To the Hypocrite, Religious Leaders

“Serpents, generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33

These words spoken by Jesus is from the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  They are spoken through most of the twenty third chapter of Matthew.  He calls them, serpents, vipers, hypocrites at least nine times.  Now He tells them they speak poisonous words.  They bind people in legalism, and make their converts more a child of hell than themselves (v. 15).

O how we as pastors and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  O how all of those who are born again need to realize that in Christ Jesus we have been made free from the demands of the law, because the law is within our hearts and minds to do it.

From the Pulpit Commentary on Matthew 23:33…

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers; γεννηìματα ἐχιδνῶν: offspring of vipers. Our Lord repeats the Baptist’s denunciation (Mat_3:7). They were of devilish nature, inherited from their very birth the disposition and character of Satan. So Christ said on another occasion, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth” (Joh_8:44). How can ye escape? Πῶς φυìγητε; the deliberative conjunctive, How shall ye escape? Quo mode fugietis? (Vulgate). There is no emphasis on “can” in the Authorized Version. What hope is there now of your repentance? Can anything soften the hardness of your hearts? The Baptist had spoken more hopefully, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” But now the day of grace is past; the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed; there remaineth only the fearful looking for of judgment.
The damnation of hell; literally, the judgment of Gehenna; judicio Gehennae (Vulgate); i.e. the sentence that condemns to eternal death (Mat_5:22). The phrase is common in the rabbinical writings (see Lightfoot). “Before sinning, we ought to fear lest it be the filling up; after sinning, we should trust in a truly Christian hope that it is not, and repent. This is the only means to escape the damnation of hell; but how rare is this grace after a pharisaical life!” (Quesnel). Hypocrisy is a bar to repentance.”

May hypocrisy be cast out of my heart. May hypocrisy be the enemy of my heart, my mind, and my life.  May hypocrisy be cast out and trod under our feet.

Treatment of Others

Believer’s Treatment of Others

Romans 12:9-21

Jesus told us, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:35. There is no question about it God/Christ has established one Church – His Body. Those who are in His body love one another. It cannot be otherwise. No believer can love God and hate another. To say one loves God, and to hate another is hypocrisy.

To love God is to hate evil. Paul uses the word “Abhor”. The true believer will hate evil just as our holy and righteous God hates it. We will hate evil because we see evil as the hyenas. They are mortal enemies, and so should the Christian and sin be also.

1. Christian love is to be without hypocrisy. To say you love and do not show love is hypocrisy, and does nothing to aid or help the brethren in need. Christian love does not speak ill of another. Does not speak one way to one, and different way to the one spoken of. Christian love prefers others over self. (vv. 9 – 10).

2. Christian diligence. When a Christian sees the need of a brother/sister they will react to with haste to see that need is filled. They will act to the point of taking care of that need themselves when they are able to do so. Hospitality is caring for the needs of others (vv. 11 – 13).

3. Christian grace. Show grace to those who will persecute you (v. 14).

4. Christian rejoicing. We ought to rejoice when our brother/sister is rejoicing. We may not be able to always understand our brother’s grief, but we can still be sympathetic and weep with them when they are weeping. Never thinking of ourselves more highly, because we are not the one who is suffering; you will (vv. 15 – 16).

5. Christian treatment of the ungodly. There is no doubt Christians will have those who could be our enemies. However, our real enemy is Satan. He uses others to spew forth his venomous hatred of all that is godly.

* Therefore, it is good for us to remember not to do evil deeds against evil. Our first reaction is to strike out, but the nature of Christ in us enables and empowers us to love.
* The believer is to seek peace with all people. We know however, that is not always possible.
* We are to seek forgiveness for any wrong we have done; not hold a grudge, nor seek to avenge wrongs done to us. If we are bitter it is a sign of a lack of peace with the one we are bitter toward.
* If we seek to avenge a wrong done to us; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, then we enter the realm that belongs only to God and government. We must realize that God’s justice is far greater than our own. We need to keep in mind that in this passage of Scripture he is writing of the individual not society or government. God has given authority to human government to avenge (Romans 13:4). Vengeance belongs to God alone.

6. Do good things to and for those who mistreat you. If he/she is hungry give them something to eat and drink. If you see a bad neighbor’s cow in the road, open the gate and put it back in his pasture. Bake a cake and take it to them. These kind acts may just gain you a brother or sister and maybe both, in Christ.

7. Contrary to what some and many may think there is much more power in love than in hate. Trying to overcome evil with evil only adds fuel to an already blazing fire. Love has a calming affect. “Overcome evil with good.”

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Seventy and Nine

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)

…And read Matthew 6:5-13 as well.

Praying people will be forgiving people.  Praying with pretense, or for show, shows nothing, but hypocrisy.

What do I want for Christmas?

When I pray I want to  be heard by God, not men; I want my prayers to always be offered to God with a heart that knows it has been forgiven by God, and in knowing that in my heart, soul and mind I will always forgive those who have offended me.

Do Not Be Found Out

Has anyone ever stopped to think about the foolishness of idolatry. That is the desire for things, the greed for wealth, the lust for power, and/or the opposite sex; and in some cases of this day the perversion of the same sex. That is, afterall, what idolatry is all about.

We live in an era not dissimilar from Jeremiah’s. The people were living in basic comfort, secure in their wealth, and easy lives. Though, ours is plagued somewhat with fear of terrorism we still go about doing whatever we please; paying the exhorbitant prices for gasoline, and everything going up due to that; yet we purchase, or at least those who can do. Power for more of the things desired.

Hear the word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah:

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, saying to a stock, ‘Thou art my father;’ and to a stone, ‘Thou hast brought me forth:’ for they have turned their back unto Me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise, and save us.’ But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.”  Jeremiah 2:26-28 (KJV)

It seems quite clear that the people of Judah have been caught in the practice of idolatry, worshipping other gods, which are not gods at all, but more burdens for the people to carry. Have you ever noticed the junk that we in our society build up and keep in closets, garages, security vaults, magazine racks, and how valuless they really are?

