The Heart of the Righteous King

The Heart of the Righteous King –  Proverbs 16:10-15

In the United States of America we have no Monarchy.  We live in a Republic which is governed of the people, by the people and for the people.  I do believe, however, that seeing our leaders as under the same rules as a king would be sufficient to show us how a ruler should govern the people.
This surely is reference to the King of kings, and all are to pattern themselves after Him.

Verse 10 –  The godly ruler is one who represents God to the people; and should speak the “Divine sentences” “Oracles” of God.  Solomon’s wisdom was known and respected (1 Kings 3:28).  See Proverbs 20:28; and 28:15-16.

Verse 11 –  Though a monarch or any ruler is not mentioned in the verse it is certainly a decree that leaders/rulers are to operate function in business with the proper scales and weights.  Proverbs 11:1.

Verse 12 –  It is a moral tragedy for leaders to place their leadership; whether it be king or President; over the throne and sovereign power of God.  The throne of David, and every king of Israel was established due to the righteousness of the king.  Proverbs 25:5; 29:14; Isaiah 16:5.

Verse 13 –  Righteous words and lips should be the desire of kings and all leadership who lead people.  Proverbs 14:35;  22:11.  We must remember that what is in the heart will be manisfested through the lips and the life (Matthew 15:10-20).

Verse 14 –  John Gill from e-Sword:

The wrath of a king is as messengers of death,…. Or, “angels of death”, as the Targum. As the wrath of Ahasuerus was to Haman; when it is either discovered in the countenance of a king, or expressed by his words, or signified by a messenger; it sometimes has been immediate death to a person, and often as terrible as if a messenger brought the sentence of death; yea, it is as if one messenger after another was sent on such an errand, and therefore the word is in the plural number. How terrible is the wrath of the King of kings; and even to kings themselves, who are represented as flying to rocks and mountains to hide them from it! Rev_6:15;

but a wise man will pacify it; by a proper acknowledgment of the offence committed; or by a prudent representation of his case, or the case of his friends; by soft answers and strong arguments, as Jonathan pacified the wrath of King Saul his father against David. He is a wise man that believes in Christ, and pleads his propitiatory sacrifice for the expiation of his sin, at the same time frankly acknowledging it.”

Verse 15 –  Just as the “wrath of the king” is as “Messengers of death” so is the “Light of the king’s countenance”… “Life”.

The “Latter rain” was the final rain fall before the harvest of the crops; and was the necessary rain for nourishing the harvest.  So the king’s favor would be like that rain.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

The Requirements of the Christian Man

What God Requires Of His Men

Exodus 3:1-10

I. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE MEN OF OBSERVATION CONCERNING THINGS OF GOD (vv. 1-4).

A. God does things sometimes to get a man’s attention.

1. The fire of God is burning long before it is seen by man’s eyes.
2. It is God who opens our eyes that we might see His fire.

B. We should be drawen by the fire of God once it is observed.
C. When we get into the presence and fire of God we begin to reckon with our sin and our lives.

II. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE EXPECTED TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD (vv. 5-6).

A. Humble before God we remove the manmade shoes of self-support.

1. Self reformation will not, nor cannot stand before the presence of holy God.
2. Taking off the shoes of “Self-Support” in God’s presence keeps us sensitive in our walk with God.

a. It also makes us cautous in our walk.
b. Being without shoes we watch where we step.

B. This is a form of removing the “Fig leaves” of self-righteousness.

III. CHRISTIAN MEN ENDEAVOR TO KNOW THE HEART OF GOD (vv. 7-8).

A. The heart of God is to deliver His people from their place of affliction.

1. It grieves the heart of God when His people are afflicted by the world.
2. It grieves His heart even more when we are afflicted spiritually, controlled by sin, and separated from fellowship with Him.

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” Isaiah 59:1; “Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” Isaiah 9:17, 21; 10:4 (KJV). “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” Romans 5:6 (KJV).

B. Jesus came knowing the heart of God and His purpose for being.

1. ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 (KJV).
2. God’s heart is for the delivering of enslaved people.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18; Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV).

C. God’s heart is set against sin, and so ought the heart of the Christian man reflect the heart of God.

IV. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE CALLED TO A PLACE OF LEADERSHIP (vv. 9-10).

A. Although God is All Powerful [Omnipotent] He uses men to lead people out of slavery and into His blessing.

1. He desires to use those who are willing and He will make us able.
2. He desires to use those who know His heart.

B. What is godly leadership?

1. One who knows God’s call and is committed to be faithful to that call.
2. One who by careful study of God’s Word and diligence knows God’s heart for souls and teaches God’s Word and His way.
3. One who prays and calls his family, and God’s people to repent, and who himself is repentant.
4. One whose heart is to let the Lord be Lord of his life and the church body.

a. If he is a pastor he is not a dictator with his own rules, but trust the Lord’s Word to correct and do its work in individual Christians and in the hearts of the lost.
b. He does not see his position as a place of power, but of servanthood.

5. One who is yielded to God’s tasks at the risk of family, friendships, being misunderstood, and/or life.

a. He is more concerned with God’s commands than with man’s demands.
b. He is obedient to God – repentant when not.

6. One who is burdened for the people.

C. God uses yielded/surrendered men to accomplish great tasks; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5 (KJV).

1. “God is not looking for extraordinary men to do an ordinary task; He is looking for ordinary men to do an extraordinary task.” UNKNOWN
2. Christian men are sent by God to deliver the people of God who are in bondage and lead them out of Egypt [the world] and slavery to sin and the world.

APPLICATION –

I. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO BE OBSERVANT OF HIS FIERY PRESENCE.
II. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES BEFORE HIS PRESENCE.
III. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO KNOW THE HEART OF GOD.
IV. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO THE PLACE OF LEADERSHIP.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Wisdom, Leadership and Justice

The personification of wisdom was first witnessed in the first chapter; and another time or two.  Now again in chapters eight and nine.  I want us to remember that Wisdom lives in the Person of Jesus Christ.

There is a need for wisdom, and justice in this world; especially in leadership positions, and more so among Christians and leadership.  Hear from Wisdom today…

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” Proverbs 8:12-21 (KJV)

Justice is found through Wisdom. Remember the wisdom of Solomon when he took a sword, and would divide the child, due to the dispute between two mothers (1 Kings 3:16-28). To the erring mind that judgment would seem harsh; however there was prudence, discretion, subtilty, in that judgment.

You could also use that event to show that wisdom “find’s out knowledge of witty inventions”.

Wisdom hates what God hates; loves what God loves. Here in verse 13 we see some of what God hates again, through Wisdom – Pride, arrogance, evil paths, and a froward mouth. The “froward mouth” is a perverse mouth. You ever hear someone that when they speak all that comes out of their mouth is rot, stink and filth. That is not just dealing with vulgarity of language, but assination of anothers life and character, gossip – whether it is from a bitter heart or not. Hear the words of Jesus…

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45

 

True and good “counsel” belongs to Wisdom (v. 14). Leadership sponsored by Wisdom is a leadership of Justice. The Judge of all promises riches and righteousness, and will fill the treasures of those who follow Wisdom.

Christmas Day Twenty and Eight

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want the rulers of our Nation (U. S. of A.), and all nations to recognize the need, and practice the principles which God lays out in His word for leadership for the people, rich and poor, no matter their ethnic, or cultural background; and lead us wisely, and for the rulers (presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens) to realize they too are one of the people.

“Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people. A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.” Proverbs 28:15-16 (NKJV)

Christmas Day Sixty Seven

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to live my life with the leadership of the Lord, speaking wholesome words which encourage, motivate, and draw others to the Lord Jesus; to speak the word of God in the power, and wisdom of God.

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4 (KJV)

Day Two Hundred Eighty and Nine

Everyday is Christmas – What do I want for Christmas?

I want to put my complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the problems I personally face, for the problems of my family, and the problems of our Nation (the U. S. of A.); to realize that our trust must be in Him alone, not in politics or any political, deceptive so called leader.

Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!”  Isaiah 31:1 (KJV)

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”  Psalm 118:9

Day Three Hundred Thirty and Five

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the leaders of our Nation (U. S. of A.) to lead, not rule; to be godly, not ungodly; to deny themselves any special privileges, but to only allow themselves the rights and privileges of the people; that the people might respect, love, and honor those who serve with distinction.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV)

Rejoicing in GOD Our Salvation

“The king shall joy in Thy strength, O LORD; and in Thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” Psalm 21:1 (KJV)

Kings and all leadership ought always rejoice in God’s salvation, and in His strength.He never abandons those who are His.

When king David wrote these words he may have had a deliverance in a battle in mind.  Whether that is what it was or not does not negate the truth of the glorious salvation that GOD provides through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

That word “Salvation” is from the Hebrew word “yeshua” which means salvation.  It is also the name that Christian Jews call Jesus.

Join me in rejoicing in GOD’S glorious salvation through the gift of His crucified, buried and resurrected Son.

When GOD Gives an Invitation

When GOD Gives an Invitation

 

Exodus 24:1-18

In the Scriptures the LORD gives many invitations. We see one extended to the leadership of Israel; including Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu; to come and worship.

The events that follow are guidlines for people today.

1. When GOD said Come; They Went (vv. 1-2).

2. It is Necessary for the People of GOD to Commit themselves to the Work and Word of the LORD (vv.3-8).

3. When We are Faithful We too Will See the LORD (vv. 9-11).

4. We Will See GOD as a Devouring Fire, Consuming Fire (vv. 12-18; Hebrews12:29).

Through the Bible in a Year – 090813

Our Relationship to the Time We Live
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4;  3:1-5

1.  DO NOT BE SHAKEN OR TROUBLED (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-2).

2.  A FALLING AWAY SHOULD BE EXPECTED (v. 2:3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:2-5).

3.  PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER AND THOSE IN LEADERSHIP (2 Thes. 3:1).

4.  PRAY FOR THE WORD OF GOD TO MOVE FREELY (3:1).

5.  PATIENTLY AWAIT THE COMING OF CHRIST (3:5).

A Challenge to Pastors

It is, I believe, a very important thing that we as pastors lead our people to know God through knowing His Word.  There is far too much ignorance of Scripture in our churches; and some of that responsibility lies on the steps of her leadership.

