backsliding hearts. Now, they cling only to Him.

Israel would experience the fullness of God’s love.  There will be no need for His anger any longer.  God is their source of refreshment, and blessing.  The bringing forth of this fruit is the result of their trusting in God.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”  Hosea 14:9 (KJV)

The word of, and the way of the Wise.

The Wise receive the redemption of God, and stop depending on false gods.

Hosea points the one who is wise to the love and joy of our Saviour.  There is life in God’s way.  Death awaits the foolish who reject God’s way of life.  Jesus said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [no one] cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”  (John 14:6)  Someone once said, “Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there  is no living.”  The way is hard it is not easy.  The truth is all you can trust.  The life is eternal through faith in this One who died for our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Come, and…Return unto the LORD

Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.  After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.  Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”  Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV)

The words above are a promise to the nation of Israel.  One day they will turn unto the LORD, and their return will be refreshing, renewing, Revival in their land and for each individual.

The word of God is never just for a time in the future, however.  They are for the Christian who has gone, or is going astray today.   His call is for you to hear Him.  You may have suffered great affliction, sickness, economic heartbreaks, and setbacks; and now is the time for you to “Return unto the LORD.”  There is refreshment, renewal; Revival in Him.

-T.A.

Day 73 – Born Blind, Now Seeing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Light of the Sun

As I was preparing for my Sunday evening sermon Isaiah 30:26 took on a whole new light for me.

“Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”  Isaiah 30:26 (KJV)

I noticed that verses 18 – 26 have to do with the prophecy of the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth.  It is not called that in the text, but it is speaking of a future day of blessing for Israel when they will all turn to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah.

In our day we are being warned to not go out into the sunlight for too long at a time.  “You can get skin cancer”, we are told; and that may be true, but look at the verse above.

I have for years thought this to be a part of the judgment to come on the earth due to mankinds rebellion against God and disobedience to His Word.  However, I do see now that this is speaking of the sun being a healing agent during this wonderful time of Christ’s blessing.

Notice that it says the “Light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun”.  The night sky will be so bright as to help crops grow even during the night. Also see that the “Light of the sun shall be sevenfold”.  If that means seven times brighter during the day; just imagine the perfection of the sunlight during that time.

No more need to worry about the affects of sunlight, but there will be rejoicing, and healing in the sunlight.

Even in our day there is a need for the sunlight, and there has been much of it recently.  Without the sun we would freeze to death, and not even exist.

Without the Son of God we would be forever condemned, and die and go to hell forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Eight

Mark 8:1-38

From J. C. Ryle, for verses 1 – 13, “Let us observe in this passage how great is the kindness and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Let us observe, in the second place, from this passage, that with Christ nothing is impossible.”  “Let us observe, in the last place, how much sorrow unbelief occasions to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” Mark 8:1-9 (KJV)

There are some who want us to believe that the feeding of the “five thousand” and the feeding of the “four thousand” are actually the same feeding “Miracle”.  If they were they would not be mentioned back to back with one another.  Mark 6:34-43 contains the miracle of the feeding of the “five thousand”, and then Matthew 14:15-21 does as well.  Then, we have the feeding of the “four thousand” here in chapter 8 of Mark with the feeding of the “four thousand” also mentioned in Matthew 15:32-38.  The questions of the legitimacy of Scriptures only come from those who do not want to believe it.  I am not talking of “honest” questions which are for information and not for placing doubt.

We see that Jesus had “Compassion” on the people who were following.  His heart was moved with sympathy and called for them to be fed.  The question came up again, “How are we going to feed them?”  “How many loaves have we?” was the question Jesus asked.  Their answer was “seven”.

As I sit and study this passage I find myself wondering why these disciples were wondering how these people were going to be fed.  Then, I stop to think about how many times I have seen the wonder of the power of God in Christ and I wonder no more at the “doubts” of the disciples.  It is “hardness of heart”.  Why is it we can witness the power of God and His intervention in our lives one day, and then, just a few days later we are in doubt again and wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”

We must note  that in Matthew’s Gospel of this account he writes in verse 38, “Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children.  Matt 15:38 (HCSB)”.  Seeing how there were four thousand men it would be quite reasonalble to assume there could have been 12,000 – 15,000 or more there to eat of the bread and fish of the Creator.  That would only be a wife and one child for every man who was present.