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day they were here being accused of having wood idols, and giving it praise for being their father. Also of telling one made of stone that was their mother. In the worship of other gods, they turned their back on God, denying Him as their birthparent as a nation. By turning their back and not their faces we find a great hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that while everything is going good, life is easy and comfortable, they really have no care to remember God, His holy days, nor His Law or His Word. However, when they start hearing about an enemy, or having some other troubles they begin to cry out to the true God for help. God, the LORD, says to that, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble;” It is like He is saying to them you have plenty of gods you love and adore more than Me, “Let them help you”. The prophet continues by saying, “For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” You would think that the more gods the better. Right? Wrong.

The one true God is sufficient to meet our every need. In fact there is no other god but the LORD God. The one who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place.

We continue now to the next two verses:

“Wherefore will ye plead with Me? Ye all have transgressed against Me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.”  Jeremiah 2:29-30 (KJV)

At times when people face catastrophe they tend to recognize that God does exist. When things ease off, and start getting back to normal it is back to the worship of things,getting those desires met, achieving those personal goals at the cost of life, limb, or friendships, or spouses and family. When this happens, some of it is genuine, and some is not. The one’s who are genuine will continue being faithful when the things start being good again. They will hear the voice of the LORD and will obey Him. They do not turn away.

These are the ones whom the LORD will bless. These are the ones whom the LORD has genuinely saved.

These “two faced” people are about as dependable as a flat tire, and no rim with it. The correction of the LORD does no good, accomplishes nothing, and they hate the prophets who tell them the truth for the saving of their souls.

Do not turn your back on God. Do not be a two faced individual who worships God on Sunday, then, through the rest of the week no one will ever know any difference from watching your life, hearing your dirty words, and dirty jokes.  Turn your face toward Jesus Christ, and you will be made just before holy GOD.  When you have given your life to the LORD through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ your life changes, for His glory and your good. You will love the Law, the History of His people, the Wisdom of the sages, and the prophets; both the Major and Minor prophets. You will love God’s Word.  You will desire to please the LORD.  It is not a burden but a pleasure to love the LORD, His Word and the life He gives us.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Case Against God’s People

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Known for that because of his mourning for the sins of the people of Judah, and Jerusalem. He sees the failings of the priesthood, of which he was part. The weaknesses, the hypocrisies, and often blatant lies and deceptions; not only among the priests but among those who called themselves prophets of God.

God could speak with Jeremiah. Jeremiah heard, and many times responded to what God said. Hear what God says to Jeremiah near the beginning of his ministry;

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of His increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.'”  Jeremiah 2:1-3 (KJV)

God begins in the first message by confirming them in their first belief. They had followed, at least through Abraham, had been obedient in the wilderness, and had grown in love with the LORD. There was kindness, fondness, love in their hearts for the LORD, realizing that He alone was responsible for their having a land, a promise. They had been chosen from the place of God’s amazing grace and mercy. They were undeserving. They were unworthy. They were sinners among the other sinners of the earth. There was nothing special about them, thus in there early days they loved the LORD.

Despite the fact of their departure the LORD reminds them of His promise, “All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD”. No one can expect God’s blessing who lifts their hand against the people, the nation, whom God ordained to give us the Scriptures, ordinances, and laws. Yet there is room for His judgment. Pray for Jerusalem – Israel.

As Christians we must remember our “First love”. That love we had for Jesus when we first believed. The things of the world around us have a power which can lure us away from loving Him. God commended five of the early churches of the Revelation, but would only condemn two of them because they had departed from Him.

If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, there was a time when you walked with Him, you loved Him, cherished Him, and it did not bother you that there were times He seemed distant, but you trusted His Word when He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Something has happened in the past few days, weeks, months, or years that have caused you to get away from Him, His Word, from praying, and cherishing His abiding presence. You have become more consumed with sports, entertainment, comforts, leisure, conveniences, and even family activities, than with your walk with Him. It is time to return to Him, before the judgment of your sin comes on you.

He puts His protecting hand on all who have trusted Him. You can believe He will keep you, protect you, and anyone who raises an evil hand against you will suffer by His hand. Be assured God loves you with an everlasting love. Enjoy it, revel in it, rejoice in it, and He will be glorified.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Day 54 – Judged by Sin

I find it very sad that so many have tried to change the definition of Biblical sin.  According to God’s Word – the Bible – sin is a transgression of God’s law.  Sin is failure to measure up to God’s glory; His requirements of the law.  Nowadays, we hear things like, “Sin is whatever keeps me from achieving my personal goals”; or “Sin is when somebody else does me wrong”.  So there is a wrong?  Who determines what is wrong or right?  You?  There is one absolute gauge for what is right and wrong; and that is God and His Word.

If God says it was a sin in the Old Testament; it is still a sin in the New Testament; and today.  When I say that I am not speaking of Old Testament rituals, sacrifices, and offerings; but the moral issues having to do with the way we live our lives.

My reading this morning was finishing the prophet Isaiah 63 – 66 and Jeremiah 1 – 10.

Isaiah ends the messages of his prophetic writings with wonderful words of a great and glorious future for Israel, and the world; for those who will trust and believe in the LORD.  Jeremiah begins his prophecy telling about his calling as a young man, his short debate with God about his inability to speak, and God’s promise to hasten to perform His word (1:12).  Jeremiah is told by God,

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV)

The prophet of God, or the preacher of God cannot afford to preach to appease the people, for fear of retribution from them.  He must preach what God declares unto him.  The prophecy of Jeremiah, like Isaiah is not all “doom and gloom”; there is also much promise and hope.  The first hope is that God is giving the people a chance to repent and change their ways; but they will not.  They are in love with their sins, and thus Jeremiah tells them,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” 2:19

The children of Israel/Judah have chosen their own way and will go into captivity because of it.  They have forsaken the LORD God and turned to the idols of foreign nations. They have even gone so far as to think that because the Temple is in Jerusalem then they are safe from destruction and captivity, but the prophet says to them –

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  ‘Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.  ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Trust ye not in lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.'” 7:1-4

It could justly and rightly be said that what the children of Israel were practicing was plain ole hypocrisy.  Sure to “worship” the LORD on the sabbath day, but practicing the behaviors of foreign gods the other six days.  God created the heavens and the earth. He does not need a defiled place to worship Him.

