Beware of the Hypocrite Authorities

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.’
” Matthew 23:1-12  (KJB)

The “Seat of Moses'” was the authority given to the teachers of the Law of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy).  These teachers had the responsibility to teach it.  They were responsible for being able to quote it without reading it.  They need to be applauded for the work of memory required to do that. However, they laid a load of condemnation on their people, and did little of nothing for their own holiness, and sanctification.

Most of the good works they did was for popularity with the people; to be seen of them. They sought the higher places to be seen of men.

Jesus tells His disciples, the multitude, and us, “Do what they teach according to the Law of Moses; but do not as the Pharisees do.”  Instead of exalting God; they exalted themselves.

As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ we are to live to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we exalt Him we exalt the Father.

Believe Him

Not the End; The Fulfillment

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
  Matthew 5:17-20  (KJB)

Remember this you who make an end of the Law and the Prophets.  These are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount

I Do Not Like the Old Testament…

I Do Not Like the Old Testament, Especially Leviticus

(Reading Exodus 38 – Leviticus 18) Exodus 39:30-32; 40:34-38; Leviticus 13:1-3

I just recently realized that I do not like Leviticus. It is painful to read. It is hard to understand. It is judgmental about human life and living. It condemns me.

Even if I do not like Leviticus there are some things I can learn from it. Then I need to apply that to my life.

1. We are continually reminded that God is Holy, and that He is the LORD.
2. We are reminded again and again that we are unholy and unclean.
3. We are reminded again and again that there must be a sacrifice, or there is no approaching God.
4. We are reminded that that the most basic sacrifice is the blood of a Lamb.

I wrote this in 2013 while I was studying Leviticus.

So that you may know; I do love the whole of the word of God from Genesis – Revelation, and that has been given me as God’s gift of grace.

The Law, the Warfare, and the Victory

THE LAW, THE WARFARE, AND THE VICTORY

Romans 7:1-25

OUTLINE –

I. THE AUTHORITY OF THE LAW (vv. 1-6).
II. THE MINISTRY OF THE LAW (vv. 7-13).
III. THE INABILITY OF THE LAW (vv. 14-25).

In the book of Romans Paul speaks much about the law. The same continues to be true in chapter seven.

Those who believe that by keeping the law one can attain God’s favor are “Legalists”. A “Legalist” has a set of do’s and don’ts that he/she tries to maintain, and more often expects others to maintain. Instead of obtaining God’s favor, however, she/he obtains her/his own and becomes condemning to others who do not meet their standards. The “Legalist” also soon discovers some things about himself which they may or may not confess.

The Christian is not under the ‘dominion’ or rule of the law; he/she is under grace. The ‘Old law’ was written in stone. The new becomes new, now, and only because it is written in our hearts. It is no longer an obligation, duty, nor means of gaining God’s pleasure, but longing desire, and pleasure of the Christian.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE LAW (vv. 1 – 6).

“To be under the law means that I must do something for God; to be under grace means that God does something for me.”

The laws authority is over us only so long as we are unredeemed, and it is condemning us. The unredeemed man is still totally self-ruled, and the law does hold him/her in its dominion.

Paul uses an illustration of this in marriage. According to the law, when a woman is married; and this applies to men too; to a husband – or a man to wife – she/he is bound to their spouse as long as the spouse lives. If they marry someone else while the spouse is still living the man or woman commits adultery. If the spouse dies they are no longer married, and are free to marry another. Paul is not addressing the issue of divorce and/or remarriage; he is using a known and familiar law to illustrate the authority of the law.

Notice, that, nowhere does Paul say that the law is dead. Instead, he writes, “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” No longer are we under the dominion – the rule, and condemnation – of the law, but under the majestic love and grace of Almighty God; Jesus Christ having lived in complete obedience to the demands of the law, and met the requirements of the law in His death on the cross. On the cross all the demands of holy God to redeem fallen mankind was finished.

Believing Jesus Christ, trusting Him we are born again. We have received a ‘New Spirit’. It is not the spirit of man, but the Spirit of God, and He revives or resurrects our spirit and empowers and enables us to walk in the Spirit, rather than trying to please God through obedience to the law.

THE MINISTRY OF THE LAW (vv. 7 – 13).

Some might think that if God never gave any laws we all would be better off. However, we would not know sin, unless there is law. The law was given for the benefit of mankind, not to harm us. Without law we would still be condemned, separated from God, and miserable.

Is the law sin? Paul writes, “God forbid”, “By no means”. Before Paul trusted Jesus he believed he was blameless before the law. He knew the words of the law forwards and backwards, and believed himself right with God, because he ‘Kept the law’ – outwardly.

The law causes sin to come into the open. It opens eyes to see how far we are from God’s expectations. Sin even increases with the law. As human beings we do not like rules and regulations; so when we know of a law instead of obeying it we see if we can get away with disobedience. Doing so increases the condemnation of the law.

The ministry of the law, then, is to show us that we are sinners; we are condemned, and fall far short of God’s expectations. When sin becomes sinful to us, then, the law has done its work.

THE INABILITY OF THE LAW (vv. 14 – 25).

Sin is enjoyed by the unredeemed. They enjoy their ‘freedom’ of living without realizing their actual blindness and bondage. They can enjoy sin until the law of God awakens them to their plight.

Even Paul enjoyed the life of a Pharisee. As a Pharisee he enjoyed the honor and respect given him by people. His ego was really sailing, because he knew the law. He prided himself in his ability to be ‘Pleasing to God’ by keeping the law.

Remember the law is good and holy. It does not cause sin, but neither can it deliver the sinner from sin.

When a person becomes a believer something amazing takes place. This redeemed individual receives a desire to walk with God – in agreement with Him. He no longer desires his own selfish way, but God’s way. He realizes that he cannot please God by doing, but only by believing.

With this reborn person a war, a struggle, if you will begins also. Although no longer under the dominion of the law the body of flesh desires sin while the mind – the will – desires God. The things my mind wants to do for God, I do not do. The things I do not want to do that are displeasing to God, I do. This struggle was not there before a person is redeemed. This is clearly a reference to a redeemed individual. She/he has a desire for what is godly, holy, and good. She/he has the desire to shun all that is evil. These are not in the life of the unredeemed.

This brings us to realize that the law is unable to redeem us; it only condemns us.

Who can deliver us from this struggle? Like Paul, “Thank God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

No Excuses

Every Mouth Stopped

Romans 3:9-20

Nature loudly proclaims that there is a Maker of all this creation. The very fact of the order of our universe declares an intelligence must have designed it all. It could not work with such precision otherwise. I write this to say that because of this no one who is has an excuse before God. If man has only the law of nature, and a conscience that teaches him right from wrong – a law in his heart – and that we, as human beings are to worship God we are responsible, and unless we believe God we shall perish.

There is, however, a greater responsibility upon those who have the written revelation of God. The Law, the Scriptures, the Word of God tells us what nature and conscience do, but also much more. We have previously seen that those without law (the written revelation) shall perish without law, and those with the law shall be judged [or perish] in the law (2:12). There are none who are guiltless. The only hope for any in repentance from sin to God for His righteousness.

IN READING THE SCRIPTURES; GOD LEAVES US NO DOUBT THAT SIN IS UNIVERSAL. (v. 9). “…Both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin…”

Is the Jew better than the pagan Gentile? Is the religious better than the Non-religious? Is the moral individual better than the immoral individual? NO! Not as far as sin and its condemnation is concerned.

In the previous chapters we have seen every level of humanity, and that we are all without excuse before God. Contrary to what any legalist may say, the Law offers no hope; it only shows us death.

WITHOUT THE REDEMPTION OF JESUS CHRIST THE WHOLE INNER BEING OF MAN IS CONTROLLED BY SIN (vv. 10-12). The mind, the heart and the will of unredeemed mankind are all under the control of sin. It is the inner being that affects the way we live our lives.

With the unredeemed mind we have no “Understanding” of God”, “…There is none that understandeth.” With the unredeemed heart, “There is none that seeketh after God”. With the unredeemed will of man, there is “None that doeth good”.

Are we to understand by the phrase “None that doeth good” that no lost, unredeemed person ever does anything good? No! It means that he/she does no good that glorifies the Lord. Nothing good that is done by an unredeemed person will affect God’s judgment of them for their good.

No one seeks God, except God seeks them first. No one has “understanding” of God until God gives them that understanding. It is all by grace, and none of you or I. God Himself, receives the glory.

The word “Righteous” means God’s standard. That is the standard we must meet if we are to gain God’s approval. That righteousness is not obtainable in ourselves. It is only obtained through faith in Jesus Christ.