Do you read  the Bible daily, or do you just study it to prepare for sermons?  I can tell you that if you do not spend time reading to learn the word; your preaching will not matter much; for you or your people.

My challenge is this.  Start today, or as soon as possible to endeavor to read through the Bible in 90 days.  You can do it by reading 14 chapters per day, leaving you some room for being short of time a few days.  It will bless your life, your ministry and your preaching.

If you want to know God; you must begin by hearing His Word.  Begin in Genesis and read through Revelation in 90 days.

Join me.

-T.A.

Make Much of Prudence

Make Much of Prudence

Proverbs 16:21

references –   Proverbs 12:16, 23;  13:16; 14:8, 18;  15:5;  18:15;  22:3;  27:12;
New Testament –  Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21; John 14:6;  Romans 13:11-14; 2 Timothy 3:1-7

1.  In our text the word “wise” is used of those who hearts are upon the ways of the LORD.
2.  Again, the heart speaks of the inward man, the emotions, will, feelings, and even intellect.
3.  The word “prudent” means to separate, distinguish, discern, to understand; and instruct.
4.  The wise and prudent learn and are able to teach others wisdom and prudence.

I.  WITH THE WORLD IN DARKNESS OF SIN THERE IS MUCH NEED FOR DISCERNMENT (Prov. 16:21).

II.  GODLY WISDOM AND PRUDENCE ARE HIDDEN FROM THE WORLDLY WISE AND PRUDENT (Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21).

III.  THE WISE AND DISCERNING KEEP THEMSELVES FROM APPROACHING EVIL (Prov. 22:3; 27:12).
A.  That means the wise are aware of evil.
1.  What it is.
2.  Where it is.
3.  How to deal with it; or at least willing to learn how to deal with it.
B.  It is the business of the LORD, His people to educate people about being discerning.

IV.  THE DISCERNING WATCH THEIR STEPS – STEPS IN THE WAY OF THE CROSS OF THE LORD (Prov. 14:15; John 15:6; Romans 13:11-14;  2 Timothy 3:1-7).

Application –
i.  With evil growing worse and worse; it is time for wise and discerning hearts to prevail against evil;
ii.  We must realize that any “wisdom” or “prudence” which is against the Word of God is not godly wisdom or discernment; and rebuke it when it is spoken as the equal of the Word of God.
iii.  As Christians we must maintain time with the Lord in His Word; His Word, not our emotions, or intellect dismissing or adjusting His Word.
iv.  In this time of darkness and much dispair we must abide in the truth – what is truth for one is truth for all – keep your feet on the right path – and that is Christ Jesus.

-T.A.

These sermon notes are from a sermon preached by Tim A. Blankenship at Carr Lane Baptist Church morning worship 09/11/11

Woes of Trust

Trusting is a necessary in many places of life.  It is necessary that husbands and wives trust one another fully.  It is necessary that friends trust one another.  It is necessary that business partners trust one another.  In these relationships, if there is little or no trust the relationship will not last long.

Trusting takes a willingness to be the one who takes the loss, should it come to that.  Take a loss without revenge, or getting even.  Trust means being the one who endeavors to right the wrongs, or absorb the wrong in behalf of the other.  This trust of which I presently speak, of course, is of human relationships.  When it comes to trusting the Divine One; our GOD, and Lord, then that trust is completely without risk, in faith.

The people of Judah were trusting in Egypt, yet failing to trust the LORD.  That is Isaiah’s message to the people when he writes to them –

“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!”  Isaiah 31:1 (KJV)

When it comes to the humanity of us we are pretty quick to trust in what we can see.  For instance, if we see a company or an individual who is successful in making wealth, we will almost automatically trust that individual or company to give us good advice, and sometimes even trust them with our wealth.  We judge pragmatically thinking, “If it has worked for them, then, no doubt it will work for me.”  We can end up being “burned”, “Scalped”, and left holding an “empty bag”.

Human reason often leaves GOD out of the matter of safety, economy, politics, personal wealth,  health, etc.  We think “That is not anything I need to concern God about”, or “I can handle this matter myself”.  So thought Israel, and they were trusting Egypt to come to their aid against Babylon, and they were defeated.

It will bring peril for an individual to place their trust in human advice alone; without seeking the LORD’s leadership.  We can go to a financial adviser/counsellor to get advice on a financial matter; however, if this adviser gives shady advice then we better have the counsel of the LORD on the matter; or we will find ourselves in the proverbial “hot water”.   Then, where will that adviser be.

Israel was about to be let down by trusting in the defenses of Egypt and her great army; because they did not have the heart and mind of GOD.

Having safety and security is not dependent upon any human government.  Our economic prosperity is not dependent upon the Congress, the Senate, or the President of the USA.  Our dependence for safety, economic blessing, protection from enemy attack comes only from our LORD, and that only when His people trust solely upon Him.

Woe to them that go to China for help, who trust in their own military might, or the power of the congress, senate and/or President, and power of the dollar; because they are strong; but they look not unto the Holy One…, neither seek the LORD!

Let’s call unto the Lord God, humble ourselves before Him, repent of our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and trust Him to forgive our sins, and heal our land, then we will be renewed and strengthened, and healed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 021411

Reading Numbers 16 – 18 for today.

As we begin the reading today we find in chapter sixteen three men of the Levites (v. 8), Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who bring an uprising against God.  They claim that it is against Moses and Aaron, but in the truth of it; it is against God and His leadership.  They have called on 250 princes of Israel to join them.

Moses’s first response was to fall on his face.  My first thought for this is that it is an act of petitioning God in humility for these men and their rebellion against Him.  My how people of God need to fall on their faces before Him.

There are many times those who are following a leader often think they can do a better job or service than is being given.  After all; who did Moses think he was assuming all of this authority for himself? They were questioning.  Are we not just as holy as Moses and Aaron?  They were in fact showing unholy characteristics.  They were not following God; but their own devices, and thinking.

God judges these men and those who followed them by opening the ground to “swallow” them up; and then, closing the ground up.  Now, many will say, “God had no cause for this judgment”.  He most certainly did.  The text does not say it, but it seems an almost certainty that Korah’s, Dathan’s and Abiram’s intent was to take over leadership and lead the Israelites back to Egypt.  They certainly didn’t have God’s plan in their hearts; or they would have not had a problem with the leadership of Moses; a wise and meek man (12:3)

Following the judgment upon this rabble of men and families, the congregation gathered against Moses and Aaron (v. 41), and then they witnessed and saw the glory of the LORD appear upon the tabernacle.

“And Moses said unto Aaron, ‘Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.’  And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.  And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.  Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.  And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.”  Numbers 16:46-50 (KJV)

They are in quite the rebellious mood.  It is not of God.  Because of their rebellion God says, “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.” v. 45  And a plague begins upon the people, and before Moses and Aaron could act for the atonement of the people 14,700 people have died (v. 49).

One of the things about a good leader is that they love the people whom they lead.  Even when they mess up he still pleads for them.  Sacrifices for them. Will give his/her life for them.  This was Moses.  Sin was in the camp.  Atonement must be made to deliver the people from this plague of death.

The wrath of God is swift; and so too  is His grace.

How ought God’s people, Christians, of today respond to those whom God has placed in leadership?  We have a few Scriptural references:

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”  Hebrews 13:7″Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”  Hebrews 13:17

And about leadership God says,

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”  Acts 20:28

In all things follow the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Believe Him, obey Him, love Him with all your heart, mind and soul.

Remember to read Numbers 16 – 18.

-Tim A. Blankenship

…A Good Work On Me…

After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. 2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.  Mark 14:1-2 (KJV)

You will notice the season of the year.  It was the time of the  Passover when the Hebrews would remember the deliverance of the nation from Egypt by the hand and will of God.  It was also the time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  These two events took place during the same week each year.  You could even say they took place simultaneously.

The Passover was instituted when God commanded – through Moses – for each home to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood on the door post and lintel of their home.  Exodus chapter 12 gives the details of this event.  It even tells us that this was to be the beginning of their year (EX. 12:2).

This conspiracy to kill Jesus has a political, popularity angle to it.  These “Religious” leaders want it to be done after all the multitudes of people have gone.  They know that with a lot of the people Jesus is very popular.  These “Leaders” see Him as a threat to their positions and to their religion.

In the heart and mind of God the Father the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread was the perfect time for His Lamb to die for the sins of mankind.  These “Religious leaders” plotted and planned the death of Jesus, but to no avail in getting it done in their time slot.  God rules in the affairs of men, and if men think not to let God rule, He overrules.  Psalm 2:1-4 helps us better understand the minds and workings of man against God, and how God overrules their plans.

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard  very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.  4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. 8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. 9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:3-9 (KJV)

In the minds of some who were at this gathering with Jesus the anointing of Jesus with this oil was an extravagant waste. Matthew 26:8 tells us, “But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, To what purpose is this waste? “.  John wrote,

” Then said one of His disciples (Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who was to betray Him)   Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

The murmuring of it must have come from the disciples, but Judas was the only one who spoke, and it was not because he cared for the poor, but “because he was a thief, and held the money bag” (John 12:6).

The value of this ointment was around a years wages.  It was quite valuable, but we must ask the question, “Of how much worth is Jesus?”  This woman, Mary, who was probably not a wealthy woman, did “All she could” for Jesus.  How many of us could honestly say “We have done all we could for Jesus”?  How many of us could have Jesus say of us “She has done what she could”?

Who was this woman?  John identifies her as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus [whom Jesus raised from death after four days in the tomb].  It seems she and others knew of Jesus’ approaching death.  That is how Jesus describes her anointing His feet, “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for the burying.” (v. 8).

