This Jesus

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:32 (KJB)

There have been and still are many ways the name “Jesus” is said, used, and abused.  There are, in fact, many Jesus’s in this world, and there always has been.  When you speak of Jesus which one do you make reference of?

The One in our text is the One who came as a Suffering Servant/King.  He came into this world just as we all do, by birth from His mother’s womb.  His conception was far different from ours.  His Father was Jehovah/YHWH the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Present One; the Immutable One – He never changes.

The One of whom I write this morning is the One who was despised of mankind, hated, mocked, spit upon, falsely accused of blasphemy, and doing good.

“This Jesus” took upon Himself willingly all the sins of the world.  All of my sins; all of your sins and was judged by the Judge of the universe as a sinner; yet He Himself was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was buried in a borrowed tomb. He arose and came out of that grave.  No one has ever found His body. There is none to find.  He is alive

This Jesus is the Jesus of whom Peter is speaking in Acts 2.  When Peter says, “…Whereof we all are witnesses” he is speaking of the apostles, and those who saw the resurrected Jesus.

Those of us who believe in “This Jesus” today are also witnesses of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Jesus.  Though we have not seen Him, yet, we have seen the fruits of His Spirit, and the power of the spiritual gifts He gives all who have come to Him.

Let us choose to be vibrant, diligent, faithful, holy, witnesses for This Jesus.

The Living Sacrifice

The Committed Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2

In chapters 1-3 Paul writes his opening greeting, and from the greeting to verse 20 of chapter three he writes of the sinfulness of mankind, and our condemnation. From chapter 3 and verse 21 to chapter 8 verse 39 he has written of the righteousness of God, and that there is justification for all who will come through faith in Jesus Christ. In chapters 9 – 11 we have Paul’s theology and eschatology on the Nation of Israel, and their place in “God’s Plan of Salvation”. In the remainder of the book of Romans we will be looking at the practicality of the theology which Paul has written.

It would seem to me that Paul; using the background of the previous three chapters; is reminding us to be unlike Israel. Those chapters have an inherent warning of turning away from the Lord. It too, does have promise for the Nation of Israel, that God has not forsaken them. The warning and the promise should be especially meaningful to Christians.

There are a few words and phrases in these two verses that will be necessary for clearer understanding of what Paul is teaching us.

1.  “Beseech” – is a word which is from the same word family where the word “Comforter” is taken for the Holy Spirit = “Paraklete” “parakaleō par-ak-al-eh’-o From G3844 and G2564; to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.” See John 14:26. Paul strongly urges the believer.

2.  “Mercies of God” – We receive mercy from God every day. It is not something we often thank Him for. These mercies include His love, and all that Paul has reminded us of through chapter eleven, than again here. “His mercy is everlasting”; “His mercy endureth forever”.

3.  “Present your bodies a living sacrifice” – There are some who believe and teach that God is only interested in our soul or spirit. That is not true, however. Here we see Paul strongly urging the believer to “come along side” with God’s mercies, and give our “bodies” as “Living sacrifices”. Giving the body as a living sacrifice means sacrificing the fleshly appetites which would take us away from holiness, and away from being “holy and acceptable unto God”. The body, after all will be redeemed from the grave, a brand new body. This present body must be presented fully unto God, that He might do a work in us for cleansing, purging, and making it holy unto Him.

4.  “Reasonable service” – The MacArthur Study Bible note on this verse, “reasonable service. ‘Reasonable’ is from the Gr. For ‘logic.’ In light of all the spiritual riches believers enjoy solely as the fruit of God’s mercies (Rom. 11:33,36), it logically follows that they owe God their highest form of service. Understood here is the idea of priestly, spiritual service, which was such an integral part of OT worship.” p.1716. The LORD God, our Lord and Savior deserves the highest form of worship and service.

5.  “Be not conformed to this world” – Conforming is taking on an identity that is not the genuine reflection of the heart or the inner being. A sheep putting on a wolf’s clothing [skins] in order to dwell among the wolves for example. Why do we have Christians who may have the greatest motives wanting to put on the array of the harlot, the gambler, the drunk? It is not the array of God. The prince and princess should dress and act accordingly, so as not to bring shame to the King.