Our hearts today should be like that of Jeremiah weeping for the people; why he is often called “The weeping prophet” –

“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” 9:1

We must be sure that our own sins are gone, cleansed, forgiven, and that we are walking with GOD daily.  Every moment of each day we need to be dependent upon the LORD God.  He is our Creator, our Strength, our Hope, and without Him we are nothing.  Weep for our own sins, and for the sins of those who perish; and pray for their redemption through the cross and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

“And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. 45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. 46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him. 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50 And they all forsook him, and fled. 51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”  Mark 14:43-52

Judas goes about doing his dirty, dispicable, dastardly deed.  He betrays Jesus with the highest symbol of friendship in that society.  This kiss was the way best of friends greeted one another, but Judas’s was an act of hypocrisy, betrayal.

They come with a large mob, to take the one who offered nothing to them except peace, hope, love, mercy, grace, and joy.  They came as though He were a murderer, or a thief.  The real thief was leading the way, and betraying the Master.

The lowly, miserable, sinful, unclean, wicked, deceitful, betraying, mob took hold of the sinless, perfect, holy, just, righteous, Son of God to take Him to a “trial” and then to take His life.

Peter’s response was to take the sword and attack, which he did and cut off the ear of a servant to the “High priest”.  Other Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus healed this man’s ear (Luke 22:50-51).  Peter was brave, but at a time when it was not necessary to act so brashly and without thought, but then, this was the character of Peter.

Jesus was always for the fulfillment of Scripture.  In order for Him to be the true Christ [Messiah of Israel] all Scripture must be fulfilled.  Not one “jot” or “Tittle” could go unperformed.  God does not leave anything undone which He has spoken, nor will His Son.  Jesus’s life, work, death and resurrection fulfill all Scriptures concerning Him and those events.  Not one thing has been left undone.  Just as the Scriptures had declared, and Jesus had said Himself all the disciples fled for their lives.

There is a young man, who is not identified,  in the garden, and he flees without any garment.  This “Young man” has been thought by some to have been John Mark – the writer of this Gospel.  I see no problem believing that.  Mark not wanting to draw any great attention to himself just identifies himself as a “Young man” who flees from the mob.  He may have been hiding in the trees and rocks, looking onto the events of Jesus and His disciples, and was there when the mob came to take Jesus away.

Do we often try to hide when conflict comes?  Jesus was willing to face the shame of the cross for our sins, and He willingly offered Himself for our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Servant, The Word, and Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-37

“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)

If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect.  The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior.  The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.

In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands.  To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness.  Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness.  There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.

There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible.  It is not.  I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was.  They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures.  Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).

Verse 3 –  “except they wash”

G3538
νίπτω
niptō
nip’-to
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.

v. 4 – “except they wash”

G907
βαπτίζω
baptizō
bap-tid’-zo
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in  two different ways.  The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.

“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up.  As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step.  He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down.  Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.

Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.

The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands.  The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so.  Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them.  Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.

The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)

“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”;   2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”;   3)  “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”

“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)

When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart.  These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).

The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures.  They were wrong.  Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture?  How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.?  Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite?  NO!  Can we be hypocritical?  YES!

G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace’
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.

A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”.  Basically someone pretending to be something they are not.  They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it.  Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”.  They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical.  They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.

They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”.  “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents.  That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture.  They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.

The heart of man is desperately wicked.  It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean.  Nothing from without us can make us unclean.  It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”.   Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”.  Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.

J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)

“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”;   2)  “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”;   3)  “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”

“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”  Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet.  Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it.  The “dogs” were under the table.

This was a test of the woman’s faith.  How would she respond?  Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter?  She would believe.  The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed.  It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.

Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true.  That is a wonderful faith.  Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make.  Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.

J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,

1)  “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”;   2)  “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”

“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”  Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)

Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”.  That is really good advice.  It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first.  Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.

It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin.  Hear the Word of God then proclaim it.  Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16).  All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.

The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth?  If you are in Jesus Christ you have.

Ryle wrote,

1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”;   2)  “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”;   3)  “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”;   4)  “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”;   5)  “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”

If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It All About Bread???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Unclean Lips – Vile Heart

Well did Isaiah the prophet write, “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” (Isaiah 6:5). 

Jesus has been confronted, and wrongly and evily so, concerning the matter of eating with unwashed hands.  To their pride Jesus answered them concerning the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother”, the one with promise; and charges them with “transgressing the law”.  This was the law of God.  What Jesus had actuall done was violate a commandment of men, who wanted to use their vile law to condemn the very Son of God.

It was the privilege of the religious elite to write off any of their aid for parents as “gift to God” and thus were able to use the aid for themselves, or as they saw fit; dishonoring their parents.  This brings us to Jesus’ charge against them.

“Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ And He called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Matthew 15:7-11 (KJV)

There is much “Lip service” given to God and Christ today.  Sadly much of it comes from unclean hearts, thus, unclean lips.  Those lips, however are not unclean from what goes in through the mouth, but what comes out of the mouth. 

Jesus calls them “Hypocrites”, and then quotes to them the prophet Isaiah’s words concerning the lips of those with hearts far from God.  The people of Isaiah’s day appear to be affluent, comfortable, have “the world by the tail”, coming and going as they please.  They are also “worshipping” God as they please as well.  Their Sabbath duties are fulfilled, they voice their prayers, and have the Scriptures read to them – on the Sabbath – then, they go out into their daily living, and they fall down before idols.  The prophet warns Judah of a coming judgment upon them unless they repent of their ways.  And judgment comes.

Jesus tells these leaders that their hearts are defiled.  We often use a napkin to wipe our mouth when we are eating a meal; we can use a tooth brush to cleanse our mouth after a meal; but there is nothing that can cleans a foul and vile heart, but the love, blood, and cross of Jesus Christ.

There are many professing Christians today (2008) who are professing faith in Christ yet living in the way of the world.  Worshipping the money/finance, celebrities, health care, presidents, pornograpy, globalism, science and technology, and some even worship their children.  Much of this false worship is associated with comforts, pleasures, conveniences, etc.  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).  Whatever is on your heart is what you worship and cherish most.  Though we do have “kings” a plenty in the good old USA, “Every man does that which is right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

All true worship is done through Jesus Christ.  If Jesus is not central to the worship of God then, there is no worship of God.  It is vile, dirty, unclean lips that cannot praise Jesus, and that all comes from and unclean heart.

