A Man Shall Look to His Maker

“Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.  At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.  And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.” Isaiah 17:6-8 (KJB)

God  has spoken of the judgment upon Damascus; and also Ephraim (the northern kingdom also called Israel), and Syria. The word of this  text is to Judah.

Christians can, and need to learn much from the discipline of God upon His people of the Old Testament.  One is that He will not allow His children to continue living in sin without some form of discipline, even  judgment of our sin, to turn our hearts back to Him. Remember what the writer of Hebrews has written,

“…If you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards (or illegitimate), and not sons” Hebrews 12:8

Commentary for Isaiah 17:6-8…

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on verse 6 – 8…

in it — that is, in the land of Israel.

two or three … in the top — A few poor inhabitants shall be left in Israel, like the two or three olive berries left on the topmost boughs, which it is not worth while taking the trouble to try to reach.”

Verse 7 –  “look to his Maker — instead of trusting in their fortresses – (Isa_17:3; Mic_7:7).”

Verse 8 –  “groves — A symbolical tree is often found in Assyrian inscriptions, representing the hosts of heaven (“Saba”), answering to Ashteroth or Astarte, the queen of heaven, as Baal or Bel is the king. Hence the expression, “image of the grove,” is explained (2Ki_21:7).

images — literally, “images to the sun,” that is, to Baal, who answers to the sun, as Astarte to the hosts of heaven (2Ki_23:5; Job_31:26).”

Look to your Maker today.  He is the One who died on the cross for you, was buried, and He rose again.  He is the soon returning King of kings, and Lord of lords.  He is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God, God the Living Son.

He is the Same

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8 (KJB)

Jesus Christ the second member of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, God the Son is Immutable just as the whole of  the Godhead.

This verse is referring back to  verse 7, and prepping the reader for verse 9.  This is the same Jesus Christ who worked in the  Old Testament; died, was buried, and rose again according to the gospels; ascended into Heaven; and He lives forevermore.

The following commentary is from the  Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary…

“This verse is not, as some read it, in apposition with “the end of their conversation” (Heb_13:7), but forms the transition. “Jesus Christ, yesterday and to-day (is) the same, and (shall be the same) unto the ages (that is, unto all ages).” The Jesus Christ (the full name being given, to mark with affectionate solemnity both His person and His office) who supported your spiritual rulers through life even unto their end “yesterday” (in times past), being at once “the Author and the Finisher of their faith” (Heb_12:2), remains still the same Jesus Christ “to-day,” ready to help you also, if like them you walk by “faith” in Him. Compare “this same Jesus,” Act_1:11. He who yesterday (proverbial for the past time) suffered and died, is to-day in glory (Rev_1:18). “As night comes between yesterday and to-day, and yet night itself is swallowed up by yesterday and to-day, so the “suffering” did not so interrupt the glory of Jesus Christ which was of yesterday, and that which is to-day, as not to continue to be the same. He is the same yesterday, before He came into the world, and to-day, in heaven. Yesterday in the time of our predecessors, and to-day in our age” [Bengel]. So the doctrine is the same, not variable: this verse thus forms the transition between Heb_13:7 and Heb_13:9. He is always “the same” (Heb_1:12). The same in the Old and in the New Testament.”

Pray That the Word May Run

 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all have not faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

When I think about the running of the word, I think of the runners in Old Testament days running to tell the king the outcome of a battle (2 Samuel 18:24-27).

Paul is speaking of the word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prayer for the word to be spread with haste, with speed, and certainly we need that in 2019.

If any of you are of the type who like to see good in everyone; we need to always keep in mind that there are those who are not in the faith of  our Lord Jesus, and some of these try and twist the word of God to suit their own ends and means.

Christian all we have to stand on is Christ our Rock; and we do that through faith in Him and all that He has said. His word is His way, His law, His commandments, His statutes, His testimonies, His judgments, His  holiness, and His righteousness.

Let us stand upon that Rock or we will be crushed by Him (Matthew 21:44).  Pray for the speed of the work of the word of the Lord.

Believing All Things Written in the Law and the Prophets

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

The apostle Paul is being tried for his faith in Jesus Christ, the crucified, buried, and risen One who forever lives and reigns as King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.

His beliefs are based on the Old Testament; the Law and the Prophets.  That does not exclude the history or the wisdom books either.  There are many Christians today who want to say and teach that the Old Testament is not needed.  It is the only Bible, the only Scripture that they had.  It is the only Scripture which Jesus knew and read.  It is the only Scripture which Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John relied on.  It is the Scripture which John the Baptist preached.

Preach and teach the New Testament Yes; but do not neglect the Old.

I have been spending this year staying with the New Testament.  I felt I needed to get more familiar with the words of Jesus, the apostles, and including the apostle Paul.  I will not shun, neither neglect the Old Testament though.  Without the Old there would be no New.

Someone has said, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”  A great thought.

There is a resurrection of the dead; both of the just and the unjust.  Which resurrection will you be part of?  We are only made just by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Unique Saving Faith

This began our study of Romans chapter four.  We covered the first four verses.

Unique – Saving Faith

The Outline is for Romans 4:1-25

OUTLINE –

I. AN EXAMPLE OF A UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
III. THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED OR PUT TO THE ACCOUNT (vv. 9-12).
IV. THIS RECKONING OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
V. IT IS THE RECKONING OF GOD HIMSELF; NO HUMAN WORKS ARE CALLED FOR (vv. 18-25).

It was, and probably still is, a popular belief among Jews of Paul’s day and Jews and non-Jews of our day to believe that Abraham was declared righteous by God due to his obedience. Paul puts the record straight.

How were people of the Old Testament saved? Was it by complete obedience to God’s law? Was it by the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, etc.? What do the Scriptures say?

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20).

“Abraham believed God…” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6-9).

No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, no one will ever be saved by keeping the law. To see that it is by faith in God alone that saves, God gives us ample Scriptures to prove it. For example Psalm 32:1-2; and Hebrews 11.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, David, Solomon, etc. are all evidences of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. They believing what would be; we believing what has been and shall be.

There are three words in this study which stand out as a theme. The first word is ‘Reckoned’ found in verses 4, 9, and 10. The second word is ‘Impute’, is used six times, in verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, and 24. The third word is ‘counted’, it is used only twice. They all come from the same Greek word logizomai – log-id’-zom-ahee – of these words are terms for accounting. God’s declaring us righteous, and justified.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).

Salvation by grace through faith is unique – one of a kind. There is nothing like it in religion. Grace is not possible by work. If it is not by faith it is not grace.

Since many of the Jews believed that Abraham was justified by works Paul realized that this fallacy needed correction. If Abraham was justified (declared righteous by God) by his works he would then have a reason to boast. His boasting, of course, would have to be before men. He would not glory before God. God’s glory is a glory of its own. Man’s glory cannot match the glory of God.

God delights in those who believe in Him. Those who realize they are weak and helpless to save themselves. Those who have no one else in which to turn, but Him. Those whose hearts are broken and shattered because they realize there is no other hope by Him. Those who have reached the bottom of the bottom, the lowest low. These realize then, God is my hope, my strength, song, salvation, my very source of peace, life and joy.

“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

When God called Abraham to leave his native land he obeyed, and left. Now understand, Abraham was at that time what the Jews would call a Gentile – there were no Jews. In his culture they worshiped idols, and were despicable in their behavior. Somehow in the midst of all this darkness God shined brightly His light into the life of Abraham, he saw, he heard, and he left this land of despicable sin and shame – the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). He even came out with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah as well as others who are unnamed.