6.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – a metamorphosis refers to an outward change that has transpired which is a result of the inward change. It represents a change for the whole person. Not just for a short period of time, but day by day, and for every moment of each day. This kind of “transformation occurs only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the believer, and the power of the Word of God working in our lives. The renewed mind is saturated with the Word of God. “Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 KJV). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psalm 119:9 KJV).

7.  “That you may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God” – Basically the only way to be good, acceptable and in the perfect will of God is by being the living sacrifice to God that Paul has admonished us to be. The individual who does not know God’s will for their life is in disobedience in their life.

The practical message here is that our bodies are to be presented as living sacrifices. Yielded to the Lord for His service, His will and His glory. We are strongly urged to do so, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. It is proved by living such lives before the eyes of a watching world whom we do not think is watching.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Seven Things God Hates # 5

This is the fifth in the series on the SEVEN ABOMINATIONS GOD HATES

Swift Feet

Proverbs 6:16-19 (v. 18b)

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,   An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,   A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

OUTLINE –
I. SWIFT FEET – QUICK AND DECISIVE.
II. HASTY FEET – MOVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF CONSEQUENCES.
III. MISCHIEVOUS FEET – MOVE TOWARD EVIL.
IV. GODLY FEET – MOVE TOWARD THE RIGHT, THE HOLY, AND THE GODLY.

Contrary to what some may believe the Bible speaks quite a bit of the “Feet”. We will look at some of these. One of the good ones which most of us have heard is, “How beautiful are the FEET of them that preach the gospel of peace…” (Rom. 10:15).
There are warnings of mischievous, hasty, godless feet. We will be looking at both of these; maybe I should say, all four of these.
Do our feet do our thinking? Do our emotions do our thinking for us? If we follow the path of God and His wisdom and grace, and mercy we must answer “No!” to these two questions. No one who is using the good, godly sense God has given us goes running to jump without knowing what is on the other side, or down below. If you follow the direction of your emotions, or feelings you will be led astray.
Let’s look at these feet.

I. SWIFT FEET -QUICK AND DECISIVE.
We need to realize that “Swift feet” can be for evil or for good. There are some people who are swift to decide to do ungodly deeds. There are others who are quick to do godly deeds.
If our hearts have been changed by the power of the salvation of Jesus Christ, then, we will be thinking godly, and doing godly things. On the other hand; if things are not right with you and God then, you will most likely do the ungodly thing, and be a curse to yourself, your family, your community, and your neighbor.
The godless SWIFT FEET will walk only in the way that is best for him/her. If they can get the praise for a good deed and reap benefits from a good deed, then, they will be quick and decisive to do that act.

II. HASTY FEET – MOVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF CONSEQUENCES.
Now, this may, in some ways be similar to the SWIFT FEET, but I pray to show a difference in “swift” and “hasty”.

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established” (Prov. 4:26). And, “…He that hasteth with his feet sinneth” (Prov. 19:2).

Haste which runs  without thought can be costly. “Ponder” – chew for awhile; Think, Think, Think, and then Think some more, before being hasty in a decision of doing something which may be wrong, even ungodly.
Someone has said, “Haste makes waste”, and that especially goes with life and living. How many marriages have been troubled due to a Christian marrying a non-Christian individual? How many even have led to divorce? How many business deals have gone sour because of different views of the world and God? The message of God’s Word is to Think before you wink.

III. MISCHIEVOUS FEET – MOVE TOWARD EVIL.
These are usually very selfish feet that do only for self, which we have addressed earlier; and for selfish ambition. These are always looking for something to cause or make trouble.
Because of the message of God’s Word, which Jeremiah and other prophets proclaimed, the people (some) wanted to kill them. They were SWIFT in running to mischief. These are those who refuse God’s message of grace and choose to endeavor, by good works, to please God.

“Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (Isaiah 59:7)

And last, but not least; for sure we have –
IV. GODLY FEET – MOVE TOWARD WHAT IS GODLY.

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:15).

As God’s people we are admonished and encouraged to guard our feet – that is the path which we walk.

