The Heart’s Desire, Prayer for…

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Romans 10:1 (KJB)

The apostle Paul was a Jew. He was a Hebrew, in fact calling himself, “…An Hebrew of the Hebrews…” (Philippians 3:5), and he spent his early ministry endeavoring to win the Jewish people to the Messiah Jesus.  He nearly lost his life a few times doing so.

In Romans 9 – 11 we see just how much Paul loves his people it is almost a final plea for them to repent, to turn to the One who is their Redeemer, before it is turned over completely to the Gentiles for the age.

I have a question for myself this morning. Is my heart’s desire, and prayer for my people so powerful, so strong that I would risk my life, my all, my living for a lost soul?  I desire, I strongly desire to see a soul come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah the prophet said,

“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

God has given me what I need to lead a lost, condemned, dying man, or woman to Jesus.  By the power of His Spirit in me I can and will do it.

Justice for All that Were Slain Upon the Earth

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Revelation 18:20-24 (KJV)

Remember what I said in previous posts, about the world’s rejoicing and God’s rejoicing.

He is speaking here to all the saints of God (“holy apostles and prophets”). Rejoice because God’s righteousness is being vindicated. We rejoice not over the condemnation of a lost soul, but for justice, and that God is glorified.

Babylon – religious, economic, and political – is utterly destroyed, to rise no more.

She will sink like the “great millstone” never to rise again. There is a similar story in Jeremiah 51:61-64. Jeremiah wrote against Babylon and had a young man read it to Babylon, and when finished reading the “book” to “bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates”. Jeremiah’s faith in God and His Word was sure. Babylon will fall. The Word of God continues.

The pronouncement of the angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” is in the past tense. Just as surely as God said it, it shall be done.

The merchants will buy “no more at all” (v. 14); the city “shall be found no more at all” (v. 21); music “shall be heard no more at all in thee”; “no craftsman… shall be found any more in thee”; the work of the mill “shall be heard no more at all… (v. 22); “the candle… no more at all…”; wedding ceremonies “…no more at all…” (v. 23). Seven times is complete and final. God’s Word is true.

In looking at these verses we could have a very convincing description of our own nation. Capitalism, when not restrained by God’s Spirit, can breed greed, selfishness, and lust for power, yet, I believe it is the best economic system mankind has going for it when kept in check by the Spirit of God, not government. Babylon, very well, could be capitalism run amuck because of the absence of God’s restraining influence.

Because some chose to stand for Christ, the world of Babylon slew them. O, what a bloody city.

Here is a parallel to the Babylons of Scripture: The first is historical and found in Genesis 11 prepared to maintain the union of the world – overthrown by God through confusion of language and scattering of people. The second is ecclesiastical, symbolized by the woman of Revelation 17 proposes common worship and religion uniting all religions into one world church, and much advocated in our day by some of those in the reprobate church which will be destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16, thus fulfilling the will of God. The third is political, symbolized by the “great city” of Revelation 18, attempts domination of the world, by common market and world government. These are destroyed at Jesus’s second coming in power and great glory. EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.

BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN – Justice will come to those who have given their lives for the cause of God, His word, and His work. Stop trusting in the “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7:21); the material things of this world, like gold, silver, garments, houses, and land, and trust the One who has already won the victory.

Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the One who died on the cross for us, was buried, and rose again.  He is the One who is now preparing to return and make all things right.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Thirty and Two

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

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

What do I want for Christmas today?

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

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

There is a Word from GOD

“When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” Jeremiah 37:16-17 (KJV)

This king did not like the word of God. That is very similar to kings and presidents of our day; and the people of the UN. If God has said something the world leaders are set to try and thwart the plan of God. Not going to happen; no matter how hard the perverts try.

The second Psalm states it very clearly…

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3

King Zedekiah was interested, he was curious, but he was a rebel against the word of the LORD. He was fearful of what stood outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem; and that was the Babylonian army. He had previously been warned. He rebelled against God.

Yet again, he asked for counsel from the LORD. Yet again, he rejects it. You can reject God, and His word. You can even refuse to believe it to be true. It is still going to come about just as He has said. It is still true.

The king was going to be a captive of Babylon. He would witness something that would be the most horrendous thing he would remember seeing with his eyes; and that would be the last thing he beheld (Jeremiah 39:1-7).

There is a word from the LORD for you today.

Jesus said,

“…Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3

Turn to Jesus Christ who has died for your sins, your rebellion against the Most High God. In turning to Jesus you turn against you life of sin and rebellion. Turn and believe.

Nothing Too Hard for GOD

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27
“Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is His name; call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:2-3 (KJV)

The answer to the question is an obvious “NO!” God can do anything that is within His character and law to do. As He is speaking to Jeremiah He has promised to bring the Babylonian captives home again, and to restore the lands to the people.

Of Chapter 33:1-3, THE JEREMIAH STUDY BIBLE note states:

The promises of future restoration must have seemed especially hard for Jeremiah to believe while he was imprisoned in the midst of the Babylonian crisis, and so the Lord encouraged him to pray with the promise that He would do great and mighty thing, which you do not know. The promise of God are certain, but He still calls on His people to actualize those promises through prayer. God wants to be involved in people’s lives, to be asked to help. People must call upon Him so He can answer them (Ps. 91:15; Isa. 55:6, 7). pg. 1009

Believing God means that we believe Him while we are suffering; and when we are blessed. The blessed so soon forget why we are blessed; then we need reminding.

