Jesus in Genesis (2)

LOOKING FOR JESUS – GENESIS (2)

“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10c).

Can Jesus and the gospel be found in the Old Testament? It is my declaration that He can and that the gospel is there as well.

Look in Genesis 3. This is the chapter of the fall of man and sin entering into the world. After the sin of Adam and Eve we find God’s declarations to the serpent, to Eve and last of all to Adam. Within this chapter there is a prophecy of a Savior who would come, and a type (picture, shadow) of what would take place by that Savior who would come. This is what we will look at in this post.

In God’s Word to the serpent He said (v. 15),

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”

We can see the enmity (fear, strife) between the serpent and the children of Eve. It is even present to this day. When I see a snake it causes fear in me. That is one of God’s creatures which I want absolutely nothing to do with. In my mind they are a symbol of all that is vile and wicked and evil. If you want to handle the things, you go right ahead. If it bites you you cannot blame anyone but yourself. The same thing is true of sin. When you play with sin, it will bite you, and it already has.

The seed of the woman, the one who would bruise the head of the serpent is the promised Redeemer who would come. When Eve had Cain it seems as though she expected him to be the one. There was such expectancy. It is seen in what she named him

“Cain…I have gotten a man from the Lord” (4:1).

It was not to be Cain, because he was not a man who had a heart for the things of God. This prophecy would not be fulfilled for about four thousand years. It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. On the cross, upon which Jesus died Satan (that old serpent) “Bruised the heel” of the Seed of the woman. Upon that same cross the head of the serpent was not only “bruised” but the power of Satan was crushed, and his authority over men taken away. After the cross Jesus rose from death showing that He was indeed the Son of the living God, and God the Living Son (Romans 1:4). By that same resurrection we have the promise of eternal life.

There is also a shadow/type of the cross seen in this chapter of Genesis. In Verse 21 it says,

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

Now in the minds of some, this verse may seem very insignificant, but I do not think it will be to many who are reading this. Remember Adam and Eve had been warned by God that they would die if they ate fruit from the forbidden tree. Now they had eaten fruit from the tree, and God provided redemption for them. It was a covering for their sin. It was in the form of animal skins, and I personally believe the skins to be lamb skins. Life was taken; blood was shed. This was the first time death had come into the world, and it was God who did the killing. In this shadow of the cross there were animals put to death for the sins of these two sinners. God in his holy and righteous way provided a means of salvation which would bring salvation to the human race. To think that God in His wisdom, power, love and grace was showing us the wonderful life of Jesus Christ in providing covering for Adam and Eve. They had tried to cover themselves in fig leaves, but it was not good enough for God. The “Fig leaves” of religion, self-righteousness, good works, or ceremonial laws will never satisfy the righteousness of God. The blood or the righteous Lamb of God alone has done that.

Isn’t the love, grace and mercy of God something wonderful. It is the most wonderful knowledge that we could have. It is, in fact the most wonderful thing we could have in our lives.

Day 37 – Thoughts from Psalms; Waiting

The word wait is use nine times in the reading for today.  My reading was from Psalms 24 – 37.  Waiting is not a pleasant thing to do; especially in today’s fast moving world.

We wait in traffic.  We wait for that job interview and job that is going to put us in a higher income bracket, and maybe on “easy street”.  We wait at the doctor’s office.  We wait in the Emergency Room.  We wait for news of family and friends to come.  It seems when we are anxiously waiting that it takes forever coming; whatever it is we are waiting for.

We are admonished by Scripture and these Psalms,

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 (KJV)

Expectantly is the idea of “Wait on the LORD”.  Trusting Him in the time when things do not seem to be happening.  What are we to do while we are “Waiting on the LORD”?  We do what we know to do, keep on going, keep on trusting, but by His directives and plan; not our own.

“Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.” 25:3-5

There will be no shame for those who are waiting on God; ie, trusting in Him.  Too many times we jump ahead of what God wants us to do, and we end up making messes of our lifes situation.  That is seen in the business world, and the spiritual lives of people.

