Quiet from the Fear of Evil

The following is from Morning and Evening a daily devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon.  I found this very encouraging and thought it might be for someone else as well.

Morning …

Proverbs 1:33
Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it  shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but He had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah. Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Dealing With Evil…

“The LORD hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil”  Proverbs 16:4 (KJV).

To many this may be a very troubling verse of Scripture.  In it, however, the follower of Jesus Christ should find rest and peace.  As a matter of fact all people who are troubled by the problem of evil, and believe in God could find solace in these words.

We rest in the truth of the Word of God.  We are told of the beginning where God created all things.  Here we are told that He “Made all things for Himself…”.  John the Revelator [writer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ] has written, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS, and FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.” Revelation 4:11 (KJV).  (Caps are for emphasis from me).

We can rest assured that though there is evil in the world and there are evil people in the world who thrive in doing evil deeds; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are accomplishing His purposes in the world.  Evil will be dealt with.  Evil will be judged.  Evil will come to an end.  God will be glorified.

PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD.  PRAISE THE NAME OF JESUS.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:17-21

…Giving What You Need For The Task

Daniel 1:17-21

Purpose –  To see and show that when God calls us to certain tasks; even as captives in a foreign land; He provides what we need for those tasks.

OUTLINE –

I.  GOD PROVIDED DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH THE GIFTS THEY NEEDED FOR THE TASKS THEY HAD (v. 17).
II.  GOD PROVIDED THAT THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOUND FAVOR WITH THE KING (vv. 18-19).
III.  GOD EVEN PROVIDED THAT THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE HE GAVE TO THEM EXCEEDED THAT OF THE OTHERS (v. 20).
IV.  THE TIME OF DANIEL’S SERVICE WAS REWARDED BY ALLOWING HIM TO SEE ISRAELITES RETURNING TO THE PROMISED LAND (.v. 21).

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had shown themselves faithful to the Lord’s commandments.  They had done so without causing too much of a rift within the court; and they had God’s approval and blessing.  When we honor God, by keeping His word, applying it to our lives on a daily basis, He will also honor us and bless us.  There is, however, no promise of that blessing being immediate; nor, should we be obedient, nor attempting to honor God because we know we will be blessed for it.
We honor and bless and obey the Lord and His Word because He is worthy; and we thank Him for the priviledge of such service.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have the right to be called “The sons of God” (John 1:12).  It is still a service we thank Him for, because He gifts us for that purpose.

I.  AS GOD EQUIPPED THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOR THEIR TIME IN BABYLON; SO GOD HAS EQUIPPED THE CHURCH FOR THE DAYS IN WH ICH WE LIVE (v. 17).
The text we look at tells us that it was God who gave them “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:”, and we must acknowledge that it comes from no one else except the one who designed and continues to give good minds to those He will.  Even to the astonishment and dismay to the educational elite; God oft times speaks by confounding the “wise”

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV).

We learn from this that it is God who gave Daniel the power of understanding dreams and visions.  This by itself qualifies Daniel as a prophet of God.

“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”  Numbers 12:6 (KJV)

These things which Daniel and His friends learned were not from the Chaldean educational system, nor the education they received.  There were many things they learned which were in grave error; and they knew it to be error.  They learned about astrology, and how it worked; they did not practice it.  Astrology – interpreting the astrological charts, and the zodiac was very familiar to the Babylonian citizens.

The child of God today; the Christian of today needs to be grounded and stable in the riches of the Word of God.  I want to stress that before I say what I’m going to say with some reservation.  You and I need first and foremost to study, hear, practice, and heed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God’s Word.  When we are able, then, it would be beneficial in some ways to learn about the deceptions and lies that permeate society; not practicing them in any fashion or form, but learning of them, to know where some of these people are coming from, and to know how to rebuke and rebut them.  Some Christians of our day frown on the though of rebuke or rebutting some other belief system or religion; however, if we are to be salt, light, and an influence in society, then we must correct in love those we see in error with Scripture.

We have also been equipped for service to God in the day in which we live.  The apostle Paul writes,

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”  Ephesians 4:11-15 (KJV)

The above gifting is basically dealing with church leaders, however, every Christian is responsible to use the gift God has given you.  Paul has also written,

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”  1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  Romans 11:29 (KJV)

The gifts and calling of God are given to us for the benefit of the day in which you and I live.  We need to rejoice in the gifts of others without desiring their gift or gifts for ourselves.  Every Christian is gifted by God to do the work of ministry.

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS FAVOR BEFORE THE KINGS AND PRESIDENTS OF THE WORLD (vv. 18-19).
King Nebuchaddnezar was most likely educated in the ways of the “wise men” of Babylon, and could carry on quite a conversation with them, and all the ones who had been educated in the Babylonian institution of learning.  It was after the three years of training was over that the king had them all brought into him.  The king discovered four young men, possibly twenty years of age now; who “…among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (v.19).  These four were chosen to stand in the king’s presence.

Daniel and his friends had spent the past three years learning the ways of Babylon, and remained faithful to the LORD.  They were diligent in the task of living the life which God had given them; and they did it without complaint; and with praise. Even though they were in enemy territory God had given them peace without compromising their beliefs.  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs has written,

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  Proverbs 16:7 (KJV)

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”  Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)

Looking at those two verses we can see that, first of all “Peace” is more than the absence of war.  Peace comes from God.  When we are at war with God we will most likely be at war with everyone.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were at peace with God, so God gave them peace with their enemies.  Secondly, they were diligent with God’s business, faithful in obedience to Him and they were the ones who found favor with the king Nebuchadnezzar.

It is said of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He was around twelve years of age, that He was found in “…favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Who makes it possible for us to be found in favor with God or kings?  Only God can do that.  God exalts one and brings down another.  In doing so God accomplishes His will and maintains the order of the powers of man.

III.  THERE IS GREAT WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE FOR THOSE WHO WILL TRUST THE LORD IN ALL OF LIFE (v. 20).
There is much learning, knowledge and so called wisdom in our world.  Education is a good thing, when it is guided by a godly heart and life.  When “education” turns hearts away from God, and that is its sole purpose it is evil and and should be avoided at all cost.  Everyone has the right to learn what they want to learn; but they don’t have the right to force me to learn godless evolution, evil monetary practices, and/or evil practices of law.

One man of year gone by made the statement, and I pray I am getting this correctly, or close at least, “Education without justification and sanctification is an abomination”.  He meant by that word “justification” that all sin was paid for in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that all the righteousness of Christ Jesus was ours through Him.

The writer of  Proverbs speaks much of wisdom giving all of two chapters to wisdom, even personifying wisdom.  In chapter eight wisdom is personified, and we can see wisdom in our Lord in His teachings, in His living, in His dying, and in His resurrection.  The ninth chapter deals more with wisdom, and when you read this chapter you see the worth and value of wisdom, ie., godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these young men were smart, and wise in God.  They could carry on a conversation with the king about the things of  Babylon, and why, what and how he was the king of Babylon.  It is a sad thing, but there are many people who have no care what so ever about “wisdom”.  They speak without thought, act without thought; but merely to circumstances, and the behavior of others.

Who desires wisdom?  The wise.  How do we receive wisdom?

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9 (KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  James 1:5 (KJV)

IV.  GOD IS FAITHFUL WHO HAS PROMISED; THERE IS REWARD FOR ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE AND RECEIVE (v. 21).
Though this verse is placed in the beginning of the book of Daniel doesn’t mean that this event tool place here.  We are being told that Daniel was blessed by God and prospered under several kings while a captive.  Daniel even lived to see his people returning to the Promised Land of Israel.  He may have had a part in speaking with Cyrus and his leadership in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem under Ezra’s ministry and work.  We see clearly from Scripture that God is guiding the affairs of His people.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah could not have planned such lives for themselves.  Neither can you or I.  We can scheme and plot and plan, and many a time those things just don’t work for us.  We must understand that GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, and He gives us what we need to perform the tasks He has for us to do.

God will never fail to fulfill His plans.  He does have a plan for your life through His Son Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –

i.  God has equipped us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit to live for Him, and serve Him in the time which we live;
ii.  When you and I live for the Lord, faithfully serving, praising, thanking Him; then He will give us peace in our hearts, a pure conscience, and raise us in favor with the people of the world to accomplish His purposes;
iii.  Let us be wise to seek godly wisdom; and to seek it from God by asking Him for it, then, use it rightly for His glory;
iv.  You and I must trust the Lord to be faithful in CARING FOR YOU, and you what you need to do His will.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

Rejected and Proven

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”  Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

We look at the life of Jesus in red, white and black and can believe and know that He is a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet – even greater than John the Baptist, a great preacher, but even so much more.  We learn from these letters that He is the very Son of God, and in fact is the very God incarnate – God come to us in flesh.  He is the Savior of the world.
Those who grew up around Him and those who saw Him growing up put no stock in Him.  They were witnesses of His life, but it was not important to them that He had never done anything wrong, had never sinned, never spoken back to his “parents”.  He in fact had never caused those who were raising Him any grief whatsoever, unless it was the things which Mary “pondered in her heart”.  To the people of Nazareth Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter, and did not deserve any credit as a teacher.
Here is what J. C. Ryle had to say of this matter.  1)  “We see, in the first place, how apt men are to undervalue things with which they are familiar.”  2)  “We see, in the second place, how humble was the rank of life which our Lord condescended to occupy before He began His public ministry.”  3)  “We see, in the last place, how exceedingly sinful is the sin of unbelief.”  Unbelief is still sin.  It is actually the very first sin that was committed.  Eve did not believe God when He had said “The day you eat of this tree you will surely die”, and she believed a lie.  It is because of the sin of “unbelief” that Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth.  Even Jesus was surprised “amazed” by their unbelief.

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”  Mark 6:7-13 (KJV)

Mark notes that Jesus sent them out “two and two”.  It is important that we remember that, because their is strength in twos.  When one is discouraged the other can be a source of encouragement.  They can learn from one another.  They sharpen one another, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov 27:17 (KJV)”.  One is there to keep the other from falling, and if one does fall the other can pick him up.
Jesus told them they were to take nothing with them, except their staff, and the clothing on their backs.  It was to be a journey and ministry of faith.  (The word “scrip” could be seen as what we would call a “backpack”.)  When people heard their words, and saw their works they would support and care for their needs.  When they entered a city  or village they were to stay in one home, and not be moving from home to home.  If they were not received they were to leave shaking the dust from their feet, “as a testimony against them”.  They would have rejected God’s messengers, thus God’s message, so judgment could be coming their way.  The shaking of the dust from the feet is almost as to say, “Since you will not listen and hear the Word of God you have no hope”, thus it is time to move on to other people and places.