“Spikenard” according to John MacArthur Study Bible, quote,

“This actually  represents two words in the Greek that could be translated ‘pure nard’.  The oil was derived from the nard plant, which was native to India.  That it was pure meant it was genuine and unadulterated, which is what made it so costly”.

The “Flask” – again from John MacArthur Study Bible –

“This long-necked bottle was made out of a special variety of marble, a material which proved to be the best container for preserving expensive perfumes and oils”. (Page 1493).

The flask being made from marble which was mined in Egypt would be very expensive itself.  Thus, Mary’s breaking of the flask made the offering that much more expensive.

In our daily lives we spend and spend and spend on things which really do not matter for eternity.  What have we really sacrificed for our Lord and Savior who gave His life for us?  We may not have much, but we must surrender it all to Him.  He bought us with the price of His blood.

In Luke chapter 7 there is another incident of a woman having an alabaster box and washing Jesus’s feet with her tears, wiping them with the hairs of her head, then anointing His feet with the oil.  This must be a completely different occasion.  It takes place in a Pharisees home, the woman is evidently a woman of disrepute, and the Pharisee’s comment sets it apart too.  The time, also, is earlier in the ministry of Jesus.

As born again children of the King of kings it is in our hearts to do all we can for His name and glory.  If it cost nothing it is not a sacrifice.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Eight

Mark 8:1-38

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(SEE Matthew 16:12).

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

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

J. C. Ryle on verses 14-21,  1)

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the Prophet;

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

Until Jesus Returns

Acts 1:1-26

1. PROCLAIM THE CONVINCING PROOFS OF OUR LORD’S PASSION (vv. 1-4).

Luke, our writer and historian of the Christ who was born in Bethlehem’s manger, gives us thorough details of the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord.  You can read these details in the gospel of Luke.  The book of Acts is a continued bit of history of Christ, His Holy Spirit at work in the Apostles in the early church.

The Gospel written by Luke is the “former treatise” which he had written to Theophilus.  Luke, beginning the gospel, writes,

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”  Luke 1:1-4 (KJV)

He writes to an individual who must be of royal or noble family.  The term, “Most excellent Theophilus” seems to be an indication of this.  Luke sees it very important to record the documentation of the eyewitness accounts, and the preachers of the word.  He also records it for the benefit of Theophilus, that he “…might know the certainty of those things…”.

The title “Most excellent” is dropped in the writing of Acts.  It could be that Theophilus has become a believer in Jesus.  Luke writes of the resurrection as those “to whom also He showed Himself alive” (v. 3).  That is speaking of the apostles, and there were many more.

There are many atheist, doubters and sceptics who try and tell us that there is little to no evidence for the virgin conception, and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and some who even deny He ever lived.  What evidence can there be of the virgin birth?  We have the testimony of Mary, Joseph, and best of all we have the testimony of Scriptures.  The life of Jesus Himself shows us that He was not just another man, born by the seed of man, but by the seed of God.

Luke writes of the “passion” of Christ.  Do you know that Jesus had a desire to go to Jerusalem that final time.  Jesus had His mind set for Jerusalem.  He had His mind set on obtaining the redemption of mankind.  He had His mind set on paying the sin debt owed by all men and women.  If we only had the passion for Christ He has for us; what could be done in this world for His glory.

2. WALK IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT AND GO INTO ALL THE WORLD (vv. 5-8).

The disciples had seen Jesus tried, convicted, and nailed to the cruel old wooden cross.  At that time they had been fearful, and fled for their lives.  Jesus speaks to us of leaving with us a “Comforter” in John, chapters fourteen and sixteen.  We also have Jesus’s words that He is going away for a time, and then will return, and Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit [the Comforter] is an “Earnest” payment for the security and guarantee of His return.

Were these words, “but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…” meant only for the disciples present at that time, or do they have application for His followers today?  Yes and No!  For the disciples then, they did need to do as Jesus had said, and wait for the promise of the baptism of the Spirit.  He had not descended.  For the follower of Jesus Christ today, you and I were baptized in the Spirit of Jesus Christ the day we prayed to receive His free gift of salvation and He saved us.  There are times, however, where the follower of Jesus Christ today, needs to wait and make sure all things are right with and God, and that there are no hindrances to the work of God in our hearts and lives.

Every Christian has been given the power of Christ.  The power to live a life that will glorify Jesus.  The power to be a witness for Him in all our lives and life’s activities.  The power of faith that will move mountains and cast sycamine trees into the sea.  I have not seen any Christian who has that kind of faith today, however.  Oh, that we would just believe God and His Word and trust the work  and power of His Spirit in our lives.

We have been given the “Great Commission” of Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, and He gives it again before He ascends into the heavens.  He tells the disciples then, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come on you…”  It was yet a future event for them.  It is an instantaneous event for the man, woman, boy or girl who calls on the name of Jesus for salvation today.  You and I hear things about “Change” today.  There is only one power that can change this world into a better world, and better men, women, boys, and girls; and that is the power of the Spirit of God in His people.

The hope of the world cannot be found in the political arena.  It cannot be found in any political figure, or political promise.  When we put our faith in the promises of men or women, we are bound to failure, and disappointment.  The only hope for individuals, kings, commoners; rich or poor; is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as Christian disciples/followers we have not only been commissioned by our Lord to go and make disciples; He has given us the power to go and do it.

If you want true change in the United States or the world it will come only through the crucified, buried, risen and coming again Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (KJV)

3. BE BUSY IN GROWING AND PRACTICE OF FAITH AND IN PRAYER (vv. 9-14).

Those of us who believe that the second coming of Jesus are often accused of having our head in the stars or the sand, and not dealing with the things which really affect mankind.  I would agree that there are factions who claim to believe in the second coming of Jesus, but I have a question, “What Jesus do they believe in?”  Do they believe in the Jesus who said, “I will come again”, but later He said, “No man knows the day or the hour”? or do they believe in the one who professes to have a secret knowledge of God and Jesus, and they know when He is coming?  They might even say, “I am the one who is coming”.

We are told in Scripture, the words of Jesus to “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though the preceding was spoken from a parable, it still has the intensity of the call Jesus has for us.  He is telling His followers to keep at the tasks you have to do, maintain your lives, live and be faithful to the teachings of God’s word and all that He has taught us.  He has not told us to give away all our possessions, sell our homes and go to a mountain top and wait for His return.

I would imagine that as Jesus was speaking to the disciples, and they seeing Him ascend into the coulds would have been standing there in awe of what they had just seen.  For a while they would have put the words Jesus had just spoken to them out of their minds.  WOW! Was probably what they were thinking.  This was men who had seem Him walk on water, calm the storms, cast out demons, heal the sick, make the lame walk, heal the lepers, and raise the dead.  And now, they see Him in a living body of flesh ascend out of their sight, and into the Father’s glory.

“Two men” probably angels confronted their awestruck eyes and minds, with the words we all need to hear, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11 (KJV)  The disciples followed the instructions of the men/angels, went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and there they prayed, probably unlike any other time they had prayed.  You will notice all the disciples were present with the exception of Judas who killed himself by hanging, and plunging to the bottom of a cliff.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Acts 1:14 (KJV)

They had not yet received the Holy Spirit for power, witness and living.  They were to wait for the promise, and the promise came.

Continuing prayer is prayer that abides, prayer that is unceasing, prayer that is diligent, faithful, and trusting and believing, that God will accomplish what He pleases, in His time and in His way.  Those praying in the upper room numbered one hundred and twenty.  Of those who were there, other than the disciples/apostles, were Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brothers of Jesus – James and Jude (not the apostles by the same name) – and the women who had faithfully trusted in, and ministered to Jesus.

4. KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT NO ONE IS INDISPENSIBLE (vv. 15-25).

In a lot of areas of life, work, and society and culture there are some who feel they are indispensible.  They are badly mistaken, and sadly deceived.  That may have been the heart of Judas, the betrayer, as he went to betray our Lord.  He was in fact fulfilling a role in prophecy.  Nevertheless guilty of sin, of unbelief, of betrayal.

It was Peter who stood up to make the leadership decision of replacing Judas.  The question could be asked and I am asking it; “Why did they need to replace Judas?”.  Maybe “Replace” is not the right term to use, because no one is really replaced.  Someone that would have been a witness of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was required.

Peter saw that Judas and his acts, and the end of his life were a fulfillment of Scripture.  David had written about this in the Psalms.  See Psalms 69:25 and 109:8.  There have been many people  who have written of Judas’s; of which I have only heard and not read.  I know there are some who with great assumption consider Judas to have been a genuine saved, follower of Jesus Christ, and that he lost his salvation; however, the losing of one’s salvation just does not fit with all of Scripture.  Judas was just a man who never did see Jesus for who he really was, but was only his meal ticket and possible means of obtaining a high position in an earthly rule.  In verse 25, it reads, “that he might go to his own place”; which seems to be meaning that  he had his own eternal abode.

Now it is time to have someone fill his position with the twelve.  It seems that there has been some debate over whether this was really necessary or not.  There are probably a lot of reasons that could be given to support their installing a twelfth apostle, and I would think that to be to keep the order of twelve.  There are twelve tribes of Israel.  Twelve may be a symbol of a completed rule of government, and when Jesus returns to set up His earthly kingdom, these twelve and those who have believed because of their preaching and teaching will rule and reign with Him.

Each individual is unique within the kingdom of heaven, and the future kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.  There is, however, no one who is indispensable.  Pride is the only thing that would cause anyone to usurp the authority of their own life over the rule of Jesus Christ, and the Father.  That was so with Judas.

The eleven disciples take a vote [cast lots], and the lot fell to Matthais.