Receive a clean heart by hearing the truth of the Word of God, that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day He rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

May God be merciful to us, as we turn from idolatry, unclean lips, to Him, and a cleansed life through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rebellion’s Consequences

The prophet hears and knows that judgment is coming. His heart is for his people, for God’s people. One of the sad things about God’s judgment that many find unjust is that the “innocent” suffer the consequences along with the “guilty”. Think of the flood of Noah’s day; there were babies who had never sinned, though they were born sinners, like all of us; yet these died in the flood. Another point is the faith of Caleb and Joshua when they had viewed the Promised Land their faith said, “God is able. Let’s take the land”. The unbelieving said, “There are giants in the land” and the majority ruled. Then Caleb and Joshua suffered the punishment along with the unbelieving. They too wandered in the wilderness for forty years.

One of the things you and I can learn from that is; our sins do not just hurt us, they affect others too.

Jeremiah writes:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: ‘Make mention to the nations, Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around. Because she has been rebellious against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches your heart.’ Jeremiah 4:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and it was obvious to the prophet Jeremiah, that the heart of the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah was in the same condition as that of the Northern kingdom when the armies of king Nebuchadnezzar came swooping down with the speed of the leopard upon them, carrying them away captive. This is what the prophet saw happening to Judah as well.

We must know that a divided heart is a sinful, rebellious, self-absorbed, godless heart. The lips which proclaim a faith in God while giving allegiance to things; material gain, family, government dependence, self dependence, etc.; is a full hypocrite, pretentious, and gives no allegiance to God, who alone deserves our undivided faith, and allegiance. There will be occasions when the genuine believer will doubt, fear, and not believe; however they do not dwell there for long. The heart of the genuine believer will come back to the place of faith, return to the Lord and glorify His name, glory and grace.

The voice coming from Dan and from Ephraim are the events which has happened to them concerning their judgment. They have been conquered because their evil hearts. Jerusalem and all of Judah cannot continue to live in sin and rebellion against God, thinking we have the temple, it is God’s temple, He won’t allow anything happen to His temple. Such arrogance and pride is doomed to fall. Thinking; “I am a child of God, therefore God will not cause the judgment that falls on the immoral unbeliever, to fall on me” is a dreadfully deceptive notion.

Hear the voices that come from others. The Christians who are imprisoned because of their crimes against another, they are paying for their sins. Christians who have disease because of a sinful lifestyle they once lived; which could have been prior to or following salvation. There are consequences to sin; for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Because of rebellion and a continued refusal to repent these judgments are coming on the children of God. The wickedness of the heart is known by the All-Knowing God. He will not hold guiltless those who are guilty. The sin of the guilty will also fall on the guiltless and the innocent.

Why is it that there are some people who think, “Well, it is my sin, my action, I will take responsibility for it,” by going ahead and doing it, and say, “It won’t hurt anyone but me”. My how deceived we can become when we get into sinful living. Our sins affect everyone around us. Even the “innocent” pay for our sins.

The sin of the heart is a bitter thing. The heart is where we gain the capacity of love, mercy and grace. It is the place we hold those things and people who are dear to us. The heart given to God holds Him dearest, closest, and trust solely in Him for life, living and eternity. The heart given to God loves all that is godly and good. Loves all there is to know about God, His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not know His Son and love Him; you do not know God and/or love Him (John 5:22-23; 8:42).

How is your heart today? Is there any pretension or hypocrisy which is directing your heart away from God? Is there desire in your heart turning you away from God, redirecting the main focus to something, someone other than God and His Son? Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). When your heart is full of evil thoughts, and imaginations it will be speaking and doing and thinking those evil deeds. When your heart is full of God will you not be speaking the things of God? Most certainly.

Fill your heart with God, and God will come out in your speech and your life. Even when you end up in the judgment of God due to the sins of others, you will still grow in faith, love and knowledge and wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

False Doctrine

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” Matthew 13:33 (KJV).

We come now to the matter of the “Leaven”. I see what others say when they see it as a symbol of good within the church, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of Scripture. Leaven, in every case in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is seen as a symbol of evil. There is not one instance where it is seen as a symbol of a good growth of puffiness. In Exodus 12:15-19 the children of Israel in preparing to leave Egypt baked bread without leaven, they needed to be more concerned with the urgency of leaving rather than waiting on the dough to rise. Leaven puffs up. Some have taken Leviticus 23:17, and taught that this is a picture of the leaven being good. If we would understand the significance of this offering we would see this bread represents the one offering it, a redeemed individual, who being redeemed is still touched by sin and still dealing with sin, yet received by God. The leaven in verse 33 represents false doctrine.

Let’s back up for a moment and look at the beginning of this verse. Jesus is still dealing with the kingdom of heaven, and notice the “woman”. The woman represents false religion; she could even be represented by Jezebel who was the wife and queen of Ahab. A woman is seen as false religion in the Revelation, as the woman riding the beast (Revelation 17:3-6). The doctrine and teaching of Jezebel is seen in Jesus’s letter to the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-23). I do not know the specific reason a woman is used to represent false doctrine, and deception. It just seems to go back to Jezebel who was a very wicked, godless, self-aggrandizing woman. The woman in this parable is guilty of secretly placing leaven in “three measures of meal”, and leaven once it gets into bread dough it permeates the whole batch of dough.

Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Jesus was referring to their legalism and false doctrine that had bound them in their sins and iniquities. Paul the apostle warns of the dangers of letting iniquity/sin stay and permeate a congregation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”. Since Paul says “Ye are unleavened”, then it must be that the “New lump” he is referring to is a lump of bread dough without leaven.

The modern day religion called Christianity is overwhelmed with a numerical growth. This growth is often done by entertainment, showmanship, salesmanship, and a “fire under the altar” (Read 1 Kings 18).  False doctrine is often associated with much of the aforementioned.  I know that there will be some who read this or hear this that are going to think or say, “Tim doesn’t believe in growing a church.” That is not what I am saying. I want to let God build His Church. Let us who are His children, the children of His kingdom planted in this world, proclaim the gospel as we have been commissioned, as we have been called, but let’s leave the saving to His hands, and the power of His spirit.

Christianity is also getting deeper and deeper into heretical teachings. When we have a document signed by good and godly men calling for the gathering of Evangelicals and Catholics for unity, and the Catholic church has announced anathema upon the gospel of Jesus Christ – saved by grace alone, through faith alone – then how could we ever join hands with someone who hates the pure gospel of Christ? There are those in Evangelical circles, also, who teach a wimpy Jesus dying on the cross, defeated by the devil on the cross, and that is not belief in the cross of Jesus; when the truth of the matter is that Jesus won the battle for sin, death, and hell, and put the devil in his place by His death on the cross. The devil never touched Jesus in His death. He was smitten by God, His own Father (Isaiah 53:4). He paid the sin debt which was owed to His Father by you and me.