“And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”  Mark 6:14-29 (KJV)

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  Luke 7:28 (KJV)”
Herod hears of the great and mighty works of Jesus, and begins questioning the identity of Jesus.  “Who is this Jesus?”  “Is he John the Baptist come back from the dead?”;   “…John reincarnated?”.  You can tell by this that Herod was a troubled man.  He had been troubled in his heart by the preaching of the prophet.
Mark goes into some details to tell us why he is troubled about John.  The Baptist had warned Herod that  “It Is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias was her name.  Herod’s brother was Philip known as “Herod Philip II”.  Herodias was a nephew to Herod Antipas (the Herod of our text).  John the Baptist,  prophet of  God hated to see sin even in a Gentile ruler, and he told him so.  John got thrown into the dungeon for it, but yet Herod would not harm him, because the words rang true.
One of the main things a minister of God ought to do is rebuke sin wherever he sees it.  When it is seen in the ungodly it should be rebuked.  When it is seen in the redeemed it should be rebuked.  Sin is the  problem that infects and causes problems in every society.  For a man to take his brother’s wife is adultery, and that is the charge that John brought against Herod.  It matters not if it is a king, or the man in the gutter, sin must be rebuked.
What was the charge leveled against John?  It was for proclaiming the Word of God and rebuking the sin of the lands governor.
We see in Herod, “The amazing power of truth over the conscience”.  He has heard the words John preached and he is haunted by them, even after he has killed the man.  We can also see “How far people may go in religion, and yet miss salvation by yielding to one master – sin”.  In John we see, “How boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin.  We see finally, “How bitterly people hate a reprover, when they are determined to keep their sins”.
When the Word of God is proclaimed it will accomplish that which God pleases.  It caused Herod to be very troubled.  For someone to even think that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or “reincarnated” is on the border of lunacy.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38  He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”  Mark 6:30-44 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the disciples needed some rest and food led them to leave to go to a deserted place, and get some rest.  There was so much ministry activity that they had not even had time to eat.
The disciples and Jesus leave by “boat” to go someplace quiet but then are overwhelmed by a great multitude of people.  The disciples have not yet learned what Jesus can do.  Evening [“the day was now far spent”] was coming on them quickly now, and there was no food, and there were thousands and thousands of people to feed.  It must have been going through the disciples minds, “There is no way these people can be fed; we need to send them home”.  Jesus had another idea, though.  He with the Shepherd’s heart had compassion on them and taught them.  When evening had come and the disciples were doubting and scheming on how to get rid of these people Jesus just said, “Let’s feed them”.
According to the Gospel of John there was a boy who had his “lunch” with him.  Would he share it with the multitude?  Here is what John says,

“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said* to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:8-9 (NASB)”.

Stand back and see what Jesus can do.  When it seems like the chips are down, and there are too many people to feed, and the world is against you, just let Jesus move in and take over.
Jesus as the Shepherd that He was and is  commands the people to sit down in the “green grass”.  In the twenty third Psalm it says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, an assurance of plenty for “sheep” to eat.  It would not surprise me to find out that there was a still, calm body of water near by also.  Mark’s Gospel is the only one of the gospels which tell us that Jesus “With  compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v. 34).  That is Mark’s way of declaring Jesus as the Shepherd of God’s sheep and He will tend and care for those who are His.
The number of men is all that is given.  The word “men” in verse 44 is not a generic term for all humanity; it is specifically refering to the male gender.  If these men came with their wives and children which most probably did with a few exceptions, then this number could range from 15,000 to 20,000 or more.  This was of Divine origin.  If anyone doubts the origin of the earth and all created things, then they will doubt the miracles of Jesus.  If God can create from nothing, then He can easily perform a “miracle” – that is what we call it – because during “miracle” the laws of nature are suspended; God overrules.   He has the power to take the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. – all those unseen elements which He created, and turn them into more bread, and more fish, and He did it to feed thousands of people.

WOW!  Do not doubt, but be believing what God can do, and what He has done, and what He is going to do.
There are some who profess Christ as Savior who want to dismiss all the miracles with human understanding, by saying things like, “Jesus already had the food hidden away in a nearby cave”, or “The little boys generosity inspired all the others to bring out what they had, and so all were fed”.  None of that explains the “twelve basketfuls” that were left over.  Now, you talk about the Lord providing for His disciples.  Now they each had a basket of bread and fish to take home with them.  Remember they had not eaten, so they must have been hungry.
There did not have to be five loaves and two fish, there could have been nothing, or stones.  Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.  The first temptation was to fill His need for sustenance.  “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”, but Jesus did not yield to the temptation.  He said instead, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”.  For Jesus to turn the stones to bread would have been to yield to the devil, and now, as then, He is yielding to the leadership of the Father.  He is acting as a Shepherd toward His caring for the sheep.
JESUS CARES FOR YOU.

“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”  Mark 6:45-56 (KJV)

Jesus sent the disciples away by boat while He sent the people on their way.  After that had been accomplished he departed to a “Mountain to pray”.  There is a lesson here for all of us who are His;  there is a time to be alone with God and Him alone.  Jesus, in human flesh, needed to recoup and spend time with His Father.  So do we.  Where Jesus could communicate with the Father face to face we must rely on the written Word, so it is wise to communicate with God while you have His Word at hand, and open before you.
As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee a boisterous wind came up, and it was a head wind which caused them to fight against it and evidently not gain much if anything in distance.  Jesus saw them rowing and struggling against the wind and went out to help them, and what a way He travelled to help.  It was sometime after midnight when Jesus came to them walking on the water.
This passage of Scripture even tells us that He “Would have passed by them”.   He came “Along side” of them to check their faith.  Would they recognize Him in His supernatural power and walking on the water?  They thought He was a ghost.  They still were dealing with a lot of personal superstition, if they were believing in ghosts.
Jesus recognizes their fear and assures them it is Himself, and He went up into the boat and it tells us that the wind ceased.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of our storms, but do we recognize Him or do we depend on our own methods and strength?   How would we react, even this day and age, if we were on the water in a boat and someone came walking in the midst of the night on the surface of the water, across a deep hole?
Many times, we as human beings, fear what we do not understand.  Seeing Jesus, and not knowing who it was is only a thing which is innate in every human being – fear of the unseen, unknown beyond.  Which is only evidence that God put in each of us the desire for that which is eternal.
In verse 52 Mark reminds us of the miracle of the loaves and fish, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (KJV)”.  Had they really understood about the miracle of the loaves and the fish they would not have been “amazed” about Jesus’ ability to walk on water.  Both actually show His power and authority over nature [as we call it], and that He was and is the Creator of all that is.
When Jesus and the disciples arrive at Gennesaret [the other side] the people there knew who Jesus was and they began to bring the sick, and they thinking, “I only need to touch the hem of His garment”, and all who touched Him were healed.  This faith they showed was very similar the lady in chapter 5 who had had the bleeding for 12 years.  Jesus and the disciples minister to them, and great things are done

-Tim A. Blankenship

Honey And Salt

A thought came to my mind the other day, “Too much honey; not enough salt”.  I lingered on thinking of that for some time to try and get some leverage with it or from it, and I think I have found some.

Our society, or culture lives for the pleasurable, and we have found ourselves in a little chaos.  Wall Street pretty much sets the agenda in the matters of wealth, at least did for a while, then things fell apart, and now that it appears to be recovering there are many going back to the god of greed.

Pleasure, comfort, entertainment is fine in their place and time; but we need to be realistic about life.  It cannot be all fun and games.  It is not all fun and games; as much as we would like for it to be.

The writer of Proverbs said, “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”  Proverbs 25:16 (KJV).  Seems you could say this is a case of “Too much honey…”.

We have all heard the saying “You catch more bees with honey” or “flies”.  My question with that is “Who wants bees?”  Unless you are a beekeeper.  I surely don’t want any flies.  I know the idea of the saying is similar to “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down”; but too much is still too much.

We need some “salt” in society, or our culture.  Salt is a flavoring, seasoning, healer, and we need healing for sure.  “This cereal is ‘slick'” is a phase I can remember my Dad saying concerning eating a bowl of hot cereal for breakfast or something else.  “Slick” meant that it didn’t have salt in it; or at the least; not enough salt, and makes the food have an “flat” or “slick” feel in the mouth.

Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”  Matthew 5:13 (KJV)  As Christians we are to add flavor to the culture, society, community, we live in.  And that flavor or action, or taste will not always be a pleasant one.  It may offend, but all in all it will be the aid to what ails us.

Without Jesus and the salt of the earth the honey of society becomes nothing but sorrow.  Enjoy the pleasures God gives, in Him, but never forsake Him; enjoy them in worshipping Him; and you will be blessed.  Forget Him or forsake Him, and you perish.

“TO MUCH  HONEY; NOT ENOUGH SALT”

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Divine Architect

Ephesians 2:18-22

The chapter begins by the apostles reminder that we were “dead in trespasses and sins”, and gives us good reason for believing it so.  Even more does he remind us that we have been “quickened” or “made alive”, and delivered from the old course we were once walking.

We are also told of God’s rich, marvelous, wonderful and glorious grace and mercy due to His great love for us.  That we have been raised up with Christ to sit with Him in “heavenly places” (v. 6).  Then in verses 8-10 the good and  faithful words, “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.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV).  It does not seem right, nor Biblical, nor even teaching if we do not include verse 10 in there with verses 8 and 9.

The Gentiles of Ephesus, and you and I who are not Jewish, are reminded that we were not or are not of the “common wealth of Israel”; we did not receive the oracles, the Word of God, nor have we ever had the presence of God previous to the birth of the Church.  We were once strangers, separated from any hope, but God sent His Son.  It was like a wall of separation, that now, “through the blood of Christ” are made near, and brought into the Family of God.

THE WALL IS TORN DOWN BY THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS (vv. 18-19).  God raised up a nation of people who would follow Him, and be a light to other nations ( ).  The nation of Israel has not been faithful to the LORD’s calling, and were not an obedient people.  However, the LORD still used them to give us His Word; both the written oracles, and the Living Oracle [Jesus Christ].

It was and is the  will of God to bring together in the one body of Christ people from all nations, races, cultures.  With the people of Israel, through the call of Abraham from Ur, to go to a land he knew not of, with Sarah his wife, and to a land yet inhabited, but promised to his people in a future day; God promised to make of him a blessed nation.  God promised to him, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3); and we have with the oracles [Scriptures] which have been written for us. The Law, History, Poetry [Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations], and the Prophets (Major and Minor).

Where all seemed to be specifically for the Jew; now through the cross of Jesus Christ, there is access for all.  When Jesus died on the cross, the veil which separated the holy place in the Temple from the most Holy place was torn from top to bottom; signifying to us that the way was made by God Himself, into the very presence of the throne of God.

Those who come to God through Jesus (which is the exclusive way) become the “…Household of God”.  No longer strangers, no longer aliens, but brothers and sisters, with one Father.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT’S FOUNDATION AND CORNERSTONE (v. 20).  Before there is a building there must of necessity be a foundation and a cornerstone.  Jesus Christ is that cornerstone.  It is the cornerstone which determines the size, the shape of buildings made of stone.

Hear what God says of this cornerstone:

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” (Psalm 118:22)

“Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation…” (Isaiah 28:16)

“For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Actually before there was the “foundation of the apostles and prophets”, there was the cornerstone which is the beginning of the foundation.  The “Apostles and prophets” have spoken, and written the words of God for us to hear and read, applying them to life and heart that we through the power of the Holy Spirit, believing would be living stones, added to the “building” of this “household of God”.  Since the “Apostles and prophets” are the foundation, and this is dealing with Scriptures, then, there can be no more apostles and prophets.  They have already spoken and written what God has given us.  Let’s be more diligent by His Spirit to obey what we have received; instead of searching for something new which will most likely be deceptive, and seek to lead astray.