Let me remind you today; the greatest thing that God has done is that He sent His Son Jesus into the world to die for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.  With God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Courageous

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before Me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” Jeremiah 15:19-21 (KJV)

You have experienced rejection by family, friends, and others. You know what it is like to stand alone on an issue, on morality, against immorality, or some political matter; don’t you?

The days of Jeremiah the prophet were filled with contempt from his family, and class of people. Jeremiah is from a family of priests. He could possibly have been a high priest of Israel one day, but God the LORD had something else in mind. Jeremiah was seeing the spiritual adultery, and physical adultery of the priesthood, and the people. Yeah! There was immorality, idolatry, ungodliness among those who called themselves, “God’s people”.

The call from God for Jeremiah was to call their attention to God, to their immoral acts, their departure from the living God, to serve idols. They rejected the prophets words; which were God’s; and threatened him, at times with death.

Jeremiah has been speaking with the LORD, and acknowledges that he has “found” God’s word, and “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (v. 16). Yet, the prophet is troubled by the rejection of his people, and the priesthood; and he vents to God, feeling that God has failed him (v. 18).

The verses above (vv. 19-21) are God’s words to the prophet for faith, patience, and encouragement. For Jeremiah to be a “Fenced brazen wall” means God will make him bold, courageous, strong in the face of opposition to the Word. Nothing will be able to penetrate it. It might be called “Stubborn holiness” by many who do not understand.

Just about he same words are spoken to Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isaiah 50:7; Ezekiel 3:8-9).

As Christians we are not to be stubborn and unmovable toward God, His Spirit or His Word; but we do need to be that “Fenced brazen wall” against the things that are against God, His Spirit and His Word.

We are to stand against evil; anything that is against God, His Spirit and His word is evil; and we must stand adamantly opposed to it. Stand in Christ Jesus the one who set His mind on the cross and died for you and me.

Fire in Your Mouth

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against Me, saith the LORD. They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not He; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: and the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make My words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.” Jeremiah 5:10-14 (KJV)

It seems to be a trend among people today. If we hear a word contrary to what we believe a mass of people will lie about it and deny it. Even if it is true there is much lying and denial; especially if it is according to the word of our Lord and God.

The people of Jeremiah’s day; the people to whom he preached denied God. They lied about God. God had said that judgment was coming. The prophets of the people said, “There is no judgment coming. We are God’s people. The temple will stand forever.” God was telling the people the words of their prophets were going to fail, and fall to the ground.

GOD says through His prophet Jeremiah that judgment was going to come from the north from a foreign invader. The people denied it, and the prophets lied about it. It came just as God said it would.

To lie and deny does not make the truth untrue. No matter how hard you try to be positive about a negative truth; it is still true.

The people who were “Not the LORD’S” would call prophets of God the wind, and God says that His Word will not fail. They will be put to shame.

The Word of God is powerful, and shall not fail. Deny it all you want. Lie about God all you can; however the word will still stand, even after you fall, and perish. God will have His way even after your ways fail.

God has done all that is in His power to do to redeem to Himself a people who love Him. That redemption is provided through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ. Believe Him and live. Deny Him and perish. Your choice.

The Word of GOD is Sure

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:1-4 (KJV)

Just for a note: Cyrus was named by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28 – 45:4); at least 150 years before Cyrus was born. Of course this is the fulfillment of God’s Word.

Jeremiah the prophet tells of the children of Israel spending 70 years in captivity in Jeremiah 25:8-11 and 29:10-14. Daniel the prophet while in the captivity reads Jeremiahs prophecy, and realizes the promise (Daniel 9:2).

The one thing I am always blessed by; encouraged by; inspired by; is that God’s Word is always fulfilled. He will not allow it to return to Himself void; or without accomplishing what He has said.

The Word of God is the one thing in the world that never changes; because God does not change. He is reliable. He will judge sin; all sin. It has been judged in His Son Jesus Christ Son of God, and God the Son. The wrath of God was poured out upon Him on the cross, and when we believe Him, turning from our sin, He saves us by His grace.

B F & M – The Kingdom

There is a kingdom coming on earth which is unlike any kingdom to ever exist.  It seems that the “Crusades” which were foolish “Christian” attempts to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth has brought legend and myth to the idea of a heavenly kingdom.

When Jesus was with us on earth, He said to His disciples as He sent them to preach, “…As you go, preach saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  That meaning, of course, that it was very near.  The Gospel of Matthew uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven”.  “Kingdom of God” is used mostly by the other Gospel writers.  There are some who believe that means it is speaking of two realms of divine reign; and most believe one encompassing the other.

Here is our Statement of Faith concerning the Kingdom:

“IX. The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.

Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.”

There is one thing we can know for sure and that is that Jesus Christ is the King of the kingdom of heaven, and His kingdom which will come on the earth.

In His kingdom on earth, there will be no more wars, but peace will abound.  There will be no more sickness, health will abound.  There will be only beauty, joy, and love.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom.

Those who refuse Jesus as their King will be cast alive into everlasting fire.  The blessed kingdom reign of Jesus is coming when Jesus comes again.

-T.A.

Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch

“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. 21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” Mark 13:14-23 (KJV)

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN – WATCH

Daniel speaks of this in his prophecies (Daniel 9:27;  11:31).  Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled partly in Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. when he sacrificed a pig on the temple altar.  That was before Jesus was born, so this prophecy must be of another day.  The destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. did not involve an “Abomination of Desolation”.  Since Jesus was speaking of a future day, there must be a future one yet to come.  Daniel’s prophecy covered both events – that of Antiochus Epiphanes and the yet future “Antichrist”.

When this final one appears it will be following a time of peace – three and one half years – then this “Judas” will set himself up as God on the throne in Jerusalem and demand the worship of the Hebrews (2 Thes. 2:1-4).  At this time Jesus tells these people to “…Flee to the mountains”, and “…not go back to get his clothes…”.  He tells that it will be a time of great sorrow, unlike anything known to mankind (v. 19).  This will be a time when material possessions will not matter for protection, security, or safety.

Fleeing from the evil one to live in the hills, woods, and caves will be far better.  However, those of us who are presently “in Christ Jesus” do not need to fear this dark time – “we are not of the darkness” but of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).  We will be removed from the earth in order that God might deal with His people the Hebrews, and call them back to Himself.  Jeremiah the prophet calls this “…the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7).

Salvation is of our Lord.  Jesus Christ died for our sins; on the cross; was buried, and rose again.  He promised to come again and receive us unto Himself.  Call on the name of the Lord and you too will be saved from your sins and the wrath to come.

The “Elect” (v. 20) must surely refer to the nation of Israel, and/or those who have received Jesus as their Savior during this time.  There will be “False christ’s”, and “false prophets” who will be able to do mysterious deeds, and wonders and try to deceive the populace, and even, “If possible, even the elect.”  It will be a time for them that they must have their senses sharpened, and their eyes wide open.  Of course that is a good thought for all of us in our day.

Christian; Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words Without Profit/Prophet

The business man; no certain one, no certain company; or even a preacher or pastor tells their people, “All is well.  The business is growing”.  What is not mentioned is that decay, death, despair is all around.
For a business that may mean the ruin of that company.  Layoffs, closing the plant, or the whole company, bankruptcy.  For a church – closing the doors because the church never saw the Light of the Lord but listened to the lying words of their “pastor”.

The words of Jeremiah the prophet speak loudly to us today.

“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;  And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations.”  Jeremiah 7:8-10 (KJV)

The life of knowing the LORD has no part in turning from Him.  We grow in Him – in Christ Jesus the Son of the Living God who died for our sins, was buried and rose; and He forever lives.  Because He lives we live, therefore our lives are to show forth His life.

The life of Jesus Christ is a life without sin, obedience to God the Father, glorifying our Creator in what we say and do.  When the Bible teacher focuses on living your life now and telling how good human kind is [self] then that is “lying words” and the prophet says, “…that cannot profit”.  It is as though mixing muddy water with clean to clean it up.  All you have is muddy water; or an ungodly life which takes the glory that belongs only to God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Twelve – Thirteen through Seventeen

“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”  Mark 12:13-17 (KJV)

THEY TRY TO TRICK JESUS CONCERNING TAXES.

“Shall we pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  That is a question many still ask this day and time.

Is it lawful, is it right, is it godly to pay taxes?  Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things which are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s”.  What kind of society did Jesus live in?  Roman rule was the law.  Did Jesus protest taxes because the Romans were unjust, wicked, and boisterous?  No!  He said, “Pay your taxes”.

Jesus asked for a “penny”, and He looked at the image on the penny.  He asserted that since Caesar’s image was on the penny then it needed to be given to Caesar.  Whose image is on man?  God’s.  Therefore, give to God what is God’s.  That means yourself.

Jeremiah the prophet told the people how they were to live as captives in Babylon, and under Babylonian captivity.

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”  Jeremiah 29:4-7 (KJV)

Also consider Romans chapter 13:1-7

Whether we as Christians want to admit it or not; like it or not; makes little difference if we are subjects of our Lord.  We submit to Him, and the laws of our captive land.  We are “captives” of a sort in this world until our redemption in Jesus Christ is completed at His coming.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Israel and the USA

Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel a couple of weeks ago sparked much frenzy among the two countries.

The VP seemed be surprised by the announcement of new apartments being built in a long-established Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. However this is something that seems to have been in the works for a many months.

The USA administration needs to work so hard with Israel, and against the terrorist who consistently rage against the USA and Israel for our death and destruction.  The Hamas, Iran, and the other muslim nations which rage against the “West” need to see such vitriolic speech against those who threaten us.

The same ones who would destroy Israel want also to destroy the United States of America.

Dear YHWH of heaven, open the eyes of the administration of the USA to see their hearts need to be turned to YOU.  May we all follow YOUR divine guidance, wisdom, and see that those who would work against YOUR plans are in fact YOUR enemies.

Remind the administration why the “heathen rage” (Psalm 2), and let them see that is against YOU.

Also, Lord; open the eyes of the Christians who are also Palestinians to see that the land of Israel is YOUR land, give to the Jew, the Hebrew, forever more.  It is not even a thing that is up for debate.  It is set, even as the rising and setting of the sun (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

In the name of YOUR holy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Let us continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:1-23

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU…
1 Peter 5:7

…When The Challenge Seems Impossible

Daniel 2:1-23

purpose – To display the need for Christians to be sober, courageous, and bold enough to seek the Lord’s guidance, and information from Him in difficult situations and circumstances.