If you heard God speak for the first time would you get up and leave your home, friends, ownership of your land, business, etc. to obey God? Many will not do that whose lives they say belong to Him. Abraham did. How did he do it? He believed God, then he put one foot in front of the other; over and over again. Faith is the end of any attempt to gain God’s favor on any personal merit. If you could gain God’s favor by personal merit it would be by works not grace, therefore, if the works ceased, so too would the favor of God.

When a man or woman takes on a job (work) he/she expects to be paid. The employer is indebted to the employee until the employee receives his/her wages. In like fashion if we worked for our salvation God would be indebted to us until the debt was paid. God is indebted to no one. He did not, nor does not even owe us the possibility of salvation. In His grace He paid our sin debt, and then, when we believe He declares us righteous. What wonderful grace.

“Wonderful grace of Jesus; greater than all my sin. How can my tongue describe it? Where shall my praise begin?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

When GOD’S Children Go Astray

There is too much false teaching going around.  Teaching which says to us everyday… Live the way you want to, do your own thing, do not worry about it…  God is a loving God.   He does not judge.  He loves.

If a confessor of Jesus Christ can live in sin, and live without shame, guilt, or condemnation; or the judgment of God; then that being is not a child of God.  God works in His children; correcting, instructing, convicting when we sin.  And if we sin, and refuse to repent; that is, change our minds toward Him; then there will be judgment in accordance with that sin.

Hear what the Spirit of God says in the book of Judges…

“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”  Judges 2:11-13 (KJV)

Every Christian today loves the positive promises of the Old Testament; but very often forget about the warnings, and the judgments on the people of God.  If you will genuinely read the Scriptures and hear what God says you will be able to see and hear what God expects from us… To love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.  Israel; in the verses above turned their backs on God to foreign gods, which were no gods; just wood, and stone.  And we think we live in a civilized and god-fearing culture and society.

Many professing Christians have turned to the worship of Baal, by accepting other religious gods and believes; trusting more in our technology, medicine, finances, and global unity.  Then they begin following the godesses of Canaan [Ashtaroth], in immoral, filthy behavior; acting more like animal beings, than the One who created them.  The writer of Psalm 115 and 135 says, “They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusts in them”  115:8, and 135:18.  Become like what you worship if you will, but I pray you choose Jesus the Son of God, God the Son.

If you are in sin, and are convicted of its wrong Jesus is waiting to receive you back; to cleanse you, and restore you to fellowship with Him.  If you feel no remorse or guilt for your sin; maybe until now, then call on the name of Jesus, He died on the cross for you, was buried, and He rose again; He will hear you and forgive you, and cleanse you; and give you the new birth that is only through faith in Him.

Something from the New Testament to remember…

“For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Hebrews 12:6-8

Turn to the Lord, believe His word, and live by it.  Cleanse your heart.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

Glory

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Exodus 40:34-38 (KJV)

The book of Exodus begins with the word “Now” (Exodus 1:1), and is a recap of what has taken place at the end of Genesis – the family of Jacob goes into Egypt, and the family increases greatly while there.

The Bible is not a book so much that tells us about ourselves, or how to live;  it does that, but that is not its purpose.  The book we call the Bible is about GOD our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, our Strength, our Sword (or Defense), and He is definitely our Song.  That is nowhere more evident than in God’s deliverance of His people from bondage and slavery.

There is a phrase used throughout the Old Testament “They shall know that I am the LORD” and sometimes it uses the words “You shall know…” and “…the LORD of hosts”.  The prophecy of Ezekiel uses it at least 63 times.  The phrase “…Shall know that I am the LORD” is used at least five times in Exodus (6:7;  7:5;  14:18:  16:12;  and 29:46).

The One who made us all desires that we know Him and that we know He is the LORD of hosts.  He desires that we have a personal relationship with Him.  He desires that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-30), and in loving Him we will love others (Mark 12:31).  For no one is being honest who says, “I love God”, and then they hate their neighbor (1 John 2:9;  4:8, and 4:20).

What does the title “Glory” have to do with Exodus and all this other stuff?  God’s glory.  His glory is radiated through His temple.  Flesh of man cannot reside in the presence of God.  Even Moses even had to leave, because he could not bear it.

The glory of God rest in His tabernacle.  Ultimately the Tabernacle is in Christ Jesus.  The glory of God was and is in Jesus Christ His Son; and that glory resides in those who trust and believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.  The Lord is driving out the flesh in us so the glory of God is seen.

If you are still in darkness then come to the Light.  His name is Jesus the Son of God, God the Son.  The Personification of the Glory of God.

The Only Bible They Had

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is no Respecter of Persons

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:34-43 (KJV)

This chapter begins by telling us of a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the “Italian band” (v. 1), a devout man who feared God, but did not know the Savior.  God does marvelous things to get His Chosen to Himself.

The verses we look at today are the words of Peter which he spoke after leaving Simon the tanners house, going to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, and now he shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with the household, from the Old Testament – it was the only Testament they had at the time.  Something we must not forget.

Note Peter’s words given by the Spirit of God;

  • He exalts the Father and the Christ above all things or anyone;
  • Peter tells us of the work and ministry ob Jesus Christ;
  • Peter declares the work of salvation which Jesus performed
  1. His work of the cross;
  2. His burial;
  3. and His resurrection.

It was the Spirit of God who caused all the Old Testament prophets to speak of the Christ, and it is the Spirit of God who leads us to Him for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.

Many of Cornelius’s household were born again that day.  They also who believed were baptized in the name of the Lord.

As Christians we need not look too far to see the work of God.  We need only look into our own lives, and see Him at work.  We can look into our families, our community, our State, our Nation and the world to see the Spirit of God is moving, working.  It is only the blind who cannot see.

Living / Walking in the Power of the Spirit

For the Christian to accomplish any thing for the glory of the Lord, and not for the glory, or boasting of one’s own self; and/or ego; it must be done by the Spirit of God in us.

It is GOD who gets things done. It is God who saves a soul. It is God who opens eyes to His revelation. It is God who gives understanding and wisdom in the ministry of His Word. How did Jesus live?

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” Luke 4:14-15 (KJV)

Following His baptism Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He then proceeded to go to the synagogues teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord; which by the way was the Old Testament. There was no New Testament written at that time. He taught them things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

In everything Jesus did or said; He did so by the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit of God. He did not move from one place to the other, except by the Spirit. He did not speak a word, except by the Spirit. He did not do any healing without the Spirit of God upon Him.

Hear what Paul the apostle says of the Spirit of God and the Christian,

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galations 5:16

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galations 5:25

This is living as Jesus lived. It is impossible without the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. Walk in the Spirit; and we will have the Power of the Spirit.

Born in a Manger Meek and Mild, But not for Long

In Christian churches every Sunday the resurrection of Christ Jesus is mentioned, He is worshipped as the risen Saviour. We can say, and do say that we are His and He is ours. He is a glorious Saviour, Lord, risen Lord, and coming King.

There is an obscure set of verses in Matthew. The event; part of the events of the resurrection of Christ; is not mentioned by any of the other three Gospel writers.

There are some who do not believe in the resurrection period who classify it as myth, or merely allegory. However, if we call this merely “Allegory”, then we call Scripture a lie; and it is not.

Hear the writing of Matthew:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV)

At the death of Jesus (v. 50) the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that the way to the presence and throne of God was open for all who would come through the cross of Jesus, and there was an earthquake. Notice that the graves of saints; Old Testament believers; were opened, and after the resurrection of Jesus many of these saints arose, and came out of their graves and appeared to other people.

