Singing Mercy and Judgment

“I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto Thee, O LORD, will I sing.” Psalm 101:1 (KJV)

This a Psalm of David.  A man who knew of God’s mercy and judgment.  We ought to be thankful for His lovingkindness, and His chastisement of His own.  Our hearts filled with song, and singing to the One who alone is worthy of song and praise.

Of this verse and song, Spurgeon has written,

“I will sing of mercy and judgment.” He would extol both the love and the severity, the sweets and the bitters, which the Lord had mingled in his experience; he would admire the justice and the goodness of the Lord. Such a song would fitly lead up to godly resolutions as to his own conduct, for that which we admire in our superiors we naturally endeavour to imitate. Mercy and judgment would temper the administration of David, because he had adoringly perceived them in the dispensations of his God. Everything in God’s dealings with us may fittingly become the theme of song, and we have not viewed it aright until we feel we can sing about it. We ought as much to bless the Lord for the judgment with which he chastens our sin, as for the mercy with which he forgives it; there is as much love in the blows of his hand as in the kisses of his mouth. Upon a retrospect of their lives instructed saints scarcely know which to be most grateful for – the comforts which have cheered them, or the afflictions which have purged them. “Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.” Jehovah shall have all our praise. The secondary agents of either the mercy or the judgment must hold a very subordinate place in our memory, and the Lord alone must be hymned by our heart. Our soul’s sole worship must be the lauding of the Lord. The Psalmist forsakes the minor key, which was soon to rule him in the one hundred and second Psalm, and resolves that, come what may, he will sing, and sing to the Lord too, whatever others might do.
from THE TREASURY OF DAVID

O, let us sing of the LORD’S mercy and judgment.  Let us sing.

Day 72 – The Son of Man and The Scriptures

In reading the gospels, especially Matthew, one cannot help but notice the importance the writers place on showing that the Scriptures are fulfilled.  One cannot help but notice, also how much Jesus Himself refers to the Scriptures, the prophets, and in Luke 24 Jesus even mentions the Psalms.  I am going to post a few of those verses concerning the Scriptures today, pray you will look them up and read the context of their writings.

This first excerpt of Scripture is from the story of the rich man and Lazarus,

“Abraham saith unto him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.’  And he said unto him, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.'” Luke 16:29-31 (KJV)

The next quite obviously is of Jesus’s coming crucifixion,

“Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.  For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” Luke 18:31-33

The next excerpt is as Jesus appears to the two on the road to Emmaus and explains the Scripture to them;

“Then He said unto them, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?’  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

The final one in Luke is when Jesus has appeared to all the disciples together in one place, and it is here that He mentions the Psalms;

“And He said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.  Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.  And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49

We need to ask ourselves, “Do I put enough relevance upon Scripture?”  After all the Scriptures are they which testify of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Psalm 80:1

“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.”  Psalm 80:1 (KJV)

“The psalmist here, in the name of the church, applies to God by prayer, with reference to the present afflicted state of Israel.
I. He entreats God’s favour for them (v. 1, 2); that is all in all to the sanctuary when it is desolate, and is to be sought in the first place. Observe, 1. How he eyes God in his address as the Shepherd of Israel, whom he had called the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 79:13), under whose guidance and care Israel was, as the sheep are under the care and conduct of the shepherd. Christ is the great and good Shepherd, to whom we may in faith commit the custody of his sheep that were given to him. He leads Joseph like a flock, to the best pastures, and out of the way of danger; if Joseph follow him not as obsequiously as the sheep do the shepherd, it is his own fault. He dwells between the cherubim, where he is ready to receive petitions and to give directions. The mercy-seat was between the cherubim; and it is very comfortable in prayer to look up to God as sitting on a throne of grace, and that it is so to us is owning to the great propitiation, for the mercy-seat was the propitiatory.”  From Matthew Henry Commentary

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Psalm 71:1

The following is a quote from a study on Psalm 71 and verse 1 from The Treasury of David, by C. H. Spurgeon.  The quote is by Musculus.

“In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.”  Psalm 71:1 (KJV)

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” As if he should say: O Lord, permit not those who put their trust in thee to be confounded, and to be held up as a laughing-stock. I have placed all my hope in thee, and thou art that God who, for the sake of thy goodness and truth, hast never deserted those who hope in thee. If thou shalt suffer me to be confounded, the enemies to triumph, and my hope to be placed in thee in vain, certainly this shame shall fall upon thine own name … Let us, therefore, learn from this place to be more anxious about what may happen to the name of God through us, than to our own; whether it be through us in doing, or in us in suffering. The prophet is fearful lest he should be confounded on account of his hope placed in God, although it was not in his own power, nor could he prevent it…
It is necessary, first, that we should be of those who place their hope in God, then it is necessary that this piety of our hearts should not be confined to ourselves only, but should be known to all those who come in contact with us, even our opponents and enemies; else it is not possible for us to dread this kind of confusion feared by the prophet, when nobody knows that our hope is placed in God. No artist suffers confusion, if he has never shared the good opinion of his fellow men. To no sick man can it be said, Physician, heal thyself, if his reputation for medical skill has never stood high. So of those, it cannot be said, They hoped in God, let him save them if he will have them, of whom it was never remarked that they placed any hope in God. This solicitude, therefore, belongs only to those whose hope is in the Lord: upon others it cannot fall. – Musculus.

Trust that endures and provides is only in the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Scarlet Thread – The Rock

Moses stood in the “cleft of the rock”  (Exodus 33:22); and there is much of the Rock which followed the children of Israel through the wilderness on their 40 year journey.  The Rock is a very important part of the Old Testament history and of our LORD.

“Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” Deuteronomy 32:18 (KJV)

It was the Rock which Moses was commanded to strike which followed them:

“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.”  Exodus 17:6

It was also the Rock which Moses struck when he was commanded to speak to it that was with them in the wilderness.  The Rock a source of survival, life, living, hope, sustenance.  The image of God’s presence and sovereign power.

“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.  And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, ‘Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?’  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”  Numbers 20:8-11

So many times the children of Israel rebelled against the leadership of God and Moses.  So many times God in His grace and mercy reached down to Israel and supplied their every need in a dry and thirsty land.  Always, God is working to supply the needs of His children.

Those who know God through His Son Jesus are His children; and are children of this Rock.  This Rock is Christ Jesus who died on the cross in our stead.  He had no guilt, but suffered with our guilt, shame and sin on Him.  He became our sin.  He became unjust; the Just for the unjust.  His righteousness is imputed to you and I who trust and believe in Him; and all our unrighteousness was imputed to Him.  Which goes along with what the Psalmist wrote:

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.   Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”  Psalm 32:1-2

Jesus is our salvation, our strength, our defender; He is our sustenance;  by Him “all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).  Jesus is that Rock.  Hear what the apostle Paul says of the Rock –

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.   But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”  1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Just as Moses said, “…thou art unmindful”.  So does Paul mention this; but the real picture is that “That Rock was Christ”.  It was Christ who was with them in the wilderness.  It was Christ who was with the Jew all through their journeys; in the wilderness; and throughout all their years of blessing; and He is their Rock even today when they look upon the One who was pierced for our sins.

That Rock is Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Morning with Spurgeon 072911

The following is the morning devotion by Charles Spurgeon from Morning and Evening:

Psalm 73:23

Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.

    “Nevertheless,”-As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God’s presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings “nevertheless I am continually with Thee.” Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph’s confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say “nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!” By this is meant continually upon His mind, He is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before His eye;-the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in His hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on His heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart for ever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of Thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, Thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in His blood, and thus I stand accepted in Thy presence. I am thus continually in Thy favour-“continually with Thee.” Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within-look at the calm without. “Nevertheless”-O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.”

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Will the USA Depart from Support of Israel?

It is not surprising to know that there are those of spiritually feeble mind who would have the United States withdraw from strategic support of the nation of Israel.   “It’s not satisfying to the rest of the world” some of these say.  Let us never forget what God has said, “I will bless those who bless you, and will curse him who curses you; in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”  Genesis 12:3; and that promise has never been revoked

The following link is an article from the World Tribune.  Would it be the right thing for the USA to pull support away from Israel?  I think not.  Not unless we want to be cursed by the Creator of all the universe.

Let’s continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

David’s Christ

“And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.”  Mark 12:35-37

The scribes would profess and teach that the “Messiah” was the “Son of David”, but they were not acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.  What was their problem?  In the Psalms David calls the Messiah, “Lord” (Ps. 110:1).  The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees [religious leaders] were rejecting Jesus as the Christ [Messiah].  Therefore, Jesus is putting forth a lesson they must hear and learn.  If the Messiah is the Son of David, and Jesus is the fulfillment of the coming of Messiah, then He must also be Lord and God in flesh.

Jesus is not disagreeing with the premise that the Messiah is the “Son of David”, but He is strengthening it.  In Psalm 110 verse 1 David is acknowledging the Messiah as Lord.  “The LORD [Father God] said unto my Lord [Messiah/Christ]…”.  In this passage Jesus is declaring the Messiah’s deity, and thus, His own deity.

The religious leaders did not believe the Messiah would be anything more than just a man, and that was the reason for Jesus’ question.  If David is recognizing the Messiah as Lord, then He is more than “just a man”; more than “just the son of David”; He is the incarnate [in the flesh] God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Israel and the USA

Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel a couple of weeks ago sparked much frenzy among the two countries.

The VP seemed be surprised by the announcement of new apartments being built in a long-established Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. However this is something that seems to have been in the works for a many months.

The USA administration needs to work so hard with Israel, and against the terrorist who consistently rage against the USA and Israel for our death and destruction.  The Hamas, Iran, and the other muslim nations which rage against the “West” need to see such vitriolic speech against those who threaten us.