In this the second chapter of Daniel we find that Nebuchadnezzar is a man of troubled dreams.  What we will find later, by the power of God, through the prophet Daniel is that this is a dream related to the history of the Gentile nations throughout human history from Nebuchadnezzar until the appearing of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lord.

In this first message from chapter two we will see an enormous requirement put on the “wisemen” of Babylon.  It is so impossible it leads the Chaldeans to respond that no one can give the dream, “…except the gods”.  The enormous task was that, before they could interpret his dream they had to first, tell him his dream, and then he would know they were being truthful about its interpretation.  Pretty smart of the king; at least I think so.

INTRODUCTION OUTLINE –

I.  THE KING IS TROUBLED BY DREAMS (v. 1).
II.  THE KING ASK FOR THE “WISEMEN” TO TELL HIM HIS DREAM THAT HE HAD DREAMED (vv. 2-9).
III.  THE KING SENDS OUT A DECREE TO KILL ALL THE ‘WISEMEN’ (vv. 10-13).
IV.  THE MAN OF GOD (DANIEL) SEEKS THE KINGS DELAY WHILE HE AND OTHERS PRAY (vv. 14-18).
V.  GOD REVEALS THE DREAM AND ITS INTERPRETATION TO DANIEL (vv. 19-23).

I.  TROUBLING DREAMS, FEARING WHAT MAY BE AHEAD (v. 1).
With a world in economic, political, and moral failure there are many who are having troubling dreams, even fearing what may lie ahead.  Many of us may have dreams while sleeping that we don’t even remember, and some we do, however, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by his dream.  His dream was one that God had given him.

There should be no trouble in understanding the meaning of “the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign”, and the three years of training for the Hebrew children; as it is possible to have three years involved in two years of reign.  In some reckonings of time a part of a year is counted as a year.  In school years of out time we have one school year taking place in two parts of different years.  You have a school year beginning in August 2009, ending in May 2010; another schoold year beginning in 2010 and ending in 2011; then, another school year beginning in 2011, and you have three years.  I think that is enough to give some understanding in this matter.

In the commentary by his name Matthew Henry writes of Nebuchadnezzar, “Nebuchadnezzar was a troubler of God’s Israel, but God here troubled him; for He that made the soul can make His sword to approach to it”  If there is ever a proof of the love of God it is or should be seen in the trials everyone endures; if indeed they endure them.  Maybe it should be said every trial we go through.  Can we not see the wondrous love of God?

In history we can learn from our mistakes; but looking ahead to trouble is only anguish.  Learning from history is great; if indeed we learn, and then don’t repeat the past.  Looking ahead in faith is not troubling, but peaceful.  When you know who holds tomorrow, and leave the outcome to the One who is in charge you will have peace with the past and the future.  No matter what dreams you dream.

“For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.”  Ecclesiastes 5:7 (KJV)

II.  WHEN THE SEEMING IMPOSSIBLE REQUIRES TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE (vv. 2-13).
The supposed wisemen of Babylon were wise in the ways of the worship of demons; yet not knowing they worshipped demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-21).  Thus the wisdom of the world has no power but will be pulled down by the mighty power of  Almighty God.

The challenge which went out to the magicians, sorcerers, Chaldeans; and whatever else they were called was one they nor any other Gentile sorcerer had been asked before.  “Tell me my dream”.  Who can tell another man what they dreamed?  No man can.  Only the God of all creation; the God of the universe; the God of all the things; who holds the worlds in His hands.  Only He can tell a man what He has dreamed.

It is my belief that the king lies about not remembering the dream only to check out the response of the “wisemen”.  It is a thing of God to elevate His man to the position to bring glory to Himself.  The king is dependent still upon the old witchcraft, and demonism of the day; and God is preparing Him to hear from God, drawing the king to Himself.

Matthew Henry writes concerning the Chaldeans, The “…confession of the divine omniscience is here extorted from these idolaters, to the honour of God and their own condemnation, who though they knew there is a God in heaven, ‘to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secret is hid,’ yet offered up their prayers and praises to dumb idols, that ‘have eyes and see not, ears and hear not.”

The Chaldeans; which probably includes all these titles referred to in the text could not believe the king would ask such a thing and even confess “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.  And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”  vv.10-11 (KJV).  The king is furious and he seeks to have all these people killed; and do away with any who are connected with this lying sect.

The king was angry with a “trusted” group of men who were being tested for their honesty, and not proving worthy of trust.  He understood that if anyone could tell him what he had dreamed they would actually be able to give him its true interpretation.  However, he was hasty in ordering the destruction of this sect of people.  He had either forgotten about Daniel and his friends or it didn’t really matter to him.

By this hasty decree the lives of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were threatened as well; but by the sovereign hand of God He worked and got the attention of the king; and the king gave Daniel time to consult with the King of kings.