“I thought on my ways and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:59).

“I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy Word” (Ps. 119:101).

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

The way of godly feet are in the path of Jesus Christ. The way of Jesus is the way of the cross – the way of suffering. The way of Jesus is the way of joy and peace. The way of Jesus is the way of New Life.

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Will Help, Strengthen, and Remember You

The LORD hear you in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend you; send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion; remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice; Selah. Grant you according to your own heart, and fulfil all your counsel.”  Psalm 20:1-4 (KJV)

In this Psalm of David he writes that the LORD will hear you, defend you, send you help from the sanctuary, strengthen you, remember your offerings, and accept your costly sacrifices.

Let us as Christians today come with the expectant heart of David, and God will be rich in blessing toward us as well.

Looking at verses 2 – 4 of the text above; it is GOD who sends help from our time of worship.  You see wherever we are in the worship of the Most High, holy, and Almighty God that is the sanctuary; the one who worships Him though throughout the week – Monday – Saturday – will not forsake the gathering with other believers on the first day of the week as the early church did.  He is our help.

Looking at the “strength out of Zion” we can see Zion is Jerusalem the City of David.  It is the city on a hill.  A city of strength.  You can notice from Scripture that when every one left Jerusalem they were always going down to Jericho, or down to Bethel, and down to Capernaum, etc..  A picture of strength, and a reminder to the Hebrew people where their strength came from.

The “offerings… and burnt sacrifice” are those things which David would have offered to the LORD.  In these verses he is offering praise, and worship.  The burnt sacrifice would have been the sacrifice of a bull, lamb, ram, goat, dove etc.  We do not sacrifice animals today.  We do not need to; neither are we commanded to.  So what is the offerings and sacrifices we give?  Ourselves; our surrender to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s Son, God the Son.

When we give our all to Him He gives us a desire to live for Him.  A desire to love like He does, to love what He loves; and to hate the things He hates.  He will fulfill the desires of the heart that is given to Him (Psalm 37:4); in life, liberty, and love.

Know That I Have Loved You

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:7-13 (KJV)

In verses 7 – 13 I want us to see Jesus revealed in His glory as sovereign, and ruling in His Church, determining when and where His Church and people are to minister and preach the gospel of grace, and the whole counsel of God.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;”

The city of Philadelphia is approximately 28 miles Southeast of Sardis. The name means “Love of the brethren” or “Brotherly love”.

The main religion of Philadelphia was the worship of Dyonisus. To a certain extent the city was known as “The keeper of the gateway to the plateau” W. M. Ramsay THE LETTERS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA, pp. 404-405. This city was also earthquake prone and destroyed and rebuilt.

Now, we see how Jesus identified Himself to this local assembly. Holy is the first. To declare Himself as that which is holy He declares Himself as God – He is. He is holy in His character. He is holy in His judgment. He is holy in His actions, words, and purposes.

He also is identified as “He that is true”. He is not a copy, but the original. Because He is true He can be trusted with history, the present, the future of our lives. He can be trusted to bring about that which we have entrusted to His care (2 Timothy 1:12).

There is little reference back to His characteristics revealed in chapter one. In verse eighteen of chapter one Jesus describes Himself as having the “Keys of hell and of death”. The “Key of David” is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. Surely Jesus is saying that great missionary efforts can only come about because He opens the door. They cease when He closes the door, thus, He is the One who holds the key [has the authority]. From around 1700 A.D. even to the present we as the Church have enjoyed an open door of evangelism. It appears that this door will remain open for mission work until Jesus comes to take His Bride home. No man can open or shut these doors, only Jesus does. While the doors are open we must take advantage of it. Jesus could come at any moment for His Church.

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

The “I know” is nowhere near one of condemnation.

This church was weak, but possibly only in number, finances, or of little power to influence society because of sin and so called “Openmindedness” toward all religions. This weakness mentioned is not mentioned as a rebuke. It is mentioned more as a reminder of their need [our need] of His strength.

What is good about this church? They have an “Open door” for evangelism and missions. They have kept the Word – obediently. They have been faithful to His name despite the persecution they have gone through. “Open door” may also be a reference to readiness to receive the Word of God. Could be both evangelism and the Word.