5. LET GOD LEAD AND PROVIDE OUR LEADERS (v. 26).

Both of the men which they must choose from were witnesses of the Lord Jesus, and His resurrection.  That was a qualification of an apostle.  Their life was one of following Jesus, and faithfulness.  These were both well qualified men, but only one would be able to serve as apostles.

It would seem that all 120 people in the upper room had part in making this decision.  Some may argue and say, “Well they should have waited because Paul should have been the twelfth apostle”, but that could not be.  There must be one who was sent to the gentiles, and that was Paul who made a thirteenth apostle.

In the direction of choosing kings, presidents, premiers, and apostles and pastors we must let God lead and direct in that choosing.  He has His way in the ballots, and the lots which are cast.

God places leaders of churches, communities, States and Nations as it pleases Him; and all for His glory.  Trust Him.  He knows what He is doing.  He sees the total picture, and you and I only have a very small view, called today.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow may not come for you or me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are study notes for a sermon I preached September 14, 2008.

How Are We Doing?

In the past thirty years or so it would appear to me that Christians have fallen away from the idea of evangelism.  We have turned to the political arena, and there have been some good things happen from going to the polls and letting “our vote count”, and we must continue to do that.  However, dependence upon the political to legislate change, moral change in particular has given us government out of control.  We are gradually losing our freedom of speech, and will eventually lose it entirely.

The power of changing lives of individuals is solely in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Forcing moral change through law has never worked, and never will.  Paul the apostle wrote many years ago –

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16 (KJV)

It would appear that we [Christians] have stopped believing in the power of the gospel of Christ.  We place more hope in our government than in Christ.  We have more confidence in the power of the president’s pen, than in the quiet, soft voice of the Spirit of God.  We have more faith in the politicians power than the power of the Word of God.

Why do I say these things?  We will strongly urge everyone, “Go and vote on election day”, but rarely do we say something like, “Be sure and tell someone about Jesus today, or this week”.

Let me give you a personal example.  I am often asked, “What do ya know?”; and my answer is always disappointing to me.  “Not much”.  Though the question is often asked as a means of getting a conversation going it should give me the chance to tell what I do know about Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection; and His second coming.  Boy!!! would that be a conversation grabber.  Now I know that everytime someone asks me “What do ya know?” they don’t really want to know what I know, but I should and could share with them anyway.  I have responded a time or two, “Do really want to know?”

At any rate the hope of this world is not power, popularity, politics, or prestige.  The hope of this world is Christ Jesus.  Paul said he was not ashamed.  No Christian will be ashamed of the very one who delivered and delivers us from our sin and eternal destruction.

Someone gave an acrostic for GOSPEL  as God Offers Sinful People Eternal Life.  That is what Jesus has done for us on His cross, and proved the power of the cross by the resurrection.  He lives, and because He lives we live.

There is no power greater than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He possesses the power to change a murderer into one who loves life – his own and others lives.  He empowers the child molestor to become a man or woman who loves children, and would never do anything to harm, molest, or torment them.  He empowers the sexual deviant to become one who is moral, and respects his/her gender and the opposite gender in the correct, moral and Biblical manner.  He empowers the sinner to become a lover of God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word; and live according to the directives of His Spirit and Word.

We must never forget that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  That means me, and that means you.  That means all with one exception, and His name is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Let’s be faithful in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes”; and it matters not what sin they have sinned.  Legislate morality all you want, still lives are not changed until we meet Jesus, surrender our wills to His, and then we are changed with the desire to be like Him.

In answer to the question, “How Are We Doing?”  It does not seem too well.  We can do better.  I can do better.  God has not failed us. He will never fail us.  As the Lord has told us in His Word,

“The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Perfection is only through His Son Jesus.  Believe on Him and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Be Wise – Be Instructed

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” Psalm 2:10-12 (KJV).

It is wise to be on the King’s side.  Whatever one’s place in this world; be we king, prime minister, senator; our place is to glorify our King, and that King is Jesus Christ.  When we are “nudging up” to the man of flesh, then Jesus is not the One who is being “kissed”. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” Psalm 111:10; and there is a lack in this great wisdom for our day.

Wisdom is a necessary attribute.  Godly wisdom is what we are concerned with in this text and context.  It is sad to think that there are many world rulers in our day who do not have godly wisdom, and are working against all things godly.  The rulers of our world are working against the Nation which God has ordained, and called out as a Nation in our days; to even remain a Nation.  They are not wise.  It is written in THE TREASURY OF DAVID by C. H. Spurgeon, “True wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ.” Vol. 1, p. 20.

A love for God with fear brings rejoicing, and causes us to serve and joy in His presence.  He is our hope, our cause for rejoicing. Serve Him with fear, ie., great awe, and reverence.

To “Kiss the Son” is to be in complete agreement with Him.  We acknowledge He is always right, and will never lead us astray.  Many will reject Him and refuse to kiss Him, unless it be as Judas who betrayed Him, and those who refuse will go into eternal judgment of fire.

Happy [Blessed] is the lot of those who put their trust in the blessed King of kings, Judge of judges, and Lord of lords.  Put all your trust in Him.  You are Blessed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Reservation Of Black Darkness

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 12-13 (NKJV).

“…Wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.“ This study brings to a conclusion up the study of these two verses, and I pray they have been helpful for your Christian growth. Jude would probably have loved to have wrote kinder, more encouraging words than what the Holy Spirit led him to write.

This letter written by our Lord’s half brother is full of discipleship, instruction, caveat’, for believers to beware of false teachers, in fact, apostates pretending to be Christian; knowing the language, but with a different meaning than what God, and His people really intend.

Those who teach things like, “Jesus came down zipped up in a suit of humanity…”. He wasn’t zipped in a suit of humanity. He was indeed deity in human flesh. He wasn’t dressed in some kind of party costume or something. He was fully divine and fully human. And, He bled. There are those in some “Christian” circles who claim that Jesus was nothing but a “wimp” and could do nothing on the cross against the devil. The devil is not the one who attacked Him on the cross. It was the Father who was judging our sins as our Lord was hanged between heaven and earth. Our sins were imputed to Him; they were placed on Him; and He paid our sin debt (2 Corinthians 5:21). Don’t dare call my Savior a “Wimp”, hanging there paying our sin debt. That debt was owed to the Father, not the devil.

Any teacher who preaches and teaches that Jesus was a ‘Wimp’ as he died on the cross is a liar, deceiver, an apostate, and false teacher. They at the least have no understanding of what took place on the cross that day. It cannot be fully understood by the finite mind of man. All we have to go on is the Word of God; and from that we gain the knowledge that on the cross, there was a transaction of judgment between the Father and the Son; and on the cross the victory over sin was won by Jesus Christ.

“…Wandering stars…” surely must be speaking of what we often call “falling stars”, which are meteorites falling through the earths atmosphere, and burning. They make a good show. I love to watch them falling, they are an awe of our Creator themselves. It is not pleasant to warn of these “wandering stars” which Jude warns us of; but we live in a day when these people are leading thousands, maybe even millions of people away from the cross of Jesus Christ into error of the world, and the devil. These false teachers are always talking about blessing from God in the material sense, but warn nothing of the curse of immoral living. Listen to them, and then, compare what they say with what the prophets of God, and Jesus and His apostles say; and you will see the error of their proclamations. You never know where they will be next. “Wandering stars”.

This “Blackness of darkness forever” is speaking of their eternal destination. There is no need for anyone to experience this horrible place when our Lord Jesus has already been there for us. For three hours our Lord experienced this darkness as He hung on that old wooden cross separated from the mercy of the Father, experiencing only His wrath, and for our sins. That sin debt – our sin debt – has been paid in full. The death of the Son of God was payment in full, and He rose bodily from His grave showing that the debt was paid, and that death had no power over heaven.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Stripped Defenses

A nation, an individual, a family that has been greatly blessed by God is truly blessed, strong, safe, protected and having the hand of God upon them.  When these have grown to a place where they begin to trust their own strength, and wander from the trust and worship of the One who has given them these things, then, there is need for warning.

A man or woman who has lived by faith, because of the faith given them by God, who begins believing they are great because of their own efforts, pride, and strength will draw away from the Lord.  They see only that God’s blessing is on them, and that will always be the same.  What happens, however, when the blessing stops?  What happens when this individual begins trusting the blessing rather than the Blesser?

The nation of Judah, to whom Jeremiah addresses had been  in such a state.  Greatly blessed over the years, but they would never hear of the decease of God’s blessing.  Any prophet who warned them that God was going to send a sinful nation to avenge Him was considered a false prophet.  That was Jeremiah’s case.

The nation of Israel was likened unto a vineyard by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 5), and  that picture is given to Jeremiah as well;

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD. They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.” Jeremiah 5:10-13 (KJV)

Though vineyard is not mentioned in the KJV that is the idea of the “walls”.  Vineyards did have walls around them, and these “battlements” are speaking of the “branches”  of the vineyard that are to be taken away. 

The NKJV reads,

“Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end.  Take away her branches for they are not the LORD’s.”

The walls was the means of protection for the vineyard.  It kept the livestock from getting into it, the wildlife from doing too much damage.  To destroy the wall was to make the vineyard open to ruin. 

Notice in these words that God gives hope to His people, “…but make not a full end” .  The defense of God’s people is the LORD, not a our nation, not our president, not the military, etc.  It is the LORD alone.  When we turn our backs on God in favor of wicked leaders, and military defenses, politics or business; including Wall Street, then we will have our defenses stripped.

People no longer listen to the truth.  We want to feel good and the truth doesn’t leave us feeling too well.  The nation of Judah turned its back on God infavor of the lies of the false prophets.  They rejected the word of God, and trusted lies.  Judah and Israel said that “If there is a coming judgment, it is not of God”.  They would not believe that God could do such a thing.  After all, they thought, “We have the temple of God”.  They may have had the temple of God, but God was not in His temple.