A Christian business man may know to trust the LORD in his business situation, yet a need may arise for a certain type of qualified individual who can get the job done, and he takes the first one who comes along, and things end up in a mess.

I fear there are far too many churches, and Christians who are having worship services that are geared to fleshly activity rather than divine worship; because they want to “prime the pump” so to speak, getting ahead of what God’s word teaches, and instilling their own devices.  In this we end up with a mess; outside God’s directive and plan; where He is not truly worshipped and praised.  We feel good, but God does not.  No shame will come to those who wait on God.

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” 37:7-9

The word “wait” and “patiently” are used together in the first part of these verses and the idea is a bit different.  It seems that it is almost a painful thing, sort of like an exercise of building strength, character, or patience.  I do not know if you have ever prayed for patience, but I can almost assure that if you have, or when you do, something will come along which will build up patience in you; a trial of great pain and sorrow.  It was the apostle Paul who said,

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience…” Romans 5:3

“Waiting on the LORD” means also that we are living His way, not our own.  Let me end this commentary today with these words,

“Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.” 37:34

His way is found in Scripture, the Bible, and these words tell us of the One who would come to take away our sin and its condemnation.  That one is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.  He told us, after His death, burial and bodily resurrection that He would return.  Let us who believe Him, and trust Him wait patiently for that blessed hope and glorious return.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 4 – From a Garden to a Grave, and Beyond

I do not believe I have ever read so much of Genesis so quickly as I  have since beginning this reading through the Bible in 90 days.  It is exciting, challenging, and enlightening.

Our reading this morning covers Genesis 43 – Exodus 6.

We have gone from the days of creation; Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, their expulsion, a murderous son (Cain), the flood; the calling of Abraham to father a nation; and we have seen his tests, trials, and troubles.  Abraham’s and Sarah’s trying to do things their own way, and ending up causing a mess.

We see Isaac’s son Jacob practicing deception; he and a whole lot of other people doing the same thing.  Yet, God chooses Jacob to be the “prince with God” calling him “Israel”.  Jacob  has a son named Joseph who is betrayed by his brothers, sold into Egypt, cast into prison unjustly, then, promoted to second in command under the Pharoah of Egypt.  Sin is progressing; and so to is grace.  “Where sin abounds, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Beginning in a garden of perfection, comfort, and every need provided to a grave in Egypt.

“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”  Genesis 50:26 (KJV)

One of the things we can see following Adam’s and Eve’s sin in the garden is death seems to dominate the picture; however, it does not rule forever.  Since the fall everything ages, weakens and dies.  The curse of Adam’s sin is upon all of creation.  Not a one of us can rejoice in death, because death is the fruit of sin.  It is a bitter fruit.  It is a separating act.  It divides – separates the  spirit and soul of the human from their bodies.  There is, however, a death worse than physical; and that is the spiritual death which separates God from man.  That death happened instantly when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden

That death is seen when they heard God coming to them; they hid themselves.  Death is not a pleasant thing to discuss, or to write about; but it is a part of our lives.  It is also and foremost “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).

From the death of Joseph we go to Exodus, showing us that death is not the end.  In Exodus we find that God hears the cries of the children of Israel crying for help.  He hears their cry, prepares a man from Egypt – one of their own who has grown up with the rulers of Egypt – and sends him back to deliver His children from the bondage that has come about because of lying and deception of the brothers of Joseph.

When God calls a man it is an awesome thing.  And it was for Moses,

“And Moses said unto God, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’  And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.’  And Moses said unto God, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, ‘What is His name? What shall I say unto them?’  And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM: and He said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.’  And God said moreover unto Moses, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.”  Exodus 3:11-15 (KJV)

Life does indeed go on beyond death, and the grave.  And, I do not mean only in the physical realm of life, but also the spiritual.  There is an eternity to shun, and there is an eternity to indulge in, and be filled with the greatness and glory of God.

We find in the verses above that God called Moses to go and deliver the children of Israel from their captivity.  Who was actually doing the deliverance?  Moses was only a man; who had faults, failures, fears and doubts; but was still greatly used by God.