The same ones who would destroy Israel want also to destroy the United States of America.

Dear YHWH of heaven, open the eyes of the administration of the USA to see their hearts need to be turned to YOU.  May we all follow YOUR divine guidance, wisdom, and see that those who would work against YOUR plans are in fact YOUR enemies.

Remind the administration why the “heathen rage” (Psalm 2), and let them see that is against YOU.

Also, Lord; open the eyes of the Christians who are also Palestinians to see that the land of Israel is YOUR land, give to the Jew, the Hebrew, forever more.  It is not even a thing that is up for debate.  It is set, even as the rising and setting of the sun (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

In the name of YOUR holy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Let us continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Eleven – One through Eleven

THE FINAL WEEK OF JESUS’ LIFE IS BEGINNING, AND HE COMES TO JERUSALEM, TO PRESENT HIMSELF AS A SERVANT OFFERING FOR SIN.

“1And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. 4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. 8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. 11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”  Mark 11:1-11 (KJV)

This event is often called the “Triumphal Entry”, but it seems more appropriate to call it a “Servants entry”.  Of course, this is the event that leads to His death, burial and resurrection, and this is exactly what He is doing.  He is not coming into the city as a conquering King, but as a lowly servant.

He is riding a borrowed donkey, not a gallant steed.  The donkey is known as a surefooted, strong, burden carrier, but certainly not an animal for war or for conquering anything.

This is actually a first for Jesus.  He has previously been only with His disciples, and occasional crowds wanting to see His mighty works and miracles.  He has not ran seeking the attention of others, but now He is coming presenting Himself as a lowly, suffering servant.  For the week that is ahead the people will need to make their final dicision as to who Jesus is.  Is He the promised Messiah, or is He a fraud who is faking it all?

Jesus sends two of His disciples to find a donkey colt tied just as Jesus said it would be.  The events happen just as Jesus told them it would.  They begin untying, and someone asked them what they were doing and they told them what the Lord said to say.  Everything was fine with them then.

One of the things we can see from this text is that Jesus never owned anything in this world.  He said He had no place to lay His head.  Any time He was sleeping it was a borrowed place.  To preach to people along the shore of the Sea of Galilee He borrowed a boat.  He died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  Jesus had no earthly wealth.  Who are we to castigate, ridicule, and despise the poor, when Jesus was poor when He walked among us.

As Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem the people began to pay homage to Him as He rode on this unbroken donkey.  They lay their garments in His path, they cut palm leaves and lay  in the path, and they were singing.  What were they singing?  “Hosanna!Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They worship and praise Him now, but in a few days, some of these same people will be crying out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him”.

The people as they sing praise to Jesus are singing Psalms 118:26.  How is it that a multitude of people can praise Him one day and just a few days later, many are willing to “Crucify Him” just because their religious leaders lead it.  It was ordained by God that Jesus die for the sins of mankind, that He be buried – carrying our sins away; never to be seen again;  and the He rise again from death for our justification.  It was the ugliness of man’s sin that caused Him to be their; it was His love that kept Him there; and it was God in His wrath toward sin that struck Him, taking His life, turning His back on His own Son.  It was Joseph of Arimethea who loaned Jesus a tomb in which to be buried, and it was the power of God that raised Him to life again, coming out of the tomb after three days.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Presentation Of The King

The Presentation Of The King

Matthew 21:1-16

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

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

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

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

application –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:24-49

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

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

Daniel 2:24-49

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

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

application –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sowing Seeds

I attended the Bible Evangelism Conference of Barry County Southern Baptist Association this morning and heard some very passionate, heart pounding, convicting messages from God’s servants the evangelists who God sent our way for the week.

The one for which I get my title comes from our new Director of Missions who was filling in for an Evangelist who had to leave because his wife became ill and he had to go home.  Brother Randy challenged us to sow seeds of the gospel and for the invitation we were challenged to come and take a small packet of seeds, in a sealed plastic bag to keep where we could see it everyday and it would be a reminder to us to be faithful in sowing the seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The final verses of Scripture he read were Psalm 126 which says,

 When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.  Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.  The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.  Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. 

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

and focusing on those final verses,  “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy…rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”.

May I be a daily gospel seed sower, and trust God to give the increase.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:1-23

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

…When The Challenge Seems Impossible

Daniel 2:1-23

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

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.

A Prophecy Of Our Lord’s Birth

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

THE BIRTH FORETOLD

Isaiah 7:1-14

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D. This prophecy was fulfilled in the following verses,

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

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

SUMMARY –

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Voice Of God

Sometimes the VOICE OF GOD is seemingly difficult to hear; other times not so difficult to hear.  Some just flat out refuse to hear God speak at all.  That is partly because they refuse to believe in Him, thus, not believe Him.

The first place God has given us to hear Him, and know Him is His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1).  The second place (and I am not putting these in any order of importance) is His written Word.  The third place is His Son Jesus Christ.  Then there are the circumstances and situations of life; and the words of wisdom from others – friend, foe, relatives or neighbors or work associates.

The written word of God is the place to put all into check to see if what we hear is from God.  If it does not agree with God’s written Word, then it is not God speaking.

Maybe a couple was dating, talking of marriage, then the relationship goes sour, and one of the couple determines that God is not answering their prayer, because He does not bring them back together.  Maybe that is God rescuing that individual from a life of misery.  I know from personal experience that planning a marriage is not a sure guarantee of a good relationship.  I am thankful to the Lord for destroying a relationship that I was refusing, as a young man, to hear Him.  He worked and gave me a wife who loves and cherishes me; the love between us is stronger now than before.

Listening to God as things “go south” is as important as listening to Him when things are going great.

Hear the Psalmist in the 29th Psalm:

“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.  The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.  He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.  The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.  The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.  The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.”  Psalm 29:3-9 (KJV)

God is not silent.  He may not be speaking loudly.  It may just be in a whisper as with Elijah and the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-14).  If you are born again through Jesus Christ you can and do hear His voice.  If you aren’t hearing then you need to hear Him concerning His Son Jesus, and be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Servant Of Freedom Seekers

Mark 5:1-43

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.  And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Mark 5:1-17 (KJV)

SEEKING FOR FREEDOM FROM A DEMONIC POWER AND PRESENCE. (Mark 5:1-17). If you look at the state of this man he is in a miserable condition.  If you want to know what Satan can do for you just take a look at this man and you will see.  He will leave you naked, hungry, poor, desolate, isolated, cold, deserted, lonely, and hopeless.  Is that the kind of life you want?  Is that the kind of life you want for a family member?   Is that the kind of life you want for a neighbor?  I would think not.

We live in a period of time where even some Christians are doubtful of demonic existence.  If we are to believe God and His Word, then we have no contrary opinion on the matter.  We believe it or we do not believe God or His Word.  There are some who want to equate this to what could be called “epilepsy”, “lunacy”, or “frenzy”.  How does one who does not believe in demonic influence explain “broken chains” and “cords”, and that no one could control him.
You will notice that the demon who is speaking to Jesus knows who Jesus is.   He calls Jesus, “Son of the most high God”.  It seems to me that it is the man who comes out, and seeking Jesus.  It was not just “coincidence” which brought Jesus to this side of the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus said in chapter 4, “Let us go to the other side”, and there was this man waiting there to be freed from this terrible bondage.

It seems this place is made up of Gentiles, because no Jewish people would be raising swine, and they have very little concern that a man has been freed from the bondage of a demon, and he is now in his “right mind”.  They were more concerned with the 2000 pigs that perished than they were for the man.  If we are not careful we can get so worldly minded we are of no heavenly good.  Jesus cares for the man, not material possessions.

J. C. Ryle points out these things about the situation:

‘The possession of a man’s body by the devil, was a real and true thing in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

What an awfully cruel, powerful, and malicious being Satan is.

How complete is our Lord’s power and authority over the devil.”

As born again people – born from above and into the kingdom of God – we have no need to fear demons, hell or the devil.  He is a mighty foe, and he does seek to steal, kill and destroy anything of God’s he can get his hands on.  The apostle John tells us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”  Mark 5:18-20 (KJV)

A FREED PEOPLE SEEK TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO BE FREE. (Mark 5:18-20). This man who had been possessed by a “Legion” of demons is now free and He desires to go with Jesus as He is leaving.  Jesus knows the best position for one to be in.  He tells the man to go to his home, and to tell his family and friends “how great things the Lord has done for you”.

It would only take a moment.  He had been enslaved by demons and many tried to control him with chains, and various types of bonds, but none would do.  Finally, he meets Jesus and is freed by the mere words of Jesus.  I cannot begin to think I could know how this man felt to have a clear mind, to be free from the invisible chains which drove him to such “insanity”, and “gross behavior”.  In any case it is similar to the freedom we all experience when we first trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We were bound by chains of sin and darkness, and condemned to an eternity without Christ to the fires of Hell, and when we met Jesus He set us free, and gave us eternal life in  His presence.

We have much to tell our friends and family.  Let us do it with such excitement and enthusiasm as our friend in the tombs did.  We have been freed by Jesus, just as the man in the tombs was, let us be as free to share our testimony with our friends and loved ones.  They need to know.

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.  And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,  And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.  And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Mark 5:21-34 (KJV)

A WOMAN SEEKS FOR FREEDOM FROM HER TWELVE YEAR PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. (Mark 5:21-34).  It so happens that Jesus and His disciples have gone back to the West side of the Sea of Galilee now and there is a multitude waiting for them there.  Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue” has approached Jesus concerning his “deathly ill” daughter.  As Jesus is walking through the crowd there is a woman who has been ill for twelve years with an “issue of blood”.  She has spent much of her money for “Physicians” to try and find out what is wrong with her, but to no avail.  She sees her only hope as being Jesus as he is in the crowd.  Her faith says, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed”.