“For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.”  Amos 4:13 (KJV)

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”  Psalms 139:2 (KJV)

III.  THE TRUSTWORTHY ARE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ARE PRAYING PEOPLE, AND DEPEND ON ONE ANOTHERS BACKING (VV. 14-18).
It is certain that the Chaldeans were “praying” and “praising” in the wrong heart, the wrong way, and wrong place.  There is one correct way of worship; true worship; and that is through the Son of God, God become flesh, whose precious blood was shed for our salvation.  Daniel asked the king’s captain who was sent to kill them, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” (v. 15)  This is one example of “haste making waste”; because it would have been waste to kill Daniel and his friends; and it was a waste of the time already put into the effort.

Daniel shows character and goes directly before the king.  He asks the king for time to pray and seek the face and will of God concerning the king’s dream; and the king gives it.  Would to God that God’s people; Christians; of the day were so bold as to approach the king concerning the matters of life and death.  Concerning the matters of morality.  We must, however, have the integrity and character of Daniel, and his prayer life.

Just as Daniel did not approach this matter alone, but went to his friends; Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and asked them to pray with him; so to must we realize that we must pray together. Daniel asks, “…that they might seek the mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret”, knowing the message would be coming from Him.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

One of the things we must learn from Daniel is the power of prayer.  Do you have something that may seem like a trite matter, a small matter in your heart yet it troubles you?  Then go to God in prayer, seeking His face and His will in the matter.  Another thing; get others to join you in praying about the matter.  Of course this was a life and death situation for Daniel, his friends and many others too.

In the time which we live with  the rapture of the church, and  the second coming of Christ drawing nearer with every minute we must be walking with God, praying, praying, and praying even more.  We must be praying for our walk with God to be ever closer; for the witness of Christians; for the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed with the power and authority of God and His Word; and the drawing power of His Spirit to work gloriously.  We don’t need mushy stories, with heart breaking effort; we need Holy Spirit conviction convicting men and women and boys and girls of their sins to the point of repentance and belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross proven by the resurrection from the dead.

If we want to see the power of God to affect change in our life, church, community, State, and federal governments; then, we must pray, work and witness in the power of the Spirit depending on the Spirit to convict of sin and convince of the power of God to save.

IV.  GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE REVEALS HIS SECRETS TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM (vv. 19-23)

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7 (KJV)

The prophets of God knew that they knew nothing but what God revealed it to them.  There was and still is no message from God if He does not reveal it.  When God is silent His prophets are silent as well.  God was not silent in the days of Daniel.  He spoke through Daniel and His friends and He still speaks through them.  Do you hear Him?

The LORD  asked Jeremiah the prophet, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV)  What seems impossible to the human eye is possible with God.  When the situation seems hopeless and all seems lost; God, the LORD, who holds the universe in His hands can do what we cannot do; “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), and He will do it for His own glory; not any glory of any human or humanity.

God revealed the secret to Daniel.  It is not of man’s invention or intervention to tell other men their dreams.  In a world filled with those who want to tell you your future there is only One who can.  His name is Jehovah -YHWH.  He reveals Himself to us through His Word, the Bible, and through His Son Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

“But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.  Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”  Jeremiah 10:10-12 (KJV)

Do you know the God of the impossible?  The One who knows your thoughts and dreams?  He does know you.  Four times in the gospels Jesus used the phrase, “all things are possible” twice “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26;  Mark 10:27); and He uses it two other times, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  Mark 9:23 (KJV); and “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”  Mark 14:36 (KJV)

Magnify the LORD.  Lift up the name of the LORD.

Application –

i.  Know that the LORD is Lord of all dreams and knows your heart and your fears and dreads.
ii.  Believe the LORD when it seems as though the task, or challenge ahead of you seems impossible, and know that God takes care of you.
iii.  When you are having trouble pray and ask others to join you in prayer; know also that when your community or nation is in dire straits that prayer is a cry to God for His action.
iv.  Know that what lies ahead is revealed to us by God in His written Word through faith in His Living Word, and Holy Son Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

Amending Our Ways

We hear about amending constitutions, bylaws, house bills, senate bills, and so forth; however we hear very little about “Amending Our Ways”.

The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Amend” as, “To change for the better: Improve”, and that is usually the idea in amending house bills and senate bills.  In politics today it seems like more of a political thing for one opponent to get his way over the other.

“Amending Our Ways” according to Scripture though should be to improve ourselves for the glory of God; and that is the idea of what Jeremiah the prophet has written hundreds of years ago.

“For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;  If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:  Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.”  Jeremiah 7:5-7 (KJV)

The prophet had just warned them to not trust in lying words, nor believe that their hope was in the temple; but instead his idea was to trust the LORD.  He is calling for the people beginning with their leaders spiritual and political to get back to God, His Word – the Law and the Prophets; repent and conduct themselves as the people of God should.

This is a warning and a promise to the nation of Judah/Israel.  The only way is God’s way.

We in the USA and all parts of the world who are Christian need to amend our ways by being just and right in our dealings with others [our neighbors], to treat our strangers with kindness, and the orphan and widows with love concern and caring; stop shedding innocent blood by our dreadful tongues or a gun, or by law.  We need to also always be faithful to our God and no other.  Let’s stop giving allegiance to allah, mohammed, buddha, chrisna, or any other supposed deity which lifts its name above the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

How do Christians give allegiance to those supposed deities mentioned by telling others “As long as you believe something and are sincere, then you are okay with god”.  That is what will sincerely send multitudes to a burning, fiery hell.