Who was sending Moses?  The “I AM”.  Meaning the “Self-Existing One” the “Self-Sustaining One”.  He needs nothing to be; He is.

He is the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He is also the LORD God of Jesus the Son of the LORD God [YHWH-‘Elohyim].  Jesus, the God-man who walked in flesh among us.  Jesus the God-man who bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind as the atonement for our sins.  Those who believe in Him will be rejoined with GOD for all eternity.  That is the only eternity to indulge, and be filled with the presence, greatness and glory of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Vengeance and God

As I read the Psalms this morning; particularly Psalms 91 – 95; the 94th Psalm and verse 1 was of special interest.  Now let me say off the start that there is no one I can think of that I want harm or God’s vengeance or mine to come on.  I do not believe the Psalmist had any one individual in mind either.  However, there is evil in the world, and most of the time evil comes through people.

One of the greatest evils of our time in the United States of America is abortion; the murder of the unborn human child.  However, we do not want to continue evil by doing evil in taking the lives of those who are in the eyes of the Supreme Court of our country, and “law of the land”.  Vengeance is in our Lord’s hands.  It is not mine or ours.

“O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew Thyself.” Psalm 94:1 (KJV)

The act of retribution upon evil is God’s.  We as citizens of our nation have the power and authority to try and overthrow the ruling of the SC, and write new laws, but not to take life.

Reading the above verse makes me think of a couple of others,

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord.”  Romans 12:19, (Deuteronomy 32:35).

The other one being to finish up the sentence of the Psalmist, “Shew Thyself”,

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a (KJV)

Vengeance is the Lord’s.  It is sweeter when we leave it in God’s hands; and the justice done is so much more redeeming when we leave it with Him.

For any evil, there is forgiveness when one comes to the cross of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Death Grip

Anyone who thinks or believes that living the Christian life is “easy” has not begun to live the Christian life.  Several years ago, I was preaching in a Baptist Church [my conviction] on the difficulties of living the Christian life.  I had a woman who came to me afterwards and said, “I don’t find living the Christian life difficult.”  Now, I don’t know if she quite got a grasp of what I was saying, or if she did not know what the Christian life was about; but living it is difficult; even when we have the Spirit of God living within.

Death Grip is what sin has on those who are human.  The sad part of that is; that even when someone trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we still have a battle with sin’s death grip.  Every Christian struggles with sin.  We will continue to struggle with it until this body, this shell of flesh we live in takes its last breath, and the heart beats its last beat.

That is why as a Christian we are admonished by the Word of God to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).  The promise of the Word is that we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-17), as long as long as we “have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.  That doctrine, of course, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we struggle against sin.  Yes!  Christians still commit sin.  Not because we love it, but because of the death grip of sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope…” Isaiah 5:18.  Most of our struggle with sin is due to our own weakness to resist it.  We have the power to resist temptation because of the work of Jesus Christ and His “earnest payment” left us; the Holy Spirit.  Yet we are in that death grip.

Back during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ.  Dr. Al Mohler upset a lot of our folks by some comments he made using words, such as “Homophobic” and “Choice”.  It was falsely reported by one news agency that the SBC had recanted and changed its view of homosexuality; NOT SO.

Dr. Mohler believes as I do that homosexuality is sin.  Just as adultery is sin, murder is sin, stealing is sin, lust is sin, murderous thinking is sin, disobedience to God and His Word is sin.  Homosexuality, in scripture is called an abomination.

When an individual comes to faith in Christ we are not perfect, but we enter a state of growth where we are growing more into the image of Christ.  That, though, will not be perfected until we see Jesus face to face.

Sin’s Death Grip is like Isaiah’s iniquity, and cart rope; we still drag that sinful flesh along with us.  It is a burden, a drag, yet we desire to be free from it; and one day we will.  Until then, let us put off the works of the flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we fall, let us take the hand of our Savior, arise forgiven, cleansed, and continue on the journey.

There is forgiveness for all who will call on the name of Jesus Christ in faith.  Christian remember this, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Morning Devotion from C. H. Spurgeon

I read the morning devotion for June 10 by Charles Spurgeon this morning, and it touched my heart.  I want to share with the few who come here.

Romans 14:8
We live unto the Lord.

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, He might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is-they are here that they may “live unto the Lord,” and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as “workers together with Him.” Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to “the praise of the glory of His grace.” Meanwhile we long to be with Him, and daily sing-

“My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
‘Rise up, and come away.'”

I pray the Lord uses this to draw you nearer to Him.

T.A.

The Glory…I Have Given Them

The love God has for us is really beyond human understanding, but we are to know that He loves us with an everlasting love.  He has shown His love by sending us His Son Jesus to die for our sins.  We have fallen short of the glory of God.  We have sinned.  Yet, it is God; who is holy, righteous, and undefiled who paid the sin debt that was our’s alone.

Jesus, as He was nearing the end of His earthly ministry as a man, prayed for all those who would follow Him.  It is that prayer in which we have been looking at.  In that prayer He has prayed for our keeping in the Father’s hands, the last time we saw He prayed that we all would be one, and that through us “the world might believe that Thou [the Father] hast sent Me”.

“And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:  I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”  John 17:22-23 (KJV).

In the book of Romans, written by the apostle Paul, inspired by the Spirit of God; we find these words, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (KJV).  We, ie., the human race, was made for God’s glory.  When Adam chose to disobey the law of God he fell short of that glory, thus, all the race of Adam has fallen short of that glory.

Jesus alone, as the God-Man fulfilled that glory.  It was the glory He had when He came down to earth.  It was the glory He sustained as He walked among us.  It was the glory given to Him by the Father.  He gives those who believe Him, and follow Him that same glory.

As we walk with Him we glorify Him, we are made “perfect in one”, and due to that, the world around us can know that the Father has sent the Son, and that He loves us, just as the Father has loved Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

I Also Sent Them Into The World

The world inwhich we live, ie., the cosmos, is the creation of God.  From the beginning it has been in His hand, and He has never removed His hand from it.  We even have an account in the epistle of Paul to the Romans, where Paul wrote, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8:22 (KJV).  This world and all that is in it were created perfect.  There was no sickness or disease.  There were no terrifying earthquakes, no loud boisterous thunderstorms, or lightening flashing and terrifying life everywhere.  These things did not occur until sin entered the world by way of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience to God.

That is why our Lord Jesus has prayed with concern of our being in the world.  The world of sin, iniquity, and rebellion.  From verses 11-16 He has prayed for us and our position in this world.  In verse 17 He prayed for our sanctification through the Word.  We come now to His sending us as His people to be His ambassador in this world.  We read;

“As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”  John 17:18-19 (KJV).

I am assured that this prayer is for all who will believe and follow Jesus.  He has asked for our sanctification, and that is the work that continues to go on in our lives day after day after day.  It is His work in us.  Let’s be thankful for His daily work of grace which not only saves us for all eternity, but works it out in our lives through cleansing and removing all that is vile and sinful in His sight.

Jesus, Himself, has set Himself aside to do the Father’s will.  To accomplish all that the Father sent Him to do.  The will of the Lord Jesus, and the will of the Father are one and the same.  Be assured today, that, it is God’s will to complete what He has started in you, and He will.  You are His ambassador in this world.  Let’s live as though we are.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Twelve – Thirteen through Seventeen

“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”  Mark 12:13-17 (KJV)

THEY TRY TO TRICK JESUS CONCERNING TAXES.

“Shall we pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  That is a question many still ask this day and time.

Is it lawful, is it right, is it godly to pay taxes?  Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things which are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s”.  What kind of society did Jesus live in?  Roman rule was the law.  Did Jesus protest taxes because the Romans were unjust, wicked, and boisterous?  No!  He said, “Pay your taxes”.

Jesus asked for a “penny”, and He looked at the image on the penny.  He asserted that since Caesar’s image was on the penny then it needed to be given to Caesar.  Whose image is on man?  God’s.  Therefore, give to God what is God’s.  That means yourself.

Jeremiah the prophet told the people how they were to live as captives in Babylon, and under Babylonian captivity.