When she touches Jesus’ garment she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague”.  Only thing Jesus realized there had been some  “Power” go out from Himself, and He turned to see who had “touched Him”.  Was He angry? No!  It seems to me that He was very much impressed with this woman of “Faith”.  Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  Well!  My goodness many said and we would do the same.  Lord, You are in a crowd of people, of course someone touched You.  It was a purposeful touch, not a accidental touch one might get while walking in a crowd of people.  It would be like being in a large mall and you have someone come up and purposefully grab your shirttail or coattail and you turn to see who it is and it is a friend.  I doubt the touch was as vigorous as that, but it would have a little similarity to it.

Can you imagine being afflicted with a plague such as this woman has endured for twelve years.  Can you imagine her desperation to find a cure, healing, help in any fashion.  This could not have been good for her health.  It is really kind of a marvel that she has not died.

Jesus commends her for her “Faith”.  “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34 (KJV)”.  Then, Jesus goes on with the man [Jairus] who came for Him concerning His daughter.

Do we have the faith of this woman.  Willing to risk it all knowing that Jesus is our only hope for healing,  health, life and eternal life.  Put your faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.  And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.  And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.  And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  Mark 5:35-43 (KJV)

THE DAUGHTER DIES, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID – JESUS RAISES HER TO LIFE AGAIN. (Mark 5:35-43).  Certainly, as we look at this event, of this “ruler of the synagogue” and his daughter we can learn at least two things.  First of all sin, illness, disease, death, and sorrow does not play favorites with age, and secondly, they do not play favorites with religious or political stature.  This child was twelve years of age.  The same period of time as that of the woman who was healed of her affliction.  It is bound to happen to any of us.  Death, disease, sickness, and plague hits us all, and it is to us all that the Scripture says,

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

The only sad part about this event is that this young lady of twelve years would one day die again, and this time it was without Jesus raising her again.  It is sure that one day we will die, and our age or social stature will have no way of prevention in it.

It is evident that this “ruler” had respect for Jesus.  Note the words of his servant, “Why troublest thou the Master any further?”   This “Ruler” had evidently been teaching about Jesus or this man knew who Jesus was too.  It is amazing what people will do to find healing – even in our day.  People who have the means have been known to look the world over for a cure for cancer, or any other long, drawn out illness.  What if you do not have the “Means”?  What do you do then?  You can find rest, peace, security in Jesus.

The life of this young lady is not over yet, as long as Jesus can see her.  The real faith is seen in the girls father.  Despite the possibility of suffering ridicule from his peers in the “Ministry” he seeks out Jesus.  He risks his religious reputation to find Jesus to heal his daughter.

What is the life of a lost loved one worth?  That is a question we must ask ourselves and ask it every day.

The girl had died, but Jesus says to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe”.   Jesus is laughed to scorn by those who are there to “Mourn” the death of the child.  They are most likely paid mourners who have come for this purpose of mourning the dead for the family.  Jesus says that she is only asleep.  Cannot be a funeral if she is only asleep.  Jesus “Puts them all out”, and then He takes those who will believe with Him.  He “Put them all out” sounds as though He used a little force to do it.  “Get out!  Get out!”  Can you see it?  And people are always saying Jesus was always without anger.  Not so.  He is angry with the wicked, and everyday according to the Psalmist (Psalm 7:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Destruction Of Evil

I have heard the question asked so many times, “If there is a god, and if this god is good, why does he allow evil?”  I guess I have even asked that question or one similar.  There are many questions that need to asked along with this:  Is God all powerful?  Is God all knowing?  Is God all present?  Is God unchanging?  Is God a god of love and mercy?  If you answer all of those from a Biblical perspective then you can answer the question of evil.

Let’s look at part of the prayer of the Psalmist and his concern about evil.

A prayer of the Psalmist.

“Break Thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till Thou find none.”  Psalm 10:15 (KJV).

One of the first things that comes to my mind as I read this is a question.  “Who are the wicked?”  To be extremely accurate about it, that would mean me, you, all of us.  Because God is holy, righteous, and just, and He cannot look upon iniquity, ie. evil.  Then He must rid the world of us.

I want to assure you that He has broken the arm of the wicked.  The arm of the wicked was broken when sin was put to death with Jesus on the cross.  “Boy, it sure doesn’t seem like it.  Look at what’s happening in the world, and in my life”.  Be assured that all sin has been paid for.

The way God has dealt with my evil and yours is by judging it on His Son Jesus Christ.  He paid the debt for our sin.  Ultimately there will be no more sin.  It will one day reach a height, and plunge into the eternity of nothingness.

When Jesus comes into our hearts to live, abide, and stay evil is banished.  You are no more evil.  That begs another question.  “Then, who are the evil?”  All those who reject the free gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

One day, and it may be soon Jesus will come and all evil will be eternally put away.  Even the lamb and the lion will roam together, and without threat to the lamb.  The small child will be able to play over the den of the serpent without any fear (See Isaiah 11).  There will be no more ruthless rulers in the world.  Jesus will rule in the hearts and lives of people the world wide.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Secret Place

You may remember, when you were young, having a place you could go to be away from others; family, friends, etc., and have time alone.  Maybe you went there when you were angry at someone; like Mom or Dad.  This was a place only you knew about; at least you thought so.  Let me tell you about a place for all ages of folks.  A place you can go to be alone with God.  It is a place of protection, encouragement, and many other blessings.  A place for receiving His message.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” Psalm 91:1 (KJV).

This is the place the follower of Jesus Christ lives. We never want or desire to live apart from the presence of the LORD. It is a genuine, real place. When you are with Him He speaks with you. He comforts you. He encourages you. At the times it is necessary He will correct you. Oh what a place it is; to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.

Here is one of the most wonderful promises of God’s Word.  It is wonderful because there is nothing so glorious as being in the “Secret place of the Most High” God.  You might be asking, “Just where is that secret place?”.  It is quite frankly not hard to find.  God is near you.  That secret place is in His presence.

To dwell in that secret place is to live in His presence.  You live in His presence by being in His Word; reading it, studying, praying, praising, and glorifying Him in word, song, praise and worship, and in the very acts of your life: with your acts living out the words that you speak.

The “Most High” is the One who is our creator.  He is our Sustainer.  He is our hope, our tower of strength, our sword, and our shield.  He could also be called our Exceeding Great Reward.

“Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty” is a place of protection; a place of shelter; not to keep us from the storms of life, but to take us through them.  Dwell in that secret place and you shall “Abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD Knows…

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1 (KJV).

This Psalm is one of my favorites.  It is one that lingers in my memory.  I do not know that I set out to purposely memorize it, but it is there.  The collection of the Psalms are words of encouragement, hope, and you see the hearts of the writers of the Psalms.

David is known to be the human author of most of these writings of Biblical poetry, but it is  also known that some of them were written by Moses, Asaph, and maybe another one or two.  We do know and believe that these are words which are inspired by God Himself.  They would not be present in the Canon of Scripture if they were not.

This first verse of the Psalms begins with a “Blessed” or “Happy”.  This would be the individual who is fulfilled.  This individual does not seek ungodly counsel from others, nor do they go to the ungodly seeking godly counsel.

This individual does not have dealings with the rebellious and wicked; taking a bold stand against immorality.  The places where the “Blessed” individual stands is upon the Word of God, in places that lift up the Lord.  The place of the “Blessed” individual’s seating is where God is seated.

The ’scornful’ are those who make a mockery of God, and scoff at all who profess Him and godliness.  An individual usually sits, comfortably where they live.  The “Blessed” individual lives in the presence of the LORD God.

Everyone “Delights” in something.  There is something that you can hardly do without, maybe a new car, new house, new suit of clothes, more money,  more of anything, that you perceive as good.  We can get our hearts set on something, and that becomes our “Delight”.

Gulom of the Lord of the Rings story had his “Delight” on the Ring of power.  J.R. R. Tolkein wrote the story, and it shows an analogy of the power of sin in our lives.  Gulom had been a normal hobbit until the Ring was found and he murdered his friend, took the Ring, and became a creeping, rock crawling, pale, almost sickening being.  The picture is surely that sin will destroy you.  To Gulom, the Ring was his “Precious”.  That was his delight.

In Psalm 1:2 the Psalmist writes, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”  We  have been told in verse one what this individual does not do; now we see what this godly individual does.

She/he holds no “Delight” in the wickedness of the world or its things.  The heart has been reborn.  The more the “Delight” is in the “law of the LORD” the less these things of the world become anything of importance.  The law of the LORD is something the man and woman of God delights in.  They meditate on it day and night.

To wake up thinking Scripturally.  To go to bed at night thinking Biblically.  What a wonderful “Delight” it is.  The Word of God is more precious than anything this world has to give.  DELIGHT IN THE LAW OF THE LORD.  Within its pages you find life and eternal life.  It will take you to the person of Jesus.  Sin will hold no power on you.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  Psalm 1:3 (KJV).

Have you ever noticed trees by streams of water during a drought?  Trees on the hillside away from the streams often begin to look a little dry, and sometimes leaves begin to fade, but the trees by the streams never fade in the heat of drought.  The Psalmist paints us a lovely picture of the follower of Christ Jesus who stays in, abides in, continues in the Word of God.  He/She “delights in the law of the LORD”, and when troubles come they just keep on ticking.