There may be destruction from God, but it is to call His people back to Himself.  Christian of 2009 wake up and see and hear the truth of God’s word.  Trust only in Him, and be at peace.  God has our best in His heart.  Repent, return and believe.  Do this through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.  He died on the cross for your sins, was buried carrying your guilt, shame and condemnation away, and He bodily arose from the grave, and gives us eternal life.  One day soon He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Comfort; God With Us

The Lord had spoken to Isaiah and sent him to Ahaz the king of Judah with the message “Do not fear”. Yes I know it was a little longer and a bit more than that, but that is the basic message God sent to Ahaz.

The plotting of Ephraim would not stand, especially since they had made league with an enemy of God and His people. “Do not fear” is used; someone has said; 365 times throughout all of Scripture. That is one for each day of the year. One thing about Ahaz is that he is a proud king and we are about to see some of that pride in its worse form.

“Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 7:10-17 (KJV)

King Ahaz seems to have been trying to be pious in responding to the prophet’s message. Remember it is Isaiah who brought the message of the LORD to the king. The LORD said to the king, “Ask a sign of the LORD…”. It was the Lord who asked Ahaz to ask for a sign, yet the king wanted to have the self-righteous attitude, and a false faith, and refused the offer of the LORD. O, how often we have God’s Word before us and we hear it, then, turn around and neglect to perform the will of the Lord. The king could have asked for any sign, and due to his seeming arrogance, the sign goes a different way.

The LORD was asking to be tested. The king refused, therefore, it seems that the thing he feared was going to come to pass.

There is a two-fold message in Isaiah’s prophecy. It is to have a near fulfillment and a far off fulfillment. It is thought that the virgin would be the wife that Isaiah would marry, evidently the mother of Shearjashub has died. This young wife would have a son fulfilling the prophecy showing the king the power of God’s Word. Before this child would be old enough to know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land of those the king dreaded would be empty/deserted.

In the end, the king of Assyria would overtake the land. It is not meant that Ahaz would see this event, but it did happen, and Jerusalem fell, and captives were carried away.

Verse 14 is also a prophecy of the Lord Jesus and His coming as the God-Man through the birth of the virgin mother Mary (Matthew 1:23). He is called Immanuel or “God with us”. It is the greatest thing in all the world to know Immanuel, that God is with us. Jesus is Immanuel; the fulfillment of the law and prophets.

It should be of great comfort to the Christian to know that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this promise, and that He is “God with us”, He will forever be with us, and we will one day forever be in His presence with Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Cross

There is something special about the makeup of mankind’s heart and life.  First of all it is patterned after our Creator.  He made us in His image, though that image be marred by sin. 

The way in which it is special is that we are most at peace when we are most like Him.  That is; peaceful, loving, kind, faithful, gracious, merciful, joyful, serving, patient, gentle, and having self-control.  There are some who try and be the opposite of these things, and live in abject misery; yet thinking, “Now this is the life!”

There is only one way to be as our Creator would have us, and that is to follow His Son Jesus Christ.  He said,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)

Jesus’s own words are “If you will follow Me…”  Following Him is to be like Him and His life.  He sacrificed His time, His life in ministry to help people and minister to them.  He was never distracted from His reason for coming, and that was to die on His cross for the sins of all mankind; His destiny in this life was to give His life as the payment for our sins.  With Him; in His mind and heart; that was as good as already done when He was speaking to His disciples at this point in time.

In the verses above He calls for all who would follow Him to take up their own cross and follow.  What is our cross, if we are to follow Him?  The cross in that day was an object of death.  It was a tool of the Roman government to punish capital criminals, and put them to death.  So when Jesus speaks of “taking up your cross” He is meaning the laying down of our lives.

No woman or man can be a true follower of Jesus Christ who has not given up their very lives to do so.  To not lay one’s life down for Christ and His gospel is to lose your life.  To lay down your life for Christ is to gain your life, and eternity with Him.

Paul the apostle probably had these words in His mind when he wrote:

“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.” Galations 2:20 (KJV)

To have the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, ie., “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance…” Galations 5:22-23 (KJV), we must like Paul, the other disciples of Jesus Christ, lay down our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and showing forth the honors and glory of our Lord and Savior.

Refusing to give your all for Jesus Christ may just gain you the world, and all it possesses, but you lose your soul, your very life; and eternal peace and joy will never be yours.

The King’s Cross is the way to blessing, peace, joy, love, contentment, and eternity with our King.  The King of all kings; and Lord of all lords.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Cause Worth Fighting For

1 Samuel 17:29

There are times we need to heed the wise advice of who ever coined the phrase “Choose your fights”, or maybe you have never heard the phrase before.  That is okay.  The advice is good to heed when it comes to family, friends and neighbors.  You might include in that the people you work with in case some don’t understand the neighbor part.

There are times we must fight when no one else will, and this case in David’s life is a great example.  His brother was willing to start a quarrel with David, but unwilling to face Goliath.

What is there that is worth fighting for; even if it could mean our death?

OUTLINE from 1 Samuel 17:29 –

I.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).
II.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).
III.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).
IV.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).  I would imagine that all of us have been intimidated by some one or some thing at some time of other.  Intimidation is fear.  King Saul and his troops were in fear of this behemoth of a man, the soldier of the Philistines who challenged them to send out their best man, and end the battle.

Saul was a king who had allowed pride, and his own personal accomplishments to get between himself and God, and fear was a side product of this.  The Lord Jesus has said,

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Saul seems to have been more concerned with losing the battle than that the name of God was defied.  Compare the heart of the king with young David, and you see quite the contrast.  David had the heart like what our Lord spoke, believing God would deliver;

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (KJV)

The fear in the troops of God was evident for the young David who had a heart for God.

David was angry by the man who defied the armies of God; defying God.  When God’s people see people defying our God; it should cause us to rise up and confront the enemy of God.

Christian, let us maintain our right fellowship with God.  Let us always give Him the glory for any accomplishments.  Let us never fear the flesh of man, but always fear our God, knowing that it is He who raises up kings, and prime ministers,  presidents, and princes.  Christian, always walk in the fear of God and you will fear nothing else.  Paul the apostle has written by the Spirit of God,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).  The words of Goliath continued haunting the host of Israel day after day after day, and no one is doing anything, except shaking in their sandals.  It is a good sign that the people of God are not living by the commandments of God and have fallen away from Him.

It is quite evident by Goliath’s challenge that the Philistines are not shaking in their sandals.  The giant is boastful, arrogant, confident that he can win against any “poor soldier” of Israel.  They have forgotten the power of one man who is right with God.

Saul’s sins are many, but there are two which bear remembering.  The first is his impatience in waiting for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice; so he offers it himself (1 Samuel 13).  The second sin is one of disobedience.  In chapter 15 the LORD sent Samuel to command Saul to destroy the Amalekites, and to leave none living; and to kill all the animals in their possession; to take nothing.  Saul saved many alive, saved some of the animals, and saved king Agag alive; in disobedience to God.  Some of today’s people might call Saul a “Real humanitarian”; however the issue was a commandment of God, he disobeyed, and the issue is obedience, godliness, and righteousness and Saul was none of them.

Due to the sin of Israel, the king and the troops they now live in fear.  Some fear with over coming faith in God can be a powerful thing.  When there is no faith in God, however, it [fear] is crippling.  Such was the case with Saul.  Now because of this there was no fear in the Philistine camp.

Could it be, that the reason there is no fear of God in the enemy camp today [2009] is due to the disobedience of many of God’s people?  The love, power, grace and mercy of God is not seen in our lives.

The cause for the Christian today is to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10), and stand upon the teachings, the death, burial, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the promise of His imminent return for His bride.  To be honest, forthright, just, faithful (first to God, and to one another), loving, generous, kind, having self-control, being filled with joy, peace, and patience (Galations 5:22-23).

When Christians are walking with God the world will respect us, and they will fear YHWH.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).  You could say that Eliab, David’s brother, was accusing him of “grandstanding”.  That sounds like many who have accused men of God in past generations of Christianity, and not so distant days of “grandstanding”.  It could be called, “Making a spectacle of one’s self”, or using an opportunity to call attention to one’s self as the answer to the problem at hand;  just for selfish cause.

David’s heart went immediately to God when he saw this treacherous event from the Philistines.  He saw a cause in this and he, though just a youth, was willing to give his life in God’s hands and go and conquer this mocker of God.  David did not say, “I think I can conquer this giant”,  he said,

“The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37).

There is no question in the mind of David.  God will give him the victory, and he is going to give God the glory.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).  This thought is tied very closely with the second thought.  When there is no fear in the heart of the enemy of God, and His people they will defy the name of God, and His people.

To defy is to belittle, mock, to make light of, to accuse of cowardice, or impotence in battle.  John Gill in his commentary wrote;

“1Sa 17:10 – And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day,…. Or “reproach” them; that is, should they not accept his challenge, and send down a man to fight with them, he should then upbraid them with cowardice; and now he disdained them, as if there was not a man among them that dared to encounter with him:

On verse 26 Gill writes;

“for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? there were two things which provoked David, and raised indignation in him against this man; the one was, the character of the person that reproached, a Philistine, an uncircumcised person, a profane man, that had no true religion in him, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise; and the other was the persons whom he reproached, the armies of the living God, of the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and which in effect was reproaching the Lord himself, and which David, filled with zeal for God, and for his people, could not bear; and the consideration of these things animated him to engage with him, not doubting of success.”

Back to the thought of fear.  It cripples, it keeps God’s people from the power which God has given us through the seal of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We begin to fear the shadows of life when we are not walking with God.  We fear physical assaults, we fear every turn of our lives, we fear that our friends are whispering about us behind our backs, plotting to ruin or hurt us in some way, we fear financial ruin, we even begin questioning our salvation, the love of God, and the love others have for us.

When we, like David, are walking in the Spirit, walking with God, then we fear nothing but God Himself.

When God and His army is defied, that should cause His people to rise up, and be brave, bold and beautiful in our Lord.  We are living in a day of darkness.  It is not the time for fear, but faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1) were words of assurance, peace and encouragement.  We must live, love, and fight in those words.  When others try to tear you down, the body of Christ down, your church down;  let us stand strong in God; in His Word, in and through the power of His Spirit.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Science Needs God

The most recent email update from Answers In Genesis was an interesting one; they all are to me.   Dr. Greg Bahnsen has written some articles concerning the matter of science and their need for God.  There would be no science [knowledge] apart from God’s creating it.

The following is from the AiG email update in its entirety:

Q: Why does science need God?

A: 

It is one of those embarrassing historical ironies that modern science could not have arisen except in the atmosphere of a Christian world-and-life view. Nevertheless, the scientific community today persists in playing the prodigal by assuming an antagonistic stance against the Christianity of divine revelation. Hypnotized by Darwin’s evolutionary scheme and enchanted with the products of scientific technology, modern man has granted science a secularized godship and bows before it in fetish idolatry.

The pitting of science against revelation is certainly odd. For, a certain state of affairs is needed for the scientific endeavor to be meaningful or fruitful. The scientist must believe that the state of affairs is conducive to science, or he would not venture into the scientific enterprise. He must believe that there is a world of things and processes that can be known and that he himself sustains a relationship to this world that allows him to know these objects and events. But then, what reason can the scientist give for his belief that the state of affairs is actually conducive to science? Why is the world such as it is and not otherwise? 

Here the scientist, who depends on the self-sufficiency of his logico-empirical procedures, is in a predicament. His response is usually to make various hypotheses about the world and then point to the beneficial results that flow from such hypotheses; he gives, can give, no reason for those hypotheses—they just are, because they work. If pressed, or if he is philosophically inclined, he may even go so far as to say that his “working hypotheses” have no reason unless it be “chance.”

In other words, the consistent naturalistic scientist seems to hold to an irrational set of beliefs about the state of affairs simply in order that his “rational” scientific endeavor may get off the ground. It is rather obvious that prior to any scientific endeavor we must begin either from speculation (about “chance” hypotheses) or from revelation. The Scriptures (of the one Person who knows) reveal how it is that this world, and man in it, are such as to make scientific endeavor meaningful. The state of affairs that exists is due to the creation and providence of the sovereign God. If science (so-called) could actually refute the truths of Scripture, then there would be no actual basis for science at all. The desire of the scientific community to pit its enterprise and conclusions against Christian revelation is ultimately suicidal.

Revelation, Speculation, and Science, the first of our articles by Dr. Greg Bahnsen.

If the link above does not work then maybe this one will.  Thanks to Ken Ham and all at Answers In Genesis.

-T.A.

When God Is Not King

Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25

This is going to be a overview of chapters 17 through 21.  It seems that these chapters tie together very strongly in showing what happens when God is not the One ruling individuals, and national life.

The key to understanding these chapters appears to be the phrase, “There was no king…”, and that would certainly mean that even God was not the rule of their hearts and lives.  At least they were not submitted to His rule and reign.  We know and believe as Christians, of course, that God is sovereign, and in complete control of every nation, ruler, and individual.

OUTLINE chapters 17 – 21 –

I.  THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE NATION WAS IN SHAMBLES (17:6-18:31).
II.  LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT, AND COMMITMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21).
III.  SEEMING UNRESTRAINED ANIMAL LUST, AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28).
IV.  WARS BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48).
V.  UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24).

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCHES, COMMUNITIES, AND NATIONS CRUMBLE (17:6-18-31).  This as a matter of fact is the ultimate reason that nations crumble and fall.  When the spiritual, moral leadership fails, nations are left without a foundation on which to stand.

In this text we have a young man (unnamed) from the  priestly family (Levi) who goes to serve as a priest for one man [Micah] and his family.  He is basically selling the office of priest.  It isn’t long until some group more powerful, with more means comes and buys him away.

This was a young “priest” who was selling his services for gain, to live, and not giving spiritual guidance, or any life guidance what so ever.  Right priestly, spiritual leadership will confront, rebuke, exhort (2 Timothy 3:16-17) through Scriptural counsel.

Right spiritual leadership begins with the priesthood of the home.  The priest of the home is the husband of the wife, father of the children.  This is one of the appointments of God for the Christian man of the house.  That is not to say he is the only priest of the home, the wife, the mother, and each of the children who are Christians are also priests under Jesus Christ, and have the authority to approach the very throne of God.

God has placed the Christian man as the head of spiritual leadership of that home, and when this begins  to fail the foundation begins weakening.  When the husbands and fathers are not leading the homes spiritually, that will show up in the local church, the community, the State government, and the National governments.

This responsibility begins with every Christian.  Make God King of your life through faith in Jesus Christ and His cross.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE A LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT AND COMMITTMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21)  We have in these verses a Levite who has a “concubine” who has forsaken him and returned to her father.  For all practical purposes we see her here as the only “wife” he has.  He does seem to have a love for her, because he pursues her to her father’s home.

The wife had been unfaithful (v. 2), and went to her father’s home in Bethlehem-Judah, and was there for four months.  He goes to her father’s house to bring her home.  He meets his “father in law” (v. 7) for the first time, and they begin communicating , creating a bond with one another, and the “husband” stays the night;  and it wasn’t until the late afternoon of the fifth day that the man and his ‘concubine’ departed.

She  has shown a lack of commitment in her marriage, by being unfaithful.  He has shown some love for her by  pursuing her to her father’s home, to bring her back with him to their home.  He does not however have much respect for marriage, because a concubine was only for the purpose of man’s pleasure or service, and God actually commands a man have one wife.  We are not told anywhere that she was his “wife”, but only concubine.

It seems that the man made bad choices.  This is certainly evidence of the time of spiritual darkness of that day and time.  She is not his wife, she is his wife.  She is not his wife in the traditional sense of that day; she is his wife in the sense of his responsibility for her.

Just as this issue with the Levite and the concubine is confusing so too has the marriage issue of our day become quite confusing.  God ordained that a man leave his father and mother, and cleave only to his wife (Genesis 2:24).  He has ordained that one man and one woman wed, and be together until they are parted by death.  Because of sin God has given allowances for divorce;  Jesus said, “Because of the hardness of your hearts…” (Matthew 19:8;  Mark 10:5).

When God is not king in marriage, then there will be confusion about the rights and wrongs of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  There will be arguments over authority, rights, and all kinds of family issues; similar to whether a woman should have children if she is not married, and especially if an unmarried woman should be allowed to have fourteen children, through medical means.

When God is King we follow His plans for life, love and marriage and family.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNRESTRAINED LUST AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28).  This Levite showed same careless attitude of many people, including many Christians of our day;

1. Any judgment that may be coming is somewhere around the corner in another time and place;
2. Still longing for more fun, more partying and more amusement.

He took no thought for his or her own life when he decided to leave her father’s home so late, and found himself on the streets of an unholy place.

A fine, courteous man invites them to his home for safety, and shelter.  The man accepts the invitation, and they are soon approached by the “sons of Belial” (v. 22), and they sound much like the people who approached Lot’s door requesting to “know” the men he had in his house (Genesis 20:4-5).  Only these were not struck with blindness or later destroyed by fire and brimstone.

Lust was in the hearts of these people.  They had no self restraint, no fear of God, and no care for anyone but self.

The sad part about it is that the Levite and his host seem to have no love for anything but self either.  The “good guys” are not so great after all, are they?  Now, I know all the arguments about this; and I clearly see it, but no man who is right with God in any time or culture would sell their wife, daughter; nor any other man’s wife or daughter for their life.  We will not cast them out to the savages for our own benefit, and to leave them lying dead on the “thresholds” after having wanted back in.

When God is King there is love in the marriage, the home, and respect for one another; and a heart for what is right, wrong, and responsibilities for guidance and protection of that home.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE WARS AND UNREST BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48).  Though rightly angry over the death of this woman; I cannot help but believe that part of his actions in cutting up her body is from guilt.  Why didn’t I stand my ground?  Why didn’t I stand to protect her and the man’s daughter (19:24)?  So now he wants to get all the people of Israel involved in his sin.  The rush to judgment, though they had consulted God in the matter, led to the eventual destruction of the tribe of Benjamin.   Though God had given approval for the first two attacks He had not promised them victory until the third attack.

The nation needed to learn from this event.  Their sins, their lack of trust in God, and dependence upon Him was their major offense.  Now they have come to God these three times, it would seem, as only a crutch, or a spare tire.

How should it have been handled?  Should they have been obeying God’s commandments, God’s laws?  YES!  Should they have had only one wife?  YES!  Sometimes even at all times when we just insist on having our own way God allows us to do it.  Then we suffer the thorns and thistles of the life we chose.  That young lady who was counselled by her pastor she shouldn’t marry that non-christian boy, but went ahead with it and, is now troubled by a drunken husband who beats her, cheats on her, and abuses the kids and won’t bring home the check for groceries and rent, but gambles, and drinks it away; she now wants to blame God for her choice.  You were warned young lady.  God gave you the word and you didn’t hear it, you rejected it for your self desire, and will; now you are paying.

When God is King there is obedience to His commandments, and prayer and right choices lead to a life of blessing.  Do we who are Christians ever make wrong choices?  Most definitely.  We pay for our wrong choices.  When God is King it will not lead to unrest between brethren.  He is not a crutch or a spare tire; to be only called upon when in dire straits.

When God is King His Word will be believed and practiced and feared.  When God is King there will be no conflict over whether the Word of God is inerrant, infallible, and eternal

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24).  The tribe of Israel had basically been destroyed.   Now they suddenly grow concerned about that one tribe, and begin doing all kinds of compromising things to justify their actions.  A plan, a scheme of kidnapping women, and joining of the kidnapped with the living Benjamites, and the kidnapped women being from a city of Judea which has been destroyed due to their lack of participation in the war.  When God is not King man schemes, plots, and eventually loses out on the blessings of God.