It is a great blessing to have God open the doors in order that we might tell many who are condemned in and by sin of the wonderfu, marvelous grace of God.

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”

The “Synagogue of Satan” can refer back to the letter to Smyrna chapter two verse nine.

Satan often uses religious people to try and stop the work of our Lord. The Jews have long worked against Christianity and the ministry of Jesus. Ever since Jesus ministry began they have sought to destroy Him. They have done so unwittingly and are the “Synagogue of Satan”. This is not an anti-semitic statement. They, as a nation, are a reprobate nation, lost and condemned until they receive Jesus as their Messiah. God is still working to bring the Jew to Himself. This work is in the person of Jesus Christ.

There are times when those who oppose the Church most vehemently will be the ones who trust the Lord best. Take, for example, the apostle Paul, who was Saul, who set out to destroy these Christ followers, and ended up one when he met the Christ face to face.

There will come a time when even the whole nation of Israel will know Jesus (Romans 11:25-26). They will recognize God’s institution of the Church as the instrument used in reaching the world for Jesus with the gospel and of glorifying God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

In their faithfulness to Christ and His Word they receive a promise of deliverance “From the hour of temptation…” This may very well be speaking of a specific time which has yet to take place. Of course, it had some significance for the church of Philadelphia, a promise for them to be kept from a certain “Temptation”. Keep in mind that these seven churches represent the whole Church throughout the Church age, but we could also see that each church represents separate times during this age. I have not made, nor did I intend to make, a case for each church representing a period of time during the Church age. This church of Philadelphia could be seen as the church which would see the rapture of the church.

This “Temptation” mentioned in the paragraph above could be what Jeremiah the prophet called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). A time of judgment on the Jewish nation, because of their rejection of Jesus. It would be their final judgment when the nation is brought to faith in Messiah Jesus.

There would be no purpose for the Church which has kept His Word and been faithful to go through the sorrow of trial that is meant for the purification of Israel and the judgment of unbelievers. In order for chaos to have the “Upper hand” the people who are possessed by God’s Spirit will be delivered. The Scripture says, ” God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Something needs saying here; Paul is speaking to Christians who have already been saved from their sin. The verse would, at least to me, be quite clearly speaking of a future wrath of judgment on the world, from which the Christian Church is to be delivered.

It is fairly clear that the “Open door” age and the “Lukewarm” age overlap one another. We, today, are living in the greatest age of human history. The Lord has opened doors for gospel preaching in places all over the world, but for how long? While some are hot in evangelism and loving Jesus others are wrapped up in comfortable, dead formalism, more concerned with “Artificial unity” than true unity, pushing social programs, and political proponents, and moral laws, rather than the gospel which has the power to change hearts from immorality to moral living without a law demanding it.

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

There are a lot of Christians who are questioning the imminent return of Christ. He says here, “Behold, I come quickly…” He is not speaking of minutes or seconds. He is speaking more of suddenness. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40). He is coming suddenly to take His Bride home with Him. That is called the “Rapture”. NO! The word is not mentioned in Scripture, but the principle is, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4:16-17). This is certainly speaking of a “Catching away”.

Jesus speaks also of a crown. These crowns have nothing to do with salvation. They are rewards for a life of faithfulness to our Lord. There are five crowns mentioned in God’s Word. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:5-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Jesus says, “Hold on to these rewards, don’t let anyone take them from you”. Envy or jealousy can rob us of these rewards. It is called yielding to “Peer pressure”. “Hold fast” means make them your own – protect them at all cost. No material blessing is worth your life. Eternal blessings are…

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

Sometimes in this city of earthquakes, the only thing left standing was marble pillars of the temples which had been built for varied purposes.

Since all of Heaven is the temple of God every overcomer will be identified as one who stood when everything around them fell, cracked and was destroyed.

“Go no more out” is speaking of seeking shelter outside the city when it was falling. In God’s city, the New Jerusalem, none will ever have to flee.