The words “No, not one” is mentioned twice in three verses – ten and twelve. God says, that there is absolutely “No one” who meets His standard for righteousness. In order for us to please God we must see as He sees. We must see that sin is a stench in His nostrils. It offends His sense of holiness and purity. We most certainly must see that it separates us from Him. If we have trouble seeing the devastation sin causes in human relations and in the creation, then, there is no fellowship with God.

THESE VERSES SHOW THAT WE ARE ALL CONDEMNED FROM THE TOP OF OUR HEAD TO OUR TIPS OF OUR TOES (vv. 13-18). The mouth as all know is part of the head. The throat is the area that provides air for the ability to make sounds, and swallow food (I could not forget that part on food). Paul says that the throat of depraved man “Is an open sepulchre”, “an open tomb”. The sepulchre or tomb was a place for the buried dead. Unredeemed man is incapable of speaking words of life.

There is deceit from their tongues. Lying is a common practice of people who do not know God. Sad to say it is of some professing Christians too. If your heart is indulged in your own way, then, your words will show your own way. These will be the main mode of communication. No words will glorify the Lord. Your mouth will speaks words of life or words of death.

Christians must maintain a close fellowship with the Lord, and on a daily basis. We are to walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. No Christian can walk in the Spirit if they do not maintain a daily fellowship with God in prayer, Bible reading and study, walking with God His way.

Speaking of the feet Paul says, “Their feet are swift to shed blood”. This is because of an unredeemed heart, mind and will. Paul has a positive thing to say of the feet of those who preach the gospel (Rom. 10:25).

The real reason “…feet are swift to shed blood” is because, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” When nations, kings, rulers, citizens, and believers in Christ no longer fear God there will be no more respect for life, and Human life in particular. The love of God has been abused, misused, and misunderstood. “God is love”, but He also hates sin and will judge it. Because, God is love, He judges sin. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).

ALL “WHO ARE UNDER THE LAW”, EVERY MOUTH STOPPED, AND “ALL THE WORLD… GUILTY” (vv. 19-20). Every man, woman, boy and girl is responsible to God for their sin. The Gentile people of the world (all who are not Hebrew” are responsible and worthy of death because they have the law of conscience and of nature. Both of these are a law declaring a holy, righteous, and all powerful God who is worthy of worship and praise. The conscience and nature condemns us.

The written law given to the Jews, was and is a clear revelation of God to man; to show man’s need for God. This written law also condemns us. It has no life of its own to save or deliver us from sin.

Let’s say your family physician tell you one day, and some of you have experienced this, “You have cancer”, and then, he tells you, “I am only your family physician, I am not a specialist, nor a surgeon”. This doctor is performing the work of the law. He cannot help you, but he will point you toward the one who can – the surgeon or specialist.

Doctor Law says, “You have sin in your life. I can’t help you, but Doctor Grace can.”

This law; written, nature, or conscience declares the righteousness of God. Because of sin we are cut off from God. Because of law we are made knowledgeable of this eternal separation.

No one has an excuse for sin. There is no amount of good deeds, religious ritual, or moral behavior that can gain God’s favor. We have God’s favor by His grace through faith. No work, but God’s work is sufficient to deliver us.

The law stops every mouth from saying, ‘I am good enough. Look at what I have done. I have been faithful in church attendance, and Sunday School. I never beat my wife or cheated my neighbor. My good deeds will out weigh my bad ones.” Jesus, Himself will say to you in that day, “I never knew you; depart from me ye worker of iniquity”.

You and I have absolutely nothing which God wants, except faith in Him. He gives us that too.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Salvation Through Works

Romans 1:1 – 7

Romans – God’s Gospel of Grace

OUTLINE OF ROMANS –
I. Introduction (vv. 1:1 – 17).
II. The sinfulness of man (vv. 1:18 – 3:20).
III. Salvation – Justification throught the righteousness of Christ (3:21 – 5:11).
IV. Death and Life with Christ and walking in the Spirit (5:12 – 8:13).
V. The fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel (8:14-39).
VI. Covenant promises of Israel are secure (Chapters 9 – 11).
VII. The life of Christian living and service (12:1 – 15:33).
VIII. Christian love in overflow (16:1-27). In verses 1 – 7 we see several things concerning the apostle Paul and our own calling.

Verse 1 – Paul was a willful slave/servant. He was appointed by God as an apostle of Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel. He could do no other thing
To proclaim the goodness of Christ he was “Separated” unto Him for a lifetime of faithfulness and blessing.

Verse 2 – The promise of the gospel was given by all the prophets. They all foretold of a Deliverer who would come, and deliver them from their captors, but ultimately from the sin which called them into captivity.
The law would be “written in their hearts” and put in the “inward parts”. See Jeremiah 31:33-34. The gospel is also a call to all people of the earth to repent and turn to Christ (Joel 2:32).

Verse 3 – God’s Son was made flesh. Made in the likeness of men, yet without any sin. He always did those things which pleased His Father, even to the death on the cross.

Verse 4 – Jesus’s life was lived in wisdom and grace. His words were spoken from the heart of God. His miracles were done by the power of God. There was no life which came into contact with Him who was not touched in some way or other.
He spoke of His death; His disciples did not want to hear that. He said, “Destroy this temple [speaking of His body] and in three days I will rise again.” He promised He would come again. Just as He came the first time He will come again. How can we know this to be true?
By His resurrection from the dead. This confirmed every word He had spoken. The resurrection confirmed the works which He did. The power of the resurrection proved beyond any doubt for those who have eyes to see, that this is the Son of God, and glory belongs to Him alone.

Verse 5 – It is by Jesus – His death, burial and resurrection that we have received grace and calling. You are called to Him. You are called “saint” – not by some religious heirarchy, but by the God of creation Himself. It is solely by His grace we have this calling. It is by this grace alone we are called to service.

Verse 6 – You and I may not be an apostle like Paul, but we are still called by Christ Jesus to faith and eternal life, and all the blessings and spiritual gifts that go with it. Think of all that we have in Jesus. Peace with God, joy, love, patience, self control, daily filling of the Spirit of God is available for all of us; another thing is that we have the power to say “NO!” to sin, and “YES” to Christ.

Verse 7 – Remember you are called “Saint” by God Himself. Not for any good you have done, but because of the righteousness of Jesus.

Grow in this wonderful grace of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

May God bless you richly.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Tall Order

Shiloah Baptist Church

The Scripture reading for today is 1 Kings 4 – 6…

“And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, ‘Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in My statutes, and execute My judgments, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I perform My word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.'” 1 Kings 6:11-13 (KJB)

In our text Solomon and the people were in a large building campaign of building the Temple which had been in King David’s heart to build.  It was not a commandment from God. You see nowhere where David or Solomon are given the design of it from God.  It was David’s design.  God allows its building because it was in David’s heart to always honor the LORD in…

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When There is no Rule of Law

Shiloah Baptist Church

Please read Judges 17 – 19 for today…

“Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.”  Judges 19:26-27 (KJB)

It is stated at least three times in Judges that there was no king in Israel.  Chapters 19:1 and 21:25 are two of those references.  Since there was no king there was no direct human guidance for any law.  We must remember the people of Israel did have God’s law, and they had strayed in horrible fashion.

When there is no rule of law people become a a…

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Found Praying Against the Law

“Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.” Daniel 6:11-17ff (KJV)

DANIEL IS FOUND PRAYING, ACCUSED, AND CONVICTED (vv. 11-17). The spies went back to work as soon as the decree was signed. Spying on only one man it seems. What treachery and deceit.

Daniel was guilty as charged. Oh that we might be found praying. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Is there enough evidence in your life; in mine; to prove you guilty of being a Christian? If I were to die on my knees in prayer, witnessing to a lost person, or preaching from the pulpit; I could not think of a better place or way to go home to Heaven from.

These men are very persistent in getting the king to fulfill his own decree. The laws of the Medes and Persians are not altered (v. 8). What was the king to do? He tried all day to find a way out for Daniel. The king loved Daniel. Finally, with much pain of heart, disgust, and probably discontent toward himself for decreeing such a law, and toward these others the king declares Daniel guilty and sentences him to the lion’s den.

THE KING’S NIGHT OF UNEASY FASTING, SLEEPLESSNESS – AND DANIEL’S NIGHT WITH THE LIONS (vv. 18-23). Darius spent the night tormented by what he had done. He would not eat. He refused to sleep. “No musical instruments” implies he refused to sleep. The music was used to sooth a troubled soul – he refused it.