It is leaven that puffs up. Read 1 Corinthians 4:18-19; 5:2, 6-8; 8:1. Puffing up is usually evidence of pride. There can be no pride in the true Church of our God. We humbly bow before Him in worship. We have nothing to boast of except that our salvation is the work of God. We boast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan, hates the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and fears her when she is on her knees, in humility before her Lord. He is, however, still at work sending in the tares amongst the wheat, planted in this world, trying to gain a foothold, and strangle the witness, testimony, and power of the Christian. Sure there is growth in many churches across our land, ie., the USA; but do we care so much about numbers in our churches that we would forsake the truth, holy living, and our fellowship with the Lord Himself, just to receive recognition from others? Are we willing to forsake the essential doctrines of the faith to draw a crowd? We better deal with those who are teaching wrong, and deal with them quickly. If we don’t we lead ourselves to destruction.

Jesus desires that all the lost be saved, and His Church to grow, but only as it rest in Him. She [the Church] cannot have genuine, solid spiritual growth except through the Lord Jesus. Satan is at work to infiltrate, ensnare, and bring the works of Christ to nothing.

The kingdom of heaven grows in every individual who knows, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet, numerically, it can grow in pretense and hypocrisy. False growth is hypocritical and deceiving – to self, and others. It may have the appearance of God’s blessing, but actually be far from God’s blessing, causing the lost, condemned world to have no recourse from hell.

False doctrine destroys unity, while those who teach false doctrine talk of uniformity – you give up the truth and we will have unity – and accuse those who stand for truth as the ones who cause disunity. There can be no unity, except it be by the Biblical doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of Christ Himself. False doctrine “puffs up”. It gives the appearance of something which is not there. It is deceptive and always detracts from Jesus and the truth.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Power of the Parables

The Power of the Parables

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables…” Matthew 13:1-3 (KJV).

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:10-17 (KJV).

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34-35 (KJV).

In the first three verses of this chapter we see Jesus beginning to teach a multitude in parables. People like stories. Many of us had stories read to us by our parents or guardians, and we loved hearing them. The love for hearing stories is most likely why the popularity of television and movies is so high. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and Camelot. Many citizens of the United States have heard the American Tall Tales, concerning men like Davy Crockett, Sam Patch, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill, and then there is also John Henry the steel drivin’ man. These are all stories that do not just tell a story, but capture your imagination, and cause you to dream and dream big.

Jesus told His stories with a different purpose, and they were powerful stories that were life changing; if you had the heart to hear them. Someone once defined a parable as “A earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I don’t think that is far wrong. These are stories of things most people were familiar with, and so should understand. It seems however, that the religious leaders, being hard of heart, were so set in their ways, and their spiritual understanding that they had no heart for understanding simplicity. There are seven or eight parables in this chapter. That depends on if you consider verses 51-52 a parable or not. It seems to me to be a parable, and may be the hardest to understand of the others.

The power of the parable is to hide the truth from the hard of heart (v. 11). A simple and some would call avoiding answer. The longer answer is that spiritual things are meant for the spiritual. The unspiritual or natural man cannot know the things of God, and Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. The natural man, unspiritual individual, has no heart for the things of God. The scribes and Pharisees though having a knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and rituals had no heart for God or knowing and doing His will. All they had was merely pretense and hypocrisy.

The things of God are revealed to those who are willing to receive them. Those who are drawn to God’s Son by God’s grace. The hardened heart has little or no understanding of grace, and knows only law and its condemnation. Jesus has warned of casting our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To continue giving the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God whose heart only grows harder with each word is a waste, and we should leave such individuals to God. When we have presented the truth of the gospel to them we have done what is required of us. I heard someone say, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, until all have heard it at least once”.

The power of the parable is to teach and grow those who do or will understand (v. 12). In the parable is the power for understanding the simplest of things. Those who are familiar with agriculture, and those to whom Jesus spoke would have been, understood about the soils, the seeds, and the sower. Many of these listeners had probably seen or been involved in the farming process, and knew exactly the picture that was given. Jesus was, however, giving more than an agricultural story; He was applying an area of life to the spirit of men. In this those who would understand would be receiving more than those who just saw or see it as just a story. In the study of these eight parables it is clear to me that they are all related to one basic lesson. I will not reveal that fully now, but will as we go along. One thing I think that should be obvious to us all is that it is related to the “Kingdom of heaven”.

What about these parables? Whoever has understanding will receive more understanding and grow in their knowledge of Christ Jesus, put on the things of Christ, and put away the things of the flesh and evil. This will be dependent upon the Christian’s obedience to what they have already received. If the Christian has heard the Word of the Lord, understanding what has been said, but will not obey, let not that Christian believe that they will receive anything further from the Lord, concerning His will. For example – If you ask God’s will concerning something of a moral issue, you have Scriptural evidence that it is wrong, and you go ahead and commit the sin, want to continue in that sin, though you know it to be sin; until you repent, agreeing with God and His Word that it is sin, you will not be given understanding on much else. Disobedience will bring you loss.

If someone shuns the desire of God they lose even the possibility of knowing Him. They lose any sense of morality through their conscience that they may have had. They lose their ability to think reasonably – think of the plight of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, and that is God being merciful. They lose their lives to sins bondage. ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:21-26 (KJV).

Abundance of understanding will be given to those who hear these parables, and not only understand the story, but its heart and spirit. These parables are positive in their meaning, however, they all have a negative aspect to them.

The power of the parable is to fulfill the Word of God spoken by the prophets (vv. 13-15). When we look at the writings of the Old Testament prophets we see that the people of God would not hear and heed the message the messenger brought them. They might listen, and probably did hear, but they usually did not like what they heard, and they would stone, imprison in a dungeon, or a waterless cistern, and sometimes killed the messenger/prophet; almost always shunned by the people. Isaiah the prophet was told when he was called and had surrendered to the call, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:9-13 (KJV). The people would not listen to Isaiah. How long was he to continue to preach without anyone repenting and changing their lives? The basic answer here is “Until the people are gone, and you are gone.” How many preachers do we know who would want a ministry with no converts, no believers repenting, and no changed lives; and God forbid; no baptisms?