In this new city, the overcomers will also have a new name. In ancient cities, they often put the names of important people upon the pillars which supported a building. These overcomers will stand forever with the new name which has been given them by Jesus Himself.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Once again a call for every individual to hear the Spirit, and what He says to the churches. Hear the call of the Holy Spirit and you hear the call of God.

In conclusion, He gives the Church an “Open Door” which He alone can open, and He alone can shut. He is the One who through the Holy Spirit makes Himself known (v. 9) in and through His Church

Forsaken for a Moment; Honored with Glory

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, O You that inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You: they trusted, and You did deliver them. They cried unto You, and were delivered: they trusted in You, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him. But You are He that took Me out of the womb: You did make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from the womb: You are My God from My mother’s belly.” Psalm 22:1-10 (KJV)  Please read all of Psalm 22.

I can remember the first time I read this with my eyes open by the Spirit of God.  It was a moment of awakening, and I remembered when Jesus spoke these words of the first verse as He was hanging and dying accursed on the cross of Calvary.  See Matthew 27:46, and  Mark 15:33-34.

Though these words were penned down by David, the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) they were spoken by God from the ages past when he determined from the foundation of the world to send His Son Jesus to bleed and die to pay for the redemption of mankind.

Every time I read the gospels and especially of the trial, judgment, beating, humiliation, and nailing of Jesus to that cross I find myself weeping.  To know that the Almighty God; the All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Present and Immutable GOD could love me.  For many years following my salvation, coming to Jesus as my Lord and Savior I questioned His love for me.  I even doubted it at times; but in the not too distant past I came to realize His love so deep, so marvelous, so powerful, so consuming, that I no longer question, neither do I doubt God’s love for me or anyone else.

How much does God love the world?  How much does God love you?  So much that He gave the best He had to save, to redeem  us, to call us to Himself.  He gave us His Son, His only begotten Son.  His holy Son.  His Son Jesus was without sin–without spot or blemish; and He willingly laid down His life for our sin.

Now the question is;  What will you do with Jesus?

Set Apart

“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”  Leviticus 11:44-45  (KJV)

Let me be honest with you.  I have never been real fond of Leviticus.  I read it, and it blesses my heart and soul, but my flesh really despises it; and that is as it should be.

It is verses as the above which mark me, maul me, and make me cringe.  I love the fact that the LORD is my God; because there is no other; but the word “Sanctify” is a catchy one, an almost demanding one.

To sanctify something is to set it apart as holy.  You hear that word “Holy”.  That is what God’s people are to be; sanctified as holy; holy unto God, and there is no holiness in me.

The apostle Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…

“I beseech you therefore… that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…”  Romans 12:1

I fall so often in this matter.  I am so grateful for the love, and grace of God shown through the cross; the death, the burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus prayed for you and me when He prayed….

“Sanctify through Your truth: Your word is truth.”  John 17:17

Will His prayer be answered?  Most definitely.  We who know Him are sanctified, set apart as holy unto God.  Do we make mistakes?  I have not met a perfect person yet.  Every morning I wake up the first person I see is in the mirror, and I know he is not perfect.

I just thank God, His Son Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit and the word of God for their work in me.  I thank Him for His work in you, and all my brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world.  He is working on us; making us more into the image of His own dear Son.

You are Set Apart.  You are sanctified, and being sanctified.  It is a daily work of grace in the Spirit of God.  Remember to participate in that sanctification by attending a Bible believing, Christ centered Church today.  It is the LORD’S Day.  Give it to Him

Christmas Day Ninety and Six

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to live as though my whole body and being is the temple of the Lord; that He dwells in me; and that I am to keep it holy, for His honor, glory and power.

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:5-7 (KJV)

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Christmas Day Two Hundred Fifty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want children, and youth who are students in public, private, and home schools to realize the greatest thing to know and learn is about God, His Word – the Holy Bible, and to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4

The Secret of the Righteous

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but His secret is with the righteous.” Proverbs 3:31-32 (KJV)

To regret living a life of good, and righteousness, due to the ill gotten, illegally gotten wealth of the “oppressor”, the “froward” or perverse individual is a shame in itself.