Hear what the apostle Peter has written:

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:4-8 (KJV)

According to Peter’s inspired words we are, through faith in Jesus Christ, “living [lively] stones, are built up a spiritual house”.  That house is the “household of God”.  It can be called the “Family of God”.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT FITS ALL WHO BELIEVE INTO THE “BUILDING” AS HE SEES FIT (v. 21).  It is only the Divine Architect who can “organize compactly” all those who are called to fit in just right for His glory.  A stone building designed correctly will have each stone in its proper place, fitting every niche, so that it will sit well with the one below it, beside it and over it.

Think of it this way.  Each part of this “household of God” is placed into this household in its proper time, proper place, and proper service.  It is Jesus Christ who determines this.  It is He who shapes and molds us for that fit that He needs, at that time He places us into His household.

WE HAVE BEEN DESIGNED TO BE THE PLACE OF GOD’S DWELLING ON EARTH (v. 22).  Everyone who is born again is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Together all born again believers are the Temple of God, giving Him even greater glory.

It is a sin against Him when we refuse to join together.  It shames His glory when we have the opportunity of gathering with brothers and sisters, and refuse to because of some carnal mindset, such as hurt feelings, something is not quite the way you like, envy,  jealousy, etc..  What shame.  Glorify God in your body and your bodily presence with the other saints in Christ gathered together for His glory.

Together we are strengthened.  Together we are encouraged.  Together we are empowered to resist sinful desire and temptation.  Together we can assault the gates of hell.  Together we can pray with authority and power.  Together we are the Body of Christ.

You are the place of God’s dwelling.  Let others rejoice with you by joining with other dwellings of God, becoming one with Him.  God does not have any “Only child”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heavenly Vision

The Heavenly Vision

Acts 26:19-20

The reading of verses 13 – 18 would be a good thing for the study of this passage of Scripture.

Now I think it would be good to see what the writer of the Proverbs says about “vision”.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  Proverbs 29:18 (KJV).

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”  Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV).

It would appear that by looking at the NKJV rendering of the verse that there might be a problem of interpretation and comparison between Paul’s heavenly vision and this revelation but it would not need to be a problem.

Where there is revelation there is hope, and people will follow the revelation of God when they believe it.  Every one needs vision for guidance, and worth-while-ness.

To have Revelation/Vision is a necessity for having a moral and decent society.  The vision Paul has is a life changing vision.  It first changes the heart and mind of Saul when he met Jesus.

The true Revelation/Vision is from God.  Paul’s vision was of Jesus Himself.  When there is no Revelation/Vision from God; people will live without power or authority, and find themselves without direction.   They will not recognize their true enemy; and they will blame others for their own faults, problems, and sins.

THE PURPOSE OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 16).  The highest aim or purpose of the Revelation/Vision is to glorify the Father.  The purpose of the Revelation/Vision for Saul was to be called to minister for the cause of Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him.  The minister is a servant to all –

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered  unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45 (KJV).

The minister of Jesus Christ has no life of his own, but has given it up to the Lord.  Called to be a witness in two ways;  1) To be a faithful witness in the things that are seen:

* The death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ;
* The power of the gospel to change lives

and 2) To be a faithful witness through the revelations Jesus would reveal (John 14:21):

* Paul’s teachings of the pure gospel came by the revelation of Jesus: “For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galations 1:12).
* He has more writings in the New Testament than any othe penman – possibly 14;
* We are to bear witness in these two ways;

1. Preaching the gospel and showing forth a changed life;
2. By teaching the revelation of Jesus in all areas of life.

The Scriptures are complete.  Within them we have all the revelation of Jesus Christ and how He wants us to live that God has given us.  We are to learn it and seek His will for our lives.

THE PROMISE OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 17).  God never calls anyone to serve Him without Purpose, nor without Promise.  His promises in Revelation/Vision encourages, strengthens, and gives us perseverance.  God’s promises are the Christian’s hope of the future – eternity with God in glory – His glory.  It was God’s promise that motivated Abraham to leave his homeland without knowing where he was going:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8 (KJV)

He only knew that he was going with God.  He did not know the place on earth.  He has promised to deliver from enemies of the gospel.  There will still be persecution, but the persecutor will not prevail.  Many a persecutor, like Saul of Tarsus, fell under the power and authority of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE POWER OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 18).  The power of the revelation/vision is the power of a changed life.  There is no religion that can change a life for eternity.  There are many good ministries which stress self-reformation, and cleaning up your act, but they basically give not power to maintain the life which one ought to live.  Usually if there are any lasting changes the organization gets the credit and the glory, and none goes to the One who created us, and all thing.

Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto Me; both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the utter most parts of the world.”  (Acts 1:8)  He said in Matthew, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth”  Matthew 28:18 (KJV).  We find also that Jesus said to Peter,  “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 16:17 (KJV).  Peter was only able to know the true identity of Jesus because it was by revelation from God the Father.

The Revelation/Vision of the person of Jesus Christ, when accepted, believed, practiced has the power to change the life of that individual.  Jesus Christ has the power to forgive, remove, cleanse, from all sin.  He has the power to open eyes that they might see the work of God in the world.  He has the power to turn a life of darkness to a life in the Light.

In some cases – many cases – people love darkness rather than light:

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20 (KJV)

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 (KJV)

If you are in that darkness you can come out by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on Calvary’s cross for you.  The only cleansing and forgiveness is in the Light of Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus there is also a wonderful inheritance:

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17 (KJV)

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:15 (KJV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 (KJV)

This is an eternal inheritance which has been provided us by the Lord Jesus Christ by His death, burial and resurrection.

THE PERSON OF THE REVELATION/VISION (vv. 13-15).  As Saul/Paul is riding a horse toward Damascus, and for the purpose of taking captive many Christians, and putting them to death; he meets the One whom he is really persecuting.

Saul had seen the Christian message of Jesus Christ as a great and vile threat to his own religion.  That was the Jewish religion he had grown up in, and this Jesus was a rabble rouser, a trouble maker, a deceiver, and they could not have this man upsetting the purity of Judaism.

Saul does, however, find out that he is not persecuting the people who are calling themselves followers of Jesus; but he is actually persecuting Jesus Himself.  He is alive.  Now Saul knows it, and falls on his face before Him, and calls Him “Lord”.

It was upon his meeting Jesus, the Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saul of Tarsus, that he realized the conviction, the torment of soul, the troubled heart and thoughts; his kicking against the pricks (vv. 14; 9:5) finally hit home in his life.

Is there a troubled area of your life where you just can’t find peace?  Maybe it’s your whole life, and you just can’t find peace with yourself, your spouse, your family, or with God.  That maybe your pricks from the Spirit of God and He is calling you to Him.

There is only one true Revelation of God to man (other than creation), and that is His Son Jesus Christ.  He came to earth as a man; to die for the sins of mankind, carry our sins away in burial taking all guilt and shame, and then, He rose agains bodily from the grave.  The bodily resurrection is proof of His revelation of God to man.  It is the divine work of God.  It is not of the flesh, but the Spirit of God.

Salvation is through the Son of the Living God, and His name is Jesus.

THE PERCOLATION OF THE REVELATION/VISION (vv. 19-20).  Percolation is a filtering process by which to arrive at a desired effect or goal.  The Christian with the Revelation/Vision is the instrument of God to reach a lost world.  Disobedience to this vision will do these five things:

* Cause guilt for neglecting those who you leave  untold;
* Cause ineffective ministry and ministries;
* There will be a lack of prayer;
* There will be a lack of time with and/or for God;
* The individual will be in a backsliden condition, slipping ever farther away from God’s loving, protecting hands.
* …This is not an exhausted list.

Obedience to the heavenly vision will give us five things:

* Peace of heart and mind;
* Joy in an of ministry;
* A life of prayer and drawing near to God;
* Takes every opportunity for God;
* Has a growing Christian testimony;
* …This list is not exhausted.

Our Christian lives, lived in the presence of others, will be the only vision of heaven they may ever see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Discipleship – The Pursuit Of Godliness

Hebrews 12:14-17

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”  Hebrews 12:14-17 (KJV)

OUTLINE –
I.  A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).
II.  TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v15).
III.  BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15). Deut. 29:18
IV.  THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).
V.  THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).

In previous verses of Hebrews 12 we are told not “to despise the chastening of the Lord”.  The chastening of the Lord could be called His discipline, correction, or discipling.  After reading something I believe was Charles H. Spurgeon saying, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”, that has been in my mind from the day I read it.  I believe it to be a true saying.  Though you will not find those words spoken or written that way in Scripture; it does seem that the principle of that is spoken of in the verses we look at today, and those few preceding them.

A brother in Christ has called it “God’s Discipleship” when he is making us holy, and pursuing peace.  One great achievment or failure to succeed in the Christian life would be to fail at sin.  Now, wouldn’t that be a great achievement as a child of God?

People are pursuing all sorts of things.  Success in employment, success on the job, a bank account with money left over after the bills are paid, health, personal recognition, popularity, prestige, power… you get the idea.  Godliness is not so much sought after, even by those who profess to be Christians.

A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).  Peace is a topic of much talk, and use of many words; however it doesn’t seem real close in the realm of the political world, and at times the religious world.  One thing I think I know and that is those who know the Prince of peace – Jesus Christ are at peace with God, and one another.  It is the “peace that passes all understanding” which “Keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).

“G1515
εἰρήνη
eirēnē
i-rah’-nay
Probably from a primary verb εἴρω eirō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication prosperity: – one, peace, quietness, rest, + set     at one again.” From e-Sword Strongs

Being at peace with God, “at one” with God, “walking with God”, in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3) is the greatest and best thing that has ever happened to mankind.  Anyone who has not made peace with God will not be at peace with anyone else.  That tells us much about ourselves. Doesn’t it?  “Turning the other cheek” can only come from an individual at peace with God.  Loving the unlovable comes from a heart at peace with Jehovah.  Those who are truly merciful, and have obtained mercy have the peace of God.

It is because one has been “Justified by faith” that one can “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).  This peace will also lead us into holiness; and the penman of the Hebrews Letter tells us “without which no one shall see the Lord”.  The word “Holy” is given this meaning in Strongs

“G38
ἁγιασμός
hagiasmos
hag-ee-as-mos’
From G37; properly purification, that is, (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: – holiness, sanctification.”
From e-Sword Strongs

Peace and holiness are God’s to give.  They come from the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ; paying the price for our sins Himself, taking their guilt, condemnation, and power away; rising to life victorious over them, declaring Himself to be whom He said He was and is; the Great I am.

TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v. 15). We are living in a day very much in need of personal oversight.  Many not wanting to take personal responsibility for their actions, behavior, words, or otherwise.  Those who are Christian need very much to be leaders in this matter.  Taking the oversight in matters of grace.  Lest we be the cause, or a catalyst of others falling.

The duty of the Christian; leader, teacher, person in the pew; is to be on watch, guarding one’s own heart and life, and the lives of others.  Part of “shepherding” is to keep the younger from straying, and going over the edge endangering their lives and/or the lives of others.

If we see any of the brethren straying we can, should, and will guide them back to the straight and narrow path that is the right one.  The path is not without effort, nor pain, but it is a path with destination and that destination is into the presence of God for all eternity.