There are people who have physical eyes, but cannot see the God of creation in His creation. They, also, can not see Him in His works and/or Word. They are blinded by their own way. They really do not want to see God or His work. It would take too much away from them and their good deeds. They will see the darkness as light. They have ears, but do not hear. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly presented and all they hear is an argument against their lives. Those type of people rejected the words of the prophets in their days. They had ears, but could not hear. They only loved the sounds of their own voices, their own hearts; wicked though they were. When people are satisfied with their own spirituality they will believe almost anything but the truth. They believe they will succeed and make it to heaven by their good works and deeds, and they have none. The truth of Christ, His cross – death, His burial, and resurrection, ascension and promise of His return will be the very Truth which judges them on judgment day. Jesus will be their Judge, rather than their Savior – What of His mercy then?

The power of the parable is to reveal what the prophets desired to see. In some ways I would have loved to spoken with Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I will one day be able to sit down with them in God’s Kingdom. As I read the prophets today I can hear their hearts, there are times I can almost feel their pain because they see a people, who are supposed to be God’s people who will not bow before their God, except in pretense and hypocrisy. You can hear and feel the heart of Jeremiah as he says, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jeremiah 9:1. The prophets desired to see the people of God quit their idolatry, their gross rebellion, their pretense and hypocrisy. God has always been a jealous God. Jealous meaning that He is the only one worthy of worship, and that He deserves our complete, total, and whole admiration. The prophets foretold of One who would come to redeem the world, restore Israel to her land, and bring the Gentiles into the promise. They longed to see the “Promised One”. They are now in His presence rejoicing in His glory. We can yet hear their words as we read them. They have been kept and preserved that we may hear and know the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ; hear Him and believe and live forever.

The prophets had a longing heart to see the fulfillment of the Word they had penned down. Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the prophets messages. The apostle John wrote, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (KJV). The main focus of that verse which I wanted to point out is that “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of the prophetic Word is concerning Jesus. Of Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, it is said, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (KJV). If one wants or desires to understand these and all the parables of Jesus one first needs to know Jesus.

Let’s look at a contrast of hearts:

1. The dull of hearing rebel against the preacher; The Illumined ones hear and support the preacher.

2. The dull of hearing pull away from service and regular worship to the Lord, worship their own way; The Illumined ones desire to be active in solely the worship of the Lord, and with other believers.

3. The dull of hearing increase in hypocrisy by their ritual and tradition; The Illumined ones despise hypocrisy, especially in themselves, and yearn for genuineness.

4. The dull of hearing have a lack of spiritual understanding, often thinking they are the really spiritual, but what spirit are they of; The Illumined ones are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ.

5. The dull of hearing rationalizes personal sin; The Illumined ones hate personal sin and judge it by the Spirit of God andHisi Word.

6. The dull of hearing lose any understanding they may have when they refuse the truth: The Illumined ones increase in spiritual understanding.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Returning Repentance

Returning Repentance

With the revelation of the pretensious treachery of Judah God again extends mercy to the northern kingdom of Israel. Though they had departed from God and since the departure from the southern kingdom, had never really had much worship and care for God they were not pretentious in their behavior. You will not find one righteous king among the people of Israel. Jereboam, the first king of Israel, it is said of Him, “Jereboam did not turn from his evil way…” (1 Kings 13:33). And, that is of all the kings of Israel.

One clear thing that we can see from this invitation from God through the prophet Jeremiah is that God hates pretention, hypocrisy, and He extends mercy to all.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:11-13 (NKJV).

It is amazing to me the number of people who have told me, and some I have heard of from others who do not believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. Right here is clear evidence of it. God is merciful, gracious, and loving in the Old Testament. He has always longed for His backsliding people to return to Him.

The northern kingdom got off in a backsliding agenda. Their first king, Jereboam set up two idols for them to worship, and keep the people from returning to Jerusalem. He set up a golden calf in Dan, and one at Bethel. None of the following kings had a heart for God and hated His prophets. They sacrificed their children in the fire. Worshipped many false gods, and were perverse in their behavior. Now God pleads with them to repent.

My, how God’s heart grieves for His people. He calls for repentance. Though it is not immediately seen God will accomplish His Word, and His people will return to Him. Hosea, the prophet had a wife who turned from him to pagan, idolatrous, prostitution, and worship of pleasure rather than the God of glory. Hosea pursues his wife, and this is the picture of God pursuing His nation of people to bring them back to Himself.

This was accomplished. The people who came back from the captivity of Babylon were a mixed people. People of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms returned together, and they have been one nation since that time. They were one nation in the time of Jesus. They will be one nation through all time.

When God calls for His people to repent He is calling for us to turn from going the wrong direction, ie., away from Him, and turn around and go with Him. No matter what we have done; no matter how evil and vile; no matter our guilt, or our associations; God’s call to return is still powerful and valid. If you have gotten out of His will; if you are still in your sins; if your life is in a real mess; and if your worship has grown cold; then His call to return to Him is for you. He asks only that you acknowledge your iniquity – that you had turned from Him to sin. He is merciful, will hear your cry, and will receive you back to a walk with Him. Coming to God is made possible through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His receiving the judgment of sin that was ours; by His burial, in that our sins were carried away; and it was sealed by the resurrection from the dead as evidence that all of God’s Word is true. Trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

We have all sinned. We all fall short of His glory, and yet He calls us to Himself. Repentance is Returning to God. Returning to God is Repentance.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heart of Pretense

A Heart of Pretense

“Pretense” – a claim, not supported by fact; mere display or show. A false show. So is the meaning of the word. It would not be a pleasant or comfortable thing to be charged with. However, as we look into the book of Jeremiah we see that the nation of Judah, the Southern part of the divided kingdom since Rehoboam, is charged with this exact thing. “Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:10).

The Northern kingdom has been charged with adultery against God. God has called for their repentance (3:7), to return to the LORD. They had prostituted themselves against their faithful Husband and God, and become an immoral nation.

“…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:8-10 (NKJV).