Imagine, if you will, a man who has done good all his life, loved his family, cherished his wife, then one day he decides that the guy down the street who lives in a mansion; and has gotten his wealth by evil deeds is worth asking to include him in his business. Envy can ruin good, sensible people.

Envy is not a good thing. Jealousy of the wealth, and material goods of others is not good. It is also not a good thing to base one’s view of right and wrong upon what has been approved by others.

The world is telling us that there are many things which are “Right”, which have been “Wrong” for millenniums, centuries, and decades. Judges and laws do not determine what is right and what is wrong.  It has been determined by the mind and heart of Him who is Holy, Righteous, Just and full of Wisdom.  His name is YWWH, and His Son is Jesus who will Judge the world (John 5:22).

People need to wake up to the fact that the enemy is stealing the minds, and heart of the people who will not stand against him.  Christian.  You need to stand.  You are being watched.  Be Christ like [a light] in this dark world.

Christian brother and sister; convictions do not change which have been based on God, and His Word just because a court makes a ruling, or the opinion of the masses change.

Notice the words of the above verses: “the froward [perverse] is an abomination to the LORD”. It is the righteous who have the “secret of the LORD” with them. The righteous are those whom God has made righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ Son of God, and God the Son.

Fear Not: Fear GOD

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:18-21 (KJV)

This follows the event of receiving the Ten Commandments.  The people have witnessed the seemingly stormy, troubling, loud, odorous, and fearful scene, and are very much afraid to approach the Lord GOD.  However, this was an unwarranted, undesired fear.  God is an awe-inspiring God.

The lives, and words of the people following this event show that their fear was not what was a godly fear; but a “Sorry I am here” fear which kept them from God, rather than drawing near to Him.

Moses, drew near to God.  The “Darkness” mentioned shows us that God is unapproachable, except we come to Him His way.  Moses approached God and “drew near unto the thick darkness where God was”.

Moses tells the people “Fear not” yet there is a fear of God that keeps us from sinning against Him.  When we come to Him through His Son Jesus He accepts us, and welcomes  us into His blessed and holy presence.  That is when we do not fear.

When the LORD has not Spoken

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Son of man, say unto her, ‘Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.  There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.  Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.  And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD hath not spoken.  The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.  And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.  Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads,’ saith the Lord GOD.”  Ezekiel 22:23-31 (KJV)

There is One who stands as our hedge of protection and is the one Man who stands in the gap between God and men; the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy2:5).

-T.A.

Day 87 – The Power of a Godly Life

The title of this reveals some inadequacy in my own life.  I do not believe that I exhibit the power of Christ in my life as I ought.  I fall short.  I read the Bible and for today particularly James’s and Peter’s Epistles; and I hear their calls to faith that works, and godliness.

My reading was James 4-5, and First and Second Peter.

James writes,

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  James 4:1-4 (KJV)

We Christians, especially today, and probably in every age do not realize the power we have with God in prayer.  Maybe I should say, at least I do not.  Part of the problem with the Corinthian church was jealousy over spiritual gifts.  Can you imagine us fighting over who is more spiritual?  The answer is “None”.  I was reading a book by E. M. Bounds, and a chapter about “Prayerless Praying”.  The following is a sentence from that chapter –

“Prayerless praying lacks the essential element of true praying; it is not based on desire, and it is devoid of earnestness and faith.”

When Brother Bounds mentions “Desire” in that sentence he is not meaning worldly, fleshly desire but rather the desire God gives (Psalam 37:3-4).  Our praying is more like rubbing a bottle for a genie, and getting three wishes; and that comes to nothing.

Notice James mentions also, the power of the prayer of the Old Testament prophet Elijah –

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.   And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”  5:16b-18

I look at Elijah, then I take a look at myself.  I have something greater than Elijah, yet not the faith or the power.  Sometimes it seems my prayers have an opposite affect than what I ask; at least from my point of view.  Why did Elijah have so much authority and power in his praying?  I believe it must have been because he was jealous to glorify the LORD of hosts.  He was outraged by Israel’s departure from God; and he was willing to risk his life to restore her back to God; even approaching the king Ahab, and Jezebel.