The fruit will keep on coming despite droughts, despite hardships, and even despite the storms, though the storms may cause severe damage.  The one who keeps themselves in the Word, the law, the way of the LORD will also prosper in all they do.  Do remember that prosperity is not always in things, but peace, comfort, encouragement, love, wisdom, grace, mercy, etc..

Just as the tree planted by the rivers of water is always at the mercy of the stream which flows by so too is the follower at the mercy of the One whose Word we read, hear and practice.  We/You are always in His hands.

There is such evil in our world at times.  Murders happen each and every day and even in each hour of the day.  Some of which we never hear about.  There are many crimes done to other human beings, of whom all are made in the image and likeness of God, and by God Himself.  He alone gives life, and He alone can justly take a life.

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”  Psalm 1:4 (KJV).

We have seen the blessedness of the one who walks with God, and that she/he delights in the law [Word] of the LORD meditating in it day and night; and that this individual is like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  Now that is quite refreshing to a child of God; to know that whatsoever they do shall prosper.

There is a somewhat sad statement, yet, a statement that should encourage us as well.  The encouraging thing about verse four is that God will judge wickedness, and will not let it go unpunished.  The sad thing is that there are those who are “Ungodly”.

The “Ungodly” are those who will set out to oppose all that is godly, righteous, just, and of God.  Whether we want to admit this or not they do exist.  A few years ago we  heard of a group who on a website asks for those who will commit the “Unpardonable sin” to sin against the Spirit of God and forever condemn their soul.  The ungodly are those who just completely reject the love, grace, mercy, and cross of Jesus Christ.

These are as the waste of the wheat as it is thrashed.  When the winds of life and God’s judgment comes are driven away.  May God save those who will hear Him, and believe.

In the first Psalm we see the blessedness of the one who is right with God.  They do not seek ungodly counsel, nor do they participate in sinful endeavors, nor try to rule with the scornful or as the scornful.  The “Blessed” are those whose “…delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night”.  Those who do this are strong, supplied, and sufficient for all things.

“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” Psalm 1:5 (KJV).

The ungodly and the sinner are the same.  They are not right with God.  Their delight is to do the things that gratify their emotions, thinking, lust, greed, and power.  These are ones who will not hardly hesitate to use a friend, sometimes even a family member or spouse, or co-worker to gain what they desire; what they delight in.  They certainly have no desire for God.  God would be an interruption in their life.

The path of the ungodly and the sinner is that they will not be able to stand before God in the judgment with their good deeds.  They will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:11-14;  v. 12), and will not be able to give any reason for their unbelieving hearts.  There will be no room for the ungodly and the sinner “…in the congregation of the righteous”.

Who are the righteous?  All those who have come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, and received the righteousness of Christ and have been raised together with Him, for all eternity.

Sin definitely has a hold on the human race.  Why many do not want to see it is beyond reason.  One Monday morning at Virginia Tech, in April 2007, we saw the results of sin, and there is only one answer for sin.  The life of a perfect sacrifice.  And we are not it.

“For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish”  Psalm 1:6 (KJV).

Cho Sueng-Hui a student with a visa from South Korea went into a dorm and killed two fellow students.  He, then proceeded to Norris Hall where students and teachers were gathered for classes, and shot and killed thirty more, and then, turned the gun on himself.  This man does not need my condemnation, nor anyone else.  He is condemned far greater than anything you or I could.  He is forever in the absence of God’s presence.

Those who have become so encumbered by sin that they follow its call will do almost anything.  Let no one say, “I could not/would not ever do what that man did”.  You just might.  As long as you turn a deaf ear to the Lord; your heart will grow hard, heavy, and madness of evil can easily set in.  You could find yourself doing all kinds of evil, that you never dreamed possible.  You say you don’t believe in evil.  Do not be deceived.  You saw it take place on Monday morning April 16, 2007, and every morning before and since that dreadful day.  Evil is more powerful than you or I can deal with alone.  The end of evil is destruction.

The LORD knows ‘the way of the righteous’;  He should because He directs the way of the righteous.  The LORD does not direct the righteous to kill, maim or destroy.  He directs the righteous to live godly, holy, and sanctified lives for His glory, and calls us to call others unto Him.  The way of the righteous is also the way of peace, mercy, justice, love, joy, gentleness, patience, self control.  They show forth those things which have been called the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-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

For The Praise Of His Glory

Ephesians 1:6-14

Three times in verses 6 – 14 we find the phrase, “to the praise of his glory…” and dealing especially with His grace.  First is it is written, “To the praise of the glory of his grace…” (v. 6), then we find; “…we should be to the praise of his glory…” (v. 12); and lastly; “…unto the praise of his glory.” (v. 14).  It should not come as a great surprise to the Christian that we are for the purpose of His glory.

Knowing this should thrill our hearts and souls.  To know that we are for the purpose of His glory ought to cause us, by the power of His Spirit within, to live lives that are scented with the fragrances of heaven.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR CALLING (v. 6; Romans 3:23).  Before there was Jesus Christ on earth as man we were in condemnation.  We were walking in ourselves, self-willed, without self-control, rebellious, and enemies of God.  That’s right!  I said, “Enemies of God” (James 4:4).  That was my estate before Christ, and the estate of everyone before they have faith in Him.

God’s purpose in calling us to Himself is for His glory, and to redeem a people unto Himself.  He loves us, and sent His Son Jesus to be the propitiation – the recipient of God’s wrath in our behalf.  By this one glorious event we now have fellowship, restored likeness with God our Creator.  We are accepted in His sight.  That our lives might be for the purpose of His glory, and the magnification of His grace.

BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR REDEMPTION THAT IS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (v. 7).  It is only through the blood of Jesus that we have redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19).  Because of sin the law requires death.  The blood is life for the sacrifice of sin (Leviticus 17:11).

By the shedding of blood God is just in forgiving our sins (Hebrews 9:22).

Slaves were bought and sold by millions in Rome of Paul’s day.  We were slaves of sin.  Jesus purchased us from sin’s bondage, by the shedding of His own blood, and set us free.

This price was not paid because you and I deserve it, but because of the riches of His grace.

THE GRACE AND THE INHERITANCE PROVIDED US THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS (vv. 8-12).  This grace of God is far more abundant than we can ever imagine.  He has over supplied it – (grace abounded) fully supplied – for us in making known to us “the mystery of His will”.  Mystery sometimes excites us.  By something being a mystery does not mean something spooky, eerie, or of which to fear.  Mystery causes mankind to be curious.  The mystery of His will was not fully revealed until Jesus came, died on the cross, was buried carrying the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin away, was risen, and ascended into the clouds; and through the apostles; including Paul.  It is still mysterious how that God could become man, bleed, die, then rise again bodily from the grave.  Some things God reveals, we must trust rather than understand.

By coming to the Lord Jesus we are place into God’s “Inner circle” and He reveals, to those who are His, His will concerning reconciliation of men to God, man to man, man to creation, Jew to Gentile, and earth to Heaven.

For verse eleven it has been translated to read, “In Him we were also made His inheritance…” (HCSB).  There is no real problem with that since we are told in the Psalms, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”  Psalms 2:8 (KJV).  We Gentiles who are in Christ are His possession, and inheritance in Him.  We have also received our inheritance in Him.  In the gospel of John Jesus mentions, at least six times, “…Those whom You have given Me” (John 17).

For the second time the apostle uses the term predestination.  As God’s children He has completed the work or plan for our lives in His Son Jesus Christ.  He has a predetermined purpose for our lives and brings them about, “after the counsel of His own will”.  We must remember that God does not have one plan for when everything goes well in our lives; and another for when things don’t go so well.  He only has one plan for Christians, and that is a completed salvation.  As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”  Philippians 1:6 (KJV).  His plan will not fail.

These verses end with doxology.  Words of praise and adoration.  A life lived in praise and adoration of His is what He desires.  This is a great part of our inheritance – to praise, adore, magnify, and glorify our Lord.  By the Holy Spirit within we are equipped to live such a life.

“Who first trusted in Christ” is most likely a reference to the Jews who began the first church of Jerusalem.  No matter to whom it may refer; it is the calling of all followers, believers of Jesus Christ, “To be to the praise of His glory”.

THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT AND THE EARNEST UNTIL OUR REDEMPTION (vv. 13-14).  Paul has written “…To the Jew first…” meaning that to them the gospel came first of all.  Jews were the first to hear and first to believe; though the numbers were very few.  Now the gospel has come to Ephesus – Gentiles.  This same Jesus of whom a few Jews had trusted was also the One in whom the Ephesians were trusting.

How did this transpire?

1. They heard the gospel which was preached unto them;
2. They believed the gospel – that is they put it to work in their lives;
3. They were then “sealed” or baptized into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

* Water had nothing to do with this “sealing” nor the “baptism” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

This “sealing” is one that speaks of and guarantees several things.  First, it is a promise, from God, of a finished transaction.  The full price of sin was paid.  When we believe on Christ and His finished work we become Christ’s inheritance and He becomes ours.  It is as good as done.

Secondly, this seal implies ownership.  We are marked by God, bearing His mark on us throughout the rest of our lives and into eternity.  “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  He is our owner.  We have no rights of our own.  We are branded/marked by the cross of Jesus Christ.

In the third place, the seal means security and protection.  There is nothing you or I can do to break off this seal.  It is eternal.  We are protected and secured from Satan, and all his forces, as well as protected from ourselves.

Fourthly, the seal is one of authenticity.  It takes more than a profession of the lips, religious activity, good works, etc..  If there is no witness of the Holy Spirit in the professor’s life, that is where Christ is not (Romans 8:9).  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  The Holy Spirit is the mark of an authentic Christian.