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”  Jeremiah 29:4-7 (KJV)

Also consider Romans chapter 13:1-7

Whether we as Christians want to admit it or not; like it or not; makes little difference if we are subjects of our Lord.  We submit to Him, and the laws of our captive land.  We are “captives” of a sort in this world until our redemption in Jesus Christ is completed at His coming.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Glorify The Lord

Glorify the Lord.  Now that is a grand statement, and it is one that describes how our lives are to be.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  How can we who are born sinners, then, glorify the Lord?  Of ourselves we cannot.

“I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”  John 17:4 (KJV).

Now that is a bold statement coming from a man who some would say, and are saying that He is not deity.  No mere man could make such a claim, but Jesus does in His prayer to the Father.  How could He make such a claim were He not equal with the Father?  He could not.  It would be the height of pride and arrogance for anyone else to say such a thing.  It would be next door to blasphemy.

To glorify the Lord would be to be obedient to Him in all things, and fulfill every thing that God has for you and me to do.  There would be no disobedience.  There would be no mistakes.  There would be a life completely “Sold out” to doing the Father’s business.  Jesus has lived a life of complete obedience to all the Father had for Him to do, and all the way to Calvary; the cross of sacrifice.

The desire of every Christian is to live for the glory of the Lord.  The only way of doing that is to live the life of Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We do that by realizing that it was by the sacrifice of the life of Jesus that God has reconciled us to Himself, and given us means to glorify Him in Jesus.

Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:17-21

…Giving What You Need For The Task

Daniel 1:17-21

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APPLICATION –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus and Children

Children are precious.  It still boggles the mind, for me, to hear of people abusing children, whether it is physically in anger or sexual molestation.  That also causes me to get a “little” angry down inside.  To think a “mature” individual could do harm to a child is beyond my understanding.

Children are trusting, caring, unless they have their minds twisted by twisted adults.  Don’t take me wrong; I am not saying children are perfect, but they are young, dependent upon those who are mature, and trust them with their welfare.

Jesus the King loved children and he calls them to Himself.  We see an example of that in Matthew’s gospel,

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”  Matthew 18:2-5 (KJV)

In verse one the disciples had come to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  That is the question many are asking today.  Maybe not with words, but in their actions and behavior.  Government actions offering more money for their state if they will go along with one thing or another.  Men offering their wives more money to stay with them rather than going public with a divorce.  Police taking money to turn their heads at crime.  It all has to do with someone being the “greatest” in their kingdom.

Upon hearing the question Jesus calls a child to Himself, set this child in the middle of them all and proceeded to tell them who was the greatest.  His answers violates the answers that the world system offers us.  “Boast of your personal assets and abilities”.  That is what the world wants of you  and I.

However consider Jesus’s words, “Except you be converted, and become as little children…”  There must be a life changing event that has happened in your life which has changed you; particularly becoming a loving/obedient follower of Jesus Christ; and that will give you the heart of a child.  Children are loving, trusting, humble; having no personal accomplishments, no real life achievements, in which to commend themselves.

When one is truly converted to Christ they lay all the self accomplishments aside, all their failures, all their sins are put away.  The life of faith is growing to become more childlike in faith.  In the physical world we grow from childhood to maturity; at least that’s the idea.  In the life of Christ we go from being mature in ourselves to growing in childlike faith.  From maturity to childhood.

That may sound a bit backwards for some, however, that is the way we are to grow.  Into completely trusting our Lord and Savior.

The ones who have this type of faith are the only ones who will even enter the kingdom of heaven.

Put aside, lay aside your achievements and personal accomplishments, and trust the King of kings and Lord of lords who has given His life on the cross for our sins.  You can trust Him for your needs.  Your greatest need is salvation from the condemnation of this world and sin.  Jesus has made the only way possible for salvation.

“Whosoever  calls on the name of the LORD  shall be saved” (Romans 10:13)

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Marriage Of Isaac

It is seen in the study of Genesis that Isaac is the promised son of Abraham and Sarah,  according to the Word of God.  In this study I want us to see the picture of the Christ and His Church which is found in Genesis chapter 24.