The king was probably first to the lion’s den the next morning. He cries out to Daniel. There must have been some faith there. He had some hope that Daniel was alive or he would not have called out his name. Notice the king’s testimony, “Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually able to deliver thee from the lions?” Living God; as opposed to the dead gods of the Medes and Persians.

Daniel was alive. God had sent “His angel”. Who was this? It is most likely the same one who walked in the fire with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah [Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego]. (Remember I am wanting the readers here to know there God given names). None other than the pre-incarnate Son of God. A Sunday School teacher was teaching a children’s class the story of Daniel. One little girl said she knew why Daniel was delivered from the lions. She said, “Because, the chief lion was ‘the Lion of the Tribe of Judah’”. What a wonderful answer. With Daniel in the lion’s den the lions – by God’s power – reverted back to their pre-fall condition; non meat eating, but rather eating of grass, roots, fruits and such. I can sort of imagine Daniel sitting down and one big male comes walking up to him, not growling, but purring like a kitten, brushing his side up next to Daniel’s leg. Daniel gets cold during the night and a lioness comes and lays next to him to keep him warm, and Daniel using one as a pillow on which to lay his head.

The king spends the night in a comfortable castle, with a comfortable bed – if there was such a thing in that age – but cannot sleep. Daniel rests in peace, and is warmed by the one’s who were supposed to slay him and have him for the last evening’s supper.

There was no mark or hurt found on Daniel. He was taken out of the lion’s den in the same shape as he was cast in. Most likely with a stronger faith in God now, than when he was thrown in the den.

JUDGMENT COMES ON THE SCHEMERS AND PLOTTERS; THE JEALOUS ONES (v. 24). The conspirators are judged with the same judgment that they judge – “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” Matthew 7:2 (KJV).

In the book of Esther Haman schemes to have Mordecai hanged. His scheme is revealed to the king and Haman is hanged on his own gallows. Schemers will be found out and judged. Even if they are politicians, kings or presidents.

THE KING RECOGNIZES AND YIELDS TO THE POWER OF DANIEL’S GOD (vv. 25-28). Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar, makes a decree declaring Jehovah, the God of Daniel, as the only living God. His kingdom “Shall not be destroyed” as opposed to the kingdoms of men. God’s sovereignty is forever and over all that is.

Notice the final verse of chapter six. Daniel prospered during the reign of the Medes and Persians. WHY? Because of His faithfulness to God

FOUR QUALITIES OF DANIEL, THAT CHRISTIAN’S NEED IN EVERY AGE:

  1. He had a consistent attitude;

  2. He was consistent in his performance;

  3. He had a consistent purity;

  4. He was consistent in prayer.

Let us pray to be consistent in these practices, and watch God be glorified.

A life like this (the life of consistency) begins by believing in Christ Jesus through His death on the cross for our sins, His burial – carrying away our sin, our shame, our guilt, our condemnation, and death; and He was gloriously raised from the grave, and He forever lives.  Believe Him, and live with Him forever, beginning the moment you believe.

The Gospel at Work

The apostle Paul is defending himself; and it is yet to be determined what his penalty will be for preaching the gospel to the hard hearted religious leaders who hated Jesus.  Accusations are hurled of “Heresy”, and maybe to the religious Jew, with their strict adherence to the Law; it probably was.  None the less the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth.

Hear Paul’s defense (Acts 24:10-21)…

“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:14-15 (KJV)

Paul did not deny the heresy charges, but rather confirmed what he believed concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:32-33).

Paul had not changed his belief’s concerning the Law and the Prophet, he had only received the One of whom the Law and the Prophets had spoken.  His name is Jesus the Messiah of Israel; and that is not what the religious establishment wanted to hear.

Thing we Christians need to realize is that no matter what kind of thing happens in our lives we must be ready to present the gospel of Jesus, without fear, favor or compromise.  On trial for our faith?  Share the gospel.  Laying in a hospital bed?  Share the gospel.  Stopped for speeding?  Respect the officer, and share the gospel.  Before the traffic court Judge?  Take your medicine, and share your faith – if not by words, at least by your actions toward the verdict.  You get the point.

Your life; whether there is a chaotic event, or no specific event in your life; is a witness.  Make it a good one.  When your life testifies to the genuineness of your faith, then share the words.

The Only Bible They Had

Several years ago I read a book by Philip Yancey titled “The Bible Jesus Read”, and it opened my eyes concerning the Scriptures.  I began looking at the Bible in a whole new way.

When we read the New Testament which is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to mankind, we see Jesus.  The Old Testament was the only Scriptures which Jesus had, and the only Scriptures which the apostles had; because the New Testament was only a work in progress.

Many a New Testament Christian in our day wants to shun the Old Testament, and not even use it for reading, or study; however, the Christian does herself, or himself a great disservice by doing so.  Let us look at the last five verses of Acts 18…

“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Acts 18:24-28 (KJV)

Apollos was a Jew who was an eloquent speaker, and “Mighty in the Scriptures” meaning that he was quite familiar with them, could quote much, if not the whole of them, and defend them.  He, in our day, might have been called an “Apologists of the Scriptures”.  However, this is not about Apollos.  I want us to focus on the Person of the Scriptures.

After Priscilla, and Aquila had “Expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” then the Scriptures did a work in him, and by his greater understanding and the presence of the Holy Spirit convinced other Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

The Scriptures, the Old Testament, is about Jesus the Christ – the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of all mankind.  Some have said that you can find Jesus Christ on every page of the Old Testament.  In the Law;  In the Prophets;  In the Historical books;  In the Wisdom/Poetry books you find Jesus.

Someone put it this way:  “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”

The human author of the Revelation of Jesus Christ has written;

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”” Revelation 19:10 (NKJV)

When we read the Old Testament we read of Jesus who was to come to die for the sins of the world; then to return as a reigning King.  When we read the New Testament we read of Jesus who had come, who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose from the grave; and has said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3).  So, as Christians, we await His return.  Be ready by getting into the Scriptures, and grow in Him.

No Yoke

Sometimes there is strife, and arguments in the Church.  Maybe that is whey there are so many different denominations; but I think it probably goes beyond our differences.

Even in the early Church there was conflict.  Since the first members of the first Church were Jewish, having believed the Law, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature – all of Scripture; then they had to deal with how the Gentiles fit into their beliefs.  That is what the conflict was over in Acts 15.

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:6-12 (KJV)

There were some in the Jerusalem Church who were teaching that the Gentile believers which had believed needed to agree with the law of Moses, and follow Jewish practices.  The verses above are the apostles defense of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.

The Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentile believers without the Law.  Why would, or why should they be expected to be put under the “Yoke” of the Law, “…Which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear…”.

We must understand, however, that freedom from the “Yoke of the Law” does not mean freedom to sin.  Since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying sins death, condemnation, guilt, and bondage with Him; then rising from death leaving those things far away; we are free.  It does mean freedom from sin, and its yoke of bondage and death.

It is stated again in the text above.  “…We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they…”  Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace through faith in the work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Eighty and Eight

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

It would appear that the fulfilling of the “Law and the prophets” is the ultimate fulfillment of Righteousness; according to the words of Jesus.  We see that Jesus is the fulfillment, because we have no Righteousness except through Him.

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the righteousness of Christ to reign in my life, so that others might see Him in me, be convicted of sin, turn from their sin to Christ, calling on His name for salvation.

There is no righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, except that of Jesus.

Day Three Hundred and Twelve

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to better understand Freedom; especially the liberty Christians have in Jesus Christ; and I want all to understand that Freedom/Liberty is not free from responsibility.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galations 5:1

Day Three Hundred and Fifteen

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to love my neighbor as I love myself.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”” Exodus 20:12-17 (NKJV)

“And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

Also see Day 317

Day Three Hundred Twenty and One

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to want what is best for you and others; whether it be wealth, good health, family, peace, justice, love, grace, etc.; over what I want for myself.

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)

Shutting Up the Kingdom of Heaven

There is something about the gospel of Christ that the worldly man, even some of the spiritual elite who hate it. Some people want, desire people to follow them, their teachings, their philosophies, and when the true gospel of Christ Jesus is presented; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ they stand against it.

One of the Communist leaders of the past said, “Religion is an opiate of the people” or something very similar to that. Sad part about that statement is is that it is mostly a true statement. Religion blinds minds, cripples thinking, and makes captives of a people who ought to be free.

Something many people need to realize is that true Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ came into the world to free us from our sin, and its condemnation; our captivity to fear. There were those in the days of Jesus Christ who would not believe the message of Christ, because it freed the people from the binding message of their religion.

Jesus said,

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13 (KJV)

This is the beginning of seven woes announced, by Jesus, against the scribes who were teachers of the law, and the Pharisees who were a religious sect of the day. During the days of Jesus it would seem that their duty, and work was to keep people from the kingdom of God and heaven. In essence to keep their followers from following Jesus Christ.

These woes are announcements against them. They are working ruin. Religion for the most part is against Christ. Religion is the attempts of men, women, and children to try to gain God’s favor their own way; in their own personal labors. Faith in Christ Jesus is coming to God His Way trusting only in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is for the grace of God. Grace is shown to us through the cross of Jesus. God putting on His Son all the unrighteousness, all the filth of sin, and its condemnation; and pouring His wrath on His only begotten Son. Then, when you or I look to Jesus God places on us all the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Now, all those who receive this precious, eternal gift, have eternal life with Jesus forever. Do not let the teaching of men and religion that is false keep you from the kingdom. The kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself.

In Darkness; There is Light

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19-20 (KJV)

It seems that many of the people of God, the people of Israel were searching for answers in all the wrong places. Their hearts had grown hard and dull to the light of God’s Word, and His messengers the prophets, and the Law. They were seeking out “wizards” and “Necromancers” seeking a word for their future. This God has forbidden for His people (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-11). King Saul was guilty of the practice with the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:8-19), and due to his rebellion and pride he was killed in battle, along with Jonathan his son, the very next day.

There is no where the people of God; and Christians of today; need to go for answers, and the truth except to the Word of God. He has given His Word of truth in the Bible. It is found from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.

Any man or woman who does not teach or preach according to what God has given us in His Word is not of God. There is no light in them. The message of the Word of God exalts the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is about Him. It is not about you. It is not about me. These things are written that all may know that He is the LORD of all the earth.

Any who speak not according to His Word; there is no light in them. They are in darkness. O perishing soul; come to the Father through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; God the Son, and the Son of God.

The Time for God to Work

“It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law. Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:126-128 (KJV)

The heart of the Psalmist is for the LORD to work His work. To show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). We too need to see the LORD do His work.

Who are the “They” the one’s who “have made void” the law of GOD? They are the one’s who toss out the word, the law, the precepts, testimonies, commandments, judgments, and ordinances of God; and counted them product of antiquity, no longer relevant for life, culture or society.

The Psalmist says, “I love Thy commandments above gold… fine gold”. He holds them in great respect, esteem, highly regard the word of the LORD. He sees them as being right, correct in every way, and because of that he hates every false way.

It is my heart that I will love what God loves, and hate everything God hates. He does hate some things; and He loves the people of the world. He has loved so much that He gave His only begotten, holy, righteous, undefiled Son to die for our sins on the cross, was buried to carry all our sin, shame, guilt, death, and condemnation away; then He arose bodily from that grave conquering all those things that we might fellowship with Him.

Unaltered, Unbroken

“If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; if they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” Psalm 89:30-34 (KJV)

The Psalm has much to do with God’s promises to the Davidic line of the kingdom of Israel. Written by Ethan the Ezrahite; possibly a Levitical singer mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:43, and 15:17-19 (From the MacArthur Study Bible note on Psalm 89: Title).

One of the things that I have noticed in the study of Scripture over the years; that there is one thing that truly stands out; and that is that God loves His people, and receives us just as we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. That is why He chastises, disciplines, and corrects us.

No one of us would ever think or say that the discipline or chastisement of the LORD is a pleasant thing; no more than we would say that when our father took us out behind the wood shed that that was a pleasant thing. We learn from our Father’s chastisement; and we should be grateful for it.

Even though God chastens His children He will never forsake us. His covenant will not be broken, neither will the thing that has gone out of His lips be altered.

Something those who claim to be Christian and God’s people need to realize in our day. God, neither His Word, neither His covenant changes with the times or the seasons. He does not change to fit the culture; neither does His Word.

God’s word is sure, stedfast, relevant for the day, and it is still powerful; and every jot and tittle will be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). Stand with God, and His Word; or fall for anything.

Confusing Laws

“The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.” Esther 3:14-15 (KJV)

The book of Esther is partly about a Jewish girl in the captivity in Shushan during the reign of Ahasuerus. The name of God is never mentioned, but let us never think that He is not seen, nor heard, nor in control of the events of the great book.

Haman is from the Amalekites who are descendants of Esau. They have hated the Hebrew people for at least a thousand (1,000) years. The Jewish people fought them from the time of their departure from Egypt, in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-14). Haman is a descendant of Agag from 1 Samuel 15, and due to this history has a vendetta to kill and destroy the Hebrew people. He schemes and plots; after his appointment as the chief prince of the Shushan; and convinces the king to give the writing (3:11-13), and destroy, to kill all the Jewish people throughout the land.

In looking at verse 14 above; the final part of the last sentence says, “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” ie. “confused”. This was pure and simply a plot of demonic proportions. For God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Yet we will see that God is in complete control to preserve and protect His people.

The king and Haman sat down to drink, to celebrate the writing; yet the city was confused. When kings and rulers make laws that confuse the people that is a simple sign that the laws and the rules are not to benefit the people.

There is peace, there is stability, there is knowledge, and there is wisdom for the people of God; for those who follow God’s way to life.

Wake up today, and walk in the law of God. Do not trust in the edicts of men; they only lead to confusion. The way of God is through the cross of Jesus Christ. He died, was buried, and rose again. One day He is returning to take His people to His place; then returning to this earth to rid the earth of all sin and evil. Join Him by trusting in His Son and His finished work.

The Revealed Things

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 (KJV)

There are many things which belong to God that He has not revealed to us in His word or in any other way. We have been given the things we need to know that we may obey Him and His word.

Someone has said, “It is not the things I do not understand about the Bible that causes me problems; it is the parts I do understand.” At least something similar to that, and with that I sympathize. The parts we do understand are the ones we do not practice as we ought.

So why should we spend time trying to understand the “secret things that belong unto the LORD”, and leave undone the things we do understand? That is to our shame.

God has revealed to us His Son Jesus Christ. He [Jesus] is the fulness of God revealed to creation . Let us follow Him, walk in His footsteps and by the power of His Spirit within us be like Him in our living; in our words, our walk, our witness.

The Works of the Son of God

“…Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?   …Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, Ye are gods?’  If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, ‘Thou blasphemest;’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?  If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not.  But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”  ~Jesus (John 10:31-38)

True Judgment

“…I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. …Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of Me.  …Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.”  ~Jesus  (John 8:12-20)

When the LORD has not Spoken

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

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

-T.A.

To Know the LORD

Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant, and trespassed against My law.  Israel shall cry unto Me, ‘My God, we know Thee.’  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.  They have set up kings, but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.”  Hosea 8:1-4 (KJV)

Hosea is speaking to the people who claim to be God’s children.  Those who claim to know God, “My God, we know Thee.”  Yet, they do not keep His law.  They do not heed His word.

The LORD counts it a vile, wicked and unruly thing for those who claim to know Him, and do not obey His law, nor keep His Word.  There is judgment for those who claim to be God’s people, yet live as the people of the earth.

GOD is full of mercy and grace which is found and received only through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  Hear Him.  Believe Him.  Be saved today.

-T.A.

Day 81 – The Power of the Cross of Christ

There have been some wonderful photo shots of lightening of late.  There is a whole lot of power in each one of those bolts of light.  The  one’s who know those things could tell you how much, but I am coming up without any trivia on that except to know there is so much power that just one bolt can kill a man with one quick flash.  I know that because I had a cousin who was killed by lightening many years ago.

I am fascinated by lightening, and its power; yet I know at least  one greater Power.  He is the One who formed the Universe, and placed everything in unison, and precision.  This post is not about lightening however, it is about the power of the cross of Christ.

My reading this morning was 2 Corinthians 7 through Galations 6.

The apostle Paul had written this letter as an encouragement for their agreement with him concerning the sin of the young man of 1 Corinthians 5; his correction of the matter, and the young man’s coming around to repent, and now Paul has told them to receive the man back again into the fellowship.  He then, however, addresses another issue.

It seems that they are gullible for any persuasive teacher who might come to them with a different message –

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (KJV)

He warns them of the deception of Satan who works through false apostles and teachers (11:13-15).  It seems to me that we live in the midst of many professing Christians who are believing and falling for anything in our day; and neglecting the power of the cross of Christ.  In the final chapter of Second Corinthians the apostle exhorts them to “Examine yourselves…” –

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  13:5

Where Paul was concerned about the Corinthian church’s possibility of being deceived; we find that the Galatian church had fallen for the deception of the Jewish legalists. From May 18, 2011 through April 11, 2012 we studied the book of Galations at Carr Lane Baptist Church. Follow this link to the study notes for that Wednesday evening study.   Hear what the apostle says to the Galation church –

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.'” Galations 1:6-9 (KJV)

The Judaizers [legalists] had come in and were convincing the Gentile converts that they needed to practice Jewish law; especially the law of circumcision; or they could not be saved.  Paul is correcting this false teaching, this deceiving lie; and expressing with great conviction the power of the cross of Christ.  It is by the cross of Christ Jews and Gentiles are born again.  There is no law one needs to keep, no sacrament, no ordinance, one must keep in order to be saved.  By the cross of Christ you are saved.

The apostle has written,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  2:20

and also we read,

 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galations 6:14-16 (KJV)

For anyone who adds a sacrament, an ordinance, a law, unto grace; it ceases to become grace, and becomes a debt which God owes.  God owes no man anything.  He has purchased us with the blood of His own Son.  That is the power of the cross of Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 69 – Discourse Unto Death

Christians the world wide celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday.  We often fail to remember that Jesus was more than a martyr though.  He was more than a man dying for a cause.  He was the Man sent to fulfill all the law and the prophets.  He was the God/Man sent and set to fulfill the Scriptures.

There is many a time in Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus where we read something like, “That the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, even up to His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Matthew records several discourses which Jesus spoke.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7).  The second was in chapter 13 and was short messages dealing with the kingdom.  One had to do with Him sending forth His disciples with the message of the kingdom (chapter 18).  The final one is called the Olivet Discourse, and deals with the last days, and His return following His death.

My reading this morning took me from Matthew 15 through 28.  Today’s reading took me a little more than an hour, and I struggled with the length, and time spent;  however, I was blessed in reading the Scriptures; especially since they were spoken by my Saviour and Lord.

In chapter 17 of Matthew we have an event that is also recorded in Mark 9 and Luke 9; and that is the event of Jesus’s  Transfiguration.  It is a meeting that takes place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  We read,

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, ‘Arise, and be not afraid.’  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

In the appearance of Moses we have the representative of the Law.  In the appearance of Elijah we have the representative of the Prophets.  Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, thus the voice out of the cloud which spoke was that of the Father, declaring that His Son holds all authority of the Law and the Prophets.  He says,  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

At this transfiguration the three disciples; Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His glorified state.  This event of itself, then with the testimony of His Father gives the disciples assurance, that this truly is the God/Man, Son of God and King of kings.  They would need to learn to trust that now was not the time for His reign, but the time of His sacrifice.

With these several discourses of Jesus He went to the cross,  presenting Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people; laying His own life down on the cross, forsaken by the Father, buried in a borrowed tomb, rising again victoriously from that grave.  After His resurrection He gives another short discourse,

“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life of Jesus the King of kings was to give His life.  In His life we have many teachings on how to live, have faith, trust, and pray.  He did not come at this time to rule, but to serve us and to die for our sins.  He did, and He rose again.  He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 36 – Thoughts from Psalms

With my reading yesterday I ventured into the first nine Psalms.  First, let me clear some things up. When we speak of the “Book of Psalms” it is used in the plural.  If we speak of one Psalm it is “Psalm”.  Such as Psalm 1, Psalm 50,  you get the idea.  Psalms has no chapters, they are referred to as Psalms.  There are 150 Psalms in this great Bible Hymnbook.

The Psalms are written by a few different men.  David is the most noted one; then there is Moses who could have  written Psalms 90 – 100; he is noted as having written Psalm 90.  There is a possibility that Daniel wrote Psalm 137, or at least someone who had been taken captive to Babylon.  There is also a fellow by the name of Asaph who wrote some of the Psalms.

The longest Psalm is 119 having 176 verse; and the shortest Psalm is 117 having only 2 verses.

Of course it makes no difference who the human author is; they are here by the inspiration of God; and they are both a corrective instrument of God as well as words of encouragement to all who read them.  It would be great to have heard them sung from the mouths and hearts of those who wrote them.

My reading today was from Psalms 10 – 23.  I am going to rest at Psalm 19 for this post today.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.    The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.   More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.   Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”  Psalm 19:7-11 (KJV)

This Psalm of course, especially in these verses magnify the Law and Word of God.  Notice the words used to convey to us the emphasis of God’s Word.  “Law of the LORD”,  “testimony of the LORD”, “statutes of the LORD”,  “commandments of the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, and “judgments of the LORD”.  Perfection is the word used by the psalmist speaking of the power to convert.  Its “testimony” makes the simple wise.  Its “statutes” are right and rejoices the heart.  The commandment is “pure” “enlightening the eyes”.  “The fear of the LORD is clean”, and endures forever.  His “judgments”  are true and righteous, and that makes me think of 2 Peter 1:20,

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Included verse 21.

The Word of God is more important for the Christian and their daily walk with God than are three meals of food per day, which is good for the body we abide in.

You will notice too, that the one who walks with God will find that the Word of God is desired more than gold, even the finest gold.  It is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; now that is sweet, and it is for the soul who is in a just state with God.  It can become bitter to the soul who is not righteous in God’s sight.  There is also warning for the “servant” of God; and there is “great reward” for those who keep His Word.

Jesus Christ Son of the Living God said,

“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.'” John 6:29

The One whom God has sent is, of course His Son Jesus Christ, and He came to die for your sins and mine.  He died on the cross, was buried taking our sin’s guilt, and condemnation away, and arose bodily from the grave justifying those who believe Him, by the Father in Heaven.

Believe the Word of God for they are what testifies of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 13 – The Curse of the Tree

In reading Deuteronomy 15 – 28 today I came across these familiar verses,

 “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)

To hang a man on a tree was a form of what we call “capital punishment”; an offense worthy of death.  A penalty that today is frowned on by many.  The arguments go something like this; “It doesn’t make sense to kill one human being because they killed one.”  or maybe “Violence begetteth violence.”  Some might even say “The death penalty is not for a cultured, modern, educated people.”

When we, however, consider the Word of God and His commands for the death penalty and why we can have no legitimate argument against God for this divine punishment.  God says every human being is made in His image.  There is not one who is more or less in the image of God.  For one to take a human life maliciously, with hatred, and forethought is murder; and God says this requires “Life for life”.  If the murderer is allowed to live it broadcast to the community that this life is of more value than the life that was maliciously taken.

Of course, there is also the requirement of evidence of guilt.  A murderer can only be found guilty by the testimony of at least two witnesses.  We read these things in the reading of God’s laws; as recapped in Deuteronomy, and previously in Exodus and Leviticus.

One of the things we learn from this is that each human life is valuable.  None less and none more so than another.

Now, back to “The curse of the tree”.  This verse is even mentioned in the New Testament from Paul’s epistle to the Galations;

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:'” Galations 3:13

We are all guilty of offending God, His holiness, His righteousness, and His law.  We are guilty and worthy of death.  We are just as cursed as the man who hangs on a tree.  We read, however, that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…”  When Jesus Christ died on that cross [the tree] he became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and because He became the curse of sin for us; we were given His righteousness, thus we now have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

Through His burial the guilt and condemnation of sin was carried away; and by His resurrection He bodily arose victorious over death’s condemnation and overcame the curse of the tree.

Blessed be the name of the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 9 – The Way to Go

In our readings of Leviticus, and now into Numbers we find much law; and there; probably by some people’s accounting; is little grace.  However, I find that assessment of “little grace” hard to accept.  It is, afterall, by God’s grace that He gave us Law.

I have a couple of sets of verses we will look at today.  The first is when Moses enters into the Tabernacle;

“And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and He spake unto him.”  Numbers 7:89 (KJV)

With the building of the Tabernacle finished and set up after the direction of the LORD; Moses enters into the finished work, to hear from the Creator/Architect.  To hear the voice of the one who is Lord of all is the desire of every child of God.  Most of the time it has been the LORD who is speaking; and that is as it should be.

Far too often we want to speak, even to God; and He approved of us speaking to Him; however, it is first necessary that we listen to and hear Him.  It is His heart we need when we come to Him.  It is He who gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4); we find those desires by knowing Him, His heart, and hearing His Word.

How do we know when it is time to do something?  Say, to move from where we live, to move out of what has become called our “Comfort zone”, and into a place less comfortable, or more threatening?  We often leave it to circumstances, our feelings, or outside or inside pressure (Outside  pressure being from the people around us).  When did the children of Israel know when to pack up and leave where they were?

“And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.   Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.  At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.”  Numbers 9:21-23

By the cloud, and pillar of fire by night.  For the Christian that cloud is the Spirit of God within.  All of those things mentioned – circumstances, pressure, threatenings all play a part if we are hearing the voice of God.  Many times it might not have to be those threatenings or fearful things; if we would but hear God and go the way the Spirit of God leads.

Far too many times we try and jump ahead of God; when what He is wanting is for us to stay, grow, and prosper in Him.

When God moves we should move.  When He stops we should stop.  If we are not seeing God work, then that is God’s invitation to stop and take an assessment of our lives.  We do not force God to move, nor should we move without God’s move.  So many do, and end up discouraged, in doubt and darkness.

The way to go is the way of God through His Son Jesus Christ.  The Spirit of God in you is Christ in you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Listen Up

It is imperative that God’s people listen to Him and His Word.  We will look at Psalm 78:1 today, however I will let some of the preachers of decades, even centuries past give their exposition of this verse:

 “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.”  Psalm 78:1 (KJV)

The first is Matthew Henry,

These verses, which contain the preface to this history, show that the psalm answers the title; it is indeed Maschil—a psalm to give instruction; if we receive not the instruction it gives, it is our own fault. Here,
I. The psalmist demands attention to what he wrote (v. 1): Give ear, O my people! to my law. Some make these the psalmist’s words. David, as a king, or Asaph, in his name, as his secretary of state, or scribe to the sweet singer of Israel, here calls upon the people, as his people committed to his charge, to give ear to his law. He calls his instructions his law or edict; such was their commanding force in themselves. Every good truth, received in the light and love of it, will have the power of a law upon the conscience; yet that was not all: David was a king, and he would interpose his royal power for the edification of his people. If God, by his grace, make great men good men, they will be capable of doing more good than others, because their word will be a law to all about them, who must therefore give ear and hearken; for to what purpose is divine revelation brought our ears if we will not incline our ears to it, both humble ourselves and engage ourselves to hear it and heed it? Or the psalmist, being a prophet, speaks as God’s mouth, and so calls them his people, and demands subjection to what was said as to a law. Let him that has an ear thus hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, Rev. 2:7.

The second C. H. Spurgen from the Treasury of David,

“Give ear, O my people, to my law.” The inspired bard calls on his countrymen to give heed to his patriotic teaching. We naturally expect God’s chosen nation to be first in hearkening to his voice. When God gives his truth a tongue, and sends forth his messengers trained to declare his word with power, it is the least we can do to give them our ears and the earnest obedience of our hearts. Shall God speak, and his children refuse to hear? His teaching has the force of law, let us yield both ear and heart to it. “Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” Give earnest attention, bow your stiff necks, lean forward to catch every syllable. We are at this day, as readers of the sacred records, bound to study them deeply, exploring their meaning, and labouring to practise their teaching. As the officer of an army commences his drill by calling for “Attention,” even so every trained soldier of Christ is called upon to give ear to his words. Men lend their ears to music, how much more then should they listen to the harmonies of the gospel; they sit enthralled in the presence of an orator, how much rather should they yield to the eloquence of heaven.

There is much in Scripture for calling the people of Christ to hear His Word and the Law.  It is necessary in days of darkness for God’s people to be enlightened, because we are people of the light, not of the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Prophecy of Habakkuk

 A Short Overview of Habakkuk

Habakkuk was a prophet who did not understand and the question he asked was very similar to the question many people ask today. Why does God let evil go unpunished? Why does He not rid the world of all evil?
My thoughts on a few verses –

Verses 1:1-4 – The prophet had a burden for God’s holiness. It was as though God was not hearing the prophet’s cries to vindicate His holiness. As I read these verses the wickedness of the time seems very similar to the wickedness of 2006 – 2007 in the United States and the world.

Where are the men of God crying out for God to be vindicated? I will. Is it because we understand God’s rule over all, and we know how God will be vindicated in the end? If that were only true; we would still be crying out for God to move us.

“The law is slacked” (v. 4). Certainly sounds a lot like some verdicts judges are handing down to guilty men.  A year or so ago a 50 year old man in Nebraska was convicted of sexually assaulting a child and the judge ruled that he was “too short to make it 10 years in prison” So she sentenced him to 10 years of probation.

Chapter 1:13 – It almost seems that the prophet has not yet come to realize the complete sovereignty of God. But, then, God’s sovereignty is no excuse for tolerance of evil.

He knows God’s purity and holiness, and is surprised that God can just let the sin and abuse of God’s people continue by the wicked.

Chapter 2:6, 14, 15 – It seems the prophet is really concerned that God be glorified. He sees God’s people as in need of judgment.

Some are increasing materialy at other’s expense (2:6). There seems to be an evergoing party where drunkenness is practiced and caused by the merchant of “drink” (2:15 & 16).

There are 5 “Woes” mentioned in this chapter. Verses 6, 9 12, 15, and 19

  1. “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!” (v. 6).
  2. “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house…” (v. 9).
  3. “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood…” (v. 12).
  4. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink…” (v. 15).
  5. “Woe unto him that sayeth to the wood, ‘Awake’…” (v. 19).

Gloriously, there are also 5 promises – 1:5; 2:3, 4, 14, and 20

  1. “I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.” (1:5).
  2. “For the vision is yet for an appointed time…, though it tarry wait for it; because it will surely come…” (2:3).
  3. “But the just shall live by his faith.” (2:4).
  4. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (2:14).
  5. “But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (2:20). This has to do with the place of God, and being silent, reverent, before Him, “Be still and know that I am God…” (Ps. 46:10).

Chapter 3 – Habakkuk’s prayer for God’s glory.

In verse 2 He asks God “Revive Thy work in the midst of the years…” and “…In wrath remember mercy”. In his prayer, the prophet has three requests. The first and third already listed, but the second one is that God manifest Himself to His people, “In the midst of the years make known” I believe referring to the ‘Reviv(ing) of Thy work…” previously mentioned. God’s glory will be revealed.

Verses 17 – 19 – The prophet, in the prayer, declares his trust will be in the LORD, even when desolate (v. 17). He declares God as his “strength” and believes the LORD to be his encouragement (vv. 18-19).

The prayer is a Psalm/Song. Note the way this chapter begins and ends “…upon Shigionoth.” Some musical instrument? The final words, “To my chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

There is much more study to do of Habakkuk. There is one thing I see that where he started with a question he ends with God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 022011

Reading today from Numbers 34 – 36.

These chapters deal with the borders of the land for the nine tribes and the half tribe on the West side of the Jordan River when they pass over;  the cities of refuge where one who accidentally kills may flee, and stay until the death of the high priest; with intentional murder; and the final chapter of Numbers deals with a land issue for the daughters of Zelophehad.

I want to look at the issue of murder according to chapter 35 and verses 30-34,

“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.  Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.  And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.  So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”  Numbers 35:30-34 (KJV)

The murder of an individual shall be dealt with by the putting to death of the killer.  One is not to be put to death for the crime only by the witness of one.  There is to be no ransom paid for the murderer.  He is to be sentenced to death.  The blood that he has shed defiles the land; and God dwells in the land; “…For I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”.

In the society of today there are many who argue against what we call capital punishment, or the death penalty.  Supposedly it is because of the value of every man’s or woman’s life.  After all the question is, “What good does it do the one who was murdered? or his/her family?”  Certainly the family grieves over the loss of the loved one.  To plead for the life of the murderer and in the end give him his life is to place greater value on the murderer’s life than the murdered individual.  It leaves pollution upon the land; and God cannot dwell there.

The only redemption for the murderer is his own blood.

What should the Christian’s response be for murder?  To obey God’s will and His law.  We rejoice not in the death of the murderer, but we should rejoice in God’s dwelling among us in the person of His Son and His shed blood for us.

Remember to read Numbers 34 – 36 for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 020711

Reading Leviticus 24-25 today.

Is it so bad to blaspheme the name of God?  Many seem not to think so.  What is “blasphemy”, or blaspheming the name of God?

“And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.  And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.”  Leviticus 24:15-16 (KJV)

It would mean to make light of the name of God; to curse His name.  There are many people in the day who do just this, yet the mercy and grace of God falls all over them.  Some of these same people are ones who ask the question, “Why does God allow evil in the world?”, then with the next sentence take the name of the LORD in vain, or use His name to swear falsely by leaving a hurting individual hanging by a debt, or without an employer when they have the means to help them.

The LORD values life.  All of life.  God gives us the form of correction for one man taking another’s life; and that is the death of the killer/murderer.  Why?  Because He is the LORD.  One life is just as valuable as the other.  To allow a murderer to lives places more value on the murderer’s life than on the murdered individual’s life.  That’s our society.  However, God still says,

“And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”  24:17

The LORD also places value on land ownership and ownership of anything.  Though no man actually owns anything; it belongs to the LORD; but He has placed us here to be stewards of His creation.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.  Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” 25:1-4

When people honor God by caring for the land and others He will bless that people.

Please read Leviticus 24 – 25.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 020311

The Bible reading for today is Leviticus 11 – 13.

We are now into matters of foods; in particular meats; that the people of Israel are commanded to eat.  In the mind of the Gentile man or woman these may seem quite archaic or unnecessary; however, these are commandments for Israel; not Gentiles.  That may be partially why these commandments on eating meats, leprosy, and others following are given.

It is not for the people to understand why these laws were given; it is for the people to obey God.

“Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.  For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.  This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.”  Leviticus 11:43-47 (KJV)

In these verses above it seems that the LORD gives us the most important reason for obedience to these laws.  It is God’s command to “be holy”.  Leviticus is about holiness.  God’s call to His people is to be holy as He is holy.  Holiness is cleanliness.

Let me quote from the MacArthur Study Bible on these verses,

11:1-47 This section contains further legislation on the consumption of animals.  Abel’s offering hints at a “post-Fall/pre-Flood” diet of animals (Gen. 4:4).  After the Noahic flood, God specifically had granted man permission to eat meat (Gen. 9:1-4), but here spelled out the specifics as covenant legislation.  All of the reasons for the prohibitions are not specified.  The major points were: 1) that Israel was to obey God’s absolute standard, regardless of the reason for it, or the lack of understanding of it; and 2) such a unique diet was specified that Israel would find it difficult to eat with idolatrous people around and among them.  Their dietary laws served as a barrier to easy socialization with idolatrous peoples. Dietary and hygienic benefits were real, but only secondary to the divine purposes of obedience and separation.

FROM THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE NKJV p. 168

There is an example here for Christians to follow as well.  We are commanded in the New Testament, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17), and “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16).  The world in which we live today is shouting for Christians to be holy, separate, and clean; yet we have professing Christians dressing as the world dresses, eating as the world eats, entertaining as the world entertains; the world sees no difference in the way we live and their way of life; and we wonder why there is a decrease in the numbers of people coming to Christ.

We don’t have to copy the world’s music, dress, entertainment, and worship styles to “win the lost”.  We must, however, be holy and separate from them, and then they may just have a reason to hear the message that only Christ can change us.  If we love Jesus Christ let’s let our lives show what only Christ can do.

Take time to read Leviticus 11 – 13.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012511

On January 1 of this year I began once again reading through the Bible.  I will this year take my time and read it through with the same schedule that has been prepared for our church people and which I post on the back of our bulletin each Sunday.

There was an idea which entered my thinking this afternoon of providing a study; at least in part; that will spark new ideas in your mind and heart as well.  I can’t promise that this will go on each day, but I will endeavor for that to happen.  What will I do?  l will endeavor to give a short reading each day, and probably of the morning each day, of that days reading: for example,  today’s reading is Exodus 22 – 24; and that is what I will give you My Observations of…

Exodus 22 has much to do with responsibility for property.  Personal property as well as that property which belongs to someone else.  We could go back to the Ten Commandments on part of this to the eighth commandment which states, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15); because the first four verses deal with stealing, and the punishment and restitution of such things.  I would dare say that if we followed the law of God’s word for these matters; even the ones following that there would be a lot less trouble with stealing; and problems with neighbor relationships.  If we would love our neighbor as we do ourselves wouldn’t we all get along much better.

There are moral issues dealt with in verses 16-31; and some of these deal with treatment of those who are materially poor.  The moral issues deal with a man leading a virgin into sexual sin, and the price he should pay; or not by the will of the father of the virgin.  There is also the issue of “sorcery”  which is the practice of the occult; including witchcraft, voodoo, fortune telling (palm reading, necromancy, astrology, etc.)  Some may want to say, “Well this is in the law.  Didn’t Jesus destroy the law with His death, burial and resurrection?”  and the answer to that is…  The law was not destroyed, but fulfilled in Christ.  The law is not nullified it is established to the full.  These verses also include things  such as beastiality.  These things by the law require death; by grace there is cleansing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Chapter 23 deals with justice in verses 1 – 9.  Far too many times when we are aligned with a group of people we will go along with that group; even when they are doing something unjust.  For the Christian we must have the mind of Christ and speak in those situations the truth that will glorify Him.  Joining with others who are unjust to ruin the life of one is definitely unjust.  Taking care of our neighbor’s possessions is the right thing to do as well (vv. 4-5).

There are also to be three feast which the people of Israel are to keep.  Later on it came to seven, and I believe now there are nine or so among the Hebrew people.  I might be wrong about that, because I haven’t searched that out.

In verses 20 – 33 God gives promise that He will be with His people, driving out their enemies and will give them the land He has promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Chapter 24 has Israel agreeing with God and His covenant with them saying, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.”  Moses goes up on the Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive “tablets of stone and the law and commandments… that you may teach them”.  To the people of Israel; as Moses was on the mount before the face of God; the glory of the LORD appeared as a “consuming fire”.  Can we not see and realize that when we get close to God we see Him in his glory.  He is a consuming fire to that which must be consumed (Hebrews 12:29).

The daily Bible reading for January 26 is Exodus 25 – 28.

Father add YOUR blessing to the study of YOUR holy word today.  Save those who may be lost through the blood of Jesus YOUR holy and righteous Son; convict of sin in  the heart of the condemned, and draw them to YOUR Son and YOUR love in Him.  A-men!

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Nine

Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”  Mark 9:1-13 (KJV)

THE GLORY OF JESUS IS SEEN BY A FEW WHILE JESUS SPEAKS TO ELIJAH AND MOSES ABOUT HIS DEATH (Luke 9:31).

In verse 1 Jesus is most likely speaking of those who would see His “Transfiguration” which is about to happen, and it happened only before the three disciples – Peter, James, and John.  In Luke’s account of this glory the three disciples had fallen asleep.  There are times to sleep and times to fight going to sleep, and this seems like it was one of those times to fight sleep.  They almost missed it.

The two to whom Jesus was speaking were considered dead and gone.  Moses died and Elijah had just “gone” by the power of a “chariot of fire”.  Moses represents the “Law” of God, and Elijah represents the “Prophets” of God.  It is important for us to catch the message which the “Voice from Heaven” speaks.  “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  Those words tell us that the most important thing we can hear is Jesus.  The “Law” and the “Prophets” speak of Jesus.  John the apostle wrote in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (REV. 19:10).

According to Luke 9:31 Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah of His coming death.  No other of the gospel writers mention this.  It tells us clearly that was the direction Jesus was headed – to Jerusalem to die, and make atonement for the sin of mankind.

In Matthew and Luke the text tells us it was “Moses and Elijah”.  Mark is the only one who writes “Elijah and Moses”.  It is important for us to remember the history of these two men.  Moses died and was buried by God, and no one knew where he was buried (DEUT. 34:5-6); and Elijah never died.  He was carried to Heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Elisha, his pupil in the prophetic ministry, received a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit.  There is quite a picture given here to us.  That is that at the future coming of Jesus Christ in His glory all that know Jesus, the living and the dead, will be raised to share in that eternal glory with Him.

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:14-29 (KJV)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.

It is apparent by our text that the young man of whom it is speaking was afflicted by an “evil spirit”.  He has been afflicted for several years, even from early childhood.  We can see from this that children are not exempt from evil or even the devil or his demons.  Children can be susceptible to Satan from a very early age, but then, all are born into sin, and none are without sin.

This boy had often been thrown into the fire, and into the waters.  This demon hated this boy, and that is something we all need to remember that the devil and his hordes hates mankind, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the human race.

Notice, Jesus’ rebuke of the “Faithless generation”.  He is probably referring to “scribes” who are there in argument with the disciples, accusing and excusing their own actions and accusing the disciples of not having power to help this boy.

When Jesus calls for the boy and they bring him to Him the boys goes into a “fit”; falling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  You will notice the father is not only asking Jesus to help his son, but also himself; he says, “Have compassion on us, and help us.”  The father later says, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.  This father new to whom to bring his son, but he had not witnessed the power of Jesus before, but he was about to.  He had the faith to bring his son to Jesus, and that was a good starting point.

There are many psychologists who probably would reckon this boy to have epilepsy, or some neurological disorder, but not demon possessed.  Notice though why it must be demon possession;  1) this personality recognized Jesus because he did not want to come before him, thus causing the boy to throw himself on the ground and foam at the mouth;  2) Jesus spoke to the spirit and commanded him to come out, and to stay out;  3) the spirit cried out through the boy and wreaked havoc on him one last time, evidently fighting for his “territory” but could not fight against his creator and win.

Note Jesus’ final words on this matter, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 (KJV)”.  The matter of this boy’s well being hinged on the battle of two worlds, and who was to overcome.  There is a spiritual warfare we must wage everyday.  It is not an easy fight.  We must commit ourselves to prayer, and at times we must give ourselves to it diligently even to the point of forsaking our food and nourishment for the day or a period of time.  We cannot win spiritual battles if we are weak in the Spirit of God.  That was the problem with the disciples, and why they could not help this man or his son.  It is a battle we wage to keep the souls of men from eternal torment.  We must pray for them to have opened eyes to see the death of Christ on the cross, his resurrection; and that they will have an open heart to receive the glorious salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

It is an imperative  that we remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible to him/[her] that believeth”.  It is not just believing in the event as history, but in the person of Jesus Himself.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.”  Mark 9:30-40 (KJV)

A GRASPING FOR POWER BRINGS A REBUKE FROM JESUS, AND AN ANSWER TO THEIR PROBLEM.

Jesus is teaching a valuable lesson in these verses about service and “Greatness” or power and position.  He says He is going to die and then He will be glorified by resurrection.  He will die for our sins, and then by resurrection be given all that was His from the beginning.  By His death Jesus was serving the human race by providing our eternal salvation.

There are many people today looking for a longevity to life; they look for power and prestige, and position; but they look to themselves, when all that is needed is to bow at the feet of Jesus and call Him Lord, and wash the feet of our fellow man by service.  What great privilege it is to serve the Lord and bless our fellow man.

Jesus does enlist a small child as an illustration of humility and service.  A child will subject themselves to an older person, and most of the time trust in their care.  We are to come to Christ as little children, and we are to always receive our fellow man as if they were “little children”.  In receiving the “child” we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him.  And that is the Father.

When we see others working in the name of the Lord do we grow jealous, protective of our own work, or do we say, “Great!  Someone else is working in His vineyard.”  The latter should be our attitude and we should be an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord, and living for His glory.  This is not to be a blanket statement that approves of all who claim to be working in the name of Jesus, but to those who are Biblically sound, and those who are truly in Christ Jesus.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  Mark 9:41-50 (KJV)

THE HORRENDOUS, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

What is the price of sin?  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; slowly but wholly taking control;  sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  sin will cost you far more than you can ever pay.”  ANON.  It is something that Jesus took quite serious.  He took it so seriously that He went all the way to the cross and died, taking all our sin on Himself, paying the price that was mine and yours to pay.

How seriously does Jesus take sin?  Let us look at these verses.  Do not offend a “little one” for it would be better that a millstone were tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.  “If your hand offends you, cut it off”;  “If your eye offends you pluck it out”.  It seems to me like Jesus takes sin quite seriously.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin that we might have eternal life in His eternal presence.  Jesus is not advocating the torture, or destruction of our bodies, but He is showing us the degradation of sin and its costliness and the price we should pay.  Simply cutting off a hand will not keep you from sinning.  Plucking out an eye will not keep you from the sin of lusting.   We saw in chapter seven that it is in the heart of man where we must deal with sin.  How much are you willing to pay to rid your life of sin?  Jesus was willing to give His life.

Jesus uses here the illustration of Gehenna – the garbage, trash, waste dump of the city of Jerusalem – that burned continually and the fire was never out.  There is an eternal fire that burns, where no desires are ever met, and there is nothing but pain, sorrow, hatred, vileness, hostility, and war.  Is that the place you want to be?  Is that the place where you want your friends and neighbors to spend eternity?  It is the place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:46 (KJV)”.  He mentions this twice.  Is there a Heaven?  If Jesus said He was preparing a place for us, and that He was coming to take us to that place; then, yes there is a Heaven.  Is there a place called Hell?  Jesus mentions more about Hell than He does about Heaven.  He spent a whole story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus to tell us of the reality of Hell.  He describes it as a place of flames, torment, and a place you would not want to be.  This is in Luke chapter sixteen.

Hell is the place we all deserve to be.  We do not deserve Heaven, but because of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross and by the power of His resurrection we can go to Heaven for all eternity, but not without Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

In the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus in His glory and speaking with Elijah and Moses.  In between this picture of the glory of Jesus and this warning of Hell we find a child being tormented by a demon, disciples arguing about who is the greatest will be the greatest among them, and one disciple wondering about a man who is doing the work of Jesus who is not a part of their group.  These are the things that happen between Heaven and Hell.  As a matter of fact when Jesus died on the cross His head was toward Heaven and His feet were toward Hell, and His arms were outstretched to the world in invitation to come to Him.

What a Servant.  What a Savior.  For His arms are still outstretched to all so we may come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It Lawful…To Do Good?

“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.  And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.  And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.  And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.  And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”  Mark 3:1-6 (KJV)

These people came to “synagogue” seeking  help.  Did it matter that it was the “Sabbath Day”?  Only to those who watched with a longingness to catch Jesus “breaking their law”.  He was, in fact breaking no law; but fulfilling the law.  They were looking for anything with which they could charge Jesus, and cause people to turn from Him.

The man with the withered hand was a human life.  He had a need.  He had probably been to the synagogue many times and no one  offered to help him.  Now Jesus was there with a message, a helping hand and a heart of grace, mercy and love.

The Pharisees even teamed up with the Herodians.  The Herodians were a Jewish political “party” who were favorable toward Herod Antipas the governor at the time of Judea.  These people hated the Pharisees, but they hated Jesus even more.  The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was popular, powerful, and dangerous to their traditions and laws.  The Herodians hated Jesus because He was seen as a threat to the rule of Judea – at least as they saw it.

Jesus’ question should have really thrown them off their guard (“And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”).  Is not the life of a fellow human being of more value than a misinterpreted law or tradition?  Jesus thought so; and taught so.  The Pharisees did not.  Who will we believe?  Whom will we follow?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The People Jesus Receives To Himself

“And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.  And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.  And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Mark 2:13-17 (KJV)

Jesus was teaching as He moved about from town to town.  He taught with words, parables, and acts of behavior and miracles (v. 13).

He was about to teach another lesson to a despised tax collector, and to the Pharisees who would have nothing to do with these “dregs of society”.  These “Tax collectors” were for the most part Hebrew people who had “contracted” their services to the Roman government.  It was their duty to collect taxes from their family, friends, and religious leaders and their families.  They were despised because it was believed that they had turned their back on their “religion”, and traitors to the Hebrew people, thus no one would have any associations with them, that is, at least until Jesus came along.

Jesus walks up to Levi, who is known as Matthew who wrote the first Gospel, and says to him, “Follow Me”, and Matthew just gets up and follows Jesus.  Now that was an act of faith.  This tax collecting was Matthew’s livelihood.  It was his living for he and his family.  Now, he just up and leaves it because a man whom he believes in says, “Follow Me”.  How many people this day will do that?  If you have been saved, truly saved, you have already.  Are you continuing to follow Him?  That is the question.

Jesus goes to the home of Matthew and they have a great time of fellowship, you might even call it a “party”, and it was of sorts, because Matthew had come to faith in Jesus, and now he was having his friends and associates together to meet Jesus.  The old snooty scribes and Pharisees see Jesus with them, and begin to castigate, and question the actions of Jesus.  I think they were only jealous because they were not invited.

The publicans/tax collectors were the lowest on the “totem pole” in Hebrew society right above the leper.  Here came Jesus and gave them the love and encouragement, and attention they needed – the grace they needed.  Now there is a bunch of old, hard nose, religious bigots who have no idea what ever of the “spirit of the law”, only their own additions to it, and they want to know why Jesus is associating with people whom they consider the “dregs of society”. The tax collectors know how they are viewed, and they also know they are needy of cleansing from sin, and in need of healing.

The question comes, “Whom does Jesus receive unto Himself?”  He receives sinners to Himself.  That means before one can come to Christ  we must know we have sinned – know that we are sinners.  He can do nothing for those who believe they are good, and can do no wrong.  Those who believe that God will weigh their good deeds against their evil deeds.  The greatest evil of all is refusing what God has given – the life of His Son Jesus.  Those who are righteous in and of themselves will never see Jesus, nor Heaven.

-Tim A. Blankenship