There is much mystery in these verses. These people are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. Let me give you a quote from the MacArthur Study Bible:

27:52 bodies of the saints…were raised. Matthew alone mentions this miracle. Nothing more is said about these people, which would be unlikely if they remained on earth for long. Evidently, these people were given glorified bodies; they appeared “to many” (v. 53), enough to establish the reality of the miracle; and then they no doubt ascended to glory– a kind of foretaste of 1 Thess. 4:16.”

These were part of the “First Fruits” of the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Revelation 20:5, 6).

There is life, and joy, and peace for all who will come by faith to the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour. He is coming again soon. When He comes again for His Church it will be in the air. It will not be secret; but only the redeemed of the Lord will be going with Him.

The Perfect Way of God

“As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30 (KJV)

The Person of God is the central character of this text. He is the central Character through the whole of Scripture; both Old and New Testaments.

We see that His way is perfect. He is blameless; and His way is blameless; and all who walk in Him will be blameless.

Next, we see that His Word is “tried” or proven. It forever stands the test of time and of our lives. It is never changing, just as God Himself never changes. He is Immutable; His Word is Immutable as well; therefore He and His word can be trusted. Unlike mankind always changing. The laws of man are ever changing; thus, what can we believe? What can we trust? Who can we trust among humankind who stand on nothing firm, solid, and sure? The Word of God is sure, and will forever stand (Psalm 119:89). It is just as relevant today as it was the day it was penned by the inspired men God used to speak it.

The LORD is our “buckler” our shield. The shield is used to guard the soldier from the blows of the enemy’s weapon, such as a battle axe, or take the blows of the fiery darts which are fired from a distance. The shield of God’s protection will not fail to protect; as long as we are in His way.

Jesus said,

I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. John 14:6

His way is perfect. Walk in Him.  Not one word He has spoke will fail.

Veil on the Face

“And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.” Exodus 34:33-35 (KJV)

Moses would share with the people the words the LORD gave him.  He would speak as he was commanded to speak.  The words he spoke were not easy words; as the words of the LORD are not often easy.

When Moses would speak with Israel he wore a veil over his face.  On first appearance it would appear that Moses put the veil on his face to cover the glow of his countenance, that the people might not fear or cower in his appearance to them.  When we read Paul’s account of this in the New Testament we read,

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 (KJV)

The veil was on the face of Moses so they could not see the glory fading.  Yet, Paul says there is a veil on the hearts of the people of Israel, because they have refused to see Jesus as their Messiah.  Oh how I pray for the removal of that veil, that they might see Jesus, and we are informed by Scripture that one day they will “Look upon Him whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10;  John 19:37;  Revelation 1:7).  They will look and they will believe.

Turn, Oh turn to the Lord Jesus Christ; and live in His glory.  The glory of Christ does not fade away.

 

Know That I Am the LORD

“And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.” Exodus 29:45-46 (KJV)

After spending time with Moses giving him direction and commandment concerning the priestly garments, their materials, making, and anointing God gives Moses the above words.

There is a woven theme throughout all the Old Testament, and that is that GOD desires that the world may “know that I AM the LORD.”  Everything that is written in the Bible is written that the world may know Him, and that He is the LORD.

The ultimate gift of GOD to the world that we might know Him, and that He is the LORD was sending His only begotten Son to die on the cross in our place; and that when we look upon Him, to Him, trusting Him we might have redemption through His blood.

Do you know today that God is the LORD?

Through the Bible in a Year – 021013

THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR

I Do Not Like the Old Testament, Especially Leviticus

(Reading Exodus 38 – Leviticus 18) Exodus 39:30-32; 40:34-38; Leviticus 13:1-3
I just recently realized that I do not like Leviticus. It is painful to read. It is hard to understand. It is judgmental about human life and living. It condemns me.
Even if I do not like Leviticus there are some things I can learn from it. Then I need to apply that to my life.

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Fighting, The Spiritual Warfare

Let me give a disclaimer on the matter of “Spiritual warfare”.  I do not, nor will not claim to be an authority, or even very knowledgeable on the matter of the battle which we as Christians must fight everyday if we are to maintain a proper fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.

I do believe Jesus taught us by example how to wage this war against the legions of Hell and their Desperator.  Since he is the agent of despair, doubt, and fear; and a theif, a murderer, and destroyer I believe the name “Desperator” would fit, though I cannot find this term used in a dictionary.  Maybe a new word?  Meaning the chief one who causes despair.  My focus is not, however, upon him, but rather upon the One who brought about his defeat.

The example of Jesus’s battle with the devil begins with,

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred.  And when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’  But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’  Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, ‘If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.’  Jesus said unto him, ‘It is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’   Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, ‘All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.’  Then saith Jesus unto him, ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’  Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.”  Matthew 4:1-11 (KJV)

Upon reading the passage from Matthew’s gospel we see that in Jesus’s weakness following a 40 day 40 night fast the  devil confronts Jesus concerning His identity and person.  I heard one preacher put it like this; “In the first temptation the devil attempts to get to His desire for SURVIVAL; in the second he attempts to get to His desire for SECURITY;  in the third and final temptation he attempts to get at his desire for SUCCESS.  These are seen in each of these temptations.

They are also relevant in light of the temptations which John the apostle mentions…

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  1 John 2:16

and we find these also in the Garden of Eden as Eve is being tempted of the devil through the serpent.

For the Christian to grow more into the image of Christ Jesus we must be knowledgeable of the Word of God; live by it; make it our life daily; ruminate upon it.  In short “Hear, trust, and obey”.

Satan, the devil questions the Sonship of Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…”, then tells him to turn stones into bread to prove it; using the “lust of the flesh” and the need of SURVIVAL,  and Jesus responds with Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3).  Then the devil assaults Jesus with a temptation of SECURITY, or “the lust of the eyes”, even using Scripture himself, and once again Jesus quells the temptation with Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16).  At the final temptation the devil uses SUCCESS, or “the pride of life” in offering Jesus the world; with that again Jesus goes to Scripture, and puts the temptation back on the devil from whence it came (Deuteronomy 6:13).

We can learn from this event in the life of Jesus that there are three basic temptations the devil will hurl at us.  There are are many sins in this world; but all of them are connected to the three.  Jesus gives us a lesson on how to overcome the temptations of the devil.  We must be in the Scriptures – both the Old and New Testaments.  Remember, the only Bible that Jesus had, and the only Bible the apostles had was the Old Testament; and after the establishment of the Church, then the New Testament.

Without one or both of them we will be defenseless against the evil one.  Paul the apostle gives us good advice in Spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-20.  I am fearful that we Christians; at least far too many of us have “Walked into the enemies camp, and laid our weapons down”; and to our peril.

Let’s take them up again; beginning with the Word of God, and making it our Word from God daily.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Adam’s Race and God’s Word

In the fall of Adam that could have been the end of the human race.  The Creator could have not only cast the man and woman out of the beautiful and bountiful, sustaining garden; but He could have wiped them from history and therefore the whole human event would have been ended.  God, however, loved Adam and Eve, provided them garments made from animal skins (Genesis 3:21) for covering, and drove them from the garden.

Then, we see…

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: and the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” Genesis 5:1-5 (KJV)

and we find that the Creator has a plan for the whole race of human kind.  “This is the book of the generations of Adam.”  we are told.  Previous to this we are told of Adam’s and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel, and due to sin Cain murdered Abel; then Cain was banished to roam the region as a vagabond, and was no longer able to be a farmer.  All hope may have seemed lost to the first parents.  They had a promise from God (Genesis 3:15) of One who would crush the head of the serpent or Satan.  Since Abel was dead, Cain banished and evil, then, what now?