I did a short study on this in 2006, and posted it here on Fire and Hammer.  I will repost it here.

We must remember the apostle Paul’s words when he wrote, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Romans 9:7) quoting Genesis 21:12.  We are not wrong in seeing an allegory of the Church in Rebekkah, nor of seeing Isaac as a picture of  Jesus Christ.

“1And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.” Genesis 24:1-9 (KJV).

I will not post all 67 verses, but I will put the verse numbers for your reference to check out.

There is a wedding which is going to be celebrated, in what I believe to be the not too distant future. Here in the Old Testament book of Genesis is a picture of the bringing together of the bride and the Bridegroom.

Jesus promised that after His ascension into Heaven He would send a Comforter. This comforter would guide into all truth. He would draw people to Jesus Christ.

In our text we have an unnamed servant of Abraham who is sent to find a bride for his son. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit inspired the writings of Scripture in the way He has here showing forth the glory of God, and His work bringing the lost to Jesus.

The servant went to the assigned place to seek a bride for Isaac. Rebekah was that chosen bride. This bride 1). “Believed a man she had never met before, 2). was asked to go to a land from which she was never to return, 3). was asked to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.” M. R. DeHaan. The journey was about 600 miles on the back of a camel.

When the servant chose Rebekah it was then, a decision for her to make. The decision was one that could not wait (vv. 55-58). So Rebekah chose to go on a journey over hard country – a barren, dry and dangerous country.

When Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time he was coming from Lahairoi, which means, “The well of a Living One”. This is the first appearance of Isaac since the altar of Mount Moriah. Jesus will one day appear to take His bride who has been chosen by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at four of the characters in this text, and we will try and focus the picture on the One who is True.

First of all, look at the father. He loved Isaac and wanted a bride for him. He believed that God was faithful and would keep His promise and provide the bride. The bride could not be an outsider. The Father getting a bride for His Son, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. John 6:44 (KJV).

The next character we see in the text is the servant. He is a model servant. He does not go unsent (vv. 2-9), he goes where he is sent (vv. 4-10), he does nothing else, is prayerful and thankful (vv. 12-14, 26-27), he is wise to win (vv.17, 21), he speaks not of himself, but of his master’s riches, and Isaac’s heirship (vv. 34-36; Acts 1:8), he presents the true issue, and requires a clear decision (v. 49).

The work of the Spirit of God is the True: the antitype. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” John 15:26 (KJV). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-14 (KJV).

The third character is the chosen bride herself. She welcomed a stranger, whom she had never seen. This servant came to the well, seeking God’s direction, and Rebekah came and fulfilled the needs of this servants prayer (vv. 18-20, 24, 25). She accepted the servants invitation (vv. 55-58). The invitation was that she return to Canaan to be the wife of Isaac and receive the blessings of what he would inherit. Rebekah and the servant must have spoken much on the journey to meet the Bridegroom. She learned more about Isaac (v. 65) and more as she saw him and was getting nearer to him. She went over hard country in the care of the servant. This “Hard country” is the hardships, trials, and tribulations of living and growing in the Christian life. M. R. DeHaan said, “Rebekah was asked to believe a man she had never met before, to go to a land from which she was never to return, and to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.”

The final character, but certainly not the least of the four is the son, in particular; his wedding. Weddings are most always a joyous event. It was for Isaac, and it was for Rebekah. When Rebekah came riding up on the camel with the servant she leaped off the camel. It does not say what she did when she leaped off the camel, but I just suppose that she ran to meet him, and their hearts became as one. In leaping off the camel Rebekah had left the last of her worldly possessions behind. Her journey is complete.

When Jesus and His Bride are joined together at last, they will never part, because it will be for all eternity.

The invitation is still extended. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17 (KJV).

If we have “Eyes to see, and ears to hear” we can see quite clearly the picture the Master has painted for us. We can see Jesus’ death in Isaac at the altar, we see His resurrection and ascension in that Isaac came from the “Well of the Living One”. We can see the work of the Holy Spirit in Abraham’s servant as he sought a bride for Isaac.

God is so good He paints us such beautiful pictures to show us how He is working throughout all of time to draw us to Himself. The Antitype is even more beautiful.

“1And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:5-10 (KJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The following is a link to more of Jesus In Genesis.

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

1 John 2:28 – 3:3

It needs to be understood at the beginning of this message that none are perfect nor can we be perfect in this life.  Our Lord is working in us toward perfection when we shall see Him face to face.  However, we must, by the Holy Spirit within us who know personally the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior have Christ as the central being of our lives.

As a Christian we have new hope and desires; the first of which is seeing  Him one day; and seeing Him face to face.  We also desire to one day be like Him, and as verse three of chapter 3 tells us; “We shall see Him as He is”.  What a glorious day that will be.

In this message we will look at FIVE QUALITIES OF THE BELIEVER’S HOPE.

I.  A LONGING FOR – A DESIRING FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 2:28).

A.  A longing for the appearing will motivate the believer to “abide in Him”.

1. It is like the  branch abides in the vine (John 15:1-11).
2. It is similar to your home – the place you live.

a.  You may leave it to go to work, on vacation, etc., but you know there is no place like home – you return.

b.  It is the place where you receive nourishment, and love.

B.  This abiding ‘in Him’ keeps us from being ashamed when he returns.

1. When we ‘abide in Him’ we keep His commandments;
2. When we ‘abide in Him’ we have the anointing –

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”  1 John 2:20 (KJV)

II.  KNOWING JESUS IS RIGHTEOUS – THOSE BORN OF HIM PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 2:29).

A.  Jesus is righteous – He is Deity [God].

1. He is righteous as the Christ;
2. He is righteous as the sin-bearer;
3. He is righteous as the resurrected One.

B.  Those who do righteousness are born of Him.

1. Doing what is right in one’s life;
2. Doing what is right according to God’s law;
3. Doing what is right to others.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

III.  ENAMORED, AWED, AND STRENGTHENED BY HIS GLORIOUS SALVATION (v. 3:1).

A.  Nothing in this world is comparable to the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

1. Love ‘bestowed upon us’ by our benevolent, loving Father through His precious loving Son.
2. John seems to be awe-struck with the thought Himself.

B.  Love so great we are called ‘the sons of God’.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13 (KJV)

C.  The ‘Inhabiters of earth’ are so enamored with the world, they miss God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  Revelation 3:10 (KJV)

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  Revelation 6:10 (KJV)

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:13 (KJV)

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”  Revelation 11:10 (KJV)

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:12 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
” And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”  Revelation 13:8, 12, 14 (KJV)

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…”  Revelation 14:6 (KJV)

“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”  Revelation 17:8 (KJV)

IV.  EXPECTANT OF BEING CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – NOT CHRIST, BUT LIKE HIM (v. 3:2).

A.  In moral character.

1. Not Christ, not deity, but of His character and love for the Father and one another.

B.  Now the ‘Sons of God’.

1. That means living like ’sons of God’ – Kings and priests.
2. Living right in the present time unto the day of His appearing.

C.  We will see Jesus as He is.

V.  KEEPING THEMSELVES READY FOR HIS APPEARING (v. 3:3).

A.  The hope and promise of His appearing is the greatest hope of mankind.

1. His appearing otherwise known as Second Coming is a grand promise of change according to the Scriptures;
2. It will mean the change in ge0logy (Zechariah 14), environment, government and most of all in the hearts and lives of mankind;
3. It will also means change in the animals of the earth as well.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9 (KJV)

B.  Those who are prepared for His coming will be keeping themselves ready.

1. The presence and  gift of His Spirit within directs us to preparation.
2. There is a place being prepared for the prepared.
3. We must fight the good fight – there is a war going on daily in our lives.

“1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

“7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)

C.  Let’s keep ourselves pure – as much as Christ is in us.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)

1. Because of Jesus’s wonderful gift;
2. Because of these precious promises;
3. Because we are the ’sons of God’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Whatever Happened To Shame?