The compassion of Jesus is wonderful, and it is sure that nothing is impossible for Him.

“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”  Mark 8:10-12 (KJV)

The unbelieving will not believe even though they see a sign.  If they will not believe “Moses and the Prophets” they will not believe though one has risen from the dead.  Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 16:31.

Jesus had done many mighty works and the Pharisees were witnesses to many of them.  Their problem was jealousy.  Jesus had a following and they did not.  Jesus was doing mighty works, and they could not.  Jesus lived a life without fault, and they did not.  Jesus lived a life without sin, and they did not.  Jesus was the Son of God, and they were the children of Satan.

In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:39-40 (KJV)”.  When these religious leaders were not even believing the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets), why would they believe even though they had the Son of God standing before them doing miracles.  They “Could not see the forest for the trees”.  As we saw in the last chapter (chapter 7) they added their tradition to their laws, thus, in effect cancelling out the Scriptures – at least for themselves.  Because of that the Word of God had no effect on their lives, and it would not have any effect on others as they looked at the Pharisees.  The sign of the prophet Jonah was that he had been three days and nights in the “Fish’s belly”, and Jesus would be three days and nights in the “Heart of the earth”.

Jesus rose from the grave after three days, and rather than believe it they tried to make it into a lie, by telling lies, and bribing officials to tell lies.  They were blind, so they could not see.  They were deaf, so they could not hear.

Seeing miracles does not give faith.  They may assure it, but faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Rom. 10:17).  Faith stands when there is no miracle.  Faith grows without a miracle, and by the word of the Lord.

“And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”  Mark 8:13-21 (KJV)

(SEE Matthew 16:12).

As we saw in the last chapter the Pharisees made themselves “loopholes” in order to escape the clear teachings of the law.  Only the religious leaders knew these “loopholes”, thus the people knew nothing of them.

The “Leaders” had a Sabbath law of a “Sabbath days journey”.  By this they limited the distance a person could travel on the Sabbath.  They exempted themselves by interpreting that law to mean from your property, so they could take a chair, stool, saddle, sandal, piece of clothing out a normal “Sabbath days journey”, then take another piece of personal property another “Sabbath days journey”, and place another item, and could go on and on.  These actions were, thus, a form of “False doctrine” and “False living”.  They were condemning themselves by their very lies and the lives they lived.

J. C. Ryle on verses 14-21,  1)

“Let us notice the solemn warning which our Lord gives to His disciples at the beginning of this passage.”  2) “Let us notice the dull understanding of the disciples, when our Lord gave the warning of this passage.”

 

“And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”  Mark 8:22-26 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us four thoughts concerning these verses,

1) “it is well to remember, in reading passages of this kind, that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means.”;   2) “One thing in the passage demands our special observation. That thing is the gradual nature of the cure which our Lord performed on this blind man. He did not deliver him from his blindness at once, but by degrees.”;   3) “Let us see then in this gradual restoration to sight, a vivid illustration of the manner in which the Spirit frequently works in the conversion of souls. We are all naturally blind and ignorant in the matters which concern our souls. Conversion is an illumination, a change from darkness to light, from blindness to seeing the kingdom of God.”;   4) “Finally, let us see in the gradual cure of this blind man, a striking picture of the present position of Christ’s believing people in the world, compared with that which is to come. We see in part and know in part in the present dispensation. We are like those that travel by night. We know not the meaning of much that is passing around us.”

 

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”  Mark 8:27-33 (KJV)

Things J. C. Ryle writes that we as Christians need to observe,

1) “Let us observe the variety of opinions about Christ, which prevailed among the Jews. Some said that He was John the Baptist–some Elijah–and others one of the prophets. In short every kind of opinion appears to have been current, excepting that one which was true.”;   2) “Let us observe the good confession of faith which the apostle Peter witnessed.”;   3) “Let us observe the full declaration which our Lord makes of His own coming death and resurrection. We read that “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”;   4) “Finally, let us observe in this passage the strange mixture of grace and infirmity which may be found in the heart of a true Christian. We see that very Peter who had just witnessed so noble a confession, presuming to rebuke his Master because He spoke of suffering and dying.”

