The Need

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

Matthew is called by Jesus to follow Him. He leaves the position he holds as tax collector which is a position hated by his fellow Jews; thus, they hate tax collectors. Jesus calls him because He loves him.

As usual the scribes and Pharisees see Jesus eating and drinking with such “low lifes” and begin to criticize Him. They do not get it. They do not see the need. They do not see their great need for redemption and forgiveness.

For a man or woman of any rank in life, any job or profession in life and business to be redeemed from their sin they first need to be sick, lost, without hope. No self righteous individual can come to Jesus for salvation. You can see the result of that by the condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees.

The sick and diseased need a physician. The sick and diseased of heart, mind and soul need the Great Physician. His name is Jesus Christ, He is the Son of the Living God and God the Living Son. He died on the cross, was buried carrying away all our sin, shame and condemnation, and He rose again. He lives.

Call on His name and He will hear and He will heal you, and cleanse you of your sin.

He Touched Me

“And He put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I will: be thou clean.’ And immediately the leprosy departed from him.” Luke 5:13 (KJB)

When I was a much younger man there was a song by that title; “He Touched Me”.  It is still sung in some churches  and musical circles. I wonder if we give much thought to what Jesus actually did though, in touching, yes touching those whom the law, and society of the time called “Unclean”.

Speaking of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son; Matthew’s gospel tells us this,

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.’ ” Matthew 8:17

And that is a quote from the prophet Isaiah,

 “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

Now I hope you can see a little clearer what Jesus did for all of us who will repent of our sins, and call out to Him in faith believing Him.

Paul the apostle said in 2 Corinthians,

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

He touched me; the unclean; and made me wholly clean. Has He touched you?

Keeping Your Heart

Keeping Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23-27
Matthew 6:21; 12:34; Philippians 4:7

1.  Giving care to your very being. (Matt. 6:21)

2.  Cause you to speak righteously from your mouth. (Matt. 12:34)

3.  Will set your eyes on the prize ahead of you with distractions.

4.  With your eyes on the prize your feet will walk the same direction. (Heb. 12:13

5.  A right heart will give you the mind to refrain from evil. (Philippians 4:7)

-T.A.

These are some sermon thoughts from Sunday morning (09/04/11) sermon preached by Tim A. Blankenship at Carr Lane Baptist.

B F & M – The Kingdom

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

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

Here is our Statement of Faith concerning the Kingdom:

“IX. The Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

-T.A.

B F & M – The Lord’s Day

In the Old Testament the people of Israel were to worship God, and rest on the seventh day of the week.  It is called the sabbath day.  It was on the seventh day that God ceased in His work of creating.

As Baptists we do not see the First day of the week as the sabbath, but as the day of remembering the resurrection of our Lord.  It is the beginning of a new week.  It represents a New Life, and particularly New Life in Jesus Christ.  We are living resurrected lives, no longer condemned under the law lives.

The following is our Statement of Faith:

“VIII. The Lord’s Day

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.”

Though this day is not the sabbath day of the Old Testament, nor one of the other sabbath days the Israelites were required to honor, we must still respect a day of rest.

The Lord’s Day has always been a day of rest in my family.  We have attended worship services on Sunday morning and evening.  It is a wonderful day for remembering the wonder of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is surely a sign of our departure from the Lord, that everything in the business world is doing business on this day.  One day there will be the Day of the Lord where there will be judgment and that day will not be pleasant.

-T.A.

Observations From Matthew – 031211

Today’s Reading is from Matthew 26 – 28.

In looking at the life of Jesus Christ one cannot help but notice that the life of Jesus is completely submitted to the will of His Father.  He is about fulfilling God’s will for His life as a human being on earth.  Now, if we want a good example then, Jesus is the one to follow.  He is however, much more than an example to follow.  He is, in fact, the very only begotten Son of God (John 1:1-5, 14; 3:16).  Part of His submission to the Father as man is His heart and will to fulfill Scriptures and we see that in the following verses,

“Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him.  And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.  Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?  In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take Me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on Me.  But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.”  Matthew 26:50-56

In this short passage we see the statement twice, “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled…?” and then, “But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled”, and all this was at the time of His betrayal and arrest.

Though the name of the sword wielder is not given, we know from the testimony of the apostle John (John 18:10-11) that it is Peter who was overly protective of His Lord.  If we think Peter only meant to cut off that man’s ear, we would be gravely mistaken.  Peter was not a highly trained soldier in handling a sword; but his intent was to divide that man’s head.

The intent and purpose of Jesus was to fulfill Scripture and glorify His Father.  In that act He would also make a way for those who will believe to have fellowship with God the Father.  By way of the cross Scripture, all of Scripture would be fulfilled, the sin debt would be paid, God would be honored, and glorified; and there is a way of salvation from the condemnation of sin.

The event of the above Scriptures follow a time of great trial in our Lord’s life.  It was a time of the “press”.  In a place where the olives were pressed for the oil, the very fragrance of Heaven was being pressed in doing the will of Heaven.  Jesus was about doing the will of God.  His mind, His heart, His soul, and His strength was going to see that all Scripture would be fulfilled.

In the press, by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, we can be about fulfilling the will and word of God in our lives.  Be strong in faith, believe God, trust every word He has said; that He will fulfill every word that, even now, has yet to be fulfilled.  Believe it will be; and live accordingly.  No matter what trial or tribulation may come; economic failure, employment fails, health fails, earthquake or flood, or fire.  God’s Word – all of Scripture will be fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 031111

Reading today from Matthew 23 – 25.

After doing my reading this morning, I was wondering what I should post this morning for the Scripture reading over on our church blog, and our son James called and told me about a huge earthquake which had just happened in Japan.  Now, there are tsunami warnings out for all the West coast of the continental USA, Alaska, that they were vacating the Island’s of Hawaii, and Australia and other places.  It just reminds me of the reminders our Lord gives that He will return.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  Matthew 24:36-39 (KJV)

“You Christians have been saying that for years, and it hasn’t happened yet.”  You could even say, “It has been being said, for about two thousand years”, and I would even go further than that.  God has been telling us that since near the beginning, because through Enoch was written the words,

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  Jude vv. 14-15

and Enoch lived before Noah (Genesis 5:24).

We need not ask “When is Jesus Christ Returning?”   We do need to ask, “Is my life ready for His return if He were to come today?”  Since we do not know the day or the time we need to be drawing near to God through His Son Jesus each and every day through His Word and prayer, committing our lives to holy living through the power of His Spirit who lives in those who have called on the name of Jesus Christ.

If you will look around you today you will see much chaos.  Economic upheaval, National and international catastrophe, Political upheaval in all shapes and sizes; democratic, republics, dictatorships, anarchy.  Yet I believe God still reigns.  He is on His throne, and prayer changes things and people for the glory of God.

We have all these chaotic things going on, yet some people pay no mind, no attention to these matters; they just keep on partying, marrying, giving in marriage; and making no change to the way they live.  It is time to direct our hearts to the LORD of hosts.  He has directed His eyes toward us.  He has sent us His Son Jesus to die for our sins; made a way for all who will believe to call on Him and be brought into fellowship with Him.

You may think, “I can’t change.  I have tried many times and failed”.  To that I say, “No you can’t change yourself.”  However, God can change you.  Admit to Him that you are a sinner, that you are powerless, and submit yourself to His grace, call on Him, believe and be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 031011

Our reading today is from Matthew 20 – 22.