Now look at what Peter says of holiness –

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Peter mentions our being “Born again” (1 Peter 1:23), and that it is not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.  That it is “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”, that we are born again.  Born from above, born of God are similar phrases and trues given us throughout the Bible.

Peter gives men instruction concerning their wives,

“…Ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

A husband can be so out of fellowship with his wife, his fellowship with God is broken and his prayers hindered.  Peter has given previous instruction to the wives, to slaves (2:18 – 3:6).  They have their responsibilities in Christ as well.  Let no Christian think they can be holy unto God, if they are not following the direction of the Spirit of God and His Word.

The apostle Peter mentions Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, and this is what he says,

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  2 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV)

There had been some contention between the apostles Paul and Peter; yet in Christian love Peter acknowledges that the writings of Paul are part of holy Scripture, and need to be heard (See Galations 2:11-14ff).  Peter desires that the Christian “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (v. 18).  That is my desire for all Christians as well; even myself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 74 – The Crucified, Buried, and Resurrected Lord

From Day 1 of my 90 days of reading through the Bible I have endeavored to stress in this post the message of Jesus.  In the first 14 chapters of Genesis we  can see Jesus and through all the first five books of the Bible.  The books of History we see Jesus.  In the books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, etc.) we see Jesus.  In the Prophets we see Jesus; and we see Him coming the first time to suffer, to be buried and to die, and be bodily raised to life again.

We recently began reading the part of the Bible that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and that is the New Testament and beginning in Matthew we have gotten to the last of the gospels which entail the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us accounts of the life of Jesus.  None contradict the other.  They complement one another.  Together they give us the complete account of the humanity, deity, power, purity, holiness, love, mercy, and grace of the Incarnate God.

My reading today was John 17  through Acts 5.  That is right only ten chapters.  Just to let the reader know.  I did some calculations of the numbers of chapters remaining, along with the numbers of days, and in order to give myself some reading through all 90 days; I will now be reading a minimum of 10 chapters with an eleventh every three days or so.

The reading today began with our Lord’s Prayer.  It is the one I call the Lord’s Prayer.  The one that has the title “The Lord’s Prayer” is actually a model prayer which He used to teach His disciples how to pray.  John 17 is the Lord Himself praying to the Father.  He is praying for the glory of the Father to be done.  He is also praying for His followers to be one, as the Father and Son are one (vv. 11, 22-23). I have written more thoroughly on the Lord’s Prayer at this link.

In the final chapters of the gospel of John, just as in the other gospels, we read of the trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; with some differences in each account.  Some who seem to have an agenda on disproving the Scriptures and that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and God the Son try to tell us that these differences are contradictions; but that is not so.  When there is an automotive accident on a street corner, and there are witnesses – let’s say there are four witnesses, one at each corner; each witness will have a different view of the accident, and will have a different way of telling their eye witness account of the accident.  When there is a difference in their testimony is someone lying?  Not necessarily.  When you put all the testimony together you will come to the full account of the story.  The same is true with the gospel of Jesus Christ; only the best part about the four Gospels is that they are inspired by the Spirit of God.  Thus, completely without error.

We get into the Acts of the Holy Spirit, often called The Acts of the Apostles, and we see by the hand of Luke that Jesus is ascending into the presence of the Father.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

In the Acts we also see Peter with a new found boldness, and courage, that can only be explained by the evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He has witnessed the resurrected Christ; his life has been changed, and that is true of any one who ever meets the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  Your life is changed.  You were a sinner, and you are now Just in the eyes of God, and declared by Him to be “Saint”.

The apostles, as well as Jesus, had only one set of Scriptures to read; and that was the Old Testament.  When someone tells you, “I believe only the New Testament” or “I live only by the New Testament”; then, they are telling you really that they have a problem of faith.  Hear what Peter declares concerning Moses and the Prophets,

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.  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 3:22-26

That is right.  The only Bible Jesus and the apostles, and the early church had to read was the writings of Moses, or the Law, the Prophets, the History, and the Poetry of Scripture.  We are blessed to have the continued Scripture of the New Testament – the revealing or unveiling of the Old Testament.

Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, and be saved from your sins, death, hell and the grave.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Standing in the Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-T.A.