Love Exposes Sources of Division

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  For your obedience is come abroad unto all. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.  And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Romans 16:17-20  (KJB)

This is not dealing with the “love” the world professes; love and accept everybody, approving of all that they do – you know the verse most like to use, “Judge not, lest you be judged”.

The verses from Romans are dealing with division caused by those who are in ministry for power, popularity, and profit.  Love confronts evil of division; it never tolerates it; especially within the Body of Christ.

Some thoughts on this matter:

*There are people in some churches, or even who seek out churches where they can cause division; by teaching false doctrines, by the error of Balaam, ie., causing others to fall, etc..
*The one who teaches the truth of God’s Word and the gospel, and who labors for God and the people of God, and the ministry is not the source of division. The ones who come in trying to bring in heresies, and division are truly the dividers
* Unwillingness to be taught, false teaching, hatred envy, going outside God’s guidelines causes division in the local Church. An unwillingness to cooperate with godly leadership; a malicious, slanderous spirit and tongue are sources of division. The loving leader will expose, and correct those who are trouble makers within the Church.
*Do that which is good in the local Church. Be wise toward evil, its way and its harm.
*Grace is the element that sets Christianity apart from world religions.

Jesus Said, ‘Follow Me’

Being A Disciple Of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-22

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV).

ANY DESIRE FOR POPULARITY MUST BE DEALT WITH (v. 18).

* Jesus had no desire for popularity, nor should His disciples.

* The false teachers and preachers love the praises and accolades of crowds they draw by their showmanship, and “Miracles”.

THERE IS NO GUARANTEE FOR MATERIAL SECURITY – NO PLACE TO LAY YOUR HEAD – NO PROMISE OF COMFORT (vv. 19-20).

* Jesus knows the hearts of all men, and He knew the heart of this scribe, just as He knows yours and mine.

* We never hear of this man again – he is only known and remembered as “A certain scribe”, though as some kind of parable or illustration.

THERE CAN BE NO LINGERING, WAITING FOR YOUR EARTLY INHERITANCE (v. 21).

* Burying his father was not the idea, because his father was not dead, it is the inheritance that was on his mind, and that responsibility.

* We can be faithful disciples of Jesus when we disciple our families into Christ.

* The follower of Jesus Christ taking the responsibility to see that his/her family comes to Christ is the greatest achievement of that disciple.

THE COST FOR BEING A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST IS VALUING THE ETERNAL OVER THE TEMPORAL (v. 22).

* If you determine that following Jesus is too costly, then you will lose everything ( “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 10:39).

* The life of the follower of Jesus Christ is a crucified life – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20 (KJV).

* It would be more beneficial for the questioning disciple to follow Jesus; for then, there is great possibility that his family will follow too.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Making of The Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“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. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

If we as preachers neglect to preach Jesus; His death on the cross; His burial; His bodily resurrection; and His promise… “I will come again” then we fail to preach the Word of God.  That is the essence of all of Scripture.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Sensual Division

“Remember the words…by the apostles… How they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude 18-19 (NKJV).

A continual warning, and caveat’ to stand your ground, be faithful, follow the teachings of the apostles, etc.; is much needed, but too many of our minds can become redundant. We need to be encouraged by the words of Jude and the words of any preacher who is teaching us to stand guard over our heart, and against the teachings and teachers which would lead us away from the truth.

These apostates are actually haters of God; yet use the name of God to have their way in Christian circles. Jude in no way is saying to us that all true teachers of God’s Word are infallible, but that they will be faithful to proclaiming the truth of God. We can all make mistakes. It seems that we, in our humanity are almost prone to make one now and then, just to remind us that we are still, in fact, fallen creatures; who have been redeemed by the perfect Savior.