If we want to continue dwelling in our land that God has given us then, we better “Amend Our Ways” and turn completely to the LORD our God, through His Son Jesus, and His death, burial and resurrection.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Trust Not In Lying Words…

In an economy which has lost many people millions of dollars for people involved in Wall Street, the stock market, investing, and housing you would think people would learn where to place their trust, but not yet; I guess. Trusting politicians; whether they be President, Congressman or woman, Senator, or dog catcher we need to constantly keep in mind that all things on this earth, of this earth are temporal or temporary; and do not endure forever.

The people of the prophet’s day were believing that the temple of Jerusalem would endure forever. Had they forgotten that it was made of earthly materials just as their own homes were made or were they vainly trusting the promises of God (Understand I mean their trust is vain; not that God’s promises are vain). In the prophet’s day the people would vainly worship God on the Sabbath day; then forget Him the other six days of the week.

The people of Judah would live for themselves. They would do their business and take advantage of the poor, the widows and orphans; and anyone else there was to take advantage of. During times of tragedy the merchants would increase prices on needed goods; and think they were doing God a service. They cheated people with weights and measures, and chalked it up to and would say, “It’s just business”. Their hearts were far away from God, godliness, and thinking Biblically. They thought rather of “business”, and making more and more.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us:

“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4 (KJV)

The prophet called by God, the door of the Temple, proclaimed to the people to “Amend your ways…” because they were going about their personal and business affairs as though they could get by with their evil deeds because God had promised that their kingdom, and the temple would be forever. Afterall they were the recipients of the word of God, the law of God, the ordinances of God; they need not worry about devotion to God or anything like that.

Lies, lies, and more lies is what the “gainsayers” were saying. “Gainsayers” could be those who are all for profit at the expense of godliness, Biblical living, and righteousness. They are out to make a profit at the expense of the public they supposedly serve. These false prophets are in the business for a profit, and to make as much profit as they possibly can, and to take advantage during times of trouble.

The prophet is calling for Judah to repent of neglecting godliness, repent of their listening to the lying words of the prophets for profit who would tell the people something like, “O, the temple will stand forever. Don’t worry about godliness, righteousness. We are sure and secure in the temple.” Lies, lies and more lies, and the people were perishing, headed for a captivity that would last for 70 years, and destroy the city of Jerusalem, and the temple.

Professing Christians, and deceived-sidetracked Christians of 2009, especially here in the USA can be found trusting in what we call capitalism. Capitalism is about profit; and the businesses of our country are in business to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with making profit; except when it begins to hurt others. When a profit making business does not pass its profits to its employees through bonuses, raises in wages, etc; or when they begin to raise their prices to make it hard or impossible for the poor, widow, orphan or lower wage earner to have a needed product they have become ungodly, and even greedy. Greed is not good. It may be American, but I personally want no part of greed.

Greed is officially taking trust away from God, His Word, and His ordinances, and putting trust in the power [seeming power] of wealth. Just as the people of Jeremiah’s day were trusting in the temple, because of the promise of God, they had made His promises vain by neglecting the right and godly things; trusting in the lies of the lying prophets. They did not amend their ways and ended up in captivity.

If the USA, and especially Christians, fail to amend her ways we too shall fall. We have received warning. We have fallen in status of world leadership to a small extent; but that will become greater. We are in captivity of sorts. Many are in captivity to debt.

The proper place to put our trust is in the Lord our God, the one who died for our sins on the cross of calvary, was buried, and rose again from the grave. He is coming again. Put your trust in Him. “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. He is your RIGHTFUL TRUST.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is There Anything Really NEW?

In the world of 2009 there are many who desire “New Thought”, or I believe some are called “New Progressives” who desire new thought concerning life, life issues, religion, government, politics, news, family, law, or whatever. However, it appears to me that there is nothing that is new under the sun. I know of a man who told us that, and wrote about thousands of years ago. He is known as the wisest of men who ever walked on earth. His name was Solomon. His words were, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

As I read the prophet Jeremiah, and the other prophets I see nothing new in today’s world. People are still people; desiring their own way, turning from God’s way, and yet there are those who profess to be God’s people, even Christian, who will tell us we have to change to get people’s attention. How do we change? What do we change? Are we to change the message of God’s Word. God remains the same. His message remains the same. If we change it we become liars, and liars have no part with God, nor His kingdom.

Hear the prophet –

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)

The “Old paths” of which Jeremiah speaks of of walking with God. Walking with God means being in agreement with God. The people of the prophet’s day were attempting to worship YaHWeH on the Sabbath day, and worship their way of life, or other gods the other six days of the week. They had abandoned the “old paths” by doing so, and the prophet was trying to call the people back to God; to repentance.

At first the attempt was to call them to repentance to prevent their captivity; however when the captivity became inevitable then, for repentance, that they might learn to live for God in captivity and be a witness to the foreign government to which they were going. The people needed rest for their souls due to their torment.

People in the United States of America are living tormented lives due to failing health, failing finances, unemployment, or threats of unemployment; and many family issues. People of the world need rest for their souls. Many are seeking rest through yoga, meditations, even prayer, yet rest doesn’t come. The “old paths” or “the good way” is not found in these things. The “old paths” are found only in following the dictates of God’s law. The “good way” is only in God’s way.

The prophet’s call is “Stand in the ways and see…” The “good way” is in the “old paths”, and this is found only in the Living Word of God; that is the person of His Son. Rather than accepting God’s way, the “old paths” and living “the good way” people still seek the “New thought” of helping themselves, following the paths of false religion found in yoga, meditations, and even in prayers. Understand me when I mention meditations and prayer. Meditating upon God’s Word, hearing God speak through His Word is good; and that is good meditation; anything else is devilish thought. Genuine heart prayer, seeking God’s will, understanding of His word, gaining wisdom from God, and seeking His direction and glory is expected of us. The prayer I refer to is the reading of prayer, rosary, planned recitations, which are filled with religious and pious thought, but no connection to heaven.

The sort of meditation and prayer which allows you to consort with godlessness while supposedly maintaining a relationship with God is fruitless for God and His glory. That is what the world, Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day was doing. That is what many of today’s world is doing as well. While wanting something new they follow the paths of the old rebels, rather than the “old paths” which we should follow in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.

The answer of the people to the prophet in that day was; “We will not walk therein”. If we choose to walk with the world, and take on their garments, we destroy our witness, our testimony of newness of life through Jesus Christ. We must put off the old man of flesh and sin; and put on the new man of life eternal (Ephesians 4:20-25); and also put away lying. The lying is done by confessing faith in Christ while also maintaining a life which is no different from the condemned and dying in sin.

I ask again, “Is anything really new?”

-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

Whatever Happened To Shame?

Shame is a word that has almost fallen by the way. Who uses the word “shame” anymore? You don’t hear it much. “You ought to be ashamed” a mother would say to a child who had just kicked a sibling, or a neighbor, or a friend. “Shame on you” some Dad would say to his son when he argued and disobeyed his mother, and then would get a whipping.

Shame? What does it mean? Well, now that you’ve asked let me answer. Shame, according to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary means, “a painful sense of having done something wrong, improper, or immodest 2. DISGRACE, DISHONOR, shameful”.

It seems that in the culture of the day that it is “wrong” to cause someone to feel ashamed. According to some called “experts”, “You ought to be ashamed to make someone aware of their shame.” In the day when you ought to be ashamed of shame, God’s Word still uses the word, and speaks the truth of how people should be ashamed of their actions.

Jeremiah the prophet writes,

“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 6:15 (KJV)

Of course the prophet is writing of how the people have rebelled against the LORD, turned their backs on Him, rejected His Word and His prophets, and because of this are going to experience cutting off from their land. Were they ashamed? It appears not according to the prophet.

It would seem that as a society gets more affluent, fat, lazy and complacent; they also get the knowledge of Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden; and think God is only known in knowing self. However, even Adam and Eve were ashamed when they heard the LORD walking in the garden. That appears to be disappearing from the culture of our day (2009).

Several who profess to have once known God through His Son Jesus Christ, turning their backs on God, His Word, His truth, and His prophets and people have no shame of turning from God.

O, people of God, Christian; when we sin against our God and Savior, let us be ashamed of our sin, confess it and forsake it. Let us be sure to maintain a proper fellowship with our LORD and God. Be ashamed when sin is in your life. Rejoice when it has been cleansed, forgiven and forgotten by our Father through His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), and it seems that shame is our condemnation when we are not walking in Him. Walking in Him is that blessed fellowship we have with Him in obedience which comes from our love for Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Will You Hear???

It would seem that people are looking for information. Information is available in about any form which you want. It is available online, on television, on radio, in movies or documentaries; and various other ways; even across the neighborhood fence.

Many people will listen to just about any form of info which they can find or hear. When it comes to spiritual information, and the matter of the truth they want their own form of the truth; even if it has no foundation. That is many people do. Thankfully not all.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day he preached, and proclaimed the word of the LORD; and some listened; or seemed to listen, but then would do nothing with what they heard.

“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” Jeremiah 6:10 (KJV)

The prophet had been given a message to deliver to the people of Judah concerning repentance, faith, and hearing the Word of the LORD, and they had no respect for God or His Word. It was a “reproach” to them. According to the MERRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary -Reproach means “1. a cause or occasion to blame or disgrace 2. DISGRACE, DISCREDIT 3 the act of reproaching; rebuke” In short for the prophet to say “the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach” was that they were ashamed of it; they had no respect for God or His Word.

Of all the sources of info we have today the Word of God is neglected by the majority, and rejected by them. Their rejection does not negate the fact of the truth. The truth is all that God has said will come to pass. Much of it has. All of it will. And of what then, will you be ashamed? Who will you hear today?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Eat Heartily

Today we look into the Prophets of the Old Testament.  These men were truly men of God who stood firm against the evil of their day; which was not unlike our own day.  We look into the prophet Jeremiah.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV).

The Word of God seems to have  been precious/dear to all those prophets of the Old Testament.  They all mention it in one way or another, and they endeavor to live by it and be pleasing to the LORD God.  There were times that the Word of God was not being proclaimed, nor was what they had preached being heard and practiced.  At those times were the times when God was being silent.

The prophet Jeremiah had a heart for God and His Word.  The Word was not lost except to the people, because they had not, nor would not hear it.  God brought Jeremiah to His Word.  Jeremiah devoured the Word, and found it to be “…the joy and rejoicing of mine heart”.  The Word of God is dear to those whose hearts are with the God of the Word.