This was a prophecy given during the reign of Josiah (3:6), who was considered a godly king. Josiah became king at the age of eight years (Read 1 Chronicles 34 – 35). You will read of Josiah that he purged the land of Judah of the “high places”, of “carved images”, and of “molded images”, and that “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD…” However, it appears that much of what was done during Josiah’s reign was done with pretense. It does not seem to have been pretense on the kings part, but on the peoples hearts. Legislation, whether done by a monarch or a president cannot change the hearts of people. The hearts of the people of Judah were moved by Josiah, but not by God. Therefore, there was much pretense in the land of Judah.

Pretense or hypocrisy cannot be hid from the omniscient eye of the LORD. It is said quite often in Scriptures that “God looks on the heart”, and that seems to be something that all people tend to forget. Pretense and hypocrisy never fools, or deceives the Lord Almighty. It didn’t work in Judah or Israel, and it will not work in today’s world either.

If you will notice God even calls this act by Judah “treacherous”. Three times in verses seven through ten God calls Judah the “treacherous sister” of Israel. The word “Treacherous” is defined as ‘Characterized by treachery; untrustworthy, unreliable’ and “Treachery” is defined as ‘a violation of allegiance or trust’. According to Strong’s Concordance it is ‘to deal deceitfully’; and certainly the heart’s of the people of Judah were endeavoring to deal deceitfully with God.

At a time when our own nation is at war, and the hearts of people are growing more and more spiritual, but not according to the knowledge of God; there is much pretense and hypocrisy. There are religions on every corner that use the name of God, but know Him not. When religion denies Jesus Christ, they deny God. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is truly only one true worship of God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection. Any other presumed worship is a treacherous and pretentious worship.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Don’t Be Found Out

Don’t Be Found Out

Has anyone ever stopped to think about the foolishness of idolatry. That is the desire for things, the greed for wealth, the lust for power, and/or the opposite sex; and in some cases of this day the perversion of the same sex. That is, afterall, what idolatry is all about.

We live in an era not dissimilar from Jeremiah’s. The people were living in basic comfort, secure in their wealth, and easy lives. Though, ours is plagued somewhat with fear of terrorism we still go about doing whatever we please; paying the exhorbitant prices for gasoline, and everything going up due to that; yet we purchase, or at least those who can do. Power for more of the things desired.

Hear the word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah:

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’ For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’ But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble; For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” Jeremiah 2:26-28 (NKJV).

It seems quite clear that the people of Judah have been caught in the practice of idolatry, worshipping other gods, which are not gods at all, but more burdens for the people to carry. Have you ever noticed the junk that we in our society build up and keep in closets, garages, security vaults, magazine racks, and how valuless they really are?

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day they were here being accused of having wood idols, and giving it praise for being their father. Also of telling one made of stone that was their mother. In the worship of other gods, they turned their back on God, denying Him as their birthparent as a nation. By turning their back and not their faces we find a great hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that while everything is going good, life is easy and comfortable, they really have no care to remember God, His holy days, nor His Law or His Word. However, when they start hearing about an enemy, or having some other troubles they begin to cry out to the true God for help. God, the LORD, says to that, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble;” It is like He is saying to them you have plenty of gods you love and adore more than Me, “Let them help you”. The prophet continues by saying, “For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.” You would think that the more gods the better. Right? Wrong.

The one true God is sufficient to meet our every need. In fact there is no other god but the LORD God. The one who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place.

We continue now to the next two verses:

“Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘In vain I have chastened your children; They received no correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets Like a destroying lion.'” Jeremiah 2:29-30 (NKJV).

At times when people face catastrophe they tend to recognize that God does exist. When things ease off, and start getting back to normal it is back to the worship of things,getting those desires met, achieving those personal goals at the cost of life, limb, or friendships, or spouses and family. When this happens, some of it is genuine, and some is not. The one’s who are genuine will continue being faithful when the things start being good again. They will hear the voice of the LORD and will obey Him. They do not turn away.

These are the ones whom the LORD will bless. These are the ones whom the LORD has genuinely saved.

These “two faced” people are about as dependable as a flat tire, and no rim with it. The correction of the LORD does no good, accomplishes nothing, and they hate the prophets who tell them the truth for the saving of their souls.

Don’t turn your back on God. Don’t be a two faced individual who worships God on Sunday, then, through the rest of the week no one will ever know any difference from watching your life, hearing your dirty words, and dirty jokes. When you have given your life to the LORD through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ your life changes, for His glory and your good. You will love the Law, the History of His people, the Wisdom of the sages, and the prophets; both the Major and Minor prophets. You will love God’s Word.  You will desire to please the LORD.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Precious Truth

PRECIOUS TRUTH

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Ex 20:16 (KJV)

To some today truth is fairly well meaningless. I wonder though, if someone had been seen at the scene of a crime, but were not guilty of the crime, how important the truthfulness of the witness would be to them at that junction of their life? I dare say it would become very important, if that witness could speak the truth and acquit the accused.

How important is the truthfulness of a witness? In some and in many cases it is the difference between life or death; or life in prison, and/or a life of freedom. Is the truth important to you, even if it applies to others? It is my belief that we should be as concerned, if not more concerned for the truth to prevail for the good of others, as well as ourselves. Truth matters in being a witness. It matters for the accused but innocent individual. It matters for the family of the innocent accused, or even the guilty. It matters for the home, the church, the local government, State government, National government. It matters for the sake of justice.

When looking at these 10 Commandments, and as we look in particular at the final six and our human relationships we should ask ourselves, “Would I want someone to commit any of these prohibitions against me?” “Would I want my children to dishonor me?” “Would I want someone killing me, or someone I love?” “Would I want another man sleeping with my wife?” “Would I want someone stealing from me?”, and coming to the present one, “Would I want someone being a false witness against me?”, and the final one; “Would I want someone desiring my things so much that they would do anything to get them?”. I will be daring and say that their is not a sane person living who would want any of these things happen to them.

Now back to the subject at hand. The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

In his book “Love, Liberation and the Law” J. Vernon McGee has a three point outline on this ninth commandment –

I. THE ORIGINATION OF THE LIE.

II. THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE LIE.

III. THE DESTINATION OF THE LIE.

JUST WHERE DOES THE LIE BEGIN? According to Jesus Himself, the devil is the father of lies, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44 (KJV). We see clearly from the One who is the author of all of creation where the lie originated.

Why would we want to be associated with the Lie? His end is destruction. His end is eternal flames. His end is eternal torment, and anyone who follows his path will go there with him.