Finally, the seal can be an engagement ring.  The promise of a full and meaningful relationship, in the Christian example, for all eternity.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee from God to the Christian that God will come and redeem the body of the man as well as his soul.

From verse three through verse fourteen there has been three doxologies.  The first speaks of the Father.  Why has He chosen, adopted and  accepted us?  “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6).  The second speaks of the Son.  Why has the Son redeemed us, forgiven us, and revealed God’s will to us and blessed us with His inheritance?  “To the praise of His glory” (v. 12).  The third speaks of the Holy Spirit.  Why has God the Spirit sealed us and become the guarantee of future hope and blessing?  “unto the praise of His glory” (v. 14).

In conclusion God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings… in Christ Jesus”.  The gifts and riches of Christ are far beyond what we deserve.  Yet, they are ours when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

All of heaven is yours and mine in Christ.  Jesus died, shed his blood, that you might be renewed to the place God intended you to be.  Believe Jesus.  Trust His Word, and you shall be saved eternally.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the Prophet;

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

The Mercy Of The LORD

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.”  Psalm 136:1 (KJV).

For the following 25 verses of this Psalm it says, “…For His mercy endureth forever”.  The Psalmist wants us to know that God’s mercy endures forever.  You and I know that “Forever” is a very long time.  As a matter of fact the thought of God’s mercy enduring forever is to assure us that it never ends.

In the first thought of this verse we learn to be thankful.  Thankfulness is often missing in our lives.  There is much sickness in many families.  There are many family tragedies.  There is financial chaos.  Sometimes being thankful and grateful to our creator is the farthest thing from our minds.

Let’s try this challenge, though;  the next time you start feeling like the world is weighing down on your shoulders; the next time the doctor tells you things don’t look good; the next time you want to complain: offer God a word of thanks.

Thank Him for the things He has made.  Thank Him for the breath of air you just inhaled, and exhaled.  Thank Him for that step you just took, and even if you are in a wheelchair, thank Him for the next roll of the wheel.  Thank Him for that next beat of your heart.  If we would just look beyond our problems we can see much to be thankful for.

When you start being thankful, and you are trusting the Lord more fully, then you might even get to the place where you are thanking Him that He is working in your trials for your good and His glory.

Thank YOU Father.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Psalm 109:9

“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” Psalms 109:9 (KJV)

From the TREASURY OF DAVID and Psalm 109 commentary –

“Those who regard a sort of effeminate benevolence to to all creatures alike as the acme of virtue are very much in favour with this degenerate age; these look for the salvation of the damned, and even pray for the restoration of the devil.”

from verse 9

“To us it seems better to agree with God’s curses than with the devil’s blessings; and when at any time our heart kicks against the terrors of the Lord we take it as proof of our need of greater humbling, and confess our sin before our God.”

from verse 9 as well.
-T.A.

Be Wise – Be Instructed

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” Psalm 2:10-12 (KJV).

It is wise to be on the King’s side.  Whatever one’s place in this world; be we king, prime minister, senator; our place is to glorify our King, and that King is Jesus Christ.  When we are “nudging up” to the man of flesh, then Jesus is not the One who is being “kissed”. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” Psalm 111:10; and there is a lack in this great wisdom for our day.

Wisdom is a necessary attribute.  Godly wisdom is what we are concerned with in this text and context.  It is sad to think that there are many world rulers in our day who do not have godly wisdom, and are working against all things godly.  The rulers of our world are working against the Nation which God has ordained, and called out as a Nation in our days; to even remain a Nation.  They are not wise.  It is written in THE TREASURY OF DAVID by C. H. Spurgeon, “True wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ.” Vol. 1, p. 20.

A love for God with fear brings rejoicing, and causes us to serve and joy in His presence.  He is our hope, our cause for rejoicing. Serve Him with fear, ie., great awe, and reverence.

To “Kiss the Son” is to be in complete agreement with Him.  We acknowledge He is always right, and will never lead us astray.  Many will reject Him and refuse to kiss Him, unless it be as Judas who betrayed Him, and those who refuse will go into eternal judgment of fire.

Happy [Blessed] is the lot of those who put their trust in the blessed King of kings, Judge of judges, and Lord of lords.  Put all your trust in Him.  You are Blessed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Hand Stretched Out Still

God has spoken of grace and mercy to His people, and they have refused it.  The prophet ever faithful to proclaim the  truth of God’s Word to those people must surely grow frustrated.  The prophet has told them of a light that is coming (9:2), he has told them of a Child that will be born, and His name will be called Immanuel (7:14), and yet there is no repentance; no returning to God

God is preparing to send judgment upon the nation of Judah and Israel; it seems in small doses at first, then what ever is needed.  There are some who have a problem with the thought of “God pursuing His people”, but it seems to me that that is exactly what He does.

God is angry with sin.  He hates sin. Not only does sin distract from the glory of God, but it also breaks fellowship between God and His people.  Those who think that God does not judge sin does not know the God of the Bible.  He will accomplish His purposes and fulfill His glory.

In chapter nine of Isaiah the following words are written three times, and one time in chapter ten:

“For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 9:12,17, 21 and 10:4 (NKJV).

The LORD will perform His Word.  There will be nothing left undone which God has spoken.  His anger will not be turned away until the people of God find their rest, peace, hope, and faith in Him (See chapter 12 of Isaiah).

God is never glorified by the sin of His people, but He will be glorified as He exposes it, judges it, and purges it from the lives of His people.  The people of God should never reach a state of mind, or heart where they think they have gotten away with sin.  The man Moses, inspired by God’s Spirit wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

We are told in the Psalms, “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11).  The wicked would be those who hear the Word of God spoken by the prophets, and the written word, refuse to hear it, refuse to obey, and refuse to follow the way of God.  Does God get angry with His people?  He gets angry with our sin, and He judges it.

“…But His hand is stretched out still” is a part of the verse that is somewhat mysterious.  Jabez prayed, “…That Thine hand might be with me…” (1 Chronicles 4:10).  The hand of God can be good or it can be bad.  I would prefer His hand be good toward me.  That hand of God can be used for gentle nudgings in the right direction, steering away from a wrong direction.  That hand can be for a comforting, encouraging touch.  The prophet mentions later in his writing “…I the shadow of His hand hath He hid me…” (49:2).  That is a great place to be.  That hand could be used for a good whipping for discipline, chastisement, and/or punishment.

I see in the statement, “God’s anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still”, that God will continue to be angry with their sin, and He will continue to judge it; His hand is stretched out in judgment even as Isaiah speaks and writes, even as I write today; and His hand is stretched out with an open palm, as an invitation to return to Him.

Why do God’s people continue in sin when they know God’s hand is judging, yet He has an open palm to take you back into His fellowship; and He will love you and nourish you and give you strength.

As long as you have breath to breathe, God’s hand is stretched out to you.  To those who have never received God’s grace through His Son Jesus Christ that invitation is to believe in Him who died, was buried and rose again for your justification.  Justification simply means that through the sacrifice of Jesus you are declared Just by God Himself.

Will you continue in your sin, or will you believe, repent, and be saved?  God has given you the choice to make.  Choose Jesus.  The hand stretched out.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Rod

The last time in the Psalm 2 we looked at verse 8, and we see that God has promised as an inheritance, to His Son. the nations, and the uttermost parts of the earth are given Him as His possession.  It is His rightful possession, because in His death, He paid the sin debt of the whole world, but for the most part has been rejected.

In the Twenty third Psalm we find the phrase, “Thy rod, and thy staff they comfort me…” (Psalm 23:4b).  The use of that rod and staff sounds encouraging, and blessed, but the one we will look at here today, does not sound very pleasant at all.  This “rod, and… staff” is one instrument.  The shepherd’s staff, often seen with a crook on the upper end also had the rod on the other, and could be used for a walking stick over rough terrain, driving off wolves, bears, lions, and for correcting straying sheep.

“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:9 (KJV).

Nations are ruled by the “prince of the  power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) on earth.  These nations have rejected Christ, hated Christ, and you can see from the beginning of the Psalm have sought to work against Him and defeat Him, but always to no avail.

This “rod of iron” is a means of judgment.  Judgment is in the hands of the Son –

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”  John 5:22 (KJV).

In this Psalm, it is clearly judgment that it is speaking of.  The Potter’s vessel’s are all baked brittle, and and iron rod would easily smash them to pieces.  The judgment will be just and righteous.  Jesus would judge no other type judgment.  This will be a judgment of the nations who have plotted and worked against the God of gods, the King of kings, and Lord of lords to have their own way in the world.  It is these nations which are out to destroy God’s  people, and develop their own kingdom, establish their own god; setting themselves up on the throne or royalty; and acknowledging no other.  They will be broken, shattered, smashed to pieces by the rod of God.

The rod which Moses carried became the “Rod of God” for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 4:20; 17:9).  It is only a foreshadowing of the deliverance Jesus Himself will do in delivering Israel from the clutches of evil nations as they seek to destroy Israel.  Those who have the discernment can see the nations lining up against Israel even now.  The judgment of these aligned nations will be swift, unexpected and sure.

You can experience the comforting staff of the Shepherd of the Twenty third Psalm rather than the iron rod.  That is by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus over all your life.  Confess you have sinned against Him, repent of your sin, believe that He died on the cross, was buried and that He rose from the grave and now is seated at the Father’s right hand.

If you enjoy singing you should like the Psalms of the Bible.  The songs which several men penned, inspired by the Spirit of God, concerning their walk with the Lord, and they go so far, at times, of naming some of their sorrows, griefs, and even frustrations with God and other men.

Sing and make melody in your heart to the LORD; for He is coming soon to let the world know that He is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Inheritance

We watch television news and it can so depress us, discourage us, and drag us down.  We should see it as ‘Birth pangs’ of the coming of our Lord Jesus.  We have looked at the Second Psalm and the first seven verses, concerning how the rulers of the earth involve themselves; through the wiles of the devil, of course; in overthrowing the kingdom of God.  The Lord laughs at their foolish attempt (v. 4).

“Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen [Nations] for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” Psalm 2:8 (KJV).

Why would this promise be made to the Son?  He left His glory in heaven to become a man.  He became man, that He might die for the sins of mankind.  He died to pay our sin debt to the Father.  He was buried carrying our sins away, never to condemn us again.  He rose from the grave in victory over sin, death, and the grave, and to assure those who believe in Him of their eternal destiny to His presence.  Because, He did all this those who reject Him will be judged by Him, and the Word which He spoke.  Jesus’s death on the cross was the judgment for all the sins of the world, even all nations, and when He is rejected; His love, mercy and grace the only thing left is judgment.  All judgment has been given to the Son (John 5:22).  The Nations, and the uttermost parts of the earth are given to Him for judgment.

“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”  Psalms 24:1 (KJV)

Let me leave you with this thought; If you don’t believe in Jesus; You had better be 100 percent sure you are right.  Jesus is coming soon.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Only Begotten One

The Psalms are the hymn book of the Bible.  They are songs written and sung by kings, and sinners.  King David is recognized as the Psalmist, but there were others who wrote and sung some of them.  For instance Moses probably wrote Psalms 95-100, then there is a man named Asaph which little is known of him.  He is referred to in several verses of 1 Chronicles, and is given as the author of the fiftieth Psalm.  We have a good variety to sing.

Now, back to the Second Psalm.  Jesus is the king referred to in verse six.  He is King of His enemies, King of saints, and King of His Father.

“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee” Psalm 2:7 (KJV).

This verse is one which clarifies that Jesus was with the Father from the beginning.  The Father declares to the Son, before He was born into the human race, “This day have I begotten Thee. ” How could the Father say to a non-existent being ‘Today you are born’ and ‘You are My Son’?  He could, I guess, but it certainly would not make sense.  It also would be for the day that the Father would decree for the blessed virgin to conceive.

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God the Father decreed before time and eternity that Jesus – the Word – would become flesh and dwell among us without sin, and die for the sins of all mankind.  The day God became flesh, and “(we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father)” full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (KJV).  And dwelt among us, thus the name “Immanuel” – God with us.

This is the One whom others have mocked.  He is the One who has made all things, and has set them in order.  He is the One whom the Roman soldiers drove the nails in His hands and feet.  This One who was with the Father from the beginning became man, that He would die, and atone for the sins of mankind. Why is it so many turn their backs on Him, deny Him, and choose to hate Him; when He is worthy of so much love, devotion and worship?

Rage on wicked rulers if you so desire.  The “Desire of nations” will come and reign on the earth whether you approve or not.  He is coming.  As the prophet Amos said, “Prepare to meet thy God”.

Many times it just seems as though there is not much in our lives that seems worthwhile.  Sometimes those thoughts can be a wake up call.  Wake up and realize that there is more to life than “Me”.  There is so much more to this life than “Me”.  There is GOD, and in the person of His Son showed His love for you by judging our sin on the cross of His Son Jesus Christ.  The “begotten” One became our sin – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

God Calls Him, “MY KING”

We have seen the arrogance of the world leaders, and their attempt to overthrow God and His ways.  We see it everyday as they make their futile attempts at “peace” with nations who want no peace, but through the destruction of God’s people.  We have seen that their futile attempts are only laughable to the Most High God – the One who sits ‘in the heavens’.  Judgment surely awaits those who attempt to take God’s position and sit on His throne.

“Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” Psalm 2:6 (KJV).

To destroy His foes all God needs do is speak a word, and it is done.  How foolish and arrogant of man to attempt to take the throne of the Almighty. Yet we attempt it everyday.  Even the Christian who is not walking in the Spirit of God, but after the flesh (Romans 8:1-4); is attempting to overthrow the leadership, and power of God in their lives.  It is a failing proposition.

In the TREASURY OF DAVID by C. H. Spurgeon  is written, “Jesus Christ is a threefold King. First, His enemies’ King;  secondly, His saints’ King;  thirdly, His Father’s King”.  Let’s look at this quote on this matter.

“First. Christ is His enemies’ King, that is, He is King over His enemies.  Christ is a King above all kings.  What are all the mighty men, the great, the honourable men of the earth to Jesus Christ?  They are but like a little bubble in the water; for if all the nations, in comparison to God, be but as the drop of the bucket, or the dust of the balance, as the prophet speaks in Isaiah xl.15 [40:15], how little then must be the kings of the earth!  Nay, beloved, Christ Jesus is not only higher than kings, but He is higher than the angels; yea, He is the head of angels; and, therefore, all the angels in heaven are commanded to worship Him.  Col.ii.12, Heb. i6…..He is King over all kingdoms, over all nations, over all governments, over all powers, over all people Dan. vii. 14….. The very heathen are given to Christ, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.”

Jesus Christ is truly this King of which the LORD God speaks.

“Secondly. Jesus Christ is His saints’ King.  He is King of the bad, and of the good; but as the wicked, He rules over them by His power and might; but the saints, He rules in them by His Spirit and graces.  Oh! this is Christ’s spiritual kingdom, and here He rules in the hearts of His people, here He rules over their consciences, over their wills, over their affections, over their judgments and understandings, and nobody hath anything to do here but Christ.  Christ is not only the King of nations, but the King of saints; the one He rules over, the other He rules in.”

First, Jesus Christ is King of His enemies; and secondly He is King of His saints.  I am glad that by His grace, I am a saint.  A saint is only a sinner who has been saved because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and by the power of the resurrection.
We now look at the third part of Jesus being a “Threefold king”.

“Thirdly.  Jesus Christ is His Father’s King too, and so His Father calls Him: ‘I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.’  Well may He be our King, when He is God’s King.  But you may say, how is Christ the Father’s King?  Because He rules for His Father.  There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ; first, a spiritual kingdom, by which He rules in the hearts of His people, and so is King of saints; and secondly, a providential kingdom, by which He rules the affairs of this world, and so He is King of nations. — Condensed from William Dyer’s Christ’s Famous Titles, 1665.”

To conclude the teaching with this verse; when we can see Jesus as the “King of His enemies”, “the King of saints”, and as “His Father’s King” surely we can trust all affairs of this life to His care.  He is the sovereign King of kings, and He rules not only in the hearts of men, but over nature as well.  Remember He calmed the storms with merely a word.

All the efforts of the rulers of the earth, which are against the God, the King of glory, will come to naught.  All their efforts of evil will only be used against them to accomplish the will of God in the earth, and in eternity.  To submit to the King of kings, and be an agreeing participant in His work is the only way to peace.  The King of glory became a man to die on the cross, was buried, and rose again, and He ever lives to reign.

Is He your King?  He is whether you recognize Him as such or not.  Recognize Him as your King, be on His side, and have peace. The “peace of God which passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Laughter Of The LORD

The rulers of earth under the crafty counsel of the serpent, and many times without their notice, or care seek to overthrow the direction of the Almighty God.  We looked at this in the first three verses of the Second Psalm.  The rage of the nations against the Almighty will come to naught. Our “science” and technology are given to us because our Creator has created.  Without God there would be no science or technology.  There would be no man; nor would there be any part of creation.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.” Psalm 2:4-5 (KJV).

Have you ever thought of God as laughing?  There is no doubt that He laughs.  I do not believe, as a matter of fact, I know I would not want Him laughing in this matter toward me.  This concerns the puny efforts of men. It kind of reminds me of the idea of man creating life, and God says, “Get your own dirt”.  We cannot create life without that which God has already given.

We humans are many times awed by the work of our own hands.  The architectural designs of buildings, our cities skylines are sometimes beautiful in the evenings lit by electrical power; but nothing compares to the beauties of God’s creation.  The automotive designs of our automobiles; but what about the design of the human body; designed by our Creator.  The books and articles that are written; what about the book He has breathed for us to read, and heed.  These other things are the works of men.  It can be seen even in the religions of mankind.  “Look at what I have done” is too many times in the hearts of men.

God, the LORD, is the One who sits in the heavens.  He is the one who laughs at our petty attempts at being god.  That is what is on display here.  Attempts similar to that of the devil when he five times proclaimed “I will” (Isaiah 14:12-15).  In this God, the LORD, will have nothing but contempt for these hateful designs of godhood.  It is the arrogance and pride of the human will that keeps them from calling on the name of our Creator for salvation; or sometimes even acknowledging that He exists.

In His love He has given us His Son, and struck Him (judging all sin) on the cross that all who will call on His name will be saved.  In His wrath He speaks to them and shows His great displeasure.  There is only one way to give pleasure to the LORD God, and that is through His gift to us of His Son Jesus.  He does not laugh at those who are in Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Nations Raging

With recent events in the country of the United States of America I have really been seeing that the coming of the Lord Jesus is drawing ever closer.  We ought always be ready as He has said.

The rulers of this earth; kings, presidents, premiers, etc. are gathering for peace talks as never before.  There are peace efforts being made; talks for peace, papers for peace, and not one considering the King of peace who is King Jesus.  The President of the United States of America seems to be taking businesses  by storm, taking control in stocks and such.  They try and say they are not seeking control, but I don’t see what else you could call it.  We are headed toward a full blown dictatorship.  We will be getting what the people voted to get.  Government control over our lives.

One thing we all must remember is that God of all creation is the Supreme One.  He rules, and is even directing us toward the greatest event of human history.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” Psalm 2:1 (KJV).

So begins the first verse of the second Psalm. This Psalm is one you could call very prophetic in its reasoning for the behavior of mankind.

We may ask the question, “Are the heathen raging?” This is speaking of the nations of people. All nations of all the world. Though eternity has been set in the hearts of all people (SEE Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV), they are raging against the path of God and going about to establish their own ways of gaining God’s favor. Adam and Eve used ‘figleaves’ and that did not please God. The people of the earth who rage against God use forms of religion, but without the power thereof.

The eternity which has been given to all of us in the race which is called human was given us by the Creator to long for and desire Him forever and forever. There is a rage in humanity which tries to overthrow the will, guidance and direction of the Holy One in favor of all the people. Some of that rage is seen in recent events. Cho Sueng-Hui made a statement that what he was doing was similar to what Jesus did. Did this man die for others? No! Instead he took other’s lives, and then his own. The Professor who died so his students could escape was more in the likeness of Jesus.

While the heathen rage; God in His grace has called all who will hear Him to look upon His Son Jesus, and be saved. Saved from sin to be in the presence of God.

The Second Psalm explains the world leaders of today. It explains the United Nations efforts of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and the world. It just seems that the world is at odds with Israel and Christians. This Psalm makes it make some sense.

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His annointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” Psalm 2:2-3 (KJV).

There is no question in my mind that there is an attempt to overthrow the plans of God. Now, this is not what they say, and probably not in the forefront of their minds, but in the hidden recesses of their hearts.  They may really believe they are doing good, and serving the people; but all the while they are following the mind of the enemy of God.  The ‘prince of the power of the air’; as he has often been called; knows of course, that he cannot overthrow God, but he in his vile, disgusting attempts is seeking to condemn as many to his own judgment as he possibly can. Yes the world, and world leaders are seeking for world peace, but is against God; the God of peace.

The meeting of the United Nations is the meeting of the minds of the kings of the earth, and they are still crying out against God. They see God as binding, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us”, and the only freedom the world will ever experience; in their way of thinking; is to do away with God.

I do not know your opinion or heart toward God, but mine is that I need Him. He is my Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Life-giver, and Peace giver, and so very much more. I pray that He is for you too.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD… My Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalms 23:1-6 (KJV)

There is safety, security, and strength in the Lord.  Put your faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose from the grave;  today.

-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

Celebrate The LORD

Celebrations seem to be reserved for weddings, graduations, promotions, and for whatever one desires to celebrate in our society.  There is one, or more celebrations we should never forget, though, and that is celebrating our LORD God, and the wonderful things and acts He has done for us.

The Hebrew people were given many days of celebration, with seven feast days, then a total of nine.  These begin from the Passover to end with Purim, and they each play a significant part in Judaism.  Celebrations they are, but even more they are worshipping the LORD God who delivered them, provides for them, and reminds them of His merciful, gracious, and awesome acts.

As Christians we can see the Messiah; our Lord Jesus; as He is pictured, typed, and shadowed by these celebrations.  We should celebrate and worship Him everyday of our lives.

In this message I want us to see the need for celebrating Jesus, and these pictures of our Lord in the Old Testament.  We are short on our celebrations and celebrating.  So, let’s celebrate Jesus and worship Him, and by our worship of Him we worship our GOD.

The portraits follow of our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE BLOOD OF THE PASSOVER LAMB IS A PICTURE OF THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS (vv. 1–5; Exodus 12:1-14).  By the pronouncement of God’s Word from His messenger Moses the wrath of God was going to fall on the firstborn of every home.  No one was going to be left untouched.  It didn’t matter if one was of Israel or of Egypt.  The destiny of every family was  going to be determined by the actions of each household.  The day of the Passover was to be on the fourteenth day of Abib (Exodus 13:4) also called Nisan, and is from our later days of March through the early days of April.  So, the Passover by our calendar would fall around the 29th of March, though it does come on April 9th for 2009.  I don’t know what the  difference is which causes this variance.

It was necessary if the firstborn of the home was to live, or if they neglected to put the blood on their door; then their firstborn would die.  God had shown Himself faithful to carry out the previous 9 plagues; why should or would He be questioned not?  At least the children of Israel obeyed and the firstborn children of Israel were saved.

This shows us that all are guilty of sin and need the blood of a sacrifice.  For the Passover it was the blood of the lamb which provided propitiation for the believing home.  In this case the “angel of death” passed over that home.  The shed blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, is the only atonement available for the guilt and shame of mankind today.

Jesus said, “This is My blood… which is shed for you” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; John 6:56).  These reference verses show the importance Jesus placed on His blood for those who believe in Him.  Jesus is the PASSOVER LAMB of God and when God the Father sees the blood of His Son Jesus He sees our sins cleansed, washed away, forgiven, and us forever in His presence.

THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE SINLESSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 6-8; Exodus 12:15-20).  This feast takes place the day following the Passover meal.  It takes place in the month Abib/Nisan as well.  It would be a 7 day feast, and no leaven was allowed in the bread, nor to be in any Hebrews home.

There are far too many who would place Jesus merely in the realm of humanity.  Yes!  He was and is human, but so much more than a man.  Many have no problem seeing Jesus as a prophet, a good teacher or even a good man; however if He was not the Son of God, Divine [God incarnate], and sinless; then He was a sham, a con-artist, and the worst deceiver who ever lived on earth.

While the idea of the “unleavened bread” implies a hasty departure for Israel from Egypt; we can also see the need for the believer’s hasty departure from sin, and sins bondage.  Sin is the master of all unredeemed people (Romans 6:16). Gender or age makes no difference.  All are guilty of sin before Holy God, and require the propitiatory act of the death of the sinless Jesus Christ to stand in the presence of the HOLY ONE.

The sinlessness of Jesus Christ qualifies Him to be our sin-bearer, our Redeemer, our Substitute, our Savior.  Paul the apostle wrote,

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

THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 9-14).  This is the offering feast of the harvest of the firstfruits of the wheat and the barley, and took place following the seventh day of the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.

Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover, taking into account that the Jewish day began after the sun set.  The following day would have started the feast of unleavened bread and continued for a seven day period.  Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb, definitely dead, prepared for burial, with the tomb sealed, and three days later arose bodily from the grave, early on that Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1-4).

We find “Firstfruits” mentioned in the New Testament by Paul the apostle writing to the church of Corinth;

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 (KJV)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the grave is the means of the Christians rejoicing.  Our God and Savior Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, hell and the grave and still lives, giving God the glory, and  giving to all who will believe eternal life.

Celebrate Jesus He died, was buried, arose bodily from the grave and is returning some day.

THE FEAST OF WEEKS [PENTECOST] IS THE PICTURE OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE LIVING LORD JESUS; HIS SPIRIT IN US (vv. 15-22).  The celebration was to be counted seven sabbaths from the offering of the first fruits, or 49 days. With celebration of day 50.

Forty days following the resurrection of Jesus, and His appearances to many, in one incident “above five hundred at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6); Jesus ascended into heaven leaving this promise;

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” and,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  Acts 1:5, 8 (KJV)

Ten days following Jesus’s ascension into the heavenlies the Spirit of God came on all in the upper room (Acts 2).  That is the total of 50 days.

This is something the Christian, filled with the Spirit of God and Christ, can celebrate every single day.  We have the very person of Jesus Christ within us.  He is the power of Christ, the presence of Christ, and glory of Christ in us.  He is our “Earnest payment” until Jesus returns (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14).  This our guarantee that He is returning.

The Spirit of God in us is much more than a guarantee of His return though.  He is the power which changes the heart of a good man into the heart of a godly man.  He is the power that changes a pimp or a prostitute into a vessel which is clean, pure and brings glory to God.  He is the power who can change the child molester into an individual who has the heart of God for children.  He is the power who can change a murderer into someone who loves and cherishes all of life.  When the Spirit of God and Christ enters a man, woman, boy or girl the change that is made is noticed;

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4 (KJV)

Saul of Tarsus, who hated Jesus, His teachings, and all who followed Him became a disciple and an apostle of Jesus Christ when he met Jesus, and was changed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in him (Acts 9:1-22).  Every one who comes to Jesus receives the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit), baptized into His body (1 Corinthians  12:13), and is gifted and empowered to live for Him and His glory.

THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS IS THE PICTURE OF CHRIST REGATHERING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (vv. 23-25). The Feast of Trumpets took place annually during the month Tishri (September/October). The prophets from Isaiah through Malachi ring with promises of the regathering of Israel as a nation.  Jesus Himself made the promise of such;

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Mattthew 24:31 (KJV)

There are many Old Testament promises which will yet be fulfilled; some I give you:

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:1-5 (KJV)

Isaiah 11:1-16

“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.” Ezekiel 43:1-6 (KJV)

“And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” Ezekiel 48:31-35 (KJV)

“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:4-6 (KJV)

On this portion of Matthew (24:31) you may check this out. If you would like to check out my studies of the Olivet Discourse you may click on the link.

Romans chapters 9 – 11 give us more details of God’s promises being fulfilled to the people of Israel, and one day Jesus will regather them to Himself, and this time will be forever.

THE FEAST OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT GIVES US THE PICTURE OF JESUS’S SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH ON THE CROSS (vv. 26-32).  The day of atonement took place during the month Tishri (September/October).

It was on the day of atonement that we hear of the “Scapegoat” (Leviticus  16).  There were two goats brought to the high priest.  By “lot” one was chosen as the LORD’s and the other lot for the scapegoat.  The LORD’s lot was sacrificed, the other was released, “…to go as a scapegoat into the wilderness.”  There is more sacrifice involved on this day of atonement, but within this scene of the “Scapegoat” we have a beautiful picture of the atoning work of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Jesus, as the sinless, perfect, spotless, blemishless, Lamb of God went to the cross our sacrifice for sin, without sin, became our sin – thus the goat image – bore the wrath of Holy God upon sin, died as the penalty for our sin (Romans 6:23), was buried – thus the image of the scapegoat – carrying our sins, shame, and guilt and condemnation away.  Then, He arose bodily from the grave leaving all that sin, shame, guilt and condemnation cast far, far away (Psalm 103:12).

There is only one payment for sin, and that is provided, and was provided by our God and Savior Jesus Christ, as he bled and died in obedience to His Father, and in His love for you and I He is our Substitute, our only atonement for sin.

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES IS A PICTURE OF THE REST AND REUNION WE HAVE IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 33-44).  This feast also took place in the month of Tishri (September/October) on the fifteenth day would be the beginning.  The first day was a Sabbath day, and the eighth day was a Sabbath day for them.  On the first day also they were to make booths (a temporary home) this was a reminder to them of the journey through the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt.

It would seem that the whole month of Tishri is taken  with celebration and worship of the LORD.  The life of the Christian should be a time of celebration/worship of  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our God.  God saw to it that the people would always have plenty of rest from their labors.  Six days a week they labored, then the sabbath day was a day of rest.  Then on the fourteenth day of the first month until the twentyfirst day they celebrated the Passover, Unleavened bread, and firstfruits; fifty days later they celebrated Pentecost, then in the seventh month of Tishri they celebrated Feast of Trumpets [Rosh Hashanah], Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur], and feast of Tabernacles [Booths of Ingathering].

Today the Hebrews celebrate two other occasions.  Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) [Hanukkah] during the month of December from the miracle of the Menorah in the temple during the of the Maccabees rebellion against Antiochus ephiphines.  The other began in the time of Esther, and is called Purim in the month Adar (February/March).  Purim is remembrance and thanks to God for His deliverance from Haman’s deceptive means to destroy the Jews.

In Jesus Christ our Lord and God we celebrate these every day.  He fulfilled all these.  He is the anti-type.  He is not the shadow of these things; He is the substance.  Jesus is also the Light, and the only means of salvation for the Jew and the Gentile.

Of His Rest and Reunion we read:

“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:11-16 (KJV)

Let’s Celebrate Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Scripture, Jesus, And The Christian

Purpose:  As Jesus came to do the Father’s will, fulfilling Scriptures, so too are those who follow Him fulfilling Scripures.

OUTLINE of Luke 4:14-21

I.  JESUS RETURNS TO GALILEE IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT  AND TEACHES (v. 14-15).

II.  JESUS IS FAITHFUL TO ATTEND THE PLACE OF WORSHIP (v. 16).

III.  JESUS PARTICIPATED IN KEEPING THE SCRIPTURES AS CENTRAL TO WORSHIP (v. 17).

IV.  JESUS READ THE SCRIPTURES AND APPLIED THEM TO HIMSELF (vv. 18-19).

V.  JESUS THE FULFILLMENT OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 20-21;  Revelation 19:10).

THE CHRISTIAN’S TIME OF TESTING EQUIPS US TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS (vv. 14-15).  Following the baptism of Jesus by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness for testing.  Testing is not just to show us, what we have, but to strengthen us for the journey ahead.

The testing which Jesus endured, survived, and defeated the temptations of the enemy were needed by Him, to strengthen Him for the journey which lay ahead; all the way to the cross.  Let’s remember that Luke’s gospel is written concerning the “God-Man” Jesus Christ.  Luke shows the humanity of Jesus more than the other gospel writers.  As Luke emphasizes His humanity he does not degrade, lessen, or violate the Deity of Christ (as written by John); the Royalty of Christ (as written by Matthew), nor the Servanthood of Christ (as written of by Mark).   The four gospels nowhere, and at no place ever contradict one another; they rather complement one another; giving us the fuller story of Jesus Christ.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue to read the portion of Isaiah.  It is noted in Nehemiah that when  the Scriptures were read, “…All the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5).  This was done in reverence to God’s Word.  Jesus, and it may be that all who would read Scripture in the synagogue or Temple were to stand.

With the test Jesus passed He was strengthened to face the temptations of the people.  Some wanted Him to be their king, and even came at least once to force Him to be their king (John 6:15).  Surely, this was a temptation for Him; however He would not take a shortcut, nor detour around the destination that was to the cross.

The Christian’s walk in the Spirit of Christ is not one filled with popularity, nor easy shortcuts which can often turn out to be sad mistakes, and even sin.  Christians walking in the Spirit follow the path of the cross.  “Take up the cross and follow Me…” (Mark 8:34, 10:21;  Matthew 16:24;  Luke 9:23; 14:27) Jesus said, and is still calling those who follow Him to die to self, and the world.  There is no walking in the Spirit of Jesus without the cross of the follower.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL BE FAITHFUL TO SUPPORT THE WORSHIP OF THEIR LOCAL CHURCH (v. 16)  “I am part of the invisible church.”  Have you ever heard such a comment or something similar, and usually added to it is this comment; “I am not a part of any church, I attend all churches, as God leads”.  What they mean is that they are “Church hoppers”.  These types of people go from church to church, and more times than not are a source of contempt, and discontent, first in themselves and then to others.

We see Jesus attending synagogue when He was not in Jerusalem to attend the Temple meetings.  He attended the synagogue of His home town of Nazareth.

Becoming a member of a local church; and this is coming from a Baptist point of view, and I believe a Scriptural one; requires first of all that you be born again, having called on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation, and having been baptized by the Spirit into Christ.  Secondly, that you confess your faith to a local church, requesting water baptism showing the baptism of the Spirit which you have already received – baptism being by immersion (that is putting under the water)- testifying of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scripture knows nothing of an “Invisible church”.  The letters which the apostle Paul wrote were written to local congregations.  For example, Romans was written to the Christians at Rome.  The Corinthian letters were written to Christians in Corinth.  The Thessalonian letters were written to the Christians in Thessalonica.  The Letters to the Seven Churches which were given by Jesus were to local churches.

Why does the Spirit filled Christian need to be in a local congregation.  First of all because Jesus is.  Secondly, for their spiritual well being; encouragement, solidarity, strength, faithfulness, systematic learning, worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship, and reaching the lost to bring them in.  Third, a local congregation of God’s people bonding together in Christ can more affectively reach the community in which that local church meats.  I am sure there are more.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL INCLUDE DEDICATION TO THE PROMINENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD (v. 17).  In recent years it seems that the priority or prominence within the church has become gaining attendance, rather than placing priority, prominence, and authority to the Word of God.  The Christian who is walking in the Spirit of Jesus Christ wants, desires, for the Word of God to grow in prominence within their hearts and lives.

Where should the Bible/Scripture fit into the local church?  Where should it fit into any church which professes to be Christian?  The Word of God should always be front and center.  By front and center I mean that the Word of God is of the utmost priority and prominence, because it is Scripture which lifts up and glorifies Jesus and the Father.  It is Scripture which works by the Spirit to make alive those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  It is Scripture by which a “…young man cleanse[s] his way…” (Psalm 119:9), by which all can cleanse their way.  The Scriptures, quickened by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”  (Psalm 119:105).  In Baptist and some prostestant churches there is some symbolism seen in the way the worship area is designed.  When you enter the “sanctuary” you see the pulpit (as the place where the Word of God is proclaimed) up front, and in the center of the stage or platform, with the organ and piano to the right and left.  Many times the pews or chairs are angled toward the pulpit giving note to the priority of preaching the Scriptures.

Jesus stood showing priority, prominence and respect for reading the Word of God.

Prominence of Scripture must be done more than in a local congregation.  It must be lived out in the hearts and lives of Christians who worship in the local church.  The priority of Scripture must be seen in your life by your devotion to the reading, meditating upon what you have read, hearing what you have read – hearing God in what you have read, then taking it and applying it to your life, giving full priority and prominence to it within your life.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL SHOW FORTH JESUS AND BE A PART IN THE FULFILLING OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 18-21).  As Jesus read the prophecy of Isaiah, He knew this spoke of Himself, and called on those who could hear Him to receive it, and believe it.   Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2a, cutting it off before, “And the day of  vengeance of our God…”.

Jesus came to these of whom He gives notice.  To preach good tidings to the poor; the heal the broken hearted;  to proclaim liberty to the captives; opening the prison to those who are bound.  Jesus came the first time to save us, to give us hope; and to assure us that there is a day coming when all evil will be dealt an eternal blow, which was initially dealt with on the cross a few years later.

Jesus’s presence with them in the synagogue, at Nazareth was not by accident, but was a clear declaration that Jesus is the God-Man who would do all these things.  With the commission given us by Jesus we are gifted to go and be a light, the salt, and the living word among those who have not heard.

In our obedience to Jesus Christ we fulfill the Scriptures in our own hearts and in the lives of others.  It would be more correct to say that God fulfills Scripture in our obedience to Jesus and His Word.

As Jesus stood to fulfill the reading of the Scriptures, He then sat down, as though to say, “It will be and is as good as done”.  That day all the answers to mankinds ills had made His appearance.  He still calls for people to follow Him.  The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is setting down at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Thanksgiving Day Psalm

I thought this Psalm could address our thankfulness on this Thanksgiving Day.  We have much for which to be thankful to God.

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.’

‘Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.’

‘Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.’

‘They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.’

‘He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” Psalm 107:1-43 (KJV)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY.

-Tim A. Blankenship