 

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:34-38 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle’s commentary on these verses,

1) “We learn, for one thing, from these verses, the absolute necessity of self-denial, if we would be Christ’s disciples, and be saved. What says our Lord? “Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”;   2) “Let us often ask ourselves whether our Christianity costs us anything? Does it entail any sacrifice? Has it the true stamp of heaven? Does it carry with it any cross? If not, we may well tremble and be afraid. We have everything to learn. A religion which costs nothing, is worth nothing. It will do us no good in the life that now is. It will lead to no salvation in the life to come.”;   3) “We learn, for another thing, from these verses, the unspeakable value of the soul. What says our Lord? “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” These words were meant to stir us up to exertion and self-denial. They ought to ring in our ears like a trumpet, every morning when we rise from our beds, and every night when we lie down. May they be deeply engraved in our memories, and never effaced by the devil and the world!”;   4)  “We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the great danger of being ashamed of Christ. What says our Lord? “Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.'”

 

-Tim A. Blankenship quoting much from J.C. Ryle

The Following Of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Go To The One Who Can

FRIENDS WHO KNOW GO TO THE ONE WHO CAN.

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.  And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.  But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,  Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?  And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?  Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)  I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.  And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”  Mark 2:3-12 (KJV)

Even though it was in Capernaum there were some there who believed in who Jesus was.  They went to great extremes to see that their friend who could not walk would be able to walk when he met Jesus.  There was a problem, though.  That was a problem of a crowd who had gathered to hear Jesus speak.  It was in a home of someone who had invited Jesus to stay there, most likely.  They could not get their friend through the crowd, so they went to the roof and began tearing away the dried clay, wood, and what ever other particles there was until there was a hole large enough to lower a man on a “bed”.  What friendship.  What devotion.  What a faith.

Jesus makes a statement which caused some discontent in the thoughts of some who were present for this great gathering.  “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  These “scribes” of the law accused Jesus of blasphemy.  “Blasphemy” = “irreverence toward something considered sacred’  MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY.  For Jesus these Scribes were thinking of Jesus taking on the role of God, and that was blasphemy.   To the religious leader of Jesus’s day “Only God can forgive sin”, and that is absolutely correct.  By this statement Jesus was declaring to these “leaders” that He was God.  In order to prove He had the power, privilege, and authority to forgive sin He healed the man who was let down through the roof and ceiling.

We have no idea how long this man had been sick and unable to walk.  It really does not matter though, because Jesus healed him and he got up, took his bedroll and went home.  This event is in all three of the synoptic gospels.  It is very similar in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Matthew reckons the statement of the “Scribes” as “evil”.  Jesus said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4), after they were thinking Jesus being blasphemous.  Luke’s version is, “What reason ye in your hearts?”.

βλασφημία  blasphēmia
blas-fay-me’-ah

From G989; vilification (especially against God): – blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.

How they could accuse Jesus of blasphemy is beyond understanding.  What He did He did in God’s name,  He did for God’s glory – the crowd glorified God; and the man got up and went home.  Because of the faith of these friends God is glorified and their friend is up walking, glorifying God as well as the throng of people who witnessed it.

In a world filled with turmoil it is great to know that we can still go to the One who can take care or our every need.  Notice that “Need” not our every want.  Go To The One Who Can.  His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Ministry

The Gospel of Mark has for a theme, “I came not to be ministered [served]; unto, but to minister and give My life a ransom for many” and that is what Jesus did all of His three years of ministry.  Jesus defines service, by His life, and work.

Mark 1:21-45

VV. 21 – 34  —   PROOFS AND EVIDENCE OF THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF OUR LORD.

In these verses we find religious leaders who are amazed and the people who are amazed by the teachings of Jesus.  He did not teach theories, and philosophy.  He taught the teachings and Word of God like He knew it.  He was the One who had spoken the world into existence, and hung the stars and planets in place and gave them order in their revolutions.  No one can speak the Word of God with authority except they have received it from God and His Son.