JUST HOW WOULD YOU IDENTIFY THE LIE? McGee writes, “Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150). That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.

This law is just as viable and meaningful today as it was the day God gave it. It is good for the courtroom, the living room, the sunday school room, the board room, and over the backyard fence. Can this commandment be broken even when speaking the “Truth”? It was when Jesus was on trial. Words can be twisted making a truth into a lie. Doing this makes you a false witness against your neighbor.

JUST WHAT IS THE DESTINATION OF THE LIE? Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination. “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

People who are given to lying, bearing false witness will end up in the same pit of destruction as their father. There will be no joy, no peace, no God. There will be torment, maybe even by your own lying tongue. There will be no water there to quench the thirst for lying or dryness.

Keeping the law will not save you. It is, however your schoolmaster, showing you your need of Jesus as Savior.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Case Against God’s People

God Builds His Case

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Known for that because of his mourning for the sins of the people of Judah, and Jerusalem. He sees the failings of the priesthood, of which he was part. The weaknesses, the hypocrisies, and often blatant lies and deceptions; not only among the priests but among those who called themselves prophets of God.

God could speak with Jeremiah. Jeremiah heard, and many times responded to what God said. Hear what God says to Jeremiah near the beginning of his ministry;

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying’, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 2:1-3 (NKJV).

God begins in the first message by confirming them in their first belief. They had followed, at least through Abraham, had been obedient in the wilderness, and had grown in love with the LORD. There was kindness, fondness, love in their hearts for the LORD, realizing that He alone was responsible for their having a land, a promise. They had been chosen from the place of God’s amazing grace and mercy. They were undeserving. They were unworthy. They were sinners among the other sinners of the earth. There was nothing special about them, thus in there early days they loved the LORD.

Despite the fact of their departure the LORD reminds them of His promise, “All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD”. No one can expect God’s blessing who lifts their hand against the people, the nation, whom God ordained to give us the Scriptures, ordinances, and laws. Yet there is room for His judgment. Pray for Jerusalem – Israel.

As Christians we must remember our “First love”. That love we had for Jesus when we first believed. The things of the world around us have a power which can lure us away from loving Him. God commended five of the early churches of the Revelation, but would only condemn two of them because they had departed from Him.

If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, there was a time when you walked with Him, you loved Him, cherished Him, and it did not bother you that there were times He seemed distant, but you trusted His Word when He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Something has happened in the past few days, weeks, months, or years that have caused you to get away from Him, His Word, from praying, and cherishing His abiding presence. You have become more consumed with sports, entertainment, comforts, leisure, conveniences, and even family activities, than with your walk with Him. It is time to return to Him, before the judgment of your sin comes on you.

He puts His protecting hand on all who have trusted Him. You can believe He will keep you, protect you, and anyone who raises an evil hand against you will suffer by His hand. Be assured God loves you with an everlasting love. Enjoy it, revel in it, rejoice in it, and He will be glorified.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

At The Entrance of the Gates

Judgment From The North

For the nation of Israel it seems that the North was the direction from which judgment would come. I think it interesting to note a Psalm that directs our attention to the North without naming the North. It is Psalm 75, and it says, “Do not lift up your horn on high; do not speak with a stiff neck.’ For exaltaation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” (vv.5-7). You notice the silence concerning North? Does Judgment come from the North? In the case of Israel and Judah it does.

Hear what the LORD spoke to Jeremiah:

“Then the LORD said to me: ‘Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ says the LORD; ‘They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” Jeremiah 1:13-16

The judgment of which Jeremiah warned was coming on all the inhabitants of the land. It seems that the noble people, those of notable birth, or those who have great wealth sometimes think, “Oh, that won’t happen to us” or “We can become a part of the upper society people, and we can just fit in”, but the prophet’s message from the LORD is judgment on “all the inhabitants of the land”. Judgment is not a pleasant thing to talk about, but when the LORD calls you and gives you a message to proclaim, and tells you not to withhold a word, then you better obey.

Every preacher, and especially pastors would love to spend all their preaching, preaching of the goodness, love, grace, mercy of God. We would be thrilled just to always be preaching about the good we see in our fellow human beings, because there are good things done, there are good lives lived, and people saving physical lives; and encouraging others. The preacher, the pastor is not the man of God he should be, if he preaches not that we are sinners; condemned, dying and that our only hope of salvation is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. To preach the cross of Jesus you must tell why He died on the cross, that means talking about our darkness of sin. We must tell why the Father had to judge His own perfect, sinless Son, turn His back on Him; and why Jesus went through that horrible three hours of total darkness while He was stretched between heaven and hell. We must preach that God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The judgment coming on Judah was coming from the north. It was in fact, coming from God. It was the plan of Jeremiah’s father, his family, and Jeremiah that he would be a priest in Jerusalem. That was a ministry that was much respected in Jeremiah’s day, and that of his family. Jeremiah even had plans of marriage, but that was not to come about. We will see that in a later word from God to the prophet. Prophets of God do not choose to be prophets; they are called by God to be prophets. That is the prophet Jeremiah. Prophets who call themselves serve themselves, lead others astray, and despise God’s prophets.

The judgment coming to Jerusalem was like all the kingdoms of the north were coming to set up quarters, homes, or shop right in the gates of the city. They would be encamping all around. The people of Judah would no longer be free. Not only is this against the city of Jerusalem but all the cities of Judah. This would include Bethlehem and Bethel.

The coming of these people of the kingdoms of the north was God’s utterance against their forsaking the LORD. There were those who were worshipping the LORD, but few and far between. Those who were worshipping were probably remaining silent. The priests who were praising God in their hearts and worshipping him, must have been silent concerning the condition of the hearts and lives of the people; thus were allowing them to continue to live in their sin and rebellion. Therefore, they were not the priests of God that they should have been. Take the offering the people bring no matter the true condition of their heart, or that they had been to the temple of Baal, and participated in those rituals. They will be okay as long as they are faithful to the temple of God. LIES, LIES, LIES. God is not glorified except with total devotion, commitment, and worship to Him and to Him alone.

Even though a man and/or woman may attend worship on Sunday morning, evening, Wednesday evening, and anytime the church house door is open, but they live for themselves the other days of the week, the rest of the time, and glorify not God with their life and living; they worship not, and love not the LORD with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They have, in fact, forsaken the Lord, and “worship the works of their own hands”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship