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.

Friday Baptist 071511

The following are the closing paragraphs of a message by W. A. Criswell titled “The Ableness of God” from Ephesians 3:14-21 from October 25, 1970.

The ableness of God; we never exhaust it.  It’s never beyond what He can do for us—above all we ask or think.  Lord, who would ever have thought the little shepherd boy David would be the king of Israel?  Who would ever have thought Amos the sycamore gatherer would be God’s first great writing prophet?  Who would ever have thought Cephas, the fisherman of such a volatile spirit, would have been Peter at Pentecost?  Who would ever have thought that Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church, would have been the apostle who kneels down here in prayer.  Who would ever have thought it? Oh, the whole gamut of God’s world is like that.  Who would ever have thought these prison doors open of themselves in the twelfth chapter of Acts?  Who would ever have thought the lions’ mouths would have been stopped or the three would have been delivered out of the fiery furnace?

“Above all that we ask for;” be encouraged, my brethren.  Let’s lift up our spirits and our hearts.  Let’s roll up our sleeves.  Let’s ask God for great things for Jesus.  Let’s ask Him for these families, these homes, these children; these teenagers; these young marrieds.  Let’s ask Him. Let’s ask in faith that God’ll give us their souls, their lives, their children, and then, having found answered prayer, let’s teach them the Word of God.  Let’s just place in their very souls the riches of that glorious revelation. Let’s just spend our days around here praising Jesus, loving God.  I’ve got to quit.  Man, we could just love the Lord forever, couldn’t we?  Just talking about what God can do for us and how we’re going to, in His love and grace, attempt great things for Him.

W. A. Criswell, 1970

-posted by T.A.

My Observations 020611

Reading Leviticus 21 -23 today.

In the 23rd chapter of Leviticus we read about the seven feasts of Israel.   There have been some more feasts added to Hebrew living up through today; one of which is the “Feasts of Lights” also known as Hanukkah, and this one seems to be a feast which was celebrated in the time of Jesus Himself.

Let me correct myself on something I stated in a previous post.  I wrote that I believed the day of atonement was the final feast of the Jewish year.  In that I was wrong.  In this list that is given the “Feast of Tabernacles or booths” is the final one.

Something we need to understand in getting started is that Saturday was the Sabbath in any week; however, there were special sabbaths they were to remember, and these fell sometimes in the middle of a week.  These sabbaths were to be treated just as the Saturday (seventh day) Sabbath.  I mention this because there are a few sabbaths mentioned in chapter 23.

The first is the Passover which was to celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month – Abib or Nisan (Exodus 12:2; 13:4;  Deuteronomy16:1).  This, of course, was in remembrance of God’s deliverance from Egypt by the blood of the lamb which was slain for every household and the blood placed on the door posts and lintels of every home.  This was the redemption for all the first born who was under the blood.  This blood is a type, a shadow, or a picture of the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Then in verse six on the fifteenth day was the feast of unleavened bread.  This bread was made in haste and with great expectation of deliverance.  With no yeast it was not necessary for it to rise, to puff up, but was immediately ready following the baking of it to leave.  Yeast represents haughtiness, pride, or even the arrogance of believing one has plenty of time.  When God delivers; it is on His time, not of our own making.  The great picture for us to see is the life of Christ without sin or spot or blemish.

The next feast is the “Firstfruits”.  This was in celebration of the harvest.  It speaks of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus three days following His death

“Pentecost” was to come on the fiftieth day following the sabbath of firstfruits.  We know from the New Testament that on this day the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Christ who were fearful, waiting in the upper room as the Lord had given them commandment (Acts 2).  This was the day the Holy Spirit came upon those believers and filled them with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  They had no more fear of what they had previously experienced.  They had the power of God within them.  They were ready to worship, preach, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ; no matter what would happen to their physical lives.  They loved Jesus as they never had before; with their lives.

The next feast was that of the Trumpets.  This took place on the first day of the seventh month.  The trumpets were often used to gather the people together; and this feast speaks of a great day coming when the Lord Jesus will call “all Israel” unto Himself (Romans 11:26).

The day of  atonement is the day of the offering of the “scapegoat” written about in chapter 16.  There is much more to it than the goats; one was to die, and the other was to live and be let go in the wilderness.  It is a glorious picture, shadow of the substitutionary death of Christ Jesus.  He took our place for sin on the cross; becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and making us “Just as just as He is just” [speaking of our justification through Christ Jesus].

The final feast mentioned in this chapter is the “Feast of Tabernacles”; it is also called “Feast of Booths”; it was called the “feast of ingathering (Exodus 23:16.  As the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness they would build “booths” and such to be protected from the heat or any cold they might experience at night.  This feast was a reminder of the wanderings; to be done for seven days.  The first day was one of these sabbath days, and the eighth day the one following the feasts was to be a sabbath day; no work was to be done.  This day foreshadows the day when there will be rest and reunion with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Be ready for that Great Reunion day when all who love our Lord will be with Him forever and forever.  “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”  (Romans 10:13).

Read Leviticus 21 – 23

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

A Journey To Rest

Acts 9:26-31

It was at Saul’s feet the stoners of Stephen laid down their garments.  I suppose he was responsible for caring for their clothing while they stoned a man to death.  That sounds so heartless, because it is, and it was, however; at least it seems to have been this event; his hearing the word from Stephen, seeing and hearing his dying testimony; which had an impact on Saul coming to faith.

When Jesus confronts Saul as he is traveling to Damascus to capture, persecute, and jail Christians; Jesus says to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:4-5 (KJV).  His “kick against the pricks” is evidence that before the Lord confronted him he was deeply under the convicting power of the Spirit of God.  Saul met Jesus Christ on that day, and he has been a blessing to Christians, the Church and the world ever since; because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL, AND THE CHURCHES REACTION (v. 26).  Upon his salvation Saul is led to a man named Ananias, who shows Saul the way he is to go for the Lord.  He is received by the disciples of Damascus.  Saul had spent time in Damascus preaching the gospel.  He was new to it for sure, but he started in faith and kept on faithfully until the day he died by losing his head at the hands of Rome.

The church of Jerusalem was reluctant to receive him into their midst.  He had been their persecutor, he had shown them nothing but hate, and now he’s wanting to come into our fellowship.  Can you understand their doubtful thinking about him?  I can.  He had received orders from the religious establishment of Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem where most of the persecution was still going on, and Saul had been the chief persecutor.

The Jerusalem church could not believe that their chief persecutor was now one with them.  The disciples there – not the apostles – were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple of Jesus now.

It is an awesome thing when one who has been against the church of Jesus Christ is changed and begins to walk, live, serve and glorify our Lord.  Their testimony will be one of glorious change and the glory will belong to Jesus Christ.  The glory will not return upon the professing individual, but go to the Lord.

BARNABAS RECEIVES SAUL, AND ENCOURAGES HIM AND THE CHURCH, AND THEY WALK AND WORK TOGETHER (vv, 27-28).  Barnabas sees the rejection Saul experiences, sees a life who has been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ and takes Saul and makes him his disciple.  The call of the great commission of Jesus Christ is to “Go and make disciples” there are more than twelve disciples; there are only twelve apostles; thirteen counting Saul – who later became Paul.  We are not commanded to “make apostles” but disciples which is a “follower of Jesus Christ”

Known as an “encourager” Barnabas walks along side Saul when no one else will.  He even takes him to see the apostles, and Saul shares with them his testimony of how he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and they are told of his bold preaching in Damascus.  After his visit with the apostles he is then seen leaving and entering the city with the apostles; they have received him as one of themselves.

The work of an encourager is a great work, and is much needed in the work of Christ and His Church.  We all need someone to come alongside us, to pick us up when we are down on occasions.  There are also occasions where we need to be the encourager, and pick up a friend, family member, church member, or a neighbor who needs to just get things clicking and right between them and the Lord.

SAUL’S PREACHING IN JERUSALEM IS BOLD, AND HE IS RUSHED OUT OF TOWN TO HIS OWN TOWN (vv. 29-30).   Why is it a lot of preachers think they are called to popularity.  Jesus was popular while He did His miracles, but when He got bloody and doctrinal concerning His body and the blood many of “His disciples left Him” (John 6:60-68).  If popularity, or drawing a crowd, was the agenda of our Lord, the message would not be so hard and difficult for people to hear and believe.  The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the simplest message ever proclaimed, yet people do not want to hear it.

Have you ever been run out of town for your preaching?  I have not, but there are some places I have not been asked to return.  I am grateful for the church where I am currently pastor.  The Carr Lane Baptist Church maybe small in number, but we are big in heart for hearing the word of the Lord.  When a preacher can stand in the pulpit week after week, Sunday after Sunday, and preach expository messages straight from Scripture, and you hear no negative comment, and you hear an “Amen” ever once in awhile you just got to know that they are hearing God, and not you.

The preacher when he is preaching the word of the Lord can boldly proclaim the message of God without fear or favor to those who are listening; and will glorify the Lord in the preaching.  An Old Testament Prophet name of Jeremiah was one who convinced me that I needed to come out of my shell, preach the word and be faithful to the Lord.  Jeremiah says, “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).  When you know you are delivering the word of God you have nothing to fear.  Be bold, proclaim from the rooftops what God says in His Word.

Though Saul did get rushed out of town it was for a greater purpose.  He would return to Jerusalem at a later time, and then be shipped to Rome.  Saul’s/Paul’s message of Jesus Christ was not loved nor appreciated.  Check your message; if you have crowds following you; change your message to the message of Jesus and Saul.

THE CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM THEN, HAD REST (v. 31)  It was because of the change in Saul’s life that there was rest in the Jerusalem churches.  The persecutor of persecutors was now one of them and being persecuted.

A few years ago I took the thirty first verse, disected, prayed, and developed a sermon, and called it  THE THREE R’s FOR THE CHURCH getting the idea from what used to be the words for education Reading, ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmetic; but changing that to be Reverence, Rest, and Results, as three points for the sermon.  You can see the Reverence, “walking in the fear of the Lord”; the Rest in, “Then had the churches rest…” and the Results, “in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”  Acts 9:31 (KJV).

There is little fear of God, even in church these days we live in.  There is more talk of “perfect love casts out fear”, so we don’t fear God.  NOT!  John’s writing has absolutely nothing to do with the reverence and fear of God.  It does have to do with the condemnation of our sins, the lies of the devil, the lies of friends and family.  It has to do with everyday events of life.  Someone has said, “When we fear God; we need to fear nothing else.”  If there is no fear of God, there will be fear of all else.  Paranoia, schizoprenia, trouble and danger lurking behind every closed door, fear of darkness, fear of storms, fear of failure, fear of bankruptcy, fear of world financial failure.  When even the child of God is not right with Him, out of His fellowship, we too can be fearful of these things.

Rest has come to the Jerusalem churches because the one who pursued them unto death was now one of them.  He now was being persecuted.  He had been pushed out of town; but unto a great endeavor of preaching the Word elsewhere; to his own home of Tarsus.

Results, come when the Christian and the church practice their faith, and live by that faith through their everyday lives.  We have seen examples of this multiplication earlier in the book – 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), more were saved according to Acts 4:4.  It seems that people were being saved everyday in the early church.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to baptize at least one every Sunday during a worship service, maybe even more?  Remembering it is the Lord who adds daily to His church.  It is not programs, or money, but by and through the faithful witness of the Spirit of God through His faithful witnesses.

The rest you need can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You may despise the gospel right now but realize, as did Saul, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day that we all who call on His name have eternal life with Him.  Call on His name believing Him, and trusting Him with all your life, confessing your sins and repenting of them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the study notes for a sermon preached in the morning worship at Carr Lane Baptist Church on October 12, 2008.