By the above verses we see God blessed Adam and Eve with another godly son.  It is not by accident that the closing verse of chapter 4 tells us, “…Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” and then, goes into chapter 5 with the genealogy of Adam.  Despite the fall, and the evil in man’s heart, God provides a Redeemer, and we will see many redeemers throughout the Old Testament; but each one is only a portrait of the genuine article.

We find that fulfilled in the New Testament in the birth of a baby in a manger, and the young child growing in the care of love of His mother Mary and Joseph.  We also see God working fulfilling every word He has spoken, in and through the life of His only begotten Son;

“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.’ And he arose, and took the young child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.'” Matthew 2:19-23 (KJV)

Even, to the place He would spend His life growing up.  Let us not be fearful, neither be afraid.  God’s will is being done still in the lives of His people and in the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Chariot of Fire

This will be my final study in the life of Elijah; Prophet of fire.  It almost seems that this great prophet of God has arisen by the hand of God, the calling of God; out of the ranks of the unknown of people.  Now every Jewish, and Christian individual who knows the Old Testament or the New Testament has heard of Elijah.

He has challenged the prophets of Baal; liars, deceivers, cheats and thieves; leading the people of Israel away from YHWH, and toward destruction.  Of course, if people are deceived, it is usually by their own choosing, and willingness to follow what they want and choose to hear.

Ahab practically called Elijah the “Troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17-18), when was the weak, spineless, spiritually bankrupt king of Israel who was troubling Israel; as Elijah said it.

Now, I want us to turn our attention toward the final day in the life of this prophet of fire.  It is no wonder to call him that.  It was a challenge of fire that Elijah challenged the prophets of the false gods.  It was with fire that God heard Elijah’s prayer, and answered by fire; and as we shall see Elijah was called into the presence of the LORD by fire.  WOW!

And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.  And Elijah said unto Elisha, ‘Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel.’ And Elisha said unto him, ‘As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’ So they went down to Bethel.  And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, ‘Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?’ And he said, ‘Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.’  And Elijah said unto him, ‘Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho.’ And he said, ‘As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’ So they came to Jericho.  And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, ‘Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?’  And he answered, ‘Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.’  And Elijah said unto him, ‘Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan.’  And he said, ‘As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’  And they two went on.  And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.  And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee.’  And Elisha said, ‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.’  And he said, ‘Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.’  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.  And Elisha saw it, and he cried, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.’  And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, ‘Where is the LORD God of Elijah?’ and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.  And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.’ And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”  2 Kings 2:1-15 (KJV)

Our view of Scripture from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 will help us determine a Biblical understanding of what happened to Elijah.  If we do not believe the Genesis account of Scripture and merely give it a nod as Scripture, but leaves much unsaid, then we may do the same with the rest of Scripture.  Merely giving it a nod without viewing it as without error and God-breathed we could explain all of Scriptural miracles as myth, allegory, or just a fine story.

However, if we acknowledge the truth of Genesis 1 through 11, and Genesis 12 through Revelation 22 as well, then we must see the previous miraculous events as well as that of Elijah’s being caught up in the chariot of fire as actual events, which happened just as God describes them in His Word.

Elijah has obeyed the LORD, by anointing a new king for Israel, and by anointing the new prophet in his stead (Elisha), following his run-in with Jezebel.  We are not told how much time as elapsed between these two events – the challenge to the prophets of Baal, and the chariot of fire.  However, it has been enough time for Elijah to give Elisha some training, and prepare him for his own journey with the LORD.

Let us take a few moments and think about this Chariot of Fire.

First of all it was the means by which God took Elijah out of this world.  Second, it was the means by which Elisha was initiated into the prophets ministry, and prepared him for a life of faith.  Third, it put the other prophets on notice that Elisha had the Spirit which was upon Elijah upon him.

This was an expected event.  Elijah knew the event was about to happen; Elisha knew the event was about to happen; and the other prophets were were watching knew it was going to happen.  They asked Elisha, “Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head today?”  They asked him two times.  Elisha wanted to be there when it happened.  I say, “Who would not have wanted to be with him?”

Was Elijah’s being taken a punishment for his run from Jezebel?  In no way.  It was more a reward for his faithful service.  Now he would be in the presence of the Lord, and without having experienced death.  We can be fairly well assured that Elijah’s body was changed in the process of this great event.

There is coming a great event for the faithful Christian.  A day when our bodies will be changed “In a moment; in the twinkling of an eye…We shall be changed.”  Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.

Jesus was raised to life following the crucifixion, and burial with a new body, and forty days later ascended up into heaven to be forever with His Father.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and your house, and you will be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Gospel of Hosea

There are some who proclaim that “The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament.”  “In the Old Testament God is distant, constantly judging His people, and angry.  In the New testament God is loving and kind.”

How many times have you heard such statements of something similar?

Listen to what the LORD spoke to Hosea,

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)

In the gospel of Hosea we see GOD who chose a people who were not worthy, because He loved them, and drew them to Himself; and continues to do so.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a gospel [Good news] of God becoming flesh alluring people unto Himself, and taking what was a curse, and making them a blessing and glory unto Himself.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

That is why I have sometimes called Hosea  the Old Testament Gospel of John.

-T.A.

Day 87 – The Power of a Godly Life

The title of this reveals some inadequacy in my own life.  I do not believe that I exhibit the power of Christ in my life as I ought.  I fall short.  I read the Bible and for today particularly James’s and Peter’s Epistles; and I hear their calls to faith that works, and godliness.

My reading was James 4-5, and First and Second Peter.

James writes,

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  James 4:1-4 (KJV)

We Christians, especially today, and probably in every age do not realize the power we have with God in prayer.  Maybe I should say, at least I do not.  Part of the problem with the Corinthian church was jealousy over spiritual gifts.  Can you imagine us fighting over who is more spiritual?  The answer is “None”.  I was reading a book by E. M. Bounds, and a chapter about “Prayerless Praying”.  The following is a sentence from that chapter –

“Prayerless praying lacks the essential element of true praying; it is not based on desire, and it is devoid of earnestness and faith.”

When Brother Bounds mentions “Desire” in that sentence he is not meaning worldly, fleshly desire but rather the desire God gives (Psalam 37:3-4).  Our praying is more like rubbing a bottle for a genie, and getting three wishes; and that comes to nothing.

Notice James mentions also, the power of the prayer of the Old Testament prophet Elijah –

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.   And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”  5:16b-18

I look at Elijah, then I take a look at myself.  I have something greater than Elijah, yet not the faith or the power.  Sometimes it seems my prayers have an opposite affect than what I ask; at least from my point of view.  Why did Elijah have so much authority and power in his praying?  I believe it must have been because he was jealous to glorify the LORD of hosts.  He was outraged by Israel’s departure from God; and he was willing to risk his life to restore her back to God; even approaching the king Ahab, and Jezebel.

Now look at what Peter says of holiness –

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Peter mentions our being “Born again” (1 Peter 1:23), and that it is not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.  That it is “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”, that we are born again.  Born from above, born of God are similar phrases and trues given us throughout the Bible.

Peter gives men instruction concerning their wives,

“…Ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

A husband can be so out of fellowship with his wife, his fellowship with God is broken and his prayers hindered.  Peter has given previous instruction to the wives, to slaves (2:18 – 3:6).  They have their responsibilities in Christ as well.  Let no Christian think they can be holy unto God, if they are not following the direction of the Spirit of God and His Word.

The apostle Peter mentions Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, and this is what he says,

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  2 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV)

There had been some contention between the apostles Paul and Peter; yet in Christian love Peter acknowledges that the writings of Paul are part of holy Scripture, and need to be heard (See Galations 2:11-14ff).  Peter desires that the Christian “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (v. 18).  That is my desire for all Christians as well; even myself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 68 – From Kings to The King

I have spent the last 67 days in the Old Testament.  In the OT we learn of God’s plan for the human race, their departure from Him – in sin and rebellion – and His grace and mercy extended to all who will come to Him believing Him.  We learn in the OT of a Savior and King of kings who is to come.  We read prophecies of One who is to come.

When I attended Boyce Bible School, I had a Professor who told us, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”.  A verse in the Revelation of Jesus Christ says, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10b).  That meaning that all the Bible is the testimony of Jesus.

It is with great interest and growing love for my Saviour, Lord and King that we enter the New Testament today; and we hear from Him as He walked among men, as a man, yet, more than a man.  He is the God/Man.  Fully God; Fully Man.

We enter the beginning of the testament of our Saviour and King with a genealogy of kings.  I will not post the whole genealogy of Jesus, but the last two verses of that tell us,

“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”  Matthew 1:16-17 (KJV)

In Matthew 5 – 7 we have what could be called the Kings Constitution, or His Kingdom’s Constitution.  How many times have you heard, “I live by the Sermon on the Mount”.  I am telling you, that the Sermon on the Mount as it is called is more condemning than is the 10 Commandments.

It is within the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus says,

“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 5:20

I can only long for the day that I can adhere to every detail of these Beatitudes (5:3-12), commandments, and expectations.  I cannot; though my heart desires it very strongly.  My only hope for heaven is the grace of God through His Son Jesus.  These are in me because Christ lives in me.

In chapter 13 we have a chapter of parables where the King gives us the layout of His kingdom and who is in it.  It is basically those who hear the Word of God and keep it.

How can one have the assurance of spending eternity with the King of kings?  By giving one’s life totally over to Him, believing that He bled and died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave conquering the power of sin, death, and hell.

I pray all will have a glorious Resurrection Sunday.  This is the day when once per year the resurrection is remembered by Christians the world over.  However, every Christian also knows that we remember the Resurrection of our Saviour every Sunday; every Sunday is resurrection Sunday.  That is the day He bodily arose and came out of the grave, and appeared to many.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 67 – Words of Warning and Promise

Some people will never listen to a “negative” comment.  They always want the positive stuff.  Let me ask this question;  What good is a battery with only a positive pole?   There is no battery with only a positive pole.  They all; from automotive – cars and trucks – to batteries for electronic gadgets, fire alarms, etc.; they all have a negative and positive pole.

My reading for the 67th day of my 90 day journey was Zechariah 10 – Malachi 4.  Yes!  I only read nine chapters today.  There will still be time for catch up reading.  Besides, I did not want to read only the first five chapters of the New Testament and Matthew to begin the NT.

The reading was mostly positive, yet there are some words of warning, yeah!  Negative stuff.  How good can the positive be, if there is no negative.  How powerful can the electric be without the negative.  I have an electric fence around my yard/lawn to keep cattle out.  I can assure you that without the ground wire (the negative), there would be no jolt on that wire.  You get my point.

One of the first negatives I will point out is,

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.”  Zechariah 11:17 (KJV)

The shepherd or pastor of whom the prophet is speaking is one who leads his people or followers in idol worship rather than the worship of the true God.  To me this has a positive message for the follower of God and Christ.  It tells me that there is coming a day when all idol worship, and worshippers will cease to be and that all will worship the one true God.

There is also coming a day when all Israel will look upon Jesus who was judged guilty by the angry religious leaders of that day; and He was without guilt.  His only guilt was that He was guilty of being holy, righteous, without blemish or spot; He claimed to be and is the Son of God.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”  12:10

All will turn out just as the LORD has said.  Just as He has promised.  His Word will be fulfilled word for word.  Not one word shall fail.

Malachi is a prophet who sees the people who are “bored” with worship; yes, the worship of the LORD.  He confronts them with it.  More negativity is coming.  Do we not need to hear the negative to get a positive outcome?  you can close your ears all you want to negativity, but that does not help you or any others who may be actually perishing in their sin, and decrepit attitudes.

“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is My fear?’ saith the LORD of hosts unto you, ‘O priests, that despise My name. And ye say, ‘Wherein have we despised Thy name?’  Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar; and ye say, ‘Wherein have we polluted Thee? In that ye say, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’   And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person?’ saith the LORD of hosts.”  Malachi 1:6-8 (KJV)

The people of Judah were going through the motions of worshipping God, but were not living the worship.  They had in affect departed from the worship of YHWH, and “wearied the LORD with your words” (2:17).  The prophecy of Malachi ends with a word of hope and promise of one coming to prepare the way;

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” 4:5-6

The Lord GOD calls all people to worship Him.  He is holy, righteous, and just.  He will not hold the sinner guiltless.  However, when the sinner receives His offering for sin we put on the righteousness of His own dear Son who bled and died for our sins on the cross, was buried – carrying away the sin, guilt and condemnation; and He bodily arose from the grave justifying forever all those who will believe on Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 64 – Prepare For the Glory of the LORD

All of creation is for the glory of the LORD; even the one’s made in His image; yet we have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), and because of Adam’s sin have brought a curse on the created order.

My reading this morning took me through three of the Minor Prophets – Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah.  These are called “Minor Prophets” because of the shortness of the prophecy, not its measure of importance in  prophecy, and the Word of God.

God, in His Word, shows us quite clearly that He will be glorified; and will spare nothing to make it so.  He who spared not even His own Son, to bring us back into His glory.

There are a couple of verses in Amos I want us to consider this morning.  God shows us His glory in the creation;

“Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name…” Amos 5:8 (KJV)
“It is He that buildeth His stories in the heaven, and hath founded His troop in the earth; He that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name.”  9:6

In Amos the prophet shows us God even in the everyday things that we take for granted; such as the stars, and the rain which nourishes the ground and our crops.  Note, the prophets awareness of where the rain comes from – how it comes from the “waters of the sea”.

Now note how the prophet Obadiah, the shortest prophetic book of the Old Testament ends his prophecy speaking of the kingdom being the LORD’S;

“And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.”  Obadiah 21 (KJV)

Now as we consider the prophet Jonah we see a very reluctant prophet.  We first hear of Jonah in 2 Kings 14:25 where the prophet had spoken in the days of Jeroboam.  When the LORD calls Jonah to a foreign land, Nineveh, the prophet becomes disobedient, rebellious and flees.  God has something else in mind.  He prepares five different things to bring the prophet to where He wants Him to be; and it is not just to Nineveh;

“But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.”  Jonah 1:4

“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”  Jonah 1:17

“And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.  But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.  And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.'” Jonah 4:6-8

Notice the five things God prepared for Jonah.  1) “a great wind into the sea”;  2) “the LORD prepared great fish…”;  3) “the LORD God prepared a gourd…”;  4) “God prepared a worm…”;  5) “God prepared a vehement east wind…”

Sad to think that he was more concerned with his own comfort than the souls of these people; most of all the glory of the LORD God.  How am I with that today?  I am afraid that far too often I am like Jonah.

May God help me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 63 – A Bad Marriage and Restoration

How would you describe a “Bad Marriage”?  For some men it might be described as “Having a wife that does not do what I tell her”.  That would be domineering, power crazed husband.  To some women it could be having a husband who “doesn’t put his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper”.  Men, how would you feel if you had an unfaithful wife?  How would you feel if every time you turned around she was hanging out at the brothel, and participating with the prostitutes?

Most men would cry “Foul!” on that one I am sure.  Women frown on a husband who takes on multiple women too.  Women like their men to be faithful too.  It is, as a matter of fact, part of the Marriage vows, to have no other.  That goes for the husband and the wife.

My reading this morning was Hosea 3 – 14 and Joel 1-3.  Hosea was a prophet who was told by God to marry “wife of whoredoms”.  Now this is a little difficult to understand seeing how God forbade his men from marrying unclean women.  However, we do see God in some places telling His prophets to do strange, and unusual things.  Isaiah was to parade “naked” through the streets (Isaiah 20).  He had Ezekiel laying on his side for several days eating food prepared with cow dung, and had first told him to use human dung (Ezekiel 4).  Now God tells Hosea to marry a whore.

Hosea is to be a picture of Israel’s departure from the LORD.  Israel has committed adultery, whoredom against God, and God in His love, mercy and grace calls out for them to come back to Him.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.   And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)

I realize this was not part of my reading today, but it is part of Hosea.  If you will, remember the “valley of Achor”.  It was the place where Achan had hidden contraband under his tent and brought judgment upon the nation of Israel after they had conquered Jericho (Joshua 7 and look at verse 26).  You could even say of the word “allure” above that God had in mind, “romancing” Israel back to Himself.  He has loved her with an everlasting love.  What better romance can that be?

I have heard the prophecy of Hosea referred to as the Old Testament’s “gospel of John”, particularly “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

One of the things we can see in the reading of Hosea is that God does not love blindly.  You have heard the phrase, “Love is blind”.  God’s love is not blind.  I believe it is in front of our National Justice Department that there is an statue of what is often referred to as “Lady Justice” (Probably showing my ignorance here), and it is of a woman holding scales in her hands while blind folded; giving us a picture of justice being blind.  God’s love nor justice is blind.  He loves seeing clearly the sins, faults and failures of the one He loves.  He judges justly as well without a blind fold.

That is what makes His love so powerful and wonderful.  He loves despite our sin.

God says to Israel through the prophet Hosea,

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him.  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.   His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” 14:4-7

Yes!  You could say Hosea had a “Bad Marriage”, but he also followed God’s plan and restored that marriage.  It was based on open eyes, seeing clearly, and loving his bride anyway; alluring her back to himself.  What a wonderful, holy, love.

The gift of Christ on the cross is the marvelous gift of God’s wonderful love.  Jesus Christ bore our iniquities on His cross, took our sins upon Himself, and paid the price that was owed to God for our sins.  By His bodily resurrection we are justified by God forever.  You cannot find a stronger love than that.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 54 – Judged by Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 15 – Prayer versus Prayerlessness

Let me get something straight.  Prayer is to the Creator of all that is through His Son Jesus Christ.  The prayers of the Old Testament which were answered by GOD were answered by looking forward to the cross in faith.  They believed God, and it was counted unto them for righteousness.

In the reading this morning I read Joshua 9 – 22.  There was deceit, fraud by the Gibeonites out of fear for their lives; and there was a failure to pray on the part of the Israelites.

“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.”  Joshua 9:14 (KJV)

The leaders of Israel looked and saw the food and drink the Gibeonites had with them, believed them to be a distant people, and made a covenant with them.  Had they prayed they might have avoided a lot of headaches later on.

We see an example of a man calling on the LORD; Joshua in particular and seeing one of the miracles of the Bible come to pass;

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.’   And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.   And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.” Joshua 10:12-14

You will note that Joshua spoke to the LORD, and gave command for the sun to stand still.  Now from a human point of view that would be impossible; but our God is not limited to the possible.  He is the God of the impossible.  That is, afterall, because He is GOD.  This was due to one man whose heart was faithful in calling on the name of the LORD, and believed the GOD of the impossible made it possible.  Joshua, by the power of GOD spoke to the sun and moon to stop in their course through the universe, and provide a few more hours to accomplish the work that was before them; and God did it.

The we see a couple of times when there must have been a lack of prayer and faith.  When we are not given to the word of God and prayer; faith will be in short supply.  The enemy will be most difficult to overcome; and we will find ourselves accommodating them.

“As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.” 15:63

and another time;

“Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.” 17:13

This is tied to the matter of obedience as well.  Had they been faithful in prayer, obedience to the commands of the LORD, they would have been faithful to driving out the inhabitants of the land, destroying the evil of the land.  In their disobedience they brought trouble into their camps.

There is a lesson here for the children of God today; the Christian, the follower of Christ.  Rid your hearts and lives of the evil.  Make no compromise with all that is vile and evil in your heart and life.  Be swift at the destruction of evil within.  Stay in prayer and the Word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

New Bible Reading Adventure

I hope the title of this post sparked some interest.  Starting February 01 I will be starting a new Bible adventure in reading through God’s holy, inspired, infallible Word.  I, with God’s help and strength, will endeavor to read through all 1,189 chapters of the Old and New Testaments in ninety days.

If you would like to take up the challenge and join me let me know by leaving a comment, and telling me.  I will also endeavor during those days February 1 – April 30 to write a daily comment or comments concerning something of the chapters I have read.  My goal is to read 14 chapters per day for 90 days.  I am a slow reader, so I will plan on at least an hour to read it maybe more; and I do not want to alarm anyone, but I will be reading from the New Living Translation, rather than the King James Version.

Each year since surrendering to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God I have set my goal of reading through the Word at least once per year.  There have been a couple of those years I failed to do that; but I was always at a loss for missing it.

Let’s stop ignorance of the Bible by starting with ourselves.  Will you join me?  Leave your comment and let me know.  You might be made a different person by April 30, 2012.

Let me leave this caveat’ with you.  All this will be according to the will of our Lord; because we are not promised February 1, 2012; little lone April 30, 2012.  I also know that if we  read 14 chapters a day it will be finished in about 85 days.  That does give us a little bit of room, if we get caught short on time or something on some days.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

B F & M – God’s Purpose of Grace

Here is our SBC Statement of Faith on “God’s purpose of Grace”:

“V. God’s Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.”

There are some who want to tell us that people who were saved in the Old Testament were saved by their works.  That is not so.  They were all saved by faith looking forward to the cross of Jesus Christ.  People today are saved looking back to the cross of Jesus.

It is said of Noah, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:8 (KJV).  The word ‘Grace’ is found more often in the book of Genesis than in all four New Testament Gospels combined (12 times in Genesis; 4 times in Luke and John with 3 of those in John).  Now, would someone tell me that the Old Testament people were saved by their works.  Go figure.

The one New Testament Scripture that stands out as a favorite for all Christians is Ephesians 2:8-10.  That is right I include verse ten.  It is one we too often leave out.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Trust the God of grace.

-T.A.

God of My Righteousness

GOD Of My Righteousness

Psalm 4:1-8

1.  The Psalmist pleads with God for help remembering past helps (v. 1).
2.  The Psalmist confronts the “sons of men” concerning their unrighteous behaviors (vv. 2-5).
3.  The Psalmist finds rest and peace in the safety of the LORD (vv. 6-8).