The matter of “faith” is one of great discussion.  The subject has been abused, misused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted.  I pray that I do none of those things with this observation today.

Faith, in some circles, has been and is seen as some what like a “genie in a bottle”.  Some tell us, “If you have faith you can live without sin’, ‘drive the finest cars’, ‘never be sick’, and ‘have a large bank account.”  Now they may not say it quite like that, but I believe that is clearly a misuse and abuse of the following verses,

“Now in the morning as He returned into the city, He hungered.  And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, ‘Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.’ And presently the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, ‘How soon is the fig tree withered away!’ Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:18-22

Now, to be honest with you, as I read these verses my thoughts are, “Man!  I would love to have faith like that.”  Then it occurs to me, “Just what is faith?”  Is faith the object of power or is our faith to be in something or Someone?  The answer is the latter.  My faith is to be in the Someone who is Jesus Christ.

I must also ask the question, “What is my motive for wanting this power?”  The answer comes back, “So I can use it for myself.”  What must this gift of grace and faith be “used”?  For the glory of our Lord, and no other.

It seems to me in this observation, that I already have this faith.  It is a gift from God.  It is not to be misused, abused; but rather to bring glory to the LORD of all creation.

Faith in Jesus Christ gives us the gifts that Jesus Christ Himself possesses.  We are “joint heirs” with Him (Romans 8:17).  Through Jesus Christ, and His authority we can move mountains.  Not only that we can move the world.  The only problem is we aren’t doing it.  We aren’t believing.

There is a story of two farmers who prayed for rain.  One was always going out to his tractor, going to the field, crying, pleading for rain; but nothing happened.  The other prayed for rain, and took an umbrella with him as he climbed on the tractor and went to the field to plow.  Now, which of them actually believed God would send rain.

Let me remind you.  Faith is not the matter of belief.  Jesus Christ is.  Faith in faith will get you nothing.  Faith in Christ Jesus “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030911

Reading today from Matthew 17 – 19

Sometimes it is difficult deciding which of the verses Jesus spoke to write from.  I seek His direction, and it seems that it doesn’t matter; because it all from Him.

In chapter 18 Jesus says this about “…become as little children…” and that seems to confuse many.  Let’s take a look at that:

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  18:3

Let’s think about little children.  They are cute, lovable, forgiving, and would start wars at the drop of a hat, if some other child takes their stuff.  Jesus certainly did not intend us to be immature in our lives.

Jesus was, of course, speaking of the little child’s heart that is loving, forgiving, trusting.  Trusting is the key here.  Especially when it comes to trusting Him.  For the most part small children are dependent.  They are dependent upon their parents for their food, shelter, clothing, health, and every other need or want that you can think of.  They are unable to go out and defend themselves against intruders, thieves, killers and muggers, in most cases.

As adult believers; followers of Jesus Christ we need to be dependent upon our Lord for our needs.  We also need to be trusting Him for everything from salvation to finances, shelter, healthcare.

Jesus goes on and says,

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  18:6

Though Jesus is talking about those who would follow Him, trusting Him for and in all things; there is  a more than subtle word here to anyone who would abuse, misuse, mistreat, or harm a child in any way.  We hear in the news of people who abuse children, both sexual and beating, them till they die; and sometimes leaving them dead in their spirits.  Jesus says, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and drowned in the depth of the sea”.

As adults we should have respect for our children.  They can be contrary at times; however, I have seen a few adults who are contrary, evil, mean, and just downright ugly in demeanor and character.  We all can be at times.  We are still to treat one another with respect; and the children too.  When I use the word “respect”  I mean by that that we treat them as being a special human being in God’s eyes; and should be in our own as well.  We are to disciple children, teaching them and leading them toward God and His righteousness.

Determine to follow Jesus; trusting solely in Him, being dependent upon Him and no other.  Trust Him when everything seems to be falling apart; when your health is failing; when the checkbook is depleted; when you’re unemployed; when the house is being foreclosed on; the bank is coming for your car; when the hospital bills are running out your ears.  You can trust and know that He loves and cares for you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030811

Matthew 14 – 16 is our reading for today.

The text we look at today is from the 16th chapter following Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Who do men say that Jesus is?  The disciple’s answers were that He was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other of the Old Testament prophets; giving answer to some comments people had made as to who He was.  The all important question asked by Jesus at this point was, “Whom say ye that I am?”  That is the clincher for the actual answer.  Peter’s answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, and that is the answer by all who will have eternal life.

Following this confession of Peter, however, it seems that the devil himself confuses Peter, and is rebuked for his speech;

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’  But He turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)

From the time of the confession of Peter Jesus begins to teach them that His destiny is to go to Jerusalem and die.  This is what the disciples were hearing, and that is the reason for Peter’s words of denial in the above passage of Scripture.  Jesus didn’t leave the matter without hope; He did speak of His resurrection of being “raised the third day”, yet Peter’s response comes from the dark recesses of his being.

We must think about this for an instant.  Peter loved Jesus, and to hear him speak of His coming death was a shock to his ears and heart.  That, nevertheless, does not excuse his mind being opened for the devil’s use.  Peter has been called “The disciple with the foot shaped mouth”, slow to think, quick to speak.

Can you just see Peter taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him.  Peter, do you know what you are doing?  He is thinking from the way of men, not the way of God, God’s Word and God’s will.  Many a time I have heard said that Jesus is calling Peter “Satan” in His words.  Not so.  Jesus recognizes who the infiltrator is, though there is a two fold action here.

Jesus first directs His rebuke to Satan who has tempted Jesus before (Matthew 4:1-11); and then to Peter telling him that his heart is not on the things of God, but those of men.  It is my conviction that the devil never wanted Jesus to go to the cross and die; he tried to misdirect our Savior from His atoning work; thus the temptations of chapter 4; the temptations from the masses to be king, and so forth; and now through Peter the devil attempts it again.

We must give our hearts to God, His Word and His will for our lives.  We, like Peter, may not always be able to understand what is going on, in fact, we may never understand; we are called to trust, believe and be faithful in what God says.  Jesus was faithful unto death.  That is our calling as well.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030711

Reading today in Matthew 11 – 13

We have all heard the language people use on the street, many times in business, at work, at recreation and play.  We hear it from children, both special needs children and “normal” children; and that is most generally because the children hear it from their parents or legal guardians.

When I read the following Scriptures that tell me, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” then there are an massive amounts of people; young and old; who have corrupted abundance in their hearts:

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”  Matthew 12:34-37 (KJV)

Maybe the next time you let a vile, corrupted word fly from you tongue and lips you better check your heart.  It is corrupt if you let words fly that are vile, dirty, rude, hurtful, filthy, and/or ungodly.

These are the words of Jesus Christ; the purest of men; the God man who gave His life for our sins.

Consider that before you open you mouth to speak.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030611

Reading today from Matthew 8 – 10

One thing many of us already know is that fear is a very disabling thing to hit our lives.  It keeps us from life, and living.  It keeps us from God.

Today’s reading deals with fear.  In three different verses Jesus addresses fear.

First He speaks of fear to the disciples of the false accusations of many around them,

“Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” 10:26

It is quite likely that as followers of Jesus Christ begin to be like Him, that there will be those who will call us some of the same things they called Him. Jesus tells us it will all be revealed; the truth will be known.  We can rest in that and be assured our Lord’s words are true and will come to pass.  No need to fear.