We see the uselessness of intellectual knowledge in religion.  The demons cry out to Jesus in recognition of who He is.  Jesus commands their silence.  Someone so holy can not be rightly announced by what is unholy.  Satan, the enemy of God and man – especially saved men and women – know who Jesus is, but they are not redeemed.   The demons  “Believe and tremble” (James 2:19), so when a man or woman say they believe in God, they are doing no more than the demons.  It does not mean they have been redeemed by the life blood of Jesus Christ.  You would not ever find a more “religious” lot than the demon lot condemned to Hell.  Knowledge of who Jesus Christ does not save.  Without trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord of one’s life you stand condemned.

Jesus commanded this “unclean spirit” to come out and he came out.  This man who was possessed by this “demon” was brought to the right person.  Have you ever asked yourself why a demon possessed man was at the synagogue in the first place.  Could it be that the man still had some sense of the need of deliverance, and the providence of God put him there that very day for his deliverance and salvation?  Could be.

The Lord provides complete and perfect cure when He heals Simon’s [Peter’s] mother in law.  As soon as she is raised from her sickness she is in full health, and goes to serving the guests.  Jesus has a heart for serving the people and giving them health.  The most important health He provides and gives is spiritual/soul health.  There is no better health than a healthy soul, and heart that is in tune with Jesus.

Jesus went about after these things and healed the sick and delivered captured souls.  What a wonderful Servant/Savior we have.

VV. 35 – 39  —   LOOK AT OUR LORD’S PRAYER LIFE.

To look at His prayer life is to get a perfect example of what a prayer life ought to be.  First of all,

“His very perfection was a perfection kept through the exercise of prayer”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

We ought to learn from that and realize that if we would pray we would become stronger against Satan and sin, and temptation.  Secondly,

“To be prayerless is to be Christless, Godless, and in the high road to destruction”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

It is by God’s Word that we can keep from sin through the power of prayer.  The Word of God, hidden in our heart, and the commitment of prayer will strengthen us against sin.

The Lord came into this world to ultimately provide salvation for sinners by dying for mankind’s sin on the cross, being buried, and rising  from the dead.  He came to minister by preaching the truth of God.   The Lord Jesus would have been the greatest preacher to ever live.  He gave honor to the position of the preacher.  It is sad that there are some who cause that honor to stink, and then it is no more honor.  Our Lord was a preacher, and that gives it the highest honor possible, no matter what some may do.

VV. 40 – 45  —   JESUS CARES FOR THE UNCLEAN.

The disease of leprosy was a dreaded, even feared disease.  It would cause sores on the body, and the skin and flesh would rot on the body.  The Old Testament condemns them as “unclean”.  The person who had leprosy was not allowed to live with his or her family, they became “outcast”.  Of course, family often cared for them, without getting near them; providing them food, and probably clothing and needed items.  Here Jesus does something that was ceremonially forbidden.  He touched the “Unclean”.  Jesus was guilty.  He was guilty of loving and giving His life.  That is what He was guilty of.

As soon as Jesus touched the leper, and said, “I will; be thou clean”, the leprosy was gone and he was clean.  The power of Jesus’ healing is wondrous, it is Almighty.  It is great knowing that such a Man even cares for those who are “Unclean”.  We were unclean by sin.  We were as the leper.  We were vile, desparate, and in need of healing, then Jesus came and He touched us, healed us and cleansed us.  Notice, the leper came to Him.  He was drawn by what he had heard.  He was delivered by faith in the Lord, not by any work he had done.  It was the Lord who touched him, and He was clean.  He was healed.  He was made whole.  What a Savior.  What a Great Physician.

When Jesus had healed and cleansed the leprous man, He told him to be silent about what had taken place in his life.  Rather than being silent about it, though, he went and told every one he saw.  Doing this crippled the ministry of Jesus to the people.  There is a time for silence.  Since the resurrection of Jesus we have been commanded to go and tell all that we have seen and heard of Jesus.  The day of silence is over when it comes to talking about Jesus.  There are still times we should remain silent.  Jesus even told us not to cast our pearls before swine.  Would that not be giving the gospel to those who do not want to hear it?  Those who are imprisoned in self-righteousness?  Those who are enamored in their own goodness, thinking God will have a scale and weigh their good deeds against their bad deeds, and the good will out weigh the bad?  Those who are enjoying their wickedness are not ready for the truth of God’s Word, nor the gospel. These are the people who bask in their self righteousness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Have Mercy On My Son

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Drawing Compassion of Jesus

Jesus the God-man drew people to Himself.  He was recognized as having authority when He spoke; unlike the religious leaders of His day.  He was surely seen as a great healer, and as we shall see in our text drew many as a result of this power.

Was healing the reason for His coming?  It seems that many  who followed Him at the beginning seemed to think so.  When Jesus would go away to a “mountain top” to pray and rest, they would go and try to find Him, and they did.  Though He was in need of rest, in His compassion He tended to their needs.

In this chapter of Matthew Jesus had just healed the daughter of a Gentile woman, and then we have this account that He went to a mountain top.  Jesus loved people; He still loves people.  We must never forget that His greatest love was shown when He gave us His life on the cross. 

The reason for His coming was to do the will of, and glorify His Father.  That was ultimately fulfilled by His death on the cross.  The healings which Jesus performed were not eternal in the sense of them never becoming ill again, or for those who were raised from death to live again, they would die again.  Lazarus though He had been three days dead and in the tomb was raised out of that grave, but he did return to it again.

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ healed all sickness brought on by sin, raised to life all who are dead in their trespasses and sin; assuring us all that when this body dies it will be raised to life again, and forever; because He forever lives.

Those who trust Jesus for temporary healing will not live with Him forever; but those who trust Him for eternal healing and life will live forever with Him.  Temporary healing is good, as long as the one receiving it puts their trust in the One who is eternal, and not in the healing itself.

Matthew wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit of God:

“And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.” Matthew 15:29-31 (KJV)

The compassion of Jesus is wonderful, amazing, and awe-inspiring.  Let those of us who know Him be like Him.  The Church which Jesus builds will show His compassion, and welcome all who come to see Jesus.  Do people see Jesus in us?  Let us endeavor to make it so.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing for Backsliding

Healing for Backsliding

 In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backslidden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backslidden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backslidden condition. First of all backslidden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backslidden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. After all, I do need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backslidden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held against anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backslidden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogether; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The King Withdraws

The King Withdraws

 

“But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Matthew 12:15-21 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the conspiracy going on among the religious leaders thought it wise to withdraw from the area, because He knew it was not the right time for His death. There were, however a great multitude of people who followed him, and this because they were fascinated with His gift of miracles. Jesus was not leaving because He was fearful, but knew full well He needed to be out of the reach of the vile and tormented hearts of the religious leaders.

We are told that, “He healed them all”. It seems that it was speaking of only those who were in the multitudes following. There was still multitudes of people through out all Israel who were not healed of their sicknesses and infirmities.

There are other points in the gospels where Jesus speaks to silence the desire to tell others of Him. Here is one of them. The reasons for the commandment of silence are probably numerous. One which might be so is that of being God’s will and timing is of the utmost importance. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus could not be done in haste, but it must be done in order. Jesus’s sole priority is to do the will of His Father, and it would be done. In one place Jesus told a healed leper, “See that you tell no one…” (Matthew 8:4); in Matthew 16:20 Jesus tells His disciples, “…that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.” After healing a deaf mute in Mark 7:36 we are told, “Then He commanded them that they should tell no one…”. For the most part it seems that this was so the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Jesus took great care to see that God’s Word was fulfilled to the letter. Some might see this as personal manipulation on Jesus’s part, it is not manipulation, but rather living it out to its fulness. He desires that His followers – disciples – have that same living out of the Word of God in our lives.

He gives us the reason for this commandment of not telling when He says, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet…”. God’s glory and God’s Word are very important to God and His Son Jesus. The Psalmist wrote, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Psalm 138:2b (NKJV). The Psalmist also wrote, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89. Someone has said, “God said it; I believe it; so that settles it”. I think this way, “God said it; that settles it; and that is still true whether I believe it or not”.

Let’s examine what is meant by the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 42:1-4, and is quoted here in Matthew. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the Servant/Messiah. His coming the first time was not going to be like what the religious leaders had believed. They were expecting a politician, a general of war, a deliverer from Roman government. Jesus, as the fulfillment of this prophecy was quiet, peaceable, gentle, meek, etc. As the prophecy says, “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” That is not to say that people did not hear His teachings and preaching; many heard but did not believe. He did not try to stir up a revolution or force His power on any. As a matter of fact there is evidence that many tried to come to Him and force Him to be their king (John 6:15). There is coming a time when Jesus will rule and reign as King on the earth, but the time has not yet come.