Compassion is a good, and sometimes even godly thing.  Any compassion that is based on godlessness is not godly.  It may have been right to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, but the plots and scheming was not right.  It would not have need to be done should things been done according to God’s Word, guidance and direction.

When God is King there will be holy compassion and holy unions, all without schemes, and plots around the desires of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Fruit or No Fruit???

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 12-13 (NKJV).

…Late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots…“ This of course, speaking of trees which have had the leaves boasting of something to give; having leaves all season long, but never producing fruit. If you will remember the time when Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21; Mark 11). The leaves on the tree boasted of having fruit, but it was barren.

That is the case for these apostate heretics. It seems in the day we live it is unpopular to call certain teachings heresy, but that is exactly what much of that we see on some so called “Christian Television” stations is proclaiming. Sadly, it is being proclaimed in many pulpits of the nation as well. It is mostly so in the United States of America.

The disciple of Jesus Christ is one who will bear fruit. The individual who has come to Christ by grace through faith will have an almost immediate change in their lives. They will notice the change. It will be a change for the better. They will love God, His Son Jesus. They will love God’s Word, and desire to grow in Him. They will also desire to tell others of what God has done for them.

The apostate will boast of a power they do not have. They will also boast of “Liberty” or “Freedom” in Christ which they have not experienced and will lead others into the bondage of sinful living an antinomian, antichrist like lifestyle. They will lead others into seeking the material things of the world, rather than the glory of Jesus Christ and the eternal life to come in His presence. They will lead others into believing that all the blessings of the Bible are material, ie., health, wealth, etc…

Christian friend; stand your guard. Guard your heart. Guard what you read. Guard what you hear from “Christian Television” and from the pulpits of the churches of your land. If they are not magnifying the Lord Jesus, His cross, death, burial and resurrection and the promise of His soon coming, then they know not Jesus Christ; or at the least are desperately deceived. They are fruitless rebels, in need of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Read the Word of God. Study it, and let it study you. Pray, pray, and pray. Stand your guard.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 02/17/09

Those “Fear Not(s)”

Sometime ago I read somewhere that God had included 365 “fear not” statements within the Bible, or something similar – “Be not afraid”, “Do not fear”, etc.  While I have been doing my annual read through the Scriptures I have been trying to make a point to catch these, underline them, and write there address down in a notebook.  I have found 27 after having read through the fifth chapter of Judges.

The twenty seventh one found is in Judges 4:18, and it reads:

“And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.”

When you get to looking at the story surrounding the event where the woman uses these assuring words, there should almost be a caveat with them; “BEWARE OF THE ONE WHO SPEAKS THE WORDS ‘FEAR NOT'”.  In this case it was a woman who was a friend of Israel, and the one to whom she spoke was the enemy of  Israel, but someone he [Sisera] thought he could trust.

It is certain that when we are on God’s side we need not fear; however when you are an enemy of God and enemy of His people then you had better be cautious of His “Fear not”, they are usually intended for those who hear and obey Him, as words of assurance.

Fear not, when you are resting in Jesus Christ.  Be afraid, O enemy of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Heart To Go

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

Awesome is the cleansing power of the LORD God. The coal taken from the altar by the angel was a fierce burning heat, purging my unclean lips of their filth.

The presence of the glory of the LORD is truly something wonderful. He came to me and asked me a question. Here are His words –

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” Isaiah 6:8-10 (KJV)

One thing I know from God’s calling on my life and that is that He truly loves this people of His. He is gracious, loving, forgiving, and full of mercy. He has placed a burden on my heart for this rebellious and stubborn people. There is judgment that is coming because this people has grown so complacent, and apathetic.

When the LORD asked the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” I immediately responded, “I will go. Send me.” I have seen the chaos of my peoples lives. There are few who are following the LORD, and they are not the elite among us. There is a family scattered here and there whose heart’s are given to the worship of the LORD of hosts. They can make very little impact with the immoral leadership of our nation. People usually follow the moral direction of their leadership.

We are a prosperous nation. There is much wealth among us, and no one sees any danger on the horizon, but it is coming whether they see it or not. That is the reason I have answered God’s call to go and preach to this people, even with the caveats He has given me concerning their reactions to His Word.

They will keep on hearing, but not understand; keep on seeing, but not perceive. Their hearts will be made dull. Their ears made heavy with the preaching of the Word, and simply because it is continually rejected. O, that my people would hear and obey. Do they not know that the more they hear and reject the more they will grow lethargic to God and His Word. They hear themselves into disobedience and rebellion. They have grown cold and God just seems to be a convenience, rather than the person of devotion and worship He is truly worthy of.

It is sad that I am to be the instrument of God that will cause the truth of God’s Word to be hidden from their hearts and minds. It is only because their hearts have grown hard. When people continue to turn a deaf ear to the Word of God and His way for their lives they will not hear and obey when judgment is imminent, and that is the way of the ministry to which I have been called. There will be little to no repentance. Call on the name of the LORD while you have the heart for it. Do not delay.

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near…” Isaiah 55:6 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Unharnassed; No Boundaries

Do we ever stop to think what our lives would be without boundaries, without rules, without laws? It is as though we think they hinder our freedom; provoke us to evil or something. Car commercials have spoken about going outside the boundaries – usually referring to driving off road – and if they are equipped for it, then in a car, I would say, “Go for it.” However, for people, boundaries, lines, and laws give us definition, purpose, and direction.

How does it look for little children who are learning to use crayons, and a coloring book, and they get out of the lines? We will make over a one or two year old who uses their “skills” and it is cute to watch them take the different colors, and do their best, and they will always get wild and out of the lines. We tell them how good they have done, but the only thing that gives us a clue as to what they have colored is the lines under the coloring. When a child gets a little older we expect more from them, and expect them to color within the lines, and use good colors for the article, as they get older there should be no more coloring outside the lines.

Are harnesses and boundaries necessary in a free society? Most definitely. They are even more necessary in a free society. Israel was a theocratic government; meaning God our Creator was the Sovereign ruler of the nation. They were to follow the laws, commandments, statutes, word, ordinances, testimonies, and precepts of God which had been given them through Moses, the priests and the prophets. There is no country on earth that I know of who does not have laws. These laws, whether they are just or unjust are for the people to follow [when they honor God] for their protection.

The prophet Jeremiah was grieved by the treachery of the leadership of Judah; from the prophets, priests and the kings. They had forsaken God, His laws, His word, and had began following foreign gods which are not gods (v. 7). Jeremiah addresses the leadership of Judah:

“I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Jeremiah 5:5-9 (KJV)

The “yoke” is what was used for the oxen for plowing the field, pulling a cart, and other farm work. It was a means by which the farmer controlled the oxen, to plow a straight line, and to bring the oxen back to the barn for their safe keeping. We see a picture here of the leadership of Judah having broke the laws of God that was there to give them guidance, direction, and definition; and leaving them at the mercy of the surrounding enemy. One of the greatest things we can see in this picture is that God loves His children. However when God’s children break His law, His words, His commandments; they step outside the area of God’s protection and provision, and providence.

The oxen that breaks its yoke and is “free” is at the mercy of the “…lion out of the forest…”, and the “…wolf of the evenings..” and the speedy “leopard” watching over them. As the farmer would desperately try to round up the oxen, bring them back to the barn/stable; so God pleads with His people to return to Him putting away all the evil of their hearts.

Can we not hear the heart of God as He pleads with the leadership of Judah, “Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses”? God had blessed Israel and Judah for many years, and they turn against Him; forsake Him, and turn to other gods which are not gods at all, but mere pieces of wood, stone, or jewels, or precious metals. They have turned from worshipping the Creator to worshipping the creation.

It is sad to realize that when God had blessed Judah so abundantly that their hearts grew cold toward God, His Word, His prophets, and faithful priests. As the heart grows cold toward God; cravings, desires for other things begin to affect the mind and heart. God shows that blessing without harnesses, laws, boundaries; if you will; leads to ungodly deeds, and is rebellion against God. Blessed minds without following the law of God will end with a heart as a “lusty stallion” (v. 8 NKJV, ESV). Adulterous minds, and hearts prevailed in the leadership of that day progressing into the very act of adultery with a house of prostitution; and stealing what belonged to others (Proverbs 6:26-35).

The horse that is still a stallion goes after every mare that he senses, and is hard to control. These leaders were as those stallions when it came to their positions of power; it was as though it was due them. No man’s wife was off limits in their thinking, and it almost seems that there are some religious leaders like that today [2009].

We should consider it a great, awesome, mighty, and wonderful think to have a visit from God – “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD”. This visit was not one that we should want or desire. It is somewhat like the father visiting the son in his bedroom following a day of causing Mom problems. That boy would just as soon be out of the house when Dad gets home.

The heart of the child of God longs for the visit of the LORD when He will come with arms outstretched welcoming us into His presence. We should be thankful for those visits which are as the one above when He comes to chastise us. His coming to chastise us proves that we are His children (Hebrews 12:6-8); His coming to visit Judah with all the enemies around them was evidence of His great love for this chosen people.

When we live in faithfulness to God, His Word, and His Son Jesus Christ then, we have the great blessing of our worship in Him, and great pleasure to His name and glory. There is only one way into the pleasure and glory of God and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness. When we sin we have an Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9-2:1), and we are cleansed from all our sin.

Let’s walk, live and die in His blessings. Let’s be faithful to Him in all that we do. We do it through the power of Christ within us, ie., the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself is our Harness, and our Boundary. And we are free from sin and its bondage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Guard Against Filthy Dreamers

“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.” Jude 8 (NKJV).

We must look backwards in the text to see the meaning of the “Likewise”. The apostates who lived in unbelief, rebellion, and immoral conduct were also “filthy” (KJV) dreamers. They had no regard for the Word of God. They reject all authority, and spoke evil of those who had leadership.

In rejecting leadership this most likely means that of God’s Word, His leaders, and spoke evil of angels as well – the angels of God especially; probably assigning themselves power over angels. Giving dreams, and visions as much authority as the Word of God. Any messenger of God would have been evil spoken of.

The ones of whom Jude writes were probably saying they had a message from God, when all along their message was opposed to God.

Hear what Peter said of this very act:

“…Especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…“ 2 Peter 2:10 (NKJV).

These that speak evil of dignitaries are those who have no love for Jesus, nor much care for truth. They are given to whatever makes them feel fulfilled. “If it feels good that must be the right thing”. Could this also be dealing with those who have authority over us in government positions? “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…

With spirituality on the rise we as Christians must continue to guard our hearts and minds against the teachings of many who profess to know Christ, but do not, and teach in a manner which cries for the temporal fulfillment of the here and now; with not desire for the eternal, and living for Christ Jesus now.

Beware of those who pretend to know Christ, but deny the cross of Christ, deny His deity, deny His resurrection, and His coming again. These also will deny the full, completed revelation of the written Word of God. The truth of Jesus Christ is that He died on the cross for our sins, and the victory was won on the cross, He was buried carrying our sins away, and He arose from that grave bodily to show forth the victory over sin, death, hell and the grave.

Trust in the power and the authority of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Pride, Liquor, and Injustice

Six ‘Woes’ have been announced against the wicked. And, that is the wicked of Judah. These are woes against the people who have proclaimed themselves to be the ‘People of God’.

The fifth and the sixth we will look at together in this commentary of woes. There has been one ‘woe’ already announced against them for their seeking after ‘Wine and strong drink’ (v. 11), that was the second one. These latter two seem to be dealing with men of influence; men who make judgments. These are people in the courts or some position of authority. The fifth one basically deals with “Pride” which leads to a fall. Whether it is the common man or woman, or a person of influence makes no difference when it comes to ‘Pride’; God hates it.

There is an arrogance which Isaiah is speaking to. Boasting of their drinking, as though it is some heroic thing. It seems to be that way in American society these days. There is an arrogance toward alcoholic drink. If you do not imbibe in the poison you cannot be up with things. It is as though a man is no man unless he downs a beer, or maybe a case or two a week, and maybe in some instances a case per day. I hope that would be rare, but fear that it is not.

“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” Isaiah 5:21-23 (KJV)

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!” Isaiah 5:21-23 (ESV).

Pride will not only be the fall of individuals who exalt themselves against the will and Word of God, but it will also be the fall of any nation who allows it to continue unabated. It is pride and arrogance which causes men and women to exalt their own opinions over that of God. It is also pride and arrogance which will allow men to accept bribes in order to give the one with the money power over those who have none.

These arrogant fools were taking material gain, and depriving the innocent of their right to justice. Do you ever wonder, “Are these things done in the great nation of the United States of America?” You and I both know that it is. The liquor industry pays big dollars in taxes into our government. They also have a lot of political power with the men and women of Congress, the Senate, and all the national powers. May God forgive our wickedness. There is more bribery than that though, where individual judges, and other rulers have taken and are taking bribes so the wealthy can have their way.

May God forgive a nation that gives more rights to those who have and acquit the guilty because of wealth, but condemn the innocent who have no wealth.

There is a much better and a clear way, and that is with a sober mind and heart for God.  Leadership by liquor is devastation, and quickly brings homes, communities, and countries to the gutter.  The better way is the filling of the Spirit of God, and is accessible through faith in Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, His burial, and bodily resurrection.  Call on His name, believing, and you will be saved; then walk in His Spirit.

Earlier I wrote “…when it comes to ‘Pride’; God hates it”. I know that because He says He does. In Proverbs 6:16-19 there are seven things listed which God hates, and it seems that these seven things are a small example of all the things that God hates. The very first on the list is, “A proud look”. A proud look is basically being full of one’s self, needing no one (especially God), or nothing else. Pride will be our own undoing, unless we fall on our knees in full surrender to the God who made all things. Jesus Christ His Son is the only way to fully acknowledge Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Wine is a Mocker…

Wine is a Mocker…

“Let’s go and have a drink”, says one friend to another, as they are departing from their workplace. Most times, in the like scenario, of course, this term “drink” is used in reference to the alcoholic version of various drinks. When we live in a world where there are thousands of people killed on our highways each year due to too much alcoholic drinking, the damage it does to families, the work place, medical care, and individual lives why is it even tolerated by civil countries and the laws of our land?

It is not just tolerated, but it is indulged in, and made to appear glamorous, by even those who don’t drink the brews, and wines. How can a alcoholic drink be indulged in by those who don’t drink? When it is not spoken out against. When it is laughed at. When it is seen as a means to the ending of our miseries, or laughingly referred to as medicinal.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1 (KJV)

It is sad to admit, there are however, many people, even professing Christians who have been deceived by the venom of alcohol. Those who refuse to speak against the evils of alcoholic drink, and the debauchery, and vile living that comes from the lives of the people who are ruled by the beverage of choice for many “law abiding” adults. There is an element of Christianity even defending the “right to drink”, and that “The Bible says nothing against drinking of alcoholic beverage”. NO! There is no direct commandment to avoid alcoholic beverage in the Bible, but to use that as a right to do so is foolish thinking.

There are several things not named in the Bible that should definitely be avoided by Christians, and pastors and preachers should be speaking against. For example; there is pornography – the vile and evil use of the bodies of others to make pictures and films of people in the acts of things that should be kept in private. There is also the act of abortion – the murderous act of killing the innocent human baby before they are ever born. There is slavery, are we going to advocate slavery because the Bible tells us how to treat those who are enslaved to us? I would hope not. Someone will probably start crying out, “That is straw men,” so be it, it is based on principles of Scripture. Are you going to burn them, because they wreak havoc on your excuses for alcoholic drink?

Let’s look at the verse of this topic. Proverbs 20:1 warns us clearly of wine being a mocker. Strong’s gives us the meaning of the word mocker in Hebrew to be;

  • H3887 – lûts loots A primitive root; properly to make mouths at, that is, to scoff; hence (from the effort to pronounce a foreign language) to interpret, or (generally) intercede: – ambassador, have in derision, interpreter, make a mock, mocker, scorn (-er, -ful), teacher”. In looking at this meaning it would seem to me that alcoholic wine, [that is the meaning of the word “wine” in this verse]; makes a mockery out of whatever it touches.
  • “Wine” – “H3196: yayin yah’-yin From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].If one is not a fool when one drinks the beverage, they will soon be one, especially should they allow the beverage to take control. The wisest choice is to refuse to drink something, or use anything that could take over your mind and body. When you do not touch and drink the beverage alcohol you can never become drunk.Mockery is the act of treating with contempt or ridicule; to defy; to delude; to mimic in sport or derision. Isn’t there enough problems within Christianity today without adding one more item to our shamefulness.

    The verse above also tells us that “Strong drink is raging”.

     

    • “Strong drink” = “H7941

    • shêkâr; shay-kawr’; From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.”
    • H7937 – shâkar; shaw-kar’; A primitive root; to become tipsy; in a qualified sense, to satiate with a stimulating drink or (figuratively) influence. (Superlative of H8248.): – (be filled with) drink (abundantly), (be, make) drunk (-en), be merry. [Superlative of H8248.]The purposeful making and distribution of strong alcohol for the very purpose of drunkenness. When people are under the influence of beverage alcohol they are not in control. Men and women under the influence will say and do things they would not normally say or do. Otherwise “good men” or “good women” can be turned into violent, immoral, raging, animalistic creatures they would not otherwise be. It is no wonder that wine is a mocker… 

        • “Raging” = “H1993

          hâmâh; haw-maw’; A primitive root (compare H1949); to make a loud sound (like English “hum”); by implication to be in great commotion or tumult, to rage, war, moan, clamor: – clamorous, concourse, cry aloud, be disquieted, loud, mourn, be moved, make a noise, rage, roar, sound, be troubled, make in tumult, tumultuous, be in an uproar.

        Since the book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom it seems that these two items, “Wine” and “Strong drink” cannot be associated with wisdom. How can one be wise in even taking a drink of something that might cause drunkenness which is directly forbidden by Scripture? Someone has brought the issue of sexual relations between a husband and a wife into the argument of beverage alcohol. The statement going something like this, “God gave the sexual union between a husband and wife for both pro-creation, and pleasure. If one enjoys sexual relations too much does that mean it is evil?” Asking the question, at least in the way I phrase it seems almost ludicrous, and to compare the two is ludicrous. We have been commanded to pro-create, and to enjoy our spouses, but there is no commandment to enjoy wine. Some even go to Jesus’s turning “water into wine” of John chapter two; His very first miracle; and argue that if Jesus turned water into wine, then it must be okay. I am not going to discuss that right now, however I will add this; if the wine is a mocker according to Old Testament Scripture, and it is wrong to “Look on the wine when it moveth itself aright in the cup…” (Proverbs 23:31), then, how could Jesus violate Scripture by making alcoholic beverage? A violation of His own Word is what He would be doing. He does not violate His Word.Surely in an age of undisciplined behavior in children, youth and adults we as Christians need to say, and cry boldly that beverage alcohol is evil, and there is no place for it in the lives of Christian people. One more thought before I close. Why is it when a man or woman who has been an alcoholic and a drunk, when they receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will turn away from and put away all alcoholic beverages? Yet, so called Christian leaders argue for moderation. Where is the leadership in that? Surely “Wine is a mocker” and is mocking Christianity right now; and “Strong drink is raging”; and those influenced by it are fighting against all that is good and godly, and espousing evil, as it is allowed into the homes of the deceived.

        It seems that the devil is surely laughing at the moderation of the moderates who argue for freedom of beverages. May God help us to believe the Word of the LORD, and shun all that is evil and that wreaks evil in the lives of our leaders, and the people.

        -Tim A. Blankenship