Secondly, there is no need for fear in the face of death;

“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.”  10:28

There are some who have written and preached that this is telling us to fear the devil.  Well that would go against the very thing which Jesus is saying.  The One who deserves fear or great reverence is the One who has created us.  Someone has said, “If we fear God; we need fear nothing else.”  To fear God comes from a love for Him.  Now someone is going to think of John’s words, “Perfect love casteth out fear” and that is true.  The fear of God does not debilitate one’s mind and thinking.  It sets thinking right.

Finally, we look at verse 31 where Jesus speaks of God’s care for the sparrows which are considered to be the least of the bird species;

“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  10:31

Having a fear that needs are not going to be met, they are not being met, or that no one even cares are prevalent in the world today.  Someone does care.  That is God, His Son Jesus, and all who love Jesus.  All care and love you.  The first and greatest need of any individual is not clothing, food, shelter, or even your health.  The greatest need of humanity is a clean heart and life.  A life clean from sin and death.  That is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, His carrying our sins away in His burial, and His rising bodily again to life.

Do not fear, nor be afraid.  He cares for you.  Just as He watches over and cares for the sparrows He cares for you and your need today.

Do not let your fear debilitate you and keep you from  that which is right and good.  Believe in Jesus and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030511

Reading today from Matthew 5 – 7.

We can be a fickle people; those of us called human being.  When asked about God and the Bible or especially being Christian some have responded with “Well I observe the Ten Commandments” or “I try to live by the Sermon on the Mount”.  I haven’t done it yet, but I would venture to guess, that those who say they live by the Ten Commandments do go to tell you how many commandments there are; and more seriously could not tell you what they are.  Those who say the other, “I try to live by the Sermon on the Mount” are only kidding themselves.  It is a noble endeavor to be sure, but the requirements of the Sermon spoken by Jesus are more difficult than the Ten Commandments.

Hear what our Lord says,

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

There are many who believe and think that when Jesus came he did away with the law.  What did Jesus say above?  “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Let’s look at this idea of keeping/obeying the Sermon in comparison with the law.  First of all the Ten Commandments only deal with the outer experiences of life; for example, the seventh commandment says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) yet Jesus says in verses 27 and 28 of Matthew 5 that to look at a woman to lust after her is adultery.  Let’s look at another; the sixth commandment states, “Thou shalt not kill”  (Exodus 20:13).  Look at Matthew 5:22,

“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” v. 22

So, if you can live by the Sermon then you are doing quite well with yourself.  If you think you are you are only lying to yourself, and deceived of the devil.

Jesus did not do away with the law, He lived it, He fulfilled it by complete and faithful obedience to God the Father.

In our opening verses above Jesus says, “…Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  That would mean complete faithfulness to God and His commandments.  That would mean complete faithfulness to keeping the sermon on the mount.  Can I do that?  Can you do that?  The answer for us both is, NO!  We are condemned and dying unless we come to God by Someone else’s righteousness.

That righteousness that is given to us by God is from Jesus Christ.  When He died on the cross He gave those who believe Him His own righteousness, and took our own unrighteousness upon Himself.  The law and the prophets are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  He lives in those who are His, enabling and empowering His own to live lives that honor and glorify GOD; when we trust Him by faith alone.

Matthew 5 – 7 for today’s reading.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew 030411

Beginning today reading Matthew 1 – 4.

We have been reading the books of Moses, and now we turn to the first four Gospels of the New Testament.  In doing this we will keep a better focus on Whom the whole of the Bible is about.

Matthew is one of four of the gospel presentations and written by Matthew who was at the time of Jesus’s calling a tax collector (9:9).  He was doing his work, Jesus comes along and calls him to follow, and he leaves all and follows Jesus.

When we look at Matthew this gospel is related to the King of israel, and His Kingdom.  In chapter one is the geneaology of the King; in chapters 5 – 7 we have what could be called His Kingdom Manifesto; chapter 13 are parables – stories which all relate to His Kingdom on earth;  chapter eighteen deals with those who would enter His Kingdom having the heart of a child; and chapters 24 – 25 deal with when He sets up His Kingdom on the new earth.

For today let’s look at the following verses,

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.  And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.”  Matthew 4:18-22 (KJV)

Jesus has been to John the Baptist, been baptized by him; and the gospel of John at this point says that the Baptist saw Him coming and says, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  John was no stranger to Jesus; after all they were cousins according in order of family births.  In the beginning of chapter 4 following His baptism Jesus has been “Led of the Spirit into the wilderness” to be tested by the devil.  Jesus passes the test with power and authority of the Spirit and the Word of God.

The Word of God was the means by which Jesus rebuked and rejected the lies of the devil.  The Word of God is important to Matthew as he writes this gospel account of Jesus.  In the first two chapters alone there are at least 17 Old Testament prophecies of  the Christ or Messiah, and Matthew relates them to Jesus alone.

Following His temptation in the wilderness Jesus sets out to fulfill His task.  His ultimate task as we look at the gospels will be set toward Jerusalem and the cross.  While walking by the sea of Galilee on this particular day Jesus sees Peter and Andrew fishing with nets, and calls them to follow Him.  They follow.  Now this was their way of living, it was Peter’s and Andrew’s business; they caught fish and sold them at the fish market.  It wasn’t a lucrative job, but it was an income.  Leaving these nets required an act of faith in the One they were going to follow.

Jesus’ s promise was to make them fishers of men.  To be a fisher of men is to call others to follow Jesus.

There were two others who were also called “Sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) and their names were James and John.  These four would become close to Jesus, particularly Peter, James and John.

Jesus is still calling people; men, women, boys and girls to follow Him.  Have heard that call?  Follow Him, and begin a wonderful journey of life, living and eternal life with Him.

We will be in the New Testament through the gospel of John, then return to the Old Testament.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King and Offenses

We last saw Jesus speaking of receiving children, and whoever receives one of them in His name receives Him; but what about those who offend?

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
Matthew 18:6-7 (KJV)

Jesus tells us that it would be better for that person to drown, than for that person to live.

This is a reference to those who would attack and abuse those who are the followers of Jesus Christ.  There is also much to be concerned with small children as well.

As Christians we should know that there are going to be those who wish us harm and who will seek to defraud us.  We can see it going on every day with special rights given to some groups, with unholy agendas.  This is expected, but certainly not our desire.  Jesus did say, “In the world you will have tribulation…” and I am fairly certain that included the offenses of the wicked.

Our response can be and should be to pray for those who offend us.  For their salvation, for God to intervene in a glorious way for His honor and glory.  And forgive them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus…Lifted Up His Eyes To Heaven…

This will begin a focus on the “Lord’s Prayer” as given in John 17 –

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee:” John 17:1 (KJV).

There is a teaching the Lord gave concerning how His disciples are to pray in Matthew 6.  It is often called “The Lord’s Prayer”; however it should in reality be called something like “The Model Prayer”, because Jesus in that prayer was teaching His followers how to pray.  It was not a prayer He would pray.

This beginning of His prayer in John 17, is the beginning of “The Lord’s Prayer”.  This is the prayer that He prayed for Himself, and those who follow Him.

Jesus, realizing that the time of His death is approaching asked the Father to glorify Him.  A time of trial was approaching in the life of Jesus unlike anything He had ever experienced.  It was a trial that was going to be for His glory and the glory of the Father.  Jesus asked for something He knew the Father had willed for His life.  He fully believed and trusted the Father to see this matter through to the end.

When we pray in the Father’s will we will be asking for His glory to be seen in our trials, and our joys of life.  That is the heart of Jesus.

Let’s begin to follow Jesus in our praying.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Presentation Of The King

The Presentation Of The King

Matthew 21:1-16

This study and message is from a study of the final days of our Lord’s life walking among mankind.  This is in fact the beginning of the final week of His life, before His crucifixion.  My intent is to do a study of the final week of Christ before the death on the cross.

This study will consist of about ten sermons, preached on Sunday morning and evening through the fourth of April, 2010.  It will cover chapters 21 through 23; chapters 26 through 28; and must keep in mind that this will not be an exhausted study – there will be much more to learn when my study is finished on this matter.  Of course, the final messages will deal with our Lord’s resurrection, and His appearances to His followers, and the Great Commission.

We see from other passages of Scripture that Jesus had a mind set for Jerusalem in those final days of His life.  He saw the goal in sight; and that goal was to do His Father’s will, and glorify His name; and to provide salvation and redemption for the people of the world.

For three years Jesus had avoided being forced to be the king (John 6:15), and forced into an early death (Luke 4:28-30).  Now, it is as though, He realizes that it is time to present Himself as the servant King who comes to die for His people.  More than a king He is the Lamb, and will die as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the people.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE KING’S REQUESTS (vv.1-5).
II.  THE PRESENTATION OF THE KING FOR PASSOVER (vv. 6-11).
III.  THE KING AND THE TEMPLE THIEVES (vv. 12-16).

THE KING’S REQUESTS (vv. 1-5).
The heart of Jesus from the time He was a boy was to do the will of His Father (Luke 2:49).  He has lived, believed and known that all things were in His Father’s hands; even the time of His sacrifice; and trusted Him to that purpose and goal.  It may not seem; to us; like much of a goal – to come to die – however, for Jesus that was His purpose for being on earth, and always to glorify the Father.

When Jesus and His disciples came to Bethphage, near the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples to a certain place where there were two donkeys tied.  They were to bring them to Jesus.  If the owners of these donkeys asked what they were doing, then they were to respond, “The Lord has need of them”, and the men would let them go.  When the disciples arrived at the designated spot, they found the donkeys just as Jesus had said, and sure enough the owners asked, “What are you doing loosing the colt?” (Mark 11:5).  This was an act of the sovereign mind and will of God; directing the affairs of His holy Son.

The requests was for the donkeys.  Though there was actually no asking necessary we are not told who owned the donkeys.  We do however know that God is the Owner of all things, thus, He directs their use and purpose for His glory.  The thing we must realize in this matter is that Jesus’s heart was to fulfull the word of God,

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass”  21:4-5 (KJV)  and this is a quote from

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”  Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)

THE PRESENTATION OF THE KING FOR PASSOVER (vv. 6-11).
This has been called the “Triumphal Entry”, “King’s coronation” and maybe other things as well.  Those are probably two of the most popular.  It is more like the “King’s Offering”, than one of triumph or coronation.

Traditionally, this day has been believed to have been on Sunday – Palm Sunday, the Sunday before we celebrate Easter.  It is, however, believed by some that this was on Monday and Jesus entered Jerusalem exactly four days before Passover.  Let’s consider that this was Monday 10th day Nisan [Abib] and Passover was on the 14th Nisan [Friday].  Whether it was Sunday or Monday there would still be the four days, and fulfillment of the requirements of the law according to Exodus 12:2-6.  Verse 6 there tells us;

“And ye shall keep it up [the lamb] until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”  Exodus 12:6 (KJV)

When the King came into Jerusalem through the East gate on that donkey colt, never been rode before; I just suspect that colt recognized His Master; and humbly submitted to His sovereign rein on him.  It appeared that the people who were present for His appearance were into the “coronation”.  There was much praising, celebrating; spreading their garments on the road, cutting off palm branches for the way.  The multitude who was praising Him was also shouting “Hosanna” which means “save now”; and was expecting a quick solution to their problems.  It is sad to think how fickle people are, and that many of these same ones who were at this moment ready to crown Him King would in a few short days be in the crown screaming, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him” when they are asked, “What shall I do with Jesus?”.

“Son of David” is a Messianic title and the Scripture Jesus gives reference to is from Psalm 8 verse 2.  Psalm two is in fact a messianic Psalm speaking of the Messiah who will come and save the world.

THE KING AND THE TEMPLE THIEVES (vv. 12-16).
Early in the ministry of Jesus He entered the court of the Gentiles and cleansed it lighting the fuses of hostility among the religious leaders.  His house was being violated; and in the last days of His ministry He finds that it needs done again.  He enters the court and in anger drives out the moneychangers, sellers of doves, and lambs for sacrifice, overthrew the tables.  Jesus calls this house “My house” (v. 13).  However in Matthew 23 Jesus says,

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”  Matthew 23:38 (KJV)

The court of the Gentiles was a place for all nations (Mark 11:17) to gather and learn from Israel about the Lord God, and for prayer.  Now it was not anything more than a place of business for the greedy merchants taking advantage of the weary travelers who needed to buy their sacrifices for the Passover.  It is quite possible that the merchants even would condemn a perfectly healthy lamb in order to sell one of theirs to the owner of the condemned lamb.  Then, they would turn around and sell the formerly condemned lamb as a clean lamb to another weary traveler.  They had quite the scam going, and Jesus knew it.

Those who think it is alright to take advantage of other peoples situations for profit need only see the reaction of Jesus to these acts of thievery.  It is sad to admit and say, but some of this stuff goes on in “Christian” Book stores, and in some churches too.  It is too often seen on what calls itself “Christian television” with “Send in your offering, and you will be healed” statements.  Making extreme profit in the name of Jesus is still thievery, and Jesus is not pleased by it.

Still the religious leaders just don’t get it.  They question Jesus, as though to get Him to rebuke the people for crying out to Him.  Perfected praise in the mouths of “babes and sucklings”.  Now that is something we must consider.  The humble, dependent heart of the child is what the religious leaders of that day and our needs.

application –

i.  We must hear the King’s requests or commands, obey them and also have the heart for fulfilling the word of the Lord in our lives and the world.
ii.  Recognize that the King has presented Himself as a sacrifice for sin; trust Him, believe Him, yield to Him, and let Him rule and reign in your life.
iii.  The house of our King is holy; our body is the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); it is the “House of prayer”; keep it from becoming a den of thieves.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:24-49

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

…In The Rule, And Fall Of The Kingdom’s Of Men

Daniel 2:24-49

purpose – To show the peril and fallacious thinking in putting confidence in the rule of man; and the wisdom in putting your confidence in God and the rule of God.

“The reason we have democracy is because we don’t have righteous-rule monarchy. We need some kind of checks and balances, which is why our government is established as it is.” Dr. David Jeremiah THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL pg. 62.

The following  is a quote from Professor Alexander Tyler which he wrote concerning the fall of the Athenian republic which fell over a thousand years ago. He said,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.” IBID. pg. 62.

One of the things we can see from the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation is that man’s kingdoms are not eternal, they will fall; and that those who believe God and live for Him are promised a future eternal kingdom.  God’s King will overthrow the kingdoms of this world.  Now, for those who are “inhabiters of this world”, ie., those who love this world; they will be angry at our King, however,  their anger will go to naught.

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

I.  DANIEL WAS A MAN WITH A HEART FOR OTHERS, AND A HEART FOR GOD (vv. 24-30).
II.  DANIEL WAS THE REVEALER GOD CHOSE TO REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE KINGS MIND (vv. 31-35).
III.  DANIEL WAS GIVEN THE SECRET OF THE DREAMS INTERPRETATION (vv. 36-45).
IV.  DANIEL WAS THOUGHTFUL OF HIS FRIENDS AND WAS REWARDED (vv. 46-49).

During the rule and fall of the kingdom’s of men we must follow the heart of our Savior and Lord.  It was also the heart of Daniel.

I.  AS CHRISTIANS WE HAVE THE ANSWER FOR MANKIND’S PROBLEMS; WE MUST  BE LOVING TOWARD OTHERS (vv. 24-30).
The answer to governments who rule, and don’t rule well is Jesus Christ.  The answer for an empty bank account, is to trust the Lord.  These answers may not put food on the table or money in the bank, but it is the answer to peace of mind and heart.  Jesus saving the soul of troubled people changes the minds and hearts of government, eventually, Jesus will rule and reign on the earth.  Peace of mind, and especially “peace with God” is the greatest thing in this world to possess.

Do we sincerely believe that Jesus is the means of mankind’s salvation?  Do we sincerely believe that He [Jesus Christ] died on a cross, was buried, and three days later came out of that grave alive?  Christian, if you sincerely believe that then we need to be sharing that message.  Daniel had the answer for the king, but when he received the answer his immediate response wasn’t to run in declaring, “I have the interpretation.  I know the dream and its interpretation.”   His immediate response was for the lives of the “wise men”.  We live under the governments of men; which at any time could turn on its people and declare anything unlawful, and with a mad ruler could declare “Christians are unfit to live.  We declare it just and legal to kill anyone who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.  Let’s pray that doesn’t happen; but it could.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”  Acts 4:12 (KJV)

When Arioch hears of Daniel’s revelation he immediately tells the king, “I have found a man…”.  It seems as though he is trying to assume at least part of the responsiblity for discovering the secret.  I guess we all want some approval for what we do.

As Daniel we to should not take credit for what God has done.  We must give Him the glory for the answer for our hearts problems, and fears, and declare along with Daniel, “There is a God in heaven…”, and this is as opposed to statues, cash, bank accounts, health care, investments, bonds, any material possession; even family; which are temporary.  There is a God in heaven who has made all things, holds them together, and saves His prized creation from the death brought on by our sin.

We cannot avoid the issue of the “Latter days”.  What days is Daniel speaking of.  It seems that those latter days which the Old Testament speaks of is those days which referr to the coming of Jesus Christ; and beginning with His first coming where He died for our sins and rose from the dead, until the time He returns and sets up His kingdom upon earth; ruling and reigning from Jerusalem.  We are in those latter days.  If people don’t know Jesus Christ trusting Him for their eternity and life, then, they will be part of those who are crushed by the “stone cut out without hands”.

II.  WHEN UNGODLY RULERS SEE THE GREAT IMAGE, CHRISTIANS SEE THE GREAT MOUNTAIN (vv. 31-45).

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Habakkuk 2:14 (KJV)

When Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of this great image, which may be the inspiration for the design of the image he erects in his own honor in chapter three; we find that Daniel sees these things as “Beasts” in chapter seven when he begins to dream of these things.  We will cover this more when we get to chapter seven, however, the beasts which Daniel sees are devouring beasts, and that is how governments of men behave.  Not only do they devour people, but they devour people’s goods and gold.  Ruling men often see their empires as “great images” to pattern others by; God sees them as devouring beasts.

Rulers often see their kingdoms brightly arrayed, and glorious; and Daniel was respectful.  Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man, and “pride goes before destruction”.  How long will it take for wicked rulers to realize that their kingdoms cannot defeat the power and authority of God?  Only until Jesus comes again and defeats wicked men’s hearts will they continue on their slippery slope to destruction.

You will notice in the interpretation of the dream that the metals become less and less precious; less and less valuable.  The most valuable being gold down to the feet which are “iron mixed with clay”.  The kingdoms become more and more inferior.  John Calvin in his commentary of Daniel writing of the kings following writes,

“We see then that his kingdom is not called inferior through having less splendour or opulence in human estimation, but because the general condition of the world was worse under the second monarchy, as men’s vices and corruptions increase more and more.”  John Calvin Commentary pg. 173 Daniel 2:39

If this be the case and I believe that it is then, how far have we slid since then?  Kings and kingdoms seem even more set on setting themselves over all men and over all the earth and over God’s Word and will.

In the dream Nebuchadnezzar saw an image with a head of gold; arms and chest of silver; belly and thighs of brass [bronze]; legs of iron; and feet of iron mixed with clay.  These are representative of five nations which succeed one from the other, having great power, but deteriorating in moral strength and character.  The head of gold is representative of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar; the arms and chest of silver represent the Medo-Persian empire; the belly and thighs of brass represent Greece; the legs of iron represent Rome; and the feet of iron and clay represent the future  new world order.

It is a wonderful and gracious thing to have the assurance, that all the kingdoms of this world are under the authoritative hand of Almighty God.  The world and her “rulers” may see an “great and awesome” image, but in the eyes of the Almighty they are devouring beasts.  Sounds like Jesus’s description of the “thief”,

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10 (KJV)

The Psalmist tells us where we are not to put our trust; and that is in the princes of this world; including the “prince of darkness”,

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”  Psalms 146:3 (KJV)

There is no help in man or beasts.  Our help and our hope is in the Lord God Almighty.

III.  THERE IS REWARD AWAITING THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN IN THE KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 46-49).
Jesus said, “Great is your reward in heaven” when referring to the blessed who are persecuted in Matthew 5:12.  There are other places He mentions reward; having “their own reward”, or not receiving “reward” because it was already received.  (See Matthew 5:46; 6:1-18;  10:41-42; 16:27).  God will always honor faithfulness to Himself and His Word.  He has promised rewards to the faitful.  The greatest reward is not escaping hell, death, punishment; not walking on “streets of gold” or through “gates of pearl”, or living in a “mansion” in heaven;  the greatest reward will be beholding the face of our Lord who bled, died, was buried, and rose again that we might be saved.

There is nothing wrong with expecting reward for faithfulness in ministry.  It is wrong if that is the only reason, or the main reason for doing the ministry.  The main reason for serving the Lord in ministry is loving Him, and giving the opportunity to others to love Him.  Remember we can only love Him, because He first loved us;

“We love Him, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.

Loving Him can stand alone; even with no other reward; because we cannot love Him, except we first realize His great love for us in dying on the cross for our sin, being buried, then rising again from the grave paying the debt that was ours to pay.

God loves you and me enough to send the very best; His Son.  He loves you so much to save us as we are; He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

There is fear and dread in the rule of the kings and kingdom’s of men.  However, there is peace in knowing that God rules in the political, economical, social, and national affairs of kings.  The King of all kings reigns supremely.

application –

i.  Christians love others through Christ Jesus, and stand for their rights and their lives.
ii.  Christians are committed to the King of kings, and will loyally serve the kings of earth, in Christ.
iii.  Christians serve the Lord; the King of kings; because of love for Him, and are expecting the rewards He has promised.
iv.  Christians, by faith, know and believe that all things are in the hands of the Almighty God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:1-23

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

…When The Challenge Seems Impossible

Daniel 2:1-23

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

Purpose – To see by faith, that God cares for His people when we must take a purposeful stand to forward His name and His faith.

OUTLINE –
I.  DANIEL TOOK A PURPOSEFUL STAND NOT TO EAT OF THE KING’S PROVISIONS (v. 8).
II.  DANIEL IS REMINDED OF THE POSSIBLE COST OF TAKING THIS STAND – ESPECIALLY FOR HIS FRIEND (vv. 9-10).
III.  DANIEL IS NOT STANDING ALONE – HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH ARE STANDING WITH HIM (vv. 10-13).
IV.  GOD BLESSES THEIR FAITH AND THEIR STAND (vv. 14-16).

We must all consider the fact, as Christians, that we are strangers in a foreign land.  Some may not like, nor appreciate that statement, but if our citizenship is in heaven, and with God, then, we are indeed strangers in this land.  It matters not what nation we live in; we are strangers in a foreign land.  We are even “captives”, yet ambassadors in this foreign land, until the Lord returns to call us home to be with Him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were ambassadors of God in Babylon.  It seems, that they were about the only godly witness there.  That is not so however.  There was Ezekiel the prophet; and Esther and Mordecai [evidently cousins] (Esther 2:5-7).  These were captives in Babylon, and there could have been many more.  We have the four teenage boys taking a stand which was probably unheard of.  It is a very encourageing thing to see teenagers take a stand for their godly convictions; not in rebellion, but in obedience to God.

I.  THERE ARE TIMES AND SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD THAT CALL US TO PURPOSELY STAND FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 8 ).
In Daniel’s and his friend’s world it doesn’t seem that there were too many who were seeing a problem with eating the “king’s meat”.  There were other youth who evidently took and enjoyed the lush, and rich foods they were not accustomed to.  These young men had been brought up in the Hebrew culture with strict meat restrictions; this mean certain bleeding principles which would drain the dead animal of all its blood.  They were not to eat blood (Leviticus 17:10-16) .  They were not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Read Leviticus 11.  To receive this meat was the same for them as recognizing the idols as deities.

You can notice that Daniel did not reject this food by a callous, and stubborn refusal; disrespectful of his caregiver.  As Daniel had a plan in taking a stand there are also ways Christians can take a stand and not be offensive.  We can stand with our lives everyday.  Let the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from our lives by developing friendships (as much as is possible) with the people you are around.  As Daniel had developed a good relationship with the melzar [the steward].  (Rather than being a proper name “melzar” is probably a title such as servant or steward; one appointed by the chief eunuch to care for the Hebrew youths.)

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO GOOD FAVOR WITH OTHERS, AND WE SHOULD BE LIVING TO GIVE THEM CAUSE TO SUPPORT OUR STAND (vv. 9-10).
Matthew Henry has written of verses eight and nine, “Whoever are in favour, it is God that has brought them into favour; and it is by Him that they find good understanding.  Herein was again verified that word (Ps. cvi. 46), ‘He made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.’  Let young ones know that the way to be acceptable is to be tractable and dutiful” MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY Vol IV. pg 1019.  “When a man’s ways please the LORD He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

If we are going to stand and we live in a condition where what we do may harm another it seems that we better have their permission before we proceed.  Daniel and his friends not only had permission, but he provided their veggies for this ten day period.  Of course, we need to be in good terms with them for God to direct their paths too.  That is not to say that should Daniel have been refused in this matter that he shouldn’t have did something, but he did what was necessary and God gave him close communion with a man in charge who was, himself, willing to take the risk along side Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

There are times to stand when no one will help you.  No one will stand beside you.  You may have plenty that will say, “I am [We are} behind you all the way.”  Those who stand behind you can “stab you in the back”.  That may sound suspicious, un-nerving, un-trusting, and/or negative.  It is, however, the truth.  In most cases, those who will walk beside you, can be trusted.

You will notice that there is an early reference to all Daniel’s friends with him in verse ten, “…why should he see your faces”.  So Daniel had at least Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah standing with him in this faith experience.

III.  LIKE THE CONVICTIONS OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS TRUE CONVICTIONS CANNOT BE LAID ASIDE (vv. 10-13).
Daniel had the convictions that should they eat the “king’s meat” they would be sinning against God, thus he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose to refrain from eating the king’s dainties.

Matthew Henry write again, “Perhaps it was not in itself  unlawful for them to eat of the king’s meat or to drink of his wine.  But, 1.  They wer scrupulous concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful.”  MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY  Vol. IV pg. 1020.  They were wise to seek to be kept from even the temptation of the food.  “How far can you go until it is sin?”  is a question often asked.  The answer to that is “If you have to ask that you have probably already sinned”.

What many people call convictions are often on preferences.  A conviction is something you will die for, and maybe even another’s life.  A preference is nothing to die for.  Let me give you an idea of what a preference is.  I prefer to drive Ford trucks and cars, but I wouldn’t fight you over it.  I could drive a Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota, etc., if I had no other choice.  My conviction is that God’s Word, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, God breathed word of God; and that is something I will give my life for and that my Savior Jesus Christ is the God/Man, incarnate Son of God, died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world, that Jesus is the only way to God and to heaven, and Jesus is coming back one day to call his children home to be with Himself.  Those are my convictions, some of them, and I will hold them until I draw my last breath;  with the power and strength of God.

It is great knowing that we have family, friends, other relatives, and neighbors world wide who hold these convictions and have found that “Hill on which to die”, and land in which to live.  As it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

IV.  GOD PROVES OUR FAITH WHEN WE ARE FAITHFUL (vv. 14-16).
Remember Daniel and his friends were in a three year program (v. 5) for training and the food regimen.  All Daniel was asking for was a ten day trial period to prove that the vegetables, etc., was better for them in their appearance and probably their minds too.  Maybe there is something we could learn from following such a diet; but is anyone among us interested?

The faith they express in God is astounding, and God honors and proves their faith.  Faith is not something we boast of; it is what we live, how we speak, where we go, what we do, and how we live.  Faith is not just believing God when things are going good, but keeping on believing Him even when He doesn’t seem to hear.

It seems that the utmost goal of Daniel’s heart was that God be glorified in the king of Babylon, and the people of Babylon.  His heart was set on obedience to the word of the LORD; and even if the cost was his life.  God came through for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; proving that their obedience was blessed by the God of Israel and all that is.  “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”  Daniel 1:15 (KJV)

The LORD honored Enoch’s faith, by translating him; He honored Joseph’s faith by making him a ruler in Egypt; He honored Moses’ faith by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt; and many more in the Old Testament.  The LORD honored Peter’s faith when he walked on the water with the LORD;  He honored John’s faith by giving him the letters of the revelation and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  God will honor the faith of all who will give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –
i.  Take a purposeful stand for God and all that is godly and righteous in the world, even if no one else does.
ii.  Take a purposeful stand and trust the LORD for the good favor of others.
iii.  Take a purposeful stand all the time on your convictions; and stand when they are being attacked as well.
iv.  When we take that purposeful stand trust that the LORD will reward the faith of the faithful – I suppose that is what Paul; inspired by God; meant when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus and Children

Children are precious.  It still boggles the mind, for me, to hear of people abusing children, whether it is physically in anger or sexual molestation.  That also causes me to get a “little” angry down inside.  To think a “mature” individual could do harm to a child is beyond my understanding.

Children are trusting, caring, unless they have their minds twisted by twisted adults.  Don’t take me wrong; I am not saying children are perfect, but they are young, dependent upon those who are mature, and trust them with their welfare.

Jesus the King loved children and he calls them to Himself.  We see an example of that in Matthew’s gospel,

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”  Matthew 18:2-5 (KJV)

In verse one the disciples had come to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  That is the question many are asking today.  Maybe not with words, but in their actions and behavior.  Government actions offering more money for their state if they will go along with one thing or another.  Men offering their wives more money to stay with them rather than going public with a divorce.  Police taking money to turn their heads at crime.  It all has to do with someone being the “greatest” in their kingdom.

Upon hearing the question Jesus calls a child to Himself, set this child in the middle of them all and proceeded to tell them who was the greatest.  His answers violates the answers that the world system offers us.  “Boast of your personal assets and abilities”.  That is what the world wants of you  and I.

However consider Jesus’s words, “Except you be converted, and become as little children…”  There must be a life changing event that has happened in your life which has changed you; particularly becoming a loving/obedient follower of Jesus Christ; and that will give you the heart of a child.  Children are loving, trusting, humble; having no personal accomplishments, no real life achievements, in which to commend themselves.

When one is truly converted to Christ they lay all the self accomplishments aside, all their failures, all their sins are put away.  The life of faith is growing to become more childlike in faith.  In the physical world we grow from childhood to maturity; at least that’s the idea.  In the life of Christ we go from being mature in ourselves to growing in childlike faith.  From maturity to childhood.

That may sound a bit backwards for some, however, that is the way we are to grow.  Into completely trusting our Lord and Savior.

The ones who have this type of faith are the only ones who will even enter the kingdom of heaven.

Put aside, lay aside your achievements and personal accomplishments, and trust the King of kings and Lord of lords who has given His life on the cross for our sins.  You can trust Him for your needs.  Your greatest need is salvation from the condemnation of this world and sin.  Jesus has made the only way possible for salvation.

“Whosoever  calls on the name of the LORD  shall be saved” (Romans 10:13)

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Prophecy Of Our Lord’s Birth

The following is an outline of a sermon I preached in December of 2006, and posted at Wings As Eagles on December 11, 2006.  I repost it here for this season of remembering His birth.

THE BIRTH FORETOLD

Isaiah 7:1-14

OUTLINE –

I. JUDAH/JERUSALEM WAS UNDER SEIGE, AND GREAT THREAT FROM THE SYRIANS WITH SUPPORT FROM EPHRAIM/ISRAEL (vv. 1-2)

II. GOD SENT ISAIAH TO AHAZ, THE GRANDSON OF UZZIAH TO COMFORT AND ENCOURAGE HIM CONCERNING THE TERRORISM AT THEIR GATES (vv. 3-7).

III. GOD’S WORDS CONCERNING THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST THE RIGHTEOUS REMNANT (vv. 8-9).

IV. GOD GIVES A SIGN, DESPITE THE ARROGANCE AND UNWILLINGNESS TO OBEY FROM AHAZ; OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WOULD COME BY WAY OF A VIRGIN (vv. 10-16).

INTRODUCTION –

I. Living In An Affluent Society As We Do; We Often Do Not Realize The Fears and Battles Which Others In the World Are Going Through; Yet, There Are Many In Our Own Country Which Suffer Due To Hideous Things, Threats, Sickness, and Other Things.

II. Some People Are Asking “Why Doesn’t God Intervene?”, and The Answer To That Is; He Has and Presently Is.

III. The Word Of God Gives Us The Way Of Life and the Way Of Faith, Comfort, Encouragement, and We All Need It In Our Lives.

IV. God Came Down and Dwelt Among Us, and He Is Still With Us.

Even though this is the Christmas season; the season, the time of the year when we remember our Lord’s birth. Those who are not suffering from delusion will readily admit that these are not pleasant times, but let’s not be disheartened, discouraged or downheartedd. Remember, Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate is Lord over all.

Christmas is about God. It is about God sending His Son, born of a virgin, born to die for the sins of the world.

I. THESE MAY BE DAYS OF SEIGE FROM THE ENEMY AND DARK FORCES FROM EVERY SIDE, AND THESE CAN CAUSE GREAT FEAR (vv. 1-2).

A. Ahaz was surrounded by the trouble of his Sister Nation, and the Syrians, so we may be as well, surrounded by an enemy who is set to destroy us and our testimony for Christ.

B. When we are not right with God we will be fearful; if we are right with God, having our sins confessed and obeying His call and direction for our lives, then, we need not fear, nor will we be fearful.

Someone once said, “If we fear God; we need fear nothing else”.

II. GOD HAS SENT HIS MESSENGER TO GIVE US COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR FACING THE ENEMY WHICH TRIES SO HARD TO DETRACT US AND GET US AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS PLAN FOR OUR LIVES (vv. 3-7).

A. Every time we are afraid God sends a messenger by way of the Holy Spirit; the message is found in God’s Word.

B. God’s messenger will speak a relevant message for the time and place.

1. Notice, that God sent ‘Shearjashub’ with Isaiah as a message of comfort – his name means, “A remnant shall return”.

2. The land of Judah would not be forgotten by God – that promise is true of all those who are in the faith of the Lord Jesus.

C. The greatest messenger of all is God’s Son Jesus Christ.

The Psalmist has written, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Ps. 56:3). And, in verse eleven he wrote, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

D. Be assured; the enemy of our peace shall not prevail – Jesus Christ won the victory.

1. These “Smoking firebrands” may be hot, but they are going to burn out and burn up, and be nothing but ash.

III. GOD’S WORD IS HERE FOR OUR INSTRUCTION, REBUKE, CORRECTION, INSPIRATION, AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH TO MATURITY IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 8-9).

A. God is in control of the matters of our lives; so let’s not let our troubles detract us from the will of God.

B. God’s Word is the means by which we can resist the lies, snares, pits, and deceit of the enemy.

1. The Word of God, with the Spirit of God gets us to the place God wants us when we hear and obey.

2. By the Word of God we know the afflictions are often, if not always, for our benefit.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word” (Ps. 119:67).

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71).

C. Those who will not take heed to God and His Word will certainly be without help (v. 9b).

IV. FOR US GOD HAS GIVEN US THE SIGN OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN IN THE STABLE OF BETHLEHEM (vv. 10 – 16).

A. Like Ahaz, some do not want a sign from God, because it would humble them, and cause them to realize their weaknesses, and God’s strength.

B. Despite the unwillingness of some to request a sign, God has given us one anyway.

1. That sign is the birth of the God-man Jesus Christ to the virgin mother who was willing to risk her reputation, and future marriage, and possibly her own life, to bring the Son of God to earth to pay the price for the sins of mankind, and redeem us unto God.

2. That sign, even now, causes controversy in the hearts of many who profess Christ as their Savior.

C. The unwillingness does not negate the fact, though, it strengthens it.

1. He was born of the woman – a virgin – who had no seed.

2. He could not have had a human father, the sinful seed comes from the man.

3. He was born of the seed of God, thus, having no sin, and fully qualified to die for mankind’s sin and bring reconciliation between God and mankind.

D. This prophecy was fulfilled in the following verses,

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” Matthew 1:18-25

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7.

SUMMARY –

I. LOOK TO THE MESSENGER OF GOD’S WORD – AS JEREMIAH SAID, ‘THERE IS A WORD FROM THE LORD”.

II. LOOK TO THE SIGN WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN US – THE SIGN OF HIS VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE SIGN OF HIS CROSS.

III. TRUST GOD’S WORD WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO GUIDE YOU, SECURE YOU, GIVE YOU PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ATTACKS AND AFFLICTION.

IV. THERE ARE ACTUALLY THREE SIGNS GOD HAS GIVEN US FOR ASSURANCE AND PEACE – 1) THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST; 2) CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS; 3) AND THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

V. CAN YOU TRUST SUCH A ONE AS THIS JESUS? DEFFINITELY.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Ten – One Through Twelve

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE QUESTION AS A TRAP FOR JESUS.

“1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. 2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”  Mark 10:1-12 (KJV)

This question and answer is a very important one for the 21st century and all centuries ahead.  How we view marriage will affect the society and culture we live in.  When God and His Word are honored, obeyed, and heeded then love and respect for others will be prominent in the marriage, home with the children and in governments.

Though this question is put to Jesus to trap Him, it is one Jesus answered, and no other answer is valid, but that of Jesus.  Always looking for a way out, instead of a way to improve, or to make a relationship better; is a cowards way.  The best way is not the easy way, and because something is hard does not make it the wrong way.  Let no one think that God approves of divorce and remarriage.  As a matter of fact He still hates it.

In Matthew’s account (19: 3); the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked the question this way, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”  In asking the question it shows what mentality the Pharisees were of.  It was the belief and practice of that day that a man could “Put away” [divorce] his wife for what ever reason he desired.  If she burnt the toast one morning he could divorce her.  If she looked cross eyed at him he could give her a writing of divorce, and send her hiking out the door of his home.

Here is what the Old Testament says of this,

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.  Deut 24:1-2 (KJV)”.

The idea of this law was to protect the woman from a life of torment, loneliness, and poverty.  Jesus said, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” Mark 10:5 .  The “God idea” of marriage was one woman, one man, for a lifetime.   Due to the sin in mankind’s heart God gave provision for divorce.

We must remember that by Old Testament law adultery was punishable by death.  Any man or woman found guilty of adultery was subject to public stoning, unto death.  Who ever, for no  reason other than a “want” of change divorces their spouse  and marries another is guilty of “adultery”.  That is the message Jesus is giving to these Pharisees.  Thus, showing them the fallacies of their beliefs, and teachings that divorce was okay, no matter the reason.  It is important for us in this day to remember what God says in Malachi about divorce;

“Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”  Mal 2:15-16 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us three rules for marriage,

“The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it.” (Eph. 5:25, 26.)”

Let us strengthen our nation, our cities, and our churches by strengthening our faith in God, and His Word; and let’s begin at home in our marriages by loving our spouse with the heart of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus And Greatness

Ever since Cain and Abel there has been a struggle over greatness and who is the greatest.  Cassius Clay alias Mohammed Ali considered himself the greatest, and now is the shell of what he was.  If that.  I don’t say this to mock or ridicule a well know personality and  sports figure from the past but to make a point.

The point being all who have ever though themselves to be great, greater, or the greatest soon find themselves humbled even to death.

“Who is the greatest?” is a question asked the King by His disciples;

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Matthew 18:1 (KJV)

The question of taxes had been asked previously by the temple tax people, and Jesus answered it by sending Peter to retrieve a fish with a coin in its mouth from waters. It was enough for the disciple and for Jesus’s taxes. Now the question is “Who then is greatest”, and by considering the matter of “Strangers” and “sons” listed previously we can see that the children are to live so as not to offend needlessly.

The message of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection – the cross in particular will offend many.  We need to be humble in Christ Jesus, respect others, and treat them, and their beliefs with respect while proclaiming the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation by the grace of God.

We should not be so concerned about greatness as we are about living for the One who is truly the Greatest.  He is the One who created all that is; seen and unseen.  He is the One who gave His life to pay our sin debt, was buried; carrying the guilt, burden, and death of sin far, far away; then rose from death, and is alive forever more; coming again in all His glory.  H

He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  His name is Jesus.  No one is greater than Jesus “…the fulness of the godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

When you get too full of yourself, remember Jesus. Empty yourself of you and ask Jesus Christ to come in.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Look only to the One who is greatest.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

1 John 2:28 – 3:3

It needs to be understood at the beginning of this message that none are perfect nor can we be perfect in this life.  Our Lord is working in us toward perfection when we shall see Him face to face.  However, we must, by the Holy Spirit within us who know personally the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior have Christ as the central being of our lives.

As a Christian we have new hope and desires; the first of which is seeing  Him one day; and seeing Him face to face.  We also desire to one day be like Him, and as verse three of chapter 3 tells us; “We shall see Him as He is”.  What a glorious day that will be.

In this message we will look at FIVE QUALITIES OF THE BELIEVER’S HOPE.

I.  A LONGING FOR – A DESIRING FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 2:28).

A.  A longing for the appearing will motivate the believer to “abide in Him”.

1. It is like the  branch abides in the vine (John 15:1-11).
2. It is similar to your home – the place you live.

a.  You may leave it to go to work, on vacation, etc., but you know there is no place like home – you return.

b.  It is the place where you receive nourishment, and love.

B.  This abiding ‘in Him’ keeps us from being ashamed when he returns.

1. When we ‘abide in Him’ we keep His commandments;
2. When we ‘abide in Him’ we have the anointing –

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”  1 John 2:20 (KJV)

II.  KNOWING JESUS IS RIGHTEOUS – THOSE BORN OF HIM PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 2:29).

A.  Jesus is righteous – He is Deity [God].

1. He is righteous as the Christ;
2. He is righteous as the sin-bearer;
3. He is righteous as the resurrected One.

B.  Those who do righteousness are born of Him.

1. Doing what is right in one’s life;
2. Doing what is right according to God’s law;
3. Doing what is right to others.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

III.  ENAMORED, AWED, AND STRENGTHENED BY HIS GLORIOUS SALVATION (v. 3:1).

A.  Nothing in this world is comparable to the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

1. Love ‘bestowed upon us’ by our benevolent, loving Father through His precious loving Son.
2. John seems to be awe-struck with the thought Himself.

B.  Love so great we are called ‘the sons of God’.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13 (KJV)

C.  The ‘Inhabiters of earth’ are so enamored with the world, they miss God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  Revelation 3:10 (KJV)

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  Revelation 6:10 (KJV)

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:13 (KJV)

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”  Revelation 11:10 (KJV)

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:12 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
” And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”  Revelation 13:8, 12, 14 (KJV)

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…”  Revelation 14:6 (KJV)

“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”  Revelation 17:8 (KJV)

IV.  EXPECTANT OF BEING CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – NOT CHRIST, BUT LIKE HIM (v. 3:2).

A.  In moral character.

1. Not Christ, not deity, but of His character and love for the Father and one another.

B.  Now the ‘Sons of God’.

1. That means living like ’sons of God’ – Kings and priests.
2. Living right in the present time unto the day of His appearing.

C.  We will see Jesus as He is.

V.  KEEPING THEMSELVES READY FOR HIS APPEARING (v. 3:3).

A.  The hope and promise of His appearing is the greatest hope of mankind.

1. His appearing otherwise known as Second Coming is a grand promise of change according to the Scriptures;
2. It will mean the change in ge0logy (Zechariah 14), environment, government and most of all in the hearts and lives of mankind;
3. It will also means change in the animals of the earth as well.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9 (KJV)

B.  Those who are prepared for His coming will be keeping themselves ready.

1. The presence and  gift of His Spirit within directs us to preparation.
2. There is a place being prepared for the prepared.
3. We must fight the good fight – there is a war going on daily in our lives.

“1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

“7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)

C.  Let’s keep ourselves pure – as much as Christ is in us.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)

1. Because of Jesus’s wonderful gift;
2. Because of these precious promises;
3. Because we are the ’sons of God’.

-Tim A. Blankenship