Of the “bruised reed” and the “smoking flax”, The MacArthur Study Bible notes,

12:20 bruised reed…smoking flax. The reed was used by shepherds to fashion a small musical instrument. Once cracked or worn, it was useless. A smoldering wick was also useless for giving light. These represent people who are deemed useless by the world. Christ’s work was to restore and rekindle such people, not to ‘break’ them or ‘quench’ them. This speaks of His tender compassion toward the lowliest of the lost. He came not to gather the strong for a revolution, but to show mercy to the weak. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-29.” From p. 1414 New King James Version edition of The MacArthur Study Bible.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came the first time to give His life as a payment for the sins of mankind. He paid that debt in full. He will return a second time to take vengeance on those who deny Him, and the world will be once and for all delivered of all evil. The name of Jesus is the name in which all people and nations, tribes and tongues can put their faith and trust. The whole world can find peace in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Withered Hand

The Withered Hand

“And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Matthew 12:9-14 (KJV).

Jesus went to their synagogue. Notice “their synagogue“. There may be no signigicance to that phrase, but it struck with me that Jesus was not associated with it. It could only be that it was the synagogue of those in the area. Yet, shouldn’t He have His part in the synagogue of His own people (“He came unto His own…”)? At any rate it somewhat reminds me of the Letter to the Church of Laodicea, and Him standing outside the door knocking on the door of His Church.

John Calvin writing on verse nine says,

“We see also, that it is usual with hypocrites to pursue what is nothing more than a shadow of the righteousness of the Law, and as the common saying is, to stickle more about the form than about the substance. First, then, let us learn from this passage to keep our minds pure, and free from every wicked disposition, when we are about to form a decision on any question; for if hatred, or pride, or any thing of that description, reign within us, we will not only do injury to men, but will insult God Himself, and turn light into darkness. No man, who is free from malice, would have refused to acknowledge that it was a Divine work, which those good teachers do not scruple to condemn. Whence comes such fury, but because all their senses are affected by a wicked hatred of Christ, so that they are blind amidst the full brightness of the sun? We learn also, that we ought to beware lest, by attaching undue importance to cermonial observances, we allow other things to be neglected, which are of far higher value in the sight of God, and which Christ in another passage calls the more important matters of the Law, (Matth.xxiii.23.)” CALVIN’S COMMENTARIES, Volume XVI, pp. 52 & 53.

The man with the “withered hand” was in the right place. The synagogue should have been a place for healing, or seeking healing at least. This “withered hand” could have been a hand that had been greatly injured in an accident at some time. It could have been a birth defect. It could have been the result of arthritis pulling the ligaments of the hand tightly forming a closed, un-opening hand. It could have even been the man’s right hand, the hand most common for use.

Jesus is still addressing the sabbath, and the teachings of the religious leaders. “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?” With this question of Jesus it seems that all is quiet from the rabble. I would like to know one thing; Something to ask those who get hung up on observing certain days, and making the day more important than people. Is it ever wrong to do the right thing? To me, the obvious answer for that question is a very profound NO! Some have did what they considered the right thing, at the wrong time, and lost because of it. However, if it was not the right time it was the wrong thing to do. When I say that I am thinking of an incident in the Scriptures where they were moving the Ark of the Covenant, with the wrong method, and one man – Uzzah – thought it right to protect the Ark from falling to the ground, reached out and touched it, and God took his life (2 Samuel 6:1-11). If it is not done in the right time, in the right method, it cannot be the right thing. The right time for David to move the Ark would have been after he had read the writings of Moses, learned how it was to be moved, then proceeded to move it with the right method; on the shoulders of the priests, and not on an oxcart.

When you know the Law of God and do not recognize the Law in Person, then, you act out of hatred when you see Him doing the God things; and you condemn the One who deserves no condemnation. Their hands have been withered, are withered by callous hearts, and hands that will not labor for the King.

The hand is a powerfully important part of a man or a woman. It is with the hand a man can work, and make a living. Whether it is as a carpenter, bricklayer, stonemason, farmer, field laborer, factory laborer, the hands are a vital part of getting work accomplished. A withered, drawn hand could not get much done. He was in the synagogue on the sabbath. He was in worship. He was in prayer. It was at the synagogue where he met the Master/King of all kings. Think of this: The hand that cannot open cannot receive. The hand that cannot open cannot give. The hand of God is always open to receive the prayers and praises of those who give that to Him. His hands are always open to give to all who will receive Him. Too many times the hands of men are clenched tight in defiance toward God, asking nothing from Him; and giving nothing to Him. Are our hands clenched by disease of selfishness, sin, greed, and hard heartedness? There is healing in the place of Christ. He is waiting there, where you are right now.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The King, and a Mute

The King Meets the Need of a Speechless Man

“As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” Matthew 9:32-34 (KJV).

The blind men who have received their sight do the obvious thing. They go and bring a demon possessed, mute man to the Lord. They had gone and told this mute of a man who could heal him, and brought him to Jesus. We are told to go and tell, but we won’t. Have we forgotten, or did we ever know the greatness of our Lord and Savior and King?

When Jesus cast out the demon the man was able to speak. It seems probable that the man was deaf and mute caused by demonic possession. Very often deaf people – especially those born deaf – are unable to speak. They have no means to learn to speak if they cannot hear. When Jesus casts out the demon the man now can speak, so if we assume that this man was deaf as well as mute he is now completely healed, no more oppressed by the demon; he can now hear and he can speak.

There is a man in this scene who is even worse off than the demon possessed. The man is controlled, not by a single demon or a number of demons, but controlled by hatred, fear, and the holding of tradition of his religion over truth. He attributes the works of Jesus to the works of satan. He is blind to the truth of who Jesus is, and those who condemn Jesus, thus condemn themselves. They are sentenced to the same destiny as the devil and his demons. To blaspheme the name of Jesus puts one in great peril, but to equate the work of Christ to the devil is to blaspheme the Spirit of Christ, and there is no repentance for that.

A Scorned Woman

The King Meets the Need of a Scorned Woman

“And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Matthew 9:20-22 (KJV).

This woman was an unclean woman. It was not due to anything she could prevent. If you will think about it sin is something you or I cannot prevent, but it keeps us from our holy God. The woman could not worship at the synagogue because she was defiled. This woman was in a crowd of people as Jesus was going to the home of Jairus where his daughter was dead.

Something that is not noticed in Matthew’s Gospel alone, but is revealed in Mark’s gospel is that the girl that Jesus raised to life was twelve years of age, and this woman had had this infirmity for twelve years (Mark 5:42). The significance of this “Twelve years” I am not sure. If I remember the numerology correctly the number twelve represents a completed government. Maybe, it represents that in the King’s kingdom there will be no uncleanness, or death.

This woman had spent all the wealth she may have had on physicians who did her no good; she has come to this place for this very moment. To touch the Master, the King, the Healer, the Great Physician; and she doesn’t care who sees her or knows. She does know that she is considered unclean, so as not to bring any supposed shame to the Master she “secretly” touches Him, though He immediately knows. I have this suspicion that He may have known she was going to touch Him for that very purpose. One thing we can be assured of is, that there are no surprises with God.

With this event happening as they are on the way to Jairus’s home this even surely strengthened the faith of Jairus. Seeing her touch only the hem of His garment and her health being restored. You can be sure that this healing was a legit healing, which lasted for her lifetime. This defiled woman touching the One whom Jairus had asked to come and heal his dead daughter. This woman probably touched a tassel on His garment. These tassels represented faithfulness and loyalty to the Word of God and holiness to the Lord – every Jewish male wore them. It was the practice of the Pharisees of the day to lengthen them to show their supposed piety. Jesus did not mind being touched by the ceremonially unclean. This woman’s healing gave the ruler further evidence of Jesus’s power. The woman was not only delivered from her physical uncleanness, but her spiritual uncleanness as well. Jesus’s pronouncement, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” is stating such as this healing and cleansing. One can be physically well and not be “Whole”.

Be whole by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, and the power of His resurrection.