I.  SPEAKING FIRST WITH GOD; THEN WITH MEN (v. 1)
“He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”  C. H. Spurgeon from Treasury of David Psalm 4:1

II.  THE CONFRONTATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 2-5)
The unrighteous see little benefit to righteousness; and love vanity and “leasing” which is lying, empty fancies, vain conceits, wicked fabrications.
The unrighteous watch for the fall of the righteous.
Stop along the way and take pause, reflect on righteousness, and the GOD of righteousness.
“The godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men.” ditto
The cry for men to search their hearts, and believe in the righteous God; and the righteousness of His Son our Savior; the sacrifice of Calvary.

III.  THE DWELLING PLACE OF REST AND SAFETY (vv. 6-8)
There are many who would see; rather than believe (Matthew 27:39-44).
Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29b).
There is gladness and joy in the LORD; more than just when the crops come in.
With the LORD of our righteousness there is peace, safety and sleep (Ps. 127:1-2).

Summary –
i.  When the sons of God are in the righteousness of God, then we can and will stand before the sons of men.
ii.  There will be confrontation between righteousness and unrighteousness; between the sons of God and the sons of men.
iii.  There is peace, safety and rest for the righteous through the Lord our righteousness.

-T.A.

Preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church 08/07/11 a.m. worship.

The Living Stone

We don’t often think of a “Living stone”, though living in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri, we joke about stones growing; and it does seem that way at times.  I can remember picking rocks off the fields, carrying them off by wagon, or taking them for fill somewhere else; and they never seem to get any lower number on the fields.

Peter, the apostle, has written of vices that are not to be in the life of a Christian in verse 1 of chapter 2.  We are to be growing in the “sincere milk of the word” into the image of Christ.  That is “Christian” [Christ like]  in living.

 “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious…” 1 Peter 2:4 (KJV)

As we look through the Bible we find the terms, “Cornerstone”, “Stumbling stone’ or ‘Stone of stumbling”, (Psalm 118:22; 144:12; Isaiah 28:16; Jeremiah 51:26; Zechariah 9:15;  Matthew 21:42;  Mark 12:10;  Acts 4:11;  Ephesians 2:20) “Rock” (Deuteronomy 8:15; 32:13, 15, 18, 30, 31;  1 Corinthians 10:4).  Those who come to this Rock, Stone to stay, to abide; those who come for Him are not as those who cast Him away, or those who crucified Him.

The Living Stone is Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16).

For some reason there are growing numbers of people who are believing that Jesus had thousands and thousands who believed in Him, however, the truth of the matter is that He was highly rejected, by the religious establishment of the time as well as the multitudes; many of whom He fed on the mount; many of those who laid palms in His path on the day of His presentation in the streets of Jerusalem.  On the day of Pentecost, there was only 120 gathered in the upper room praying (Acts 1:15).  That was most likely all there were who believed in Him.

The prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in both the life and death of our Savior.  His coming, rejection by many, and His condemnation unto death are all foretold by the prophets.

He was “disallowed” (disapproved, and rejected) by the majority; showing clearly that the majority is not always right.  Who in their right mind could reject so much love, kindness, and such a great salvation which is provided through His death, burial and resurrection?  Only those who cannot see clearly; those who are blinded by their sin.

He is the chosen One of GOD; and He is precious, unique, no other like Him.  The only precious, Son of GOD.

I pray He is precious to to you.  That you have come to Him to stay, to abide with Him forever.

-T.A.

Power On Their Lives – Mark 16:15-20

“And He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”  Mark 16:15-20

Jesus gives us the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and it is longer and more detailed in its application there.  Here, however, we have a simple “Go and preach the gospel to every creature”, and then, what follows are signs, evidence that they are servants of God.  Because of the newness of this message of grace, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, there must of necessity have been proofs of their words being true.  The gospel is true and powerful to save, but the Scriptures [New Testament] had not yet even started to be written.  Today, we have the completed Scriptures [Old and New Testaments], and we no longer need evidence of the power of the gospel to save.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” seems like a salvation of works, but any one who comes believing in Jesus will in obedience follow the Lord in water baptism.  It is the “Public confession” of one’s faith in Jesus.   When a person comes to faith in Jesus they have a desire to obey Him in all things.  The first step of obedience, and the believer’s first call is a public testimony, and that is shown in baptism.  Baptism is the testimony of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection, and by baptism you tell the world of your faith in Jesus and that you have died to the old life, been buried putting it all away, and have risen to new life in Him.

According to the apostle John in the gospel he wrote, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  You could  ask the question, a fearful question, “What does one have to do to go to Hell?  The answer to that is absolutely nothing.  You can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus, His finished work on the cross and the resurrection, and enjoy the glory of Jesus for all eternity.  You can do absolutely nothing and spend eternity in Hell.  The truth of the matter is we are all condemned, dying, hellbound sinners.  We are born in that condition – separated from God, hating God, loving ourselves, and seeking our own way, and not God’s way.  There are some who believe that once this life is over that is it.  There are even some professing Christians who believe only the saved will have an “Eternal life” while those who do not know God through His Son Jesus will simply go back to the dust, and their “spirits” will cease to exist.  Part of the way that God created us in His image is that He gave us an eternal soul and spirit.  Not “Eternal” in the sense that He is; like “Eternal past”, but an eternal future, and our eternity with Christ actually begins with our faith in Him.  The condemned person’s eternity without Christ begins at the death of the physical body, and it will be an eternity without light, without friends, without satisfaction of desires.  It will be an eternity of torment, or flames, heat, no water, nothing to quench your thirst.  It will be a place without God’s love, only wrath.

These were signs of authentication.  They were evidence of the power of God to save those who believe, and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.  The first sign Jesus gives is the power to “…Cast out devils [demons]”.  There is evidence of this in Acts with a young girl who is “demon possessed”, and brings great profit to her owner, because she can “Foretell” the future.  Paul was bitten by a poisonous serpent, and without harm (Acts 28).  The apostles Peter and John, on their way to the temple, meet a man who is lame, and by their words, “Rise up and walk” he gets up and walks (Acts 3).  Paul raises a young man named Eutychus from death (Acts 20).  There are many accounts in the book of Acts of the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of the apostles, doing miracles, signs and wonders, to confirm the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the Gospel which is being promoted not the miracles, and we must always remember that.

The changed lives of millions through the years is evidence of the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Men and women who have had hate filled, murderous hearts are changed into loving, compassionate, caring individuals who reach out to others with the truth of Christ.  Men and women who have selfishly stolen from others through greed, lust, and larceny are changed into giving, unselfish individuals who love Christ and have given their all for Him.

One sign of the resurrection of Jesus is His ascension into Heaven to His Father’s right hand.  The apostles all witnessed it.  Peter, James and John, Matthew, and all the rest, except Paul for he had not yet come to faith in Jesus.  Jesus fulfilled all the Scriptures concerning the things concerning Himself and His first coming, and He will fulfill all the things concerning His Second coming.

The disciples/apostles were the ones who are responsible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the beginning of the Church – the Body of Christ.  Without the Holy Spirit confirming their word, there would be no church.

Can we go out in the same power of the Spirit that they did?  Most certainly, and now we have something much better than miracles, signs and wonders.  We have God’s Spirit confirming His written Word.  It is finished.  There is no more being added to it, and anyone that does add to it or take away from it will find the curses of His Word in their lives (Rev. 22:18-19).

There is nothing impossible to those who walk in the Spirit of God.  Praying for the power of the Spirit on Christian lives.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Judges – 041111

The book of Judges is about the grace of God toward Israel.  They have come into the Promised Land which was given them by GOD, with instructions and laws to follow and to be obedient.  As long as they obey God’s commandments they will be prosperous and own the land, but they begin to practice worshipping other god’s; the gods of the surrounding people, whom they are supposed to drive out and destroy.  This is part of their disobedience.