Do you enjoy God’s silence?  I do not.  Is God really ever silent when we have His written word by our side, in our hand, and before our eyes?  Only if we do not hear it and apply it to our lives.  Let’s endeavor to be as Jeremiah.  When we “Find” the Word; let’s eat it heartily, then joy and rejoice in it.

When God is silent is the time for personal heart searching, praying, crying out to Him; and He will hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Taught By God

“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be taught of God’.  Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.”  Jesus  (John 6:45 KJV).

The prophets to whom Jesus was referring and the address of the words written in the prophets are Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; and Micah 4:2.  Maybe some who read this think, “My goodness is Jesus all he has to write about?”  He is the very reason for my being.  The very reason for my existence, and for yours as well.  He is worthy of so much more than what I can write or say.

You read in Genesis, and you will see Jesus when God has given you Light to see Him.  In Exodus Jesus is there as the lamb’s blood is put on the door posts and the lintel.  He is the Passover Lamb.  As the children of Israel journey through the wilderness,  Jesus is the Healing of the waters at Marah.  He is the Rock that followed them through the desert.  All of Scriptures testify of Jesus.

Do I ever get tired of speaking or writing about my Jesus?  Never.  I cannot do it enough.  The Revelator [John] wrote in the Spirit of the Lord, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”  Revelation 19:10 (KJV).  Jesus told those who hated Him; speaking of the Scriptures, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.”  Jesus (John 5:39 KJV).  To know God one must be Taught By God.

If you want peace, hope, encouragement in this life, and eternal life; then, give yourself completely to Jesus.  He gave His for you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Horrible Thing

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

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

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

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

Hear the words of God to the prophet –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

In A Foreign Land

Abraham, Sarah and Lot along with some servants had departed Ur of the Chaldees many years before, with a promise from God of a land; a Promise Land and promise of becoming a nation.  Becoming a nation meant having a son.  For years they had waited.  Since departing Ur many things had happened.  Lot and his family had gone their own way, along with his livestock and goods.

Now Sarah had died, and Abraham needed a place to bury her.  Only thing was he was in a land that was not his own.  He was a foreigner and  had to purchase some land or receive it from the owners as a gift.  The following is the narrative of what took place following the event of Sarah’s death:

“And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,  I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.  And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,  Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.  And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.  And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,  That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you…”  Genesis 23:3-9 (KJV)

The possessors of the lands knew Abraham, and knew he had been a good and decent neighbor.  They knew him to have been a honorable man, just and fair in dealing with the people of the lands around them.  So we have Heth making suggestion that he bury Sarah in one of their burial places.  This however does not sit well with Abraham.

Abraham desires to have a piece of land, for which he is willing to pay a price; a fair price; and that will have his ownership of it.  Through the purchase of this piece of land, the price paid for it would be security for future generations who would follow.  It would also be a fulfillment of the promise of the land, though at this time a small portion of it.

He had previously “planted a grove in Beersheba” land of the Philistines, and in doing so was placing a claim on that land.  Now he is purchasing a piece of land, and “planting” the body of his wife.  Would that not also be a claim on the land.  Many prayers of Abraham and Sarah had been offered in the almost sixty years of living in the land.  Many tears had been shed, and much blood had been shed as well defending themselves against thieves, kidnappers-slave traders, and cutthroats who just wanted to kill.

Now there would be an actual possession of the land.  The Promise of God was going to be fulfilled, and Abraham’s purchase was evidence of that faith in the promise.

A few years ago one church which I was pastor had an open lot.  Things were not going real well for the church financially, and it was brought up to sell the lot.  Well that was not how I believed the LORD  was leading us.  Financially it made sense to do so, but faith wise I believed we would not be trusting the Lord and His promises to us.  I had read where the prophet Jeremiah was called by God to purchase land as evidence of faith that the people of Judah would return to Israel following their captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 32).  I believed, and to this day I still believe that it was God’s guidance to keep that piece of land as promise that God was going to bless that church.  I don’t know if the church still has that piece of land or not; but for the time I believed it to be right, and the people decided it would be best not to sell it.

As Christians we are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, similar to Abraham.  When we purchase, possess, or own a piece of land; it is God’s land.  God owns all land on this earth.  It is His.  The Psalmist has written, quoting God “Every beast of the forest is Mine, and  the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), just a picturesque way of telling us that God owns it all.  We are to be good stewards of God’s land while we are here, but this world, this land on which we live is not what has been promised us.  There is a land greater and more grandeur than any land we can imagine here on this earth.

We have been promised the land which is called glory, heaven, with golden streets, gates of pearl, and a city with a foundation made of precious gems.  Even better than that, it is  the place where Jesus is.  Take away the golden streets, gates of pearl, and only Jesus; and that would be sufficient for me.

Do you know Jesus?  He is the one who came to this earth to die, and give His life as a payment for our sins.  The price of His blood was paid to God our Father as the full price of our sin, and made a way of reconciliation between lost, condemned, dead people and the Living God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.

Take care of the land and goods God has blessed you with here.  Use them to honor and glorify His name.  One day when He comes again He will take you to Himself; that where He is there we may be also.

-Tim A. Blankenship