However, these apostate heretics, are those who purposely teach doctrines contrary to God and His Word to draw a following for themselves, put their fleeced flocks money in their own pockets, and live in lavish homes, and estates. Now, before any one flies off the proverbial handle, let me add that there is nothing wrong with having or gaining wealth; as long as it has been done by hard work and labor; without taking advantage of the weak; and God is given all the glory for it. God gives wealth to enable those with it to be stewards and help the weak; and that includes the widow, the orphan, the poor, and downtrodden. These take no thought of others, however. The lavish homes and estates are almost their personal trademarks.

They are “sensual”, and that can be greedy, filled with lusts; and lusts can be for anything including power, position, popularity, and pomp. When the truth is not proclaimed, the one proclaiming that which is contrary to the truth are the dividers. That is something we always need to remember.

One of the teachings which is popular among many churches and pastors is the teaching about sex, using Scripture, but using the most lewd, crude, and shocking forms of “language” that can be heard today. “It’s part of our culture” those using it say. “They will not listen unless we speak that way”, they continue. We are always to speak the language which will glorify our Lord, and His language is not lewd, crude, or “shock jock” style. The Bible deals with sexual matters many times, but always treating it with respect, and even mystery; and so should those who are supposedly trying to teach people. In many cases using sensual language which inspires lust, rather than genuine love; they destroy the purity of God’s Word and its teaching. These are sensual dividers.

These types of talks draw the crowds; just as motor crosses, NASCAR, boxing, wrestling and the Olympics. Little for the glory of God is done in any of the these events. They are for some to make money, and others to spend and or lose it. It may be popular, but popular does not make it holy or right.

Many times, when the one who comes in exposing the lies for what they are, they are always the one who is accused of causing division. It is the one’s who are teaching and preaching the lies who are the dividers. The division-makers do not have the Spirit of God, and if not dealt with by the truth, and with firmness, will themselves be inhabitants of hell. They must be confronted, and given the opportunity of repentance, and finding genuine peace with God.

Be strong in the faith. Grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Confront and hate the evil, and expose it. Love the good, and the godly. Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sorrow Of Heart

We have all at one time or another, and maybe more times than not experienced SORROW OF HEART. Why do we experience these things? Our financial condition? Our health? The health of a friend or relative? A family problem or situation, etc.? Have we ever really experienced SORROW OF HEART for the spiritual condition of our nation, our family, or friends? Probably not as often as we should have.

 

Jeremiah experienced sorrow for his people. They had drifted away from God and in some things, just flat out rejected God, His Word, His prophets, and His law. They had decided that the Law of God was a reproach to them (See chapter 6). Have you ever heard anyone say something like this, “If it taste good, looks good, smells good, sounds good or feels good; its wrong”. That is really just a snide comment against God and His Word. God spells out clearly in His Word what is right and what is wrong, and these are based on His right and wrong. There are some things which are right or wrong in their time and place. For example; God has decreed that the “Marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), so the right time for the marriage act is with one’s spouse following the wedding, and it is right and good. It is wrong, however, to assume the marriage bed without the benefit of marriage – one man and one woman; that too is clearly defined by Scriptures.

The only reason the word of God could be a “reproach” is because one wants to live their life free of any boundaries. You and yours and everyone around you will be the ones your actions will affect.

 

Hear the words of the prophet:

 

“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

     

When people begin departing from the LORD after they have received the knowledge of Him, their path is always downward. They may have a great education, a great job, a marvelous house in which to live. They may have all that is necessary for living in this life, but without God, they are perishing.

 

The prophet is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts. God is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts and lives. God even says, “My people are foolish…” How can anyone who has ever truly known God depart from God, never return? They are educated but not in God. God goes on and says, “They are silly children…”. God sees those who believe and trust Him as His children, and we are; however, we are silly children when we choose to do our own thing, and get away from our Father.

 

The prophet Hosea said,

 

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

     

The prophet Hosea continues,

 

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

     

Is it any wonder that people turn away from the LORD when they do not care to read, study, and apply His Word to their lives? The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision the people perish” Proverbs 29:18, or as the NKJV records it, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” When the Word of God grows cold in your life, so will your love for God, righteousness, and holiness.