GOD is longsuffering and merciful.  We find these words in chapter six,

“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.'”  Judges 6:7-10 (KJV)

One thing we can observe in Judges and throughout the whole of the Old Testament is that God sends His prophets before He sends judgment.  The prophet Amos spoke by the leadership of God’s Spirit saying,

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

We can rest assured that before God does anything He sends His preachers to warn and instruct of what is going to come.  For Israel in that day it was “fear not the gods of the Amorites…” but they did not obey.  The people had cried out to the LORD, and He sent a prophet.

Not only that the LORD Himself came down as we read in verses 11-23.

The Lord Himself has came down, in the person of His only Son, given His life on the cross, was raised from death, hell and the grave; and by Him we have eternal life.

Believe Him and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022411

Reading for today Deuteronomy 11 – 13.

It is shocking sometimes how quickly God’s people can be led astray.  Led away from the true worship of God unto the worship of the man made, or earthly creatures.  Some years ago I read some articles in Midnight Call magazine concerning finances in the last days.  He named three gods or idols which citizens of the USA worship;  MOFI, GLOBO, AND SCITE.  To give you an understanding of what these are they are related to Money/Finance; Global Organization and union; and Science and technology. I personally think we could add another idol to that; and that is our children.  Have you ever seen a parent who believed their child could do no wrong?  Every ounce of time goes into children.  We hear about our children’s health, our children’s education, our children’s well being, and we ought to be for those things; but they are carried to an extreme; at least in my opinion.

There is a domonic move which has been present since the beginning of mankind to keep mankind from God.  There are teachers, preachers, dreamers and prophets who are demon inspired who direct hearts of men and women; boys and girls away from truth and God unto lies, deception and destruction.  Now who in their right mind is going to go plunging into destruction?  It is not done in the light.  Satan and his legions use deception; deception is one of those cases where a “fridge” is sold to an Eskimo living at the North Pole.  Or, ocean front property in Arizona is sold to some poor soul.  That is the line of work Satan and his minions are in; and he has people in that line of work to lead people away from God and His Son Jesus.

Hear what God says in His Word;

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.  And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (KJV)

There might come into our midst some great worker of miracles who with those wonders call people to worship some being from outer space.  He/She claims they have found the answer that will change there lives, because they have found that “we are all gods” or some silly thing like that.

There is a growing tendency within our own nation [USA] that “If it works, then it must be good and right”.  NOT!  If it works it could be from the devil if it falls short of our LORD’s expectations and calling.

Since the United States of America is now a multi-cultural society being made of of many ethnic groups and religions and such; then we are being told to guard our speech.  We are being told we can no longer refer to Christianity as the only way to heaven and God; that there are really many ways to God.  There are many roads to the Post Office, but the one that gets you there is the one that leads to the front door.  The front door to heaven is the cross of Jesus Christ.  Jesus even tell us, Himself, that He is the door.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.  All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  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 10:7-10

It doesn’t matter what you dream, or what wonders you may do; or that preacher, prophet, dreamer, or teacher made do; if they lead you away from God and His Word, they are a deceptive leader to your death, and destruction.  The Old Testament law calls for their death; most likely by stoning.

Hear God through His Word, and by His Spirit.  Fear Him.  Keep His commandments.  Turn away from every false way.  Jesus is the way to life and eternal life.  Hear Him and live.

Read Deuteronomy 11 – 13

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 020811

The reading today Leviticus 26 – 27.

Most of us have heard the saying, or something similar to it; “If you sow your wild oats a harvest will come”.  It is another way of saying what God says  in His Word and through nature.  “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galations 6:7b).

Israel was given much, special land.  Yet it was theirs under the condition of the covenant with God.  The covenant was that they had to “walk with God”; and that means obey Him; to see things God’s way, not their own.  The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3),and the answer is no.  In the case of man with God; we must agree with God.  God does not agree with me, nor does He need to or have to.  It is my obedience, my repentence, my sorrow for sin – that is necessary for me to walk with God – not God’s.

“And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.  But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.  These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between Him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.”  Leviticus 26:44-46 (KJV)

In Leviticus 26 God the LORD has warned Israel of what will happen to them and the land should they not follow His commandments.  Both the Ten Commandments and the others that are given concerning treatment of others, their worship practices, moral issues, and the land.  If they go against God.  They are not “walking with God”.  They will suffer the consequences; and that will be judgment from surrounding nations, captivity; the enemy even harvesting their crops, rather than themselves.

God is merciful.  He even promises that should they disobey; and they do; then He will remember the covenant with them, and bring them back into the land.

Many times we may find that it is our own sins that judge us.  The prophet Jeremiah even bears this thought out when God spoke to him saying,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reproove thee…” (Jeremiah 2:19a).

It is great to know that we find grace and mercy given by God in the Old Testament; and that same grace and mercy is magnified, and personified in the person of His Son Jesus in the New Testament.  We have the promise of the New Testament:

“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteouness.”  (1 John 1:9).

and”My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…”   (1 John 2:1).

The grace of God through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of God to man, through Jesus.

Read Leviticus 26 – 27

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth

Do you have a special place where you like to go just for the beauty and the quiet?  Most people do I believe.  I know that I have some.  There are times I go and take a walk beside the creek.  I enjoy it as it flows along, especially over the shallow and swifter parts, it makes a noise that only the Creator could use to still a troubled mind.  That is a special time.  A special place.  It is almost a sanctuary.  A protected place, set apart for only the ones who will appreciate it.
In Jesus’s prayer and as He prayed, He asked that His disciples be “sanctified”, ie., set apart, called out for special service, even protected for the glory of the Father.  Here is the verse for the study –

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.”  John 17:17 (KJV).

In the process of being made more like Jesus.  That is really what ’sanctification’ is all about.  It is also a protected place, a special place, and Jesus is asking the Father to see to it that we become like Him.  It is implied here that the way of our sanctification is through the Word which we have written to us in the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word.  It is His truth.  We cannot be made more like Jesus except through the Word of truth.
It is a daily washing of the feet and hands as they have been in the world.  The picture is given in the Old Testament Tabernacle.  There was a large brass bowl with water in it, where the priests needed to stop upon entry of the Eastern Gate, and there wash their feet and hands, so they were sanctified upon entering the holy place.  Jesus’s prayer is that we might be clean, and be made more like Him.
To become more like Him we must stay in His Word daily, pray  in His  name, and be obedient to His will.
Be sanctified through the truth.  Jesus has prayed for it.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is There Anything Really NEW?

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

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

Hear the prophet –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I ask again, “Is anything really new?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Whatever Happened To Shame?

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

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

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

Jeremiah the prophet writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Will You Hear???

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Eat Heartily

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Precious Word Of God

The Word of God is precious and dear to every  Christian’s heart.  When Paul the apostle was telling people of Jesus Christ all the Scriptures he had was the Old Testament.  That is the Word of God he used in his preaching Jesus.

In Acts 28:23 we find these words, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening”.  Why is it that there are many preachers and even Christian groups who completely avoid the Old Testament when in the New Testament we have evidence that those words was the only Word of God available to the apostles?

When you see them as messages concerning Jesus they become precious and give better understanding to the New Testament.  Get into all of God’s Word.  The Old and New Testaments is all God has given us today.  Even Jesus, after He arose from death, mentions the law and the prophets.  Check out Luke 24.

-Tim A. Blankenship