“G1983
ἐπισκοπέω
episkopeō
ep-ee-skop-eh’-o
From G1909 and G4648; to oversee; by implication to beware: – look diligently, take the oversight.”  e-Sword

BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15).  Moses wrote by the Spirit of God on this same matter when he penned, “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood…”  Deuteronomy 29:18 (KJV)

I grew up around trees.  We have had trees all around us.  Oak trees (of various kinds), cedar trees, maple trees, apple trees, peach trees, Walnut trees, Hickory trees, Ash and elm trees, and if I could name them all I probably would.  The thing I want to illustrate here is the root system.  In many cases these trees have more of what cannot be seen under the ground, supporting through the feeding, providing foundation, and strength against strong winds; than that which can be seen above ground.  What the writer of Hebrews and Moses of Deuteronomy is warning about is that which cannot be seen if in bitterness is very destructive.

This “root of bitterness” is a poison which can suddenly come to the surface and ruin you.  If the root of a tree gets something poisonous it will kill the tree.  This bitterness, this bane can lead to all kinds of immorality and evil in one’s life.  Evidently that is what the writer is saying concerning Esau.

“All it takes for a grudge to grow is for the one who is holding it to keep nursing it.”  I am not sure that this is a correct quotation, or who said it, but it is still the truth.  Bitterness is the root of evil, and for evil grudges to grow they must be nursed.  Feeding, coddling, cherishing those bitter feelings.  Saying things like, “I can never forgive that person”.  Anyone who has ever said that was mistaken, and/or have never been forgiven.

This “bitter root” nursed, and cherished by its holder will one day have this poisonous root spring, explode onto the scene, and it will not be a pleasant scene for the holder of that grude.  As long as that grudge is nursed, cherished, coddled like one’s baby there will be no relief from guilt, sin, shame, or anger, and destruction.

THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).  Esau, the first born son of Isaac was a man with a bitter root, and he never let it die.  It was passed on to his children (Genesis 36:8, 19).  How do we know this?  Because of Edom.  Edom  hated the children of Israel (Numbers 20:17-21).  Where did this innate bitterness, anger, envy, and hatred come from?  There is one conclusion to that; and that is from their father; Esau.

Esau had not only given up his birthright for a “bowl of beans”, but he had evidently been a very immoral rascal.  Giving himself to various immoral activities with the women of foreign tribes whom his people had been forbidden to have relations with.  John Gill wrote this concerning Esau,

“Heb 12:16 – Lest there be any fornicator or profane person,…. The first of these is guilty of a sin against the second table of the law, as well as against his own body; and which is opposed to the holiness the apostle had before exhorted to; such who are guilty of it, are not to be continued in the communion of the church; and it is a sin, which, lived in not repented of, excludes from the kingdom of heaven: the latter is one who is a transgressor of the first table of the law; who is an idolater, a swearer, a despiser of public worship and ordinances, and who behaves irreverently in divine service, and mocks at the future state, as Esau; to whom both these characters seem to belong: and this agrees with what the Jews say concerning him: they have a tradition (w), that he committed five transgressions on the day he came out of the field weary.

“He committed idolatry: he shed innocent blood; and lay with a virgin betrothed; and denied the life of the world to come (or a future state); and despised his birthright.”

It is elsewhere (x) a little differently expressed.

“Esau, the wicked, committed five transgressions on that day: he lay with a virgin betrothed; and killed a person; and denied the resurrection of the dead; and denied the root, or foundation, (i.e. that there is a God,) and despised his birthright; and besides, he desired his father’s death, and sought to slay his brother.”

It is common for them to say of him, that he was an ungodly man; and particularly, that he was a murderer, a robber, ונואף, “and an adulterer” ”
The (w) being (“Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Gen. xxv. 29.”), and the (x) being (Shemot Rabba, sect. I. fol. 89. 3. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2.). From e-Sword Commentary by John Gill.

THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).  Esau lived on in immoral conduct.  He had sought forgiveness from his father Isaac for his selling of the birthright, and with tears, but to no avail (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  His “repentance” was not a real repentance which would get forgiveness, but only sorry he got caught with his “hands in the cookie jar, and still wanted the cookie”.  He wanted the blessing of God without wanting God.  That is typical of many who profess Jesus as Savior today and probably in any era of time since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  As long as things go well; as long as the blessings pour in; as long as there is good health; as long as there is wealth at their disposal; and no sorrow, then all is well with the “faith”.

Because of the sin of Edom, Edom has no place in the future (Ezekiel 32:29;  Joel 3:19).  That is not the desire of God’s heart to have His children pass along the envy, hatred, bitterness, and anger to our children and/or to the rest of the world that is already perishing.

SUMMARY –

i.  The pursuit of peace and holiness is the pursuit of all Christians, and one obtained only through faith in Christ the Lord.

ii.  Those in pursuit of peace and holiness will take oversight of their behavior, words, actions; and feed themselves daily in the word of God, prayer, and holy life pursuits.

iii.  The ones in pursuit of peace and godliness will be aware of the root of bitterness, guard against bitterness, and its poisonous, disastrous, death which it brings with it where ever it springs up.

iv.  Peace and holiness leads to peace and life; and makes for peace with all people (Proverbs 16:17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the my study notes for the message for Sunday morning September 13, 2009

All Wise Savior

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 25 (NKJV).

In this closing statement by Jude he clearly declares the deity of the One we call Savior. “To God our Savior”. Anyone, person or religious organization who would deny the deity of Jesus Christ; or decrees deity to all who could or would achieve the “christ-spirit” or whatever they would call it; denies the very heart of Christ Jesus; therefore they do not know Him. They are in fact worshipping a different “Jesus”; a demon.

The Jesus whom Jude, Peter, James, John; and Matthew, Mark and Luke write of is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, who is God made flesh, and “dwelt among us”. He alone is the One who died for the sins of the whole world, was buried in a dead human body; and rose victoriously over sin, death and hell in a glorified human body. If you don’t know the Jesus who died as the incarnate God, was buried as the incarnate God, and rose again as the bodily form of God, then you know not my Jesus.

Jude gives Jesus as the One “who alone is wise”. We can read the eighth and ninth chapters of Proverbs, and you see the Personification of wisdom, and that Person is none other than Jesus the Christ. Solomon is often given credit as being “the wisest man who ever lived”, but then, there is Jesus; the One who gave Him His wisdom. Jesus was wise to follow the guidance and direction of His heavenly Father. He desired to always do those things which pleased His Father, even to the death on the cross.

The glory of Jesus is in the fact that He did the Father’s will. We have all sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus came, as like sinful men, yet without sin, and Himself was the glory of God on earth. He fulfilled the task which the first Adam failed to fulfill. As followers of Jesus Christ, and by imputation – the reckoning of God – we fulfill the glory of God. When we see Jesus we will see Him in all His glory and majesty. A couple of things we have which are symbols of majesty on earth are the eagle in the sky, and the lion. These pale in comparison to the majesty of Jesus.

With Jesus is all power, and He rules in the hearts of rulers, and will ultimately have His way in this world. One day the Lord Jesus will return to this earth, will overthrow the kingdoms of this world, and its rulers, and He Himself will rule, and sin will no more have rule and dominion in the hearts and minds of men or women. These qualities which Jude ascribes to Jesus are given to Him also by the angels, and the saints in heaven according to Revelation 4:10, 11; 5:12-14.

Give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father by believing in Jesus, and the work He has done on the cross, becoming sin for us, receiving the wrath of God that was ours, taking our sins away in His burial, then, rising victoriously over it all. Proving once and for all that He is all that He said He is. Proving that there is life after death, and that eternal life is found solely through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Righteous King

The Righteous King
Proverbs 16:10-15

Looking at the life of Solomon we find a heart partially devoted to the LORD; a divided heart; unlike David his father whose “was a man after God’s own heart”.  If there is to be righteousness in the land of kings, then there must be righteous kings.

In light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that we have been decreed as “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9) of God through Jesus Christ then we find in these Proverbs how we should reign,  and that is in the likeness of our Lord and Savior and our God Jesus Christ.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE RIGHTEOUS KING MAKES GODLY DECREES, AND RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS (v. 10-11).

II.  THE RIGHTEOUS KING LIVES RIGHTEOUSLY, AND ESTABLISHES THE THRONE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 12).

III.  THE RIGHTEOUS KING APPRECIATES, LOVES, AND DELIGHTS IN LIPS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 13).

IV.  THE RIGHTEOUS KING IS RESPECTED AND REVERED AS JUST IN HIS JUDGMENTS (v. 14).

V.  THE RIGHTEOUS KING’S COUNTENANCE BRINGS JOY TO THOSE WHO WERE IN HIS DISPLEASURE (v. 15).

THE RIGHTEOUS KING MAKES GODLY DECREES, AND RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS (v. 10-11).  One thing that is needed in the Nations, States, Counties, Cities, and homes and churches of the world is leaders who have a righteous heart.

There is truly only one who has the completely righteous heart and His name is Jesus.  Those who are in Him; through having trusted Him, His work on the cross, His burial and bodily resurrection; have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

In Christ Jesus and Him alone can we make Godly decrees, and righteous judgments.  Many of the judgments made by the Judiciary of the United States, and many other countries are not made in righteousness, but for what is popular or politically expedient.

Pro 16:11 – A just weight and balance are the Lord’s,…. These are of his devising; what he has put into the heart, of men to contrive and make use of, for the benefit of mankind, for the keeping and maintaining truth and justice in commercial affairs; these are of his appointing, commanding, and approving, Lev. 19:35;
all the weights of the bag are his work; or, “all the stones” ; greater or smaller, which were formerly used in weighing, and were kept in a bag for that purpose; these are by the Lord’s appointment and order. This may be applied to the Scriptures of truth, which are of God; are the balance of the sanctuary, in which every doctrine is to be weighed and tried; what agrees with them is to be received, and what is found wanting is to be rejected. The Targum is,
“His works, all of them, are weights of truth.”

When Jesus Christ comes back to earth He will make all things right and Just.  When we go to Him for a judgment we can rest assured that it will be a righteous judgment.

THE RIGHTEOUS KING LIVES RIGHTEOUSLY, AND ESTABLISHES THE THRONE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 12).  The only King who has lived without sin was the King of kings; Jesus Christ Son of the Living God.

The writer of Proverbs says, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (29:2).  When true righteousness is in authority, there is reason the people rejoice.

1. There is a ruler who fears God;
2. There is fairness in appointments, and the courts;
3. There is a just trading system;
4. There is justice in the courts;
5. There is no fear of the enemy.

THE RIGHTEOUS KING APPRECIATES, LOVES, AND DELIGHTS IN LIPS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 13).  What king, president, or any ruler can stand for long who is surrounded by liars?  Lying lips are not righteous lips.

Righteous lips love the truth, seek the truth, and are truthful themselves.  Our Righteous King, the King of kings is the living Truth, and in Him is no lie at all.  Some one has given us this quote, “Liars never figure, and figures never lie”.  If you tell the truth about something you never need to remember what you said; but when you lie, it will come back to get you.

A righteous leader; be they president, king, pastor, husband, father, mother, or boss; needs always to be surrounded by people who will tell the truth.

“Buy the truth and sell  it not…” (23:23), and it seems that “Love the truth” would fit there as well.  Why “Buy the truth” if you don’t love it also.

We can see today what lying does with the stock market and people’s lives.  For example:  Bernie Madoff who scammed, swindled, and suckered punched many investors out of billions of dollars, living a lie.  Now the man has brought ruin to the lives of the people he stole their life savings from, his own family, harmed his nation, and destroyed his own life.

THE RIGHTEOUS KING IS RESPECTED AND REVERED AS JUST IN HIS JUDGMENTS (v. 14).  King David was loved, respected and revered by many including his family; at least until he sinned with Bathsheba [Uriah’s wife], and brought harm to his own family and the nation.

Unrighteous living is costly for the one who is righteous.  We must understand that righteousness is not from our own selves.  Righteousness comes from God; for only He is righteous.

If there is to be righteousness it comes from Christ alone who is our righteousness.  “For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

A righteous king, or ruler would give His life for his subjects.  An unrighteous king expects his subjects to give their lives for him.  “There is no king like that “, someone might say.  Oh, but there is His name is Jesus; and He gave His life on the cross of calvary that those who will trust Him, believe Him, might have eternal life.  He faced the judgment for our sins, the wrath of His Father to pay the sin debt; our sin debt; that we might be saved, having our account paid in full, by His precious shed blood.

We can trust a king like that.  We can believe that this type of king would be loved, respected and revered, and be just in all his judgments.

THE RIGHTEOUS KING’S COUNTENANCE BRINGS JOY TO THOSE WHO WERE IN HIS DISPLEASURE (v. 15).  A righteous king can be offended, and when one of his subjects offends him his countenance fades.

When his subject offends him realizing that he/she has done so, and they seek the king’s forgiveness the king’s countenance will be brighter, and favorable toward the one who had offended.

When I think of all the times that I have offended King Jesus, and know that His countenance was not favorable toward me for that offense, then, I know that I must seek forgiveness.  I can know before hand that in genuinely seeking forgiveness He will forgive me; but I must not willfully seek to offend Him.

Our righteous King Jesus is often offended by His subjects, but when we seek His face we know that we are cleansed and forgiven; and our joy is restored in Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  1 John 1:9-10 (KJV)

There is eternal joy in the presence of the forgiving King.  His countenance is bright and pleasant and warm to all those who come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Love For Jehovah

OUTLINE for Deuteronomy 5:6-21;

I.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).
II.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).
III.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).
IV.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15)

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).  God [YHWH or YaHWeH] is the One and only One who delivered Israel from Egypt.  Delivered from the house of bondage He calls His delivered people to trust only in Him.

To LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART is to love only Him.  When a man is  in love with a woman, he grows more in love with her with each passing day.  The same is true with knowing and loving God.  In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we are told, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart…” (v. 5); and in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is quoted saying the same thing (Matthew 22:37;  Mark 12:30;  Luke 10:27).

When God speaks here He is not authorizing us to put Him at the top of the list of gods to worship.  His heart’s command is to worship Him alone, and there is no other.  Would a man tell his wife “As long as you have me at the top of the list, you may see all the other men you want”?  No man in his right mind, and with any moral character would say that.

The heart is the seat of who we are.  The heart of the one who worships God alone will have his/her heart filled with God.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).  Mankind is the only one of God’s creation which is made in His image and after His likeness.  We are told that when God had made Adam, “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV).

When we LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL we are loving Him from who we really are.  He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that is not said of any other creature of creation, but mankind.

When we worship and love gods of our own making we denigrate ourselves.  Even when we worship self through selfishness, atheism, agnosticism, or in science, technology, or any other means of self worth garbage; we do not lower God we lower ourselves.

It is certain, at least in my mind, that everything which God has made obeys the ordinances and laws of God set down for each of them with the exception of one; and that one is man.  The one made in His image has sinned, rebelled, and seeks other things as their god.  The worship of other gods is demon worship;

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

The greatest, purest, and clearest Image of God was the One who walked on earth as God’s Son.  His name is Jesus.  He said, “If you have seen Me,  you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).  It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or YaHWeH. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a someone away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor?

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13).

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:46-48).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15).  This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

The Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told,

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”.

Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

Our strength is God’s.  He gives every breath we breath.  He gives every beat of our heart.  He gives us every step we take.  Our sole allegiance ought to be to Him and to Him alone.

Loving God We Love Our Neighbor

OUTLINE vv. 16-21

I.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).
II.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).
III.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).
IV.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).
V.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).
VI.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).  Without our mothers and fathers we would not be present in the world.  That should be a good thing for us.  It is a sad thing that many a child grows up never knowing their dad, and sometimes their mom.  One of the most dreadful things is that some of those who do grow up with both parents is the disrespect many have toward them.

Usually, when a child does not honor and respect their parents, they have less respect, if any respect, for law enforcement, and for any in places of authority; thus getting themselves into a multitude of troubles.  God intended children to have their parents.  Mom’s and Dad’s; you are not ordained by God to be a friend to your child; you are called, ordained to be a parent, giving them guidance, correction, love, care, providing for them as they are growing and learning.  Friendship with your son(s) or daughter(s) will come when they are grown, then, you will have a friendship which you will cherish.

This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise.  One reason for the Babylonian exile was Israel’s disrespect for parents;

“In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow”. (Ezekiel 22:7);

“Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:13-16).

Could it be that many of the problems of the society within the United States is much related to the disrespect of children toward parents, many authority figures, and God Himself?  That may have started with adults having a disrespect for human life.  Which would have began with a turning away from God.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).  This sixth commandment is given to protect life, human life.  We are to cherish, and respect all human life.  The human baby in the womb of his/her mother, or even the embryo in the glass dish, or frozen in storage.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Pocket Dictionary defines “embryo: a living being in the earliest stages of development–”,  and we have “Scientist” who want to cut up and destroy human embryoes for the purpose of “life saving” stem cell research.  These are not “Scientist”; they are butchers.

Let me get one thing straight.  This commandment is a commandment against cold-blooded murder.  Willful, pre-meditated, planned taking of a human life.  It is not commandment against protecting one’s own life.  It is not commandment against the execution of a murderer.  The execution of a murderer is surely the surest form of respect for human life.  Capital punishment of the murderer shows all that every human being is equal before God.  When we allow a convicted murderer to live; we count her/his life more precious than the one they killed.  When we put to death the one who killed maliciously; we  show not only respect for human life, but also show the respect that is due God’s commandments.

Here is some Scripture to reconcile the sixth commandment with capital punishment –

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’ brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:5-6).

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (EX. 21:15).

“And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” (EX. 21:18-19).

Then a New Testament passage,

” Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7).

All human life is precious.  Our neighbor’s life and all in his/her household are precious in the sight of our Lord.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).  This commandment, the seventh, is a decree of respect and honor for the marriage of every man and woman.  Marriage is not a right it is an institution of God.  It is decreed by God that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24), and this definitely means a man and a woman.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by charging them more  taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).  For some reason there are many  who think society owes them something so they take what they want, when they want it, and often at great cost to someone else.  Some people who work in some business think they have a right to take a little something which belongs to their boss.  It could be “just a box of paper clips”, or only showing one’s self busy when the boss is watching.  It is theft.  It is stealing.

* Of the first seven commandments; death is the penalty for the violation.
* This eighth commandment does not call for the death penalty – it calls, rather for restitution (Ex. 22:1; Luke 19:5-10).
* There is one exception, that is if they “Kidnap” – steal a human being (Ex. 21:16). This called for the death penalty.

If we love God and one another we will not desire what another has, and take and steal. We will practice what Paul taught the Ephesians, rather, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). There will be no need for gambling, stealing from those who are more needy – doing it legally. When one loves their neighbor there is also a love for God and for being a faithful steward of God’s resources He has put in our trust. Also there will be the need to see that all debts are paid in full, especially the debt to our neighbors that could be the redemption of their souls.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).  This commandment is a decree against lying against your neighbor.  Bearing false witness to condemn, to elevate one’s self, to unjustly bolster one’s self image over another, or to bring condemnation before a court.

The Truth is precious, and we should be truthful with our neighbors, with our families, and most of all with God.  When we love God and our neighbors the truth will be precious to us.

The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150).

That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.  Should we not consider that when we are guilty of that it is almost certain that it will not be long and they will come back to get us.

Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination.

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament,

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).  When we have real desire for others [our neighbors] to be blessed we will not have the audacity to desire, lust for, covet the property which belongs to them; or the persons which are in their love and care.

Though this commandment is the final of the ten, it could be the KEY COMMANDMENT.  Think about this; if we disobey this commandment we can very easily and are breaking every one of the other nine.

James tells us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 (KJV). Get that, “Guilty of all”. Now that can be said of all the others too, but here, I hope you can see why it is important to realize that covetousness is a seed of evil, that breeds evil, and leads to the decay of the whole law in the hearts of people.

According to the book of Colossians it is Idolatry to covet. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Col 3:5 (KJV). Even the book of Ephesians backs this up by saying, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Eph 5:5 (KJV). Note that Paul has written there, “Nor covetous man, who is an idolater…” O, the sad thing is there are many, many, too many people who live for the grasping and holding on of things, or people, or positions, or power; do I need to go on. I think you get the point.

The following verses are the words of Jesus:

”Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV).

Again Jesus says,

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:31-34 (KJV).

Now if this is not a word for those who covet things and such, I am mistaken about the whole issue,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 (KJV).

If your heart is on the things of the world, that is your treasure. However, if your heart is on the Lord and His righteousness and glory, that is your treasure. If you are going to covet; covet the godly things, that will glorify the Savior.

When our treasure is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, then we have these laws written in our hearts, and our desire is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  No one I know of wants any of these negative acts conducted against them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Honor In Marriage

The following article is one I wrote this morning as a devotion for Wings As Eagles.  It strikes me though as a message that needs to get out as much as possible, so I am posting it here as well.

“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” 1 Thessalonians 4:4-6 (KJV)

Taking control of your own body by the Spirit of God, and keeping yourself pure before God; was the lesson for the previous study.  Some seem to think that we have no control over our “feelings” so we should just let them fly, or let them loose.  Sadly, that is how fights and wars eventually begin.  That is also how many “unwanted” babies are murdered in the womb or born and abused and neglected.

The Christian life is a different life.  When a man, woman, boy or girl meets Jesus Christ and gives their lives to Him; they do not give with the mentality that they can live “However I please”; but with a new heart of, “What can I do that will glorify Jesus?”  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Whether, therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

We look at our present society in the USA, and when 80 percent of USA citizens claim to be Christians; 50 percent of Christian marriages are ending in divorce.  There is something drastically wrong.  We can rant and rave all we want about homosexual unions going to desecrate marriage; it seems to me that we already have by divorcing so easily.  If marriage was sacred to Christians there would be less divorces, and there would not be all this drivel about homosexual marriage.  Before anyone goes balistic with me about this NO! I am not for homosexual marriages.  Let’s not blame them for the loss of sacredness of the marriage union; it has already been lost.  Let’s pray that we can begin healing hurting Christian marriages.  Let’s pray that a Christian husband who has entered an adulterous relationship will have his eyes opened to the sin he is commiting against God and his wife and family; repent of his sin, seek forgiveness from God and his wife and family, and be restored.  Let’s pray that wife who is thinking of leaving her husband and children because of some quack she has met on the internet will repent, confess her sin and seek forgiveness and be restored to her husband and family, and most of all to fellowship with God.

Christian you are not an animal who is not in control of your thoughts, your feelings, or your body.  You have the Spirit of God within you.  If you do not have the Spirit of God in you, showing you, convicting you of what is right and wrong, then you don’t know God, His Son Jesus, and are yet in your sins.  (Read Romans 8:9-11).  The people whose hearts do not know God through Jesus Christ follow their flesh, the desires of their bodies, and condemn themselves.  They are already condemned in their sin (John 3:18).  If you profess Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and can live in a sinful, shacking up, adulterous, life of fornication, and do it without guilt or remorse, then, you most likely have never truly trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  You are living after your passions and lust, and not after the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Professing Christian men taking another man’s wife.  You thief.  You will pay.  You are taking someone who does not belong to you.  Professing Christian wife; you are sleeping with another woman’s husband.  You thief.  You take someone who does not belong to you.  The writer of Proverbs writes,

“Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” Proverbs 6:25-35 (KJV)

Likened to a thief, one who steals another’s spouse will pay, and the payment will be tremendous.  Paul writes above,  “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”  Live to serve and glorify God and His Son Jesus Christ.  The way of the world and the flesh is evil, and is the way of destruction.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Neighborly Conflict

“And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.” Genesis 21:22-34 (KJV)

The writer of Proverbs has written, “When a man’s ways please the LORD; he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). Abimelech would probably be considered and enemy. He does not believe like Abraham. He does not live like Abraham. He does not believe in the God of Abraham, therefore would be the enemy of God. However, Abraham is a faithful witness. We have previously with Abraham and Abimelech seen Abraham act without faith, when he lied concerning Sarah, and going back to the old lie of Sarah being only his sister. In this deed Abraham sinned, and could have very easily set up an account of hateful vengeance by Abimelech, but God is sovereign and overruled in the matter.

Abimelech notices that God is with Abraham, “…in all that thou doest”; and goes to Abraham seeking to keep a treaty between them. It seems that Abimelech is knowledgable concerning the land on which he and Abraham are living. He asked Abraham to “not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son” – only three generations – and to treat those generations with the kindness that he had shown Abraham. An agreement was reached by both men, and Abraham kept the agreement as did Abimelech.

Before the agreement was reached Abraham had a complaint to bring before Abimelech’s attention. Abraham tells Abimelech, “I will swear”, then proceeds to inform Abimelech of a combative action which Abimelech has known nothing about. Some of the servants of Abimelech had “violently” taken a well which Abraham’s servants had dug. Abimelech claims to not have known about the violent actions of his servants. We are not told why the servants did what they did. They may have believed their master was being cheated out of a good well of water by this foreigner who had just recently came into their land. Water was a very precious commodity in that land, as it still is. Therefore, they may have just seen it as an opportunity to gain the water, and their masters approval.

A gift was given by Abraham to Abimelech to seal the deal – the covenant. It is not said that Abimelech gave any gift in return; maybe because Abraham and his people were only pilgrims, visitors, traveling through the land. One day it would become the land of Abraham. The Promised Land that God would give to His people. This well, taken by the servants of Abimelech, was named “Beer Sheba” meaning the “Well of the oath”. Abraham named it. He had the right to do so. He and his servants had dug the well, they lived on that land, as Abimelech had given them right to it (20:14-15). By naming it that gave Abraham ongoing authority to the land. At least, in the context of the Bible, giving the name to an object, thing, and sometimes people gave dominion or authority over it or them. Adam named all the animals which came before him. God says, “…Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (1:26). With that dominion and authority he names them, when God causes all the animals to come before him (2:18-20).

Now, with Abimelech and Abraham anytime there was a potential for battles between them, anytime there was misunderstanding they could look at the well of “BeerSheba” and remember the oath they had both agreed upon.

It was here at this well that we are told once again, “Abraham…called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God”. “El Olam” speaking of God as being of an indefinite time or age; eternal, everlasting, never ending, without beginning and without end. Therefore, because God is everlasting, eternal, He can be trusted to carry out all His promises, in His time, in His way, and for His own glory.

We Christians, like Abraham, are only pilgrims, visitors in a foreign land. We are; as much as is possible; to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). Sometimes that is a chore, but if we keep our eyes on the cross, and remind ourselves that we are only strangers in a foreign land, that our home is with the King of kings, then, surely we can be at peace with our neighbors, and one another as brethren. When there is peace in our own hearts with God, and things are right with us and God, then, in most cases we will be at peace with others. It has nothing to do with agreeing doctrinally, spiritually, or morally; but mostly the neighbor seeing that you are a man or woman of your word, that you live what you believe, that you are a good neighbor, they see Christ in you, and they see the hand of God on you; though they may not realize that is what it is.

Christian stand for Christ, preach the word, believe and live the word, exalt Christ in your life, and your neighbors will be at peace with you. They will have no means of bringing a legitimate charge against you. God help us and forgive us when we don’t live for Him and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We too dwell in the land we are in for many days, but one day we will go home.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Drink Offering Empty Hope

You can’t tell it by the commercials or to listen to some news commentators or morning show hosts, but there is a drink which seems to be the beverage of celebrities, and those famous and those not so famous, even the infamous. There seems to be a power it holds over those who relish its mystique, its smoothness, its seeming beauty and flow.

Commercials make it look as though it is the best looking, most successful, and most life enjoying people who party with the drink, and they seem Oh so happy. My question to that is: If you are happy why do you need the drug of alcohol? Why does one need the alcohol when life is at is best? The answer to that is: You don’t.

Contrary to what many Christian leaders are saying there is much in the Bible that will give wisdom concerning the avoidance of beverage alcohol. Some would say well there are medicinal qualities in Red Wine, and there is plenty of evidence from scientific studies, that shows that the red grape, and red grape juice has the very same medicinal qualities as Red Wine without the alcohol. The alcohol is a means of false hope, and false courage.

Hear what the writer of Proverbs says concerning the beverage alcohol of wine –

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” Proverbs 23:29-35 (KJV)

Remember I realize that there is no Scripture which says to us, “Thou shalt not drink beverage alcohol”, or anything similar to that, however, there is plenty of practical evidence to show us the evils of drinking the beverage. I have given that to you previously in the drunkenness of Noah, and Lot. I have also shown you that God has commended a family for never putting alcoholic beverage to their mouths (Jeremiah 35), but you will find no such commendation for any who drink that with an empty hope. Since the Bible does not specifically forbid drinking beverage alcohol, then maybe we can use that argument for a lot of other things as well. Let’s justify abortion, by saying, “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘Thou shalt not commit abortion”. The individual who is for abortion could rationalize and say, ‘Well then, since this is not a person, not an individual, then I can rid myself of it”. The man who wants to have more than one wife can rationalize, “Since the Bible doesn’t forbid polygmy, then I can have all the wives I want”. The man who wants to view pornography can rationalize the same way, since “The Bible does not say…” Some have argued and say, “These are strawmen”, very well then the argument for rationalizing the drinking of beverage alcohol is strawman thinking as well.

Notice what the writer of Proverbs says about the affects it has on the drinker of the woes; The ones who “tarry long at the wine have woes, sorrows, contentions, babblings, wounds without cause (probably caused by stumbling, falling, etc.), and red eyes. The alcohol controls their lives, their thinking, and their health. How can we as Christians sit and justify the Beverage with false hopes when we see so many teens who are killed by it, and their parents killed by it. It is foolish for the Christian to argue over the “right to drink”, and call it legalism when we should be opposed to all that is directly harmful to the human race.

When the soft wine is not enough the wine drinker usually will go after the stronger drink; the mixed wine. The phrase “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” is speaking clearly of alcoholic beverage. It is clearly said, “Look not thou upon the wine…” Does that mean if you close your eyes before you drink then that is okay? Don’t kid yourself. It means don’t drink it. How much clearer can it get. This is speaking of the wine when it has turned alcoholic.

Notice the results of the one who passes by these verses, ignores God’s warnings, and the consequences they suffer: 1) It bites like a serpent – the serpent is sneaky, beautifully deceitful, and poisonous and will kill; 2) It causes eyes that were not lustful before to become lustful, and a man can find himself with a strange woman, not his wife; 3) language one has never spoke will come from the mouth, because they have a perceived courage they never had, and can even find themselves cursing and blaspheming God; 4) One will find themselves unable to stand, it would be similar to a man who is out on the open sea for the first time in rushing, rising and falling waves, and sickness sets in; 5) will have the marks of being beaten senseless yet not have felt it; and 6) senselessly seek to do it again.

What is the point of drinking beverage alcohol? It is popular, it seems to offer prestige, it seems to offer power. With the exception of “popular” the other two are just outright lies of deception. The man or woman who refuses to drink alcoholic beverage is the one who holds the real power. They have the power to say no to the crowd. They will be admired for their strength and courage. Now that would really be prestige, and prestige worth having.

The wisdom of God is DON’T DRINK beverage alcohol. Drink the water of life that flows from Jesus Christ Himself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham – The Backslider

There are times it seems we never learn from previous mistakes, or previous sins. We must remember that earlier in Abraham’s journey of faith, and after arriving in the Land of Promise there was a famine which came into the land, and Abraham doubted and went down into Egypt. We read in the twelfth chapter of Genesis that it was in Egypt he conspired with Sarah to deceive the king of Egypt into believing that Sarah was a half sister, which was a half truth.

Why the deception? Because of fear of his life. Why was there fear in his heart? He was out of the place of God’s blessing, though still in the borders of the Promised Land.

“And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.” Genesis 20:1-7 (KJV)

There seems to be no apparent reason for Abrahams journeying to the “south country”, and Gerar. The man of faith has had a great experience with the LORD. He and Sarah have received a renewed promise of a soon to be born son. He has prayed and his nephew Lot has been delivered from destruction, though by coercion. In their first moving away event it was due to a trial of drought and no food, but what is it now? Could it be that the patriarch has grown comfortable, and at ease and just desires to get away. We have nothing of him building an altar, or anything concerning his worship of God, but of the deceiving of a ruler.

Whatever Abraham’s reason for the move he was putting himself into a dangerous position. He had not moved from the land of promise; he was still within its borders, but near the edge. He was placing himself in Philistine territory. We need to remember Abraham was born a sinner just as we all were, and though he had been justified by faith [15:6], he, as do we, still struggled with the old flesh. When Abraham arrived in Gerar he began walking by sight, and fear set in. Warren W. Wiersbe wrote, “Fear of man and faith in God cannot dwell together in the same heart. ‘The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trust in the LORD shall be safe.’ (Proverbs 29:25 NKJV). Abraham forgot that his God was ‘the Almighty God’ (Gen. 17:1) who could do anything (18:14) and who had covenanted to bless Abraham and Sarah” From BE OBEDIENT by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 87.

The reason sins are usually committed over again, and sometimes again and again is probably due to the fact of not forsaking that sin. Abraham and Sarah had confessed their sin, maybe even asked forgiveness from Pharoah of Egypt, and from God; but they were still clinging to it; they had not rid their lives of it. For nearly twenty five years they had clung to this deception, and now they use it again.

At this deception Abraham is certainly not a good example of faith. For Abimelech or for believers of all ages his faith stinks at this stage. A man who has for twenty five years awaited the promised son, and has just recently received renewed promise that the birth is going to take place. He jeopardizes the purity of a son. He jeopardizes the life of his wife and her purity too. This king of Gerar has more integrity at this point in Abraham’s life. This king is more honest, and certainly is more forthright, and generous than Abraham. Who appears to be the best neighbor? Who would be the better witness for the power and glory of God at this point? It certainly was not Abraham.