 

People who refuse God, His Word, and His revelation are “wise to do evil”, should we all not rather be wise to do that which is good and godly; and that is doing all that we do for the glory of the LORD. Personal attention, or popularity, or power, and/or prestige is out of the picture when all we are seeking is the glory of the LORD.

 

Being wise to do good will end a whole lot of mess in relationships. Families, churches, communities, countries, and the world will be a better place when the glory of the LORD is everyone’s goal.  According to Scripture (Romans 3:10ff) we all fall short of the glory of God, but His Son, Jesus Christ was His glory and through faith in His finished work on the cross, and the power of His bodily resurrection, that glory is restored.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Heart Conditions

Heart Conditions

“Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:3b-9 (KJV).

“Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23 (KJV).

The theme of this parable and what Jesus desires His followers to see; and this is discovered by asking; is the condition of the hearts of mankind toward the Word of God. On the surface looking without much thought there appears to be four different types of souls or hearts; however upon further evaluation and study there is only two. Two different heart conditions. The ones who have no heart for God and His Word, and the ones who have a heart for God and His Word.

We are seeing in these studies of Matthew that is Jesus’s day there was a rebellion against the King, and this continues. Jesus is teaching how these things are going to be. Jesus has had some followers who 1) outright rejected His Word – all through the ages; 2) those who followed for awhile, but when trials set in they ran away; 3) those who said they would believe, but soon discovered they had “more important matters to attend”; and 4) those who remained faithful, and fruitful.

This is the second discourse in which Jesus names the Kingdom of heaven. The first one being in the Sermon on the Mount from chapters five through seven. and the term “Kingdom of heaven” is mainly mentioned in the Beatitudes, of verses 3-11 of chapter five, and the whole of the sermon dealing with the deportment of those who have been redeemed. The “kingdom of heaven” includes the Church, with both good and evil within it, and the true and the false. If you doubt that just look at the condition of the kingdom now.

In this parable we find three different aspects of the story. The Sower, the Seed, and the Soil. The first is a person; the second a product; and the third a receiver. The Sower is the witness, the farmer, the broadcaster; the Seed is the Word of God being spread over the field of the world; the Soil is the hearts of men.

We learn from this parable that in the kingdom of heaven there are those who will reject the message of God’s grace, and in fact are not even interested in it, because they see no need. There are others who seem to receive it, and appear to receive it with joy, but then, because of fear they fall away and never bear any fruit. There is another group who give the appearance of receiving it with joy, but are then led away by the draw of the world, pleasures, comfort, wealth, and just the simple cares of the earth bound, and they go their own way. The final soil condition is a condition which has been plowed, tilled, cared for has had plenty of water of the word, and bears much fruit. The ones who bear fruit are the genuine believers; “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” John 15:2 (KJV) Every Christian will bear fruit. It will be a bountiful harvest. Fruitlessness is wickedness.

Let’s look at these soils individually:

First of all there is the soil of rejection (vv. 4, 19). Along side many of the fields of Jesus’s day there were paths which the people would walk. It was hard packed and was not receptive to seeds falling upon it. The path of man’s way is hard topped, and unreceptive to the Word of God. In the days of the Judges of the Old Testament we are told about three times, “There was no king in those days; every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 19:1; 21:25). This is the path that most people would like to walk. To be free of God, free of His Word, free of His witnesses and people, and when the Word of God is preached or sown it is snatched away by the devil and it has no affect on these peoples lives. Let us never think that these are beyond the reach or power of God to grab hold of their hearts and change them into His likeness and image. Let us never think they are unconvertible. God can do marvelous things.

The second soil is one which makes profession but soon falls away (vv.5-6; 20-21). This seed has fallen on shallow soil. The plant breaks forth toward the light, and grows for a time, but then wilts away because of the heat of the sun. There are many who have professed Christ as their personal Lord and Savior earlier in life, but when persecution comes, their friends have rejected their “new lives”, or they just cannot stand the trials that come with the profession they soon fall away. So many of these will profess to be Christian, based solely on the experience they had at the altar. “I prayed the prayer. I said the words the preacher told me to say. It happened on a certain day at a certain time. Surely if I remember the day and time I said those words I’m alright with God”. Where is the fruit? Where is the changed life? Where is the evidence of your salvation? Once being eager to follow and serve. For awhile were interested in always being in worship services on Sunday morning, Sunday Night, Sunday School, Wednesday night services, but then falls away due to trials and bad circumstance.

Many times this one happens as a result of shoddy evangelism techniques which are quick to give the Roman road, or other style of presentation of the gospel without telling them of the COST of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. “Oh, we don’t want to do that. We want converts.” Converts for whom you or for Christ? Your converts are going to fall away and many will have your assurances that no matter what they do, they have eternal life. Then, one day they are going to split hell wide open, and to the evangelist shame. Perseverance is a fruit of the true faith of Christ. True believers will not fall away. A false profession is deceptive and condemning. Remember that when you start telling that soul about Christ, but without telling them there is a COST involved, and that COST is “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Jesus).

The third soil we see is the soil of divided loyalty (vv. 7, 22; James 1:7-8). This soil is under the weeds and thorns, the trash of the field, and is similar to the second, but this one apparently has soil. It is just a matter of its environment. Am I saying that environment makes a difference? Only if that growing seed stays in that environment. When we are talking about agriculture the seed which sprouts forth doesn’t have much choice in where it came up. In some ways this may be so of humanity as well, but as soon as the heart is changed for Christ they would seek the light, and to get out of the environment that would drag it down. The seed has no choice of whether it remains or not the human does. In the case of this type of heart condition it could be that the seed of the Word was received with false motives, such as, beliving that everything will be cushy, and the world will love me. Those things just are not true. This type of heart conditon is quickly sidelined by doing the things of the world, the flesh and the devil rather than the things of God. If there was ever any spiritual understanding it will be lost. Understand spiritual understanding is not equal to spiritual rebirth or godly regeneration. The heart of divided loyalty will be condemned. James tells us that “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8). They allow the material things of earth, friendships and popularity and power become their save all giving themselves to worldliness; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (KJV). These find themselves choked off from the words of life and condemned.

The final soil representing heart conditions is the soil of perseverance (vv. 8-9, 23). In content the soil is different. It is not hard, shallow, or shaded over with weeds or thorns. This is good soil and God will accomplish what He wills, where He will, and when He wills. The broadcaster or Sower is only responsible for sowing the seed. Who gives the seed? God gives the seed. Who prepares the soil or hearts of men? God does. How does God prepare the soils? By their dealings in life; their loves and losses. He prepares the hearts due to His grace, and because of the humility of the heart and life. When the heart is receptive to the seed of God’s Word, with depth for the root, there will be fruitfulness. There is also a distinct characteristic of the heart. Those who receive the Word brought forth fruit, some brought forth more fruit, and some brought forth much fruit. Understand this has nothing to do with competition. It is according to the heart condition, and God’s provision, and blessing.

Just to note; this final soil is the only one called good ground. The fruitful ones are the ones who heard the Word of God and put it to work. These are the ones whose lives have been genuinely changed. Jesus Christ has made a difference in their lives, and they bear fruit. This is the kingdom of heaven.

In conclusion, When a farmer broadcasts seed upon the soil he is not in full control of where that seed falls. The wind blows and that will change the location of the falling of the seed. The side to side motion of the hand and releasing of the seed will have it landing on the hard places, the shallow places, thorny places and the good places. As God’s people we are called to broadcast the seed of the Word of God. It is not up to us to decide who will hear, or who will not; who will receive the Word and who will not. That is the work of God’s Spirit. Part of the fruitfulness of the receptive soil is not only a changed, pure, contented, joyous, Spirit controlled life, but is also one of sowing the seed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Preacher in Power With God

The Man in the Wilderness

“And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” Matthew 11:7-19 (KJV)

Jesus makes a declaration about the prophet who showed the way to Himself. Jesus’s word is that John was a prophet who stood, and was not swayed by the tide of public, or popular opinion. The “Reed” spoken of by Jesus was native to the country, and was easily bent in every slight breeze. He would not bend to the winds of conformity of the flesh. He would not win any elections. He would not even allow his name to be submitted to any office.

John was not a man who would attend the social events of the season (v. 8). He was not out to win any popularity contest. The people would not have gone to the wilderness to seek the finely dressed. He dressed in “camel’s hair” very similar to Elijah’s apparel. Not the garment of a popular individual, or one seeking popularity.

A prophet of great esteem, that esteem was from the Lord, not men. To be esteemed “the greatest” by the King Himself is certainly the highest of honors. The esteem of man is useless in eternal matters. Because John was the herald of a new covenant, a better way, those in the new are counted greater. John is counted only as a friend of the Bridegroom. Those in the new covenant are the Bride of the Bridegroom.

The people to whom John preached, and to whom Jesus preached were mostly a people who committed a Dereliction of duty. They heard the voice, but the words were of none effect. The nation neglected to heed the message of the prophet (v. 12). Their opinions were on equal ground with the Word of God. Their attitude was, “We will have the kingdom in our own way”. They hated the prophet and this eventually showed up in their hatred for the King. It seems that the message of all the prophets were despised by the nation (v. 13). John’s message is on equal footing with that of Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah to Malachi. His persecution was on equal footing as well. Here are some similarities. 1) John was fearless before Herod – Elijah was fearless before Jezebel’s prophets; 2) John was locked in prison – Jeremiah was put in a pit; 3) John lost his head – Isaiah was probably sawn in two. John preached against the adultery of Herod; as pointed out earlier (14:1-12).

John would have been the one “In the spirit and power of Elijah” if he would have been received (vv. 14-15; Luke 1:16-17). His ministry would have been to turn the hearts of the people back to God. This was accomplished in a small way. There is yet to come another “In the spirit and power of Elijah” who will accomplish his task (Revelation 11:1-14). The message of the prophet is one people must hear and take heed.

This generation of people was likened to spoiled, uncooperative children (vv. 16-17). Likened to children playing wedding game, then others come into the picture, and declare they want to play the funeral game instead. They want to mourn at a time for rejoicing. They want to rejoice at the wrong time and weep at the time of rejoicing. John’s message was one that the Messiah has come, and the people refused to hear it, tearing their garments in grief. When it was declared to them the time for mourning, then they were rejoicing. There is a whole lot of that in the world of 2008.

It seems the religious leaders had no desire for hearing the truth of God’s message from His prophet John. When they did not want to hear they set out to find fault. The prophet because of his “self-control”, lack of fleshly desires, sometimes loud, and “rude” preaching is accused of being demon possessed. Jesus, because He sits and dines with “tax collectors and sinners” is accused of gluttony and drunkenness. By these accusations they are only endeavoring to cover their own sins that have been exposed for what they really are.

Truth always bears fruit. Lies also bear fruit, but none worth having. Truth reveals the good, and exposes the bad. The children of complainers and accusers continue complaining, accusing lives – to eternal condemnation. The children of wisdom are drawn to the Savior. If Jesus and John were the way of these accusations, then, why are lives changed by faith in Jesus. The resurrected, changed life is evidence that the claims of Jesus and John are true and not the claims of the complainants.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Making of The Preacher

God Makes a Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“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. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-23

Disciple making is the business of the local church. It is the call of God for every Christian to be a faithful, follower of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission says just that, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” and that word “teach” is for making disciples. Disciples are made by teaching them. The disciplemaking of Christ is teaching people to follow Him.

Let no one think that following Jesus is a life of ease, comfort, popularity, or praise. Jesus gives us ample warning of the trials and tribulations that come into the Christian disciple’s life in the following portion of Scripture we see some of those things which come, or are part of the Christian disciple’s life. I am saying “Christian disciple” because there are “Disciples” of other causes, of religions, and men; and need to differentiate between the follower of Jesus Christ and the riff raff of the world.

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV).

One of the things we can see about Jesus and His ministry is that He had no desire for popularity. His sole desire was to be pleasing to the Father and fulfill His will and Word. The reason we can know this is because when many had already been to Him for healing of their sicknesses and diseases, and deliverance from demons He called to His disciples to “depart to the other side”.

On the other side was a place of rest. It was a place where Gentiles dominated the lands. That is evident because of the herd of swine mentioned in verse 30. No law abiding Jew would be raising pork. The reason for Jesus’s departure to the other side was partially rest, and to get away from the crowds. There are many false teachers who love the crowds, at least love their accolades and praises. They also love the huge offerings a large crowd can provide them for their lush homes, fancy cars and clothing. You will never hear a false teacher revealing the sins of the people’s hearts and lives. The crowds will not come to hear the truth.

Every where Jesus went His presence drew a crowd. He saw people hurting, and ministered health to them, and that is why many sought Him out; and when He started preaching on the hard things, they departed (John 6:1-59ff.). “Will you also go away?” Jesus asked His disciples.

A scribe breaks ranks with the other scribes and does seek Jesus out asking to be His disciple; at least he is looking into the possibility. This scribe must have been fairly well off. Jesus knows all men’s hearts, and surely this man’s heart was set on his security in having a home, a secure place to live, sleep, eat, entertain, and to be comfortable. This scribe soon learned that the life of a disciple was a life of sacrifice. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”, as saying if you are going to follow me you can have no ties to this world that will keep you from doing My will. It is a life with no house, no comforts, no securities. In Matthew 10:16 we read, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16; saying to us that all we have is what Jesus and the Father gives us. Sheep have no protection except the Shepherd. Sheep have no sustenance except by the wisdom of the Shepherd. Sheep have no shelter, but by the Shepherd.

Jesus also said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 10:39. The scribe evidently did not approve of the cost of being a follower of Jesus. We never hear of this man again. We are not even given his name, just, “A certain scribe” as though he were only a parable; an illustration so as not to pattern one’s life in the same fashion. What is the cost of discipleship? Let’s hear what Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25.

There was another disciple who came to Jesus seeming to be willing to follow Jesus. We see that he was wanting, though, to wait for a more convenient time. He says, “Let me first bury my father”, but his father was not dead. What he was asking was for the ability to wait until dear old Dad was gone, and then, he would inherit the inheritance. He was still tied to his family; basically the family inheritance. He is evidently the elder son of the family who was the one whose responsibility it was to care for the father’s estate.

When the call comes to follow Jesus, that is the time to go, and follow Jesus. Family, and/or family inheritance is no excuse for putting it off. Are we being told to neglect our wives, children, elderly parents, etc.? Definitely not. Jesus is telling us that following Him is of the highest priority. We can be faithful disciples of Jesus, and as a matter of fact are the most faithful; when we disciple our families into Christ, as well as others. The disciple’s seeing to it that his/her family follows Jesus is the disciple’s greatest achievement. If we were to win the world and lose our own children what have we achieved?

I know of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have served as pastors, loved and cherished their children, and those children depart from the faith. I mean to place no guilt on any faithful follower of Jesus, only to stress that we must begin at our homes.

As disciples of Jesus we must value the eternal over the temporal – that which is only temporary. The first man [the scribe] must have decided that the cost was too high. He could not give up the life of comfort and ease that he had been living. He had a nice home, a place to lay his head, and it was his. He could not part with the security of a walled home, and the protection he thought he had in it. The second man, giving him the benefit of the doubt, shows that he has concern for his family. It would be more beneficial for him to follow Jesus, for in following Jesus his whole family could and might also come to Jesus.

Remember Jesus’s words, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25 (KJV). The life of the follower of Jesus is a crucified life as Paul the apostle described it, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20 (KJV).