Why does God not come to Abraham and convict him of his wrongdoing? That is something which puzzles me. Could it be because Abraham had convinced himself, and Sarah had convinced herself that they had not lied; that what they had told was the truth; thus, they had not deceived anyone? When we get into that state of mind even the Spirit of God cannot bring us to the truth. At such times God will use the unusual to get our attention. God can use the ungodly to rebuke us, and correct us just as he did with Abraham, here in Gerar.

God appears to Abimelech in a dream by night, and condemns him for taking Sarah from Abraham. Abimelech pleads with the Lord, and reminds the Lord that Abraham has deceived him and the people by claiming Sarah as his sister. For some time Sarah had been in his “harem”, but he had never touched her, and that was God’s doing we see from the words, “I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her”. When the sins of God’s people forsake His holiness and purity, He does not, nor will He.

Abimelech is to restore Sarah to Abraham, and in doing so God will spare the king and the people he rules. Over and over again through the Bible we see that our sins are never just personal; but they will affect every life we touch.

“Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother. And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.” Genesis 20:8-14 (KJV)

There is a confrontation which takes place. Can you imagine, to Abraham’s horror, as the king summons Abraham to come to him, and then he finds out that God has revealed to this man the secret he and Sarah have been concealing? God has revealed to Abraham secrets; such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a prophet; but now the prophet has his secret revealed to the king by God. God is a revealer of secrets. Every secret of men will be shouted from the roof tops. Read Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17. Oh, how embarrassing it can be for the child of God to be found out, and chastised rightly by the ungodly.

When Abraham expresses his fear (v. 11) to the king what does that say of his faith? It says to the king that his faith still needs to grow, or this God of his can’t be much. Anytime we allow the appearances of men, and their power or perceived power, prestige or influence to cause us to fear we are poor witnesses of the power of Almighty God.

Abimelech shows great generosity, and gives back Sarah to Abraham, and also gives him sheep, oxen, and male and female servants. Blessings come from God. Even when Abraham has schemed and deceived, and would have ruined the purity of his own lineage, and the purity of his wife God preserves them, delivers them, and does so with blessing.

“And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved. So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.” Genesis 20:15-18 (KJV)

As Abraham journeyed around the borders of the Promised Land he would encounter various “kings” and rulers of the various nations within. Some were friendly, as was Abimelec and he was extended the welcome of dwelling where he would choose. When such and invitation or welcome is extended there are some who might take great advantage of that and move right in to one’s own abode. Abraham was a courteous man, and excepted the invitation in the manner in which it was meant, I am sure. As Christians in our neighborhoods, and places we live, we too are to be good neighbors, and not to take advantage of our neighbors, or our friends, and if there is to be anyone having advantage taken of them, then, let it be us.

The rebuke which Abimelech gives to Sarah shows that he knew she had part in the deceptive lie she and Abraham had both concocted many years ago. There has been “a thousand pieces of silver” given to Abraham somehow connected to Sarah’s release to him. It seems to be connected to this rebuke of her by the king. One commentator said that it could be the means of purchasing material for the making of veils to cover the faces of Sarah and her servant girls. John Gill commenting on the following verse writes,

but it seems best to refer this to the gift of the thousand pieces of silver, and read the words, “behold, this is to thee a covering of the eyes”; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; for the words are a continued biting sarcasm on Sarah; as Abimelech twits her with calling Abraham her brother in the preceding clause, so in this he tells her that he had given him so much money to buy her a veil with, and to supply her with veils from time to time to cover her eyes, that nobody might be tempted to lust after her, and that it might be known she was a married woman; for in these countries…” From e-Sword.

It does seem that Abraham and Sarah have gone all these years with the lie in tact and able to use it on a whim. O, how foolish we human beings can be when it comes to covering our fears; especially when we have God defending us, and caring for our every need.

Even at Sarah’s age she is evidently still a “Knock out” in appearance. She is around 89 years of age at this point of her life. What 89 year old woman would be expecting to have a child, but Sarah had God’s promise of it. By the word of Abimelech Abraham “thy brother” [using their lie], is the covering of the eyes. Could it be that because of Abraham being her half brother this could mean that Abraham would protect her and her maids as though a brother. Men would think twice before looking upon Sarah with evil intent.

Finally we have Abraham praying for Abimelech. It would appear that because of Abimelech’s taking of Sarah that God has caused all the women of the kings household to have no children. Abraham’s relationship with God is seen in that the women began to bear children shortly thereafter. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). By the answering of Abraham’s prayer we see that there was a wonderful testimony of faith left, and that God cares, gives mercy and grace to all.

Even though we sin, and at times offend others with our sin, we can still seek their forgiveness, receive their rebuke, and pray for them. God can bless despite our sin; when we have sought His forgiveness and grace.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World (2)

“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:24-26 (KJV)

With Lot and what there is of his family safe in Zoar the LORD sends down the rain of fire and brimstone. This brimstone could refer to sulfur which will itself burn, with an unseen flame. It could refer to several different flammable substances. The picture we are given seems to be that of falling substance from the skies. It was in the form of visible flames, and hot, with hard substance as well forming a crushing effect as it hit the cities, and the lands, of the plain. No living person would want to remain in that kind of tragic environment. It would mean certain death.

Some have located the previous area of the cities of Sodom on the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The area is evidently under water. That would actually mean that the judgment was what formed the Dead Sea, or at least a portion of it. According to some archaeological people these cities were destroyed by volcanic eruption or something along that line of thought. It seems that no one wants to acknowledge that God judges sin and rebellion.

The Bible says, and this is our final authority, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom…” When will those who profess the name of Jesus begin to realize that God still judges sin. When we live in a profligate nation, where sin is more a joke than a problem, and we start seeing tragedies of all sorts begin, surely that should make us wonder. It seems that when sin is on the increase, and mocked at, and promoted as being a normal part of life, then earthquakes will increase, wild storms of wind, and rain continue to increase, but the “scientist” will tell us these are only natural phenomena and is due to today’s popular event called “global warming”. Whether we want to admit it or not all these things are due to sin in the first place; from the sin of Adam and Eve to our sins today; we all stand guilty before God. It is only His hand that keeps this world from flying apart, and when these things begin happening; it is due to His hand gradually being removed. Gradually being removed so as to warn us, and turn our hearts toward Him.

There was not much warning for the cities of Sodom, except what Lot provided for his sons-in-law. The people of Sodom and the plains had the testimony of creation, ie., the stars, the sun and the moon, the singing birds, and all flying fowl. As the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). They had the witness of Lot and his family, though it may have been a weak one; he was still a witness, which can be used against them. Lot was evidently afflicted by the sins of this city, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” 2 Peter 2:7. We can see that Lot did have a hatred for the sins of his culture. Remember how he sought to protect the visitors from harm by the people of the city.

God so hated the sins of Sodom and cities of the plain that He destroyed all the inhabitants of those cities. They were polluted by immorality, and they were full of themselves, as we saw in Ezekiel 16:49-50. When people get too full of themselves they have no room for God, and God, according to His Word is a jealous God; no matter what Oprah thinks. Nothing much grows where these cities once stood.

One woman has been immortalized by Jesus in a far different way than anyone would want to be. Her name was lost with Lot and His daughters, because we don’t know it. God had warned Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee…”, and it was after they were all safely in Zoar, the city that was protected because of Lot’s plea with the visitors, that the judgment fell upon their city. For whatever reason she “looked back”, and became a “Pillar of salt”. Jesus refers to Lot’s wife in the Gospel of Luke: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (17:32). It is not mentioned why she looked back, and I don’t think we can go far wrong in bringing some things to light concerning her backwards look. First of all, her heart was still in Sodom; maybe it could be daughters who never came with them, the sons-in-law, and maybe grandchildren. Secondly, her heart could have still been there because of the power and popularity she and Lot had in the city, and she just couldn’t leave that behind. A third thing, could have been their wealth; by this time, the years they had spent there they could have achieved much material gains, gold, silver, jewels, precious garments, and the lifestyle they lived was comfortable; she was leaving it all behind. Remember Jesus’s words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. Someone has said of Lot’s wife, “She became in death, what she never was in life. Salt.” The warning of Lot’s wife stands for all time to all who will cherish the physical and material over the Word and will of God.

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Genesis 19:27-29 (KJV)

The morning of Lot’s deliverance, and at about the time of the destruction of the cities, Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood with the LORD probably just the day before, and looked toward the direction of Lot’s location; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he saw the smoke billowing up through the air and the sky. I am sure Abraham’s heart must have sped up and skipped, and practically stopped. There were surely tears in his eyes knowing the hundreds, thousands of human lives that were given in judgment that day. Abraham surely believed that Lot and his family, or at least some of them had been spared; he was trusting the LORD for that matter and God would not fail.

Is there anything wrong with godly people grieving over the loss of human life even when it is known to be the judgment of God? It would seem to me to be ungodly not to grieve. Though “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11); He does not desire to destroy them but to save them. Hear the prophet Ezekiel: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (18:23), and once more, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and and live ye.” (18:32). It seems quite clear that God grieves in the judgment too. We can rejoice in that God is glorified in the judgment of sin. We can rejoice when justice is carried out, and God is glorified. We must remember this world and this life is not about us; it is, however about Almighty God, and His glory.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, et us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” Genesis 19:30-38 (KJV)

 

Zoar was a city of the plains which was spared from the judgment of God. To those in “science” who would proclaim that “This was just a volcanic eruption” would have a hard time explaining how this city was kept from the judgment, and it is just a short distance from the Southern end of the Dead Sea. God’s grace is truly sufficient.

Why Lot feared dwelling in Zoar we are not told. It does tell us that he was fearful there, so he went and lived in a cave. Maybe he was fearful because the people there thought Lot was responsible for the deaths of so many, or at least he may have thought they were thinking that, and fled for his life. We often do not realize it but fear has a very crippling and disabling affect on us. It causes us to flee when nothing pursues us. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (28:1). When our hearts are not with God, that is usually when we are fearful. That is our weakest time, and that is when we flee. To what we have no idea, we just must flee, and it is most likely into more fearful surroundings, and into sin.

We would surely mostly admit that a cave would not be as comfortable as a home in a city. There is much evidence of what happens when we start living with fear. The people of the city of Zoar may have despised Lot, thinking that he was responsible for the demise of the other cities, and maybe accusing him of that, and he may have had just a paranoia thinking such things. Even though he was delivered to this city by God he grows in fear. Fear in the heart shouts loudly and clearly that things are not right with you and God. When you are in the Spirit of God, walking with Him, and doing His will there is no fear, but rather “peace, love, joy…”. John the apostle tells us, “Perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18), and we need to know that when we have the proper fear of God, there is no need to fear anything else.

This fear led him to withdraw from the city. Some of the fear may have been that God would destroy this city too. If that be true then Lot’s faith is certainly wavering, and he is gravely in doubt. God had brought him here and saved this city from destruction, why would he now destroy it? He went to a cave with his two daughters. The daughters determined that they needed to have babies, if their race of people were to continue. They devised a plot of getting Lot drunk, getting him in their beds or them into his. Lot may have not noticed the special treatment, the wine, the excess, because he was hurting from the death of his wife, and most of all he was fearful. Fear mixed with sorrow are two of the strongest emotions that can ruin and take control of our thinking. They can get us to the place of amusements; and it would do us good to do a word study here. The word “Muse” means “thought” or “thinking”. When you add the “a” to a word it usually means basically “No”. When you put these two together you have the meaning of “No thinking” or “No thought”. Amusement is usually for the purpose of taking our minds off of problems, and thus that is what has happened to Lot. From Lot we should learn how our fear, our emotions, and our amusements can so easily detract us from the direction and path of holiness, and righteous living in Christ our Lord and Savior.

There is a lot to be said for sobriety, and sober thinking. Without it you end up with fathers having incestual relationships with daughters, mothers having incestual relationships with sons, cars careening out of control killing an innocent family driving down the highway, on their way to grandma’s house. Without sober thinking you will have step fathers raping and killing their step daughters, and /or their sons. There is really no limit to what evil can come from drunkenness. As a result of this debauchery Lot fathers two of his own grandchildren. One of them is Moab which becomes a nation which hates Israel, desires to curse Israel, hires a false prophet to do so, brings immorality into Israel and a plague ensues (Numbers 22-25). The other son/grandson born to Lot by his younger daughter is named Ben-ammi and these are the Ammonites which also hated Israel. But, then, these were only personal choices; no one was hurt by them were they??? Think again.

Moses, in his writing the Pentateuch wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). I think he knew what he was writing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Wine is a Mocker…

Wine is a Mocker…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    • “Strong drink” = “H7941

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

        • “Raging” = “H1993

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

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

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

        -Tim A. Blankenship

        Abraham, Prophet and Priest

        Abraham, Prophet and Priest

        The LORD had come to visit Abraham and Sarah and to reassure them of the fulfillment of the promise, and that promise was a son. It seems quite likely that Sarah’s faith was improved, strengthened by the appearance of the LORD.

        When the LORD’s visit had come to an end they began to journey away from Abraham’s camp, and Abraham went with them for a distance. When the LORD comes and puts in a personal visit with you, shares the promise, and renews it who wouldn’t want to go on with Him? As they go walking the LORD contemplates sharing with Abraham something further that He is about to do. He shares it with Abraham. From this part of God’s visit we learn much about intercessory prayer.

        “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Genesis 18:16-19 (KJV).

        It would not be wrong to call Abraham a prophet. I am not sure there is anywhere in Scripture which calls him “Prophet”, but we know that he walked with God, even though there is no specific verse which tells us that. He is doing it right here in verse 16. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3 (KJV). We also have the Lord revealing secret things to Abraham which would place him in the category of a prophet. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). Is the LORD not here revealing a very secret thing to His friend Abraham? We must answer in the affirmative. According to the word of the LORD spoken above, He is giving to the descendants of Abraham and his children, that, “they shall keep the way of the LORD…” They are being given the oracles of God at this point. It is being given, and was given to them to do justice and judgment, and they were the people whom God used to born the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, into this world.

        Prophets for the most part are messengers of God; warning God’s people, and in a lot of cases even the heathen of the coming wrath of God. In Abraham’s case he is not given the opportunity of being a prophet with a message to warn people, but he is given a message to pray for the people. It is especially a message to pray for Lot and his family, because they are living in the cities which are about to be destroyed.

        We see in these the LORD’s confidence in Abraham being faithful to become what God has told him that he will become. God even says here (v.19), “I know him”. What a endowment of praise and encouragement that is to hear the LORD say of His friend, “I know him”. If the LORD knew Abraham, we have an assurance that He can know us too. Does the LORD know you? There is coming a day of judgment which we read of from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Himself, and He says, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” That is not the words I desire to hear from His lips. That is not the desire I have to hear from His lips for any of my friends, family or any of those who might be seen as my enemies. I do not desire to hear that from His lips for debtors or creditors. The best and sweetest phrase I want to hear on that day is, “Enter into thy reward, thou good and faithful servant”. And, that for all who will hear and follow Jesus.

        “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” Genesis 18:20-22 (KJV).

        It was the LORD who had came to Abraham, visited with him, ate with him, and had wonderful fellowship with him. He has now sovereignly determined to reveal to Abraham what He is about to do. It is in verse 20 that the LORD speaks, and reveals to him what He is planning to do. We can know from the testimony of Scripture that God already knows the spiritual and moral condition of Sodom and Gomorrah.

        It is indeed, a very merciful thing for God to come down and appear to men. Three “men” had come and appeared to Abraham, and one he recognized as the LORD. The other two were inevitably angels. The LORD has remained behind to speak with Abraham, and reveal to him what He is about to do in the cities where Lot; his nephew and family are living.

        By what we have in these three verses it seems that there is a “cry” from evil. Does evil have a voice, a cry? It must. According to Strong’s

        H2201 = za‛aq ze‛a^qa^hzah’-ak, zeh-aw-kaw’ (Feminine): from H2199; a shriek or outcry: – cry (-ing).”

         

        No one rejoices when evil rules a land, a city, a home, or a family. And the person who is practicing evil, has no form of joy or peace. It is their way of ‘Thumbing their nose’ at God, His Word, His Son, and His people. There is a cry from evil. Even evil hearts sooner or later will cry for justice, and they shall have it. Surely we can hear the cries of evil in our Country of the USA. Surely the scent of the blood shed in homes, cities, States, and our Nation is a putrid scent to all decent, law abiding people. Or, are we so, “law abiding”, that we don’t smell the scent, because we think we are a nation which has been built solely on man made laws? That is a stench in the nostrils of Holy God.

        We as the people of God ought never forget that evil is “grievous” in the sight and sound of almighty God. With him there is no little immorality. It is all vile in His sight, and it cannot dwell in His presence. Apart from the grace of God no fallen man can dwell in His presence, unless, the price of sin, ie., the sin-debt has been paid in full. God owes no accountability to the devil. He is not accountable to the devil. God’s Word is not answerable to the devil. The sin-debt is owed to God; He is the One who is the offended party.

        When evil people are in authority people mourn. In the Proverbs we find the wisdom of Solomon saying, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (KJV). And we also find more wisdom from this wisest of men, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Prov 29:2 (KJV). The cry of wickedness was horrific to the ears of holy God. The cry of wickedness is still horrific in the ears of God. They should be horrific to the ears of every child of God.

        -Tim A. Blankenship

        Married to a Backslider

        Married To A Backslider

         

        There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

        Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

        You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

        Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

        “Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

        What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of treachery, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backslidden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

        Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

        This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backslidden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people do go astray. We do get out of the will of God, but God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in more complete agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backslidden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desperate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

        It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God. Don’t take this wrongly. This is not an invitation to do evil and wrong. We have been freed from such arrogance, and pride. Because we drag the carcass (Isaiah 5:18 ) of the flesh around with us, we have not laid it down yet, it is still a battle we face everyday.

        For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

        God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

        The Christian of our day (2008 ) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

        O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

        -Tim A. Blankenship

         

        Letter From a Director of Missions

        The following is the monthly letter our Barry County Southern Baptist Associational Director of Missions, Jerry L. Williams, wrote for the Monthly Newsletter. I pray you will hear his heart.

        “Look not thou upon the wine when it is read, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:31-32)

        “I do not believe that our Lord contradicts Himself in His Word, do you?

        ‘I also believe that when His word states, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright…” that that is referring to when the wine is fermenting.’

        ‘I am sharing this because it seems that today there are some ministers in SBC and MBC that believes it is alright to drink alcoholic beverages. I never thought that we would hae to deal with this issue in Southern Baptist life, but I guess I was wrong.

        Now I know that there are some in our churches that probably drink and think nothing of it, but that doesn’t make it right and I feel that they are wrong in doing it. Look at what he alcohol industry has done to the lives of so many; deaths, ruined families, homes, marrigaes and on and on I could write.

        The Acts 29 and Emerging Church movement claims to be “theologically conservative and culturally liberal.” Alcohol, Acts 29 and the Missouri Baptist Convention…, below is an excerpt from the St. Louis Post Dispatch:’

        “As Tolliver (MBC Interim Executive Director) was speaking, another group of pastors gathered at a lake house a couple of miles away, drinking Red stripe and Fat Tire beer, watching football and talking shop: the influence of music in their worship services, their inner-city social justice efforts, the challenge of having so many new babies in their congregations.”

        “The young men are part of Acts 29, a network of more than 100 emerging churches across the country that have a conservative theology but a more liberal take on some aspects of the culture than do traditional Southern Baptists. The group’s focus is on starting more new churches. The Journey in south St. Louis is one such church, and there are others in the State — St. Charles, Eureka, Hannibal, Columbia and Ozark.

        Our MBC Executive Board met last Dec. 10, 2007 in part to discuss their concerns about alcohol use and alcohol-based evangelism strategies within the greater Missouori Baptist family. They concluded by taking significant action on the issue.

        In an historic move members of the board voted by a nearly 3-1 margin to cut off state convention Cooperative Program support to Acts 29 Network churches/church plants in Missouri. The vote does not impact MBC churches who, on their own are assisting Acts 29 churches.

        The controversy over Acts 29 began when one church, the Journey, started holding regular discussion sessions in a bar where some participants drank alcohol. The “Theology at the Bottle Works” (the name of the bar).

        I agree with Roger Moran when he stated, ‘One of the most dangerous and deceptive movements to infiltrate the ranks of Southern Baptist life has been the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement”.

        I will be bringing a message this month at our worker’s conference dealing with this issue. May we as Barry County Southern Baptist stand firm on our doctrine, the Word of God, and the teaching of abstinence when it comes to the use of alcohol beverages.

        My we send our number of messengers to this years MBC in October and stand with our State Executive Board Members and what they did in Dec. 2007. Let’s go and vote with them to hold the line on this movement within our convention.”

        Bro. Jerry

        The Barry County Southern Baptist Association has sent a letter to the Executive Board of the MBC voicing the approval of their December 2007 actions.  We do fully support this action of the Board, and will continue to do so.

        -by Tim A. Blankenship

        Medicine of Laughter

        The Medicine of Laughter

        “Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” Genesis 17:17-21 (KJV).

        Laughter is a good medicine for faith. There is a place for laughter – this is not one of them – although Abraham does it on his face before God. One thing we see here is the humanity of Abraham. God had promised him a son about 24 years before at the age of 75 years, now he is 99 and Sarah is 89 – wouldn’t you laugh at such a promise? This was actually the first time the promise had included Sarah as the one through whom the Messiah would come. Don’t we laugh at the promises of God sometimes? What about with our health? When God says trust Me through this and we rely more on our feelings and medicine, and the doctor, than we do on God. What about our money when God has given us a good place to start giving (tithing) and as God increases our income we say, “Well it is more now. I shouldn’t have to tithe”. God bless you. He could require you to go back to your previous financial lifestyle.

        Laughter is a good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 – “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” When should we laugh in the presence of God? When we see His promises being fulfilled. When our hearts are overwhelmed with joy because of the Lord’s blessings in our lives. The time for Abraham’s and Sarah’s laughter would have been when Isaac was born and it seems that they did because they named him “Laughter” [Isaac]. Isaac, afterall, was the fulfillment of the promise.

        “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.” Romans 9:7-9 (KJV)

        -by Tim A. Blankenship