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

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

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

Jeremiah the prophet writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

PURPOSE:  To teach that those who are in the one Body [the Church] are recipients of grace, demonstrated and shown through ministry gifts, also of grace, for the purpose of bringing the total Body to the maturity of Jesus Christ.

Grace does not stop with our initial repentance, faith, and confession of Christ.  Grace continues with every breath we breathe; every step we take; every morning we rise from our beds.  Grace is the continuing work of God in the Christians life.

The following are some works of grace which God has bestowed upon us.

THE WORK OF GOD WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SIN AND DEATH (v. 7).  Grace is the means by which we are delivered from the condemnation of sin and its death.  It is provided for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is only the propitiation or appeasement; God judging our sin [all sin] by placing it on the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ.  Grace continues and becomes efficacious [effective] when we respond  to His grace by faith in Him.  That same grace provides not only salvation, but also gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, for living by grace in His power.

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

Just as every individual who is born again, by faith in Jesus, is in the one Body, so too, has everyone received a grace-gift(s) in which to serve the Body.  There is no one who is in Christ who is not also gifted to live for and serve Him.

All this is the “gift of Christ”.  We are brought into one Body by Christ; we are gifted by Him to serve in the Body as He [the Head] directs and leads by the person of the Holy Spirit.

THE WORK OF GOD ON THE CROSS WHICH DELIVERED US FROM CAPTIVITY (vv. 8-10).  Because of the cross on which Jesus bled and died God the Father was and is able to deliver us from the captivity of sin.  His resurrection gave us victory over hell and death.

If you watch  people; as I have a tendency to do; you will see many enslaved by sin.  Illegal and legal drugs, like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc., and you know what I mean.  You see some captive by other things in their lives.  Men and women, married and unmarried, are enslaved to their lustful desires; whether those desires are greed for wealth, or sex; makes little difference; they are none the less enslaved.  Some are enslaved to their comforts and entertainments.

When Jesus arose from the grave He led those who were Old Testament  saints out of captivity.  I believe this is vividly illustrated in Matthew 27:51-53:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

He then placed into captivity everything that places man in bondage – sin, hell, death, and Satan.

By ascending into heaven He opened the avenue for the Holy Spirit; in fact sent the Holy Spirit; to come and dwell within all who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit would not have come to abide in all who know Jesus except He [Jesus] ascended into heaven first.  By ascending He not only gave us the person of the Spirit, but He also gifted us; gave us tools for ministry, and the Holy Spirit is the power of the gifts.

His descension is His incarnation [Jesus coming as God in flesh].  Because of His death, burial and resurrection His mortal body was changed into an immortal body.  The Scriptures  declare that there is a man (in bodily form) in heaven:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”  1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Because of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  It is being made more and more into the image of Christ in heaven, in every individual who abides in His Body  on earth.  This by no means implies that individual’s in His Church are sinless, but contrary to that, His working in us shows that we are needy of Him.

Jesus’s desire, His heart is to be the FULNESS of everyone who will come to Him.

THE WORK OF GOD IN THE GIFTS WHICH HE GIVES US; CONTINUING THE WORK (vv. 11-12).  God desires, and Jesus desires to continually be at work in us; fulfilling His will and glory.  The reason for the gifts of the Spirit is His grace.

The gifts listed are not natural talents, but special gifts of the Spirit for glorifying Jesus in the ministry.  The apostles and prophets are the one’s upon whom the church is built (2:20).  There is no such thing as “apostolic succession”.  At least not in the sense of the Roman Catholic religion.  Apostles are not declared or made by a local congregation, but they are called out individually by God for the purpose of going to an unchurched, unevangelized area, and doing the ground work; preaching the word and the gospel of Christ to establish a local congregation.  In the truest New Testament sense an apostle today could be a missionary.  There can be no more apostles because the foundation has already been laid; there are no more eye witnesses of Jesus Christ risen from the grave; there are no more disciples who personally walked with Jesus in the land where He walked.  Missionaries do the work that the original apostles did in going about, preaching the gospel to people groups who have not heard, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

The prophets were preachers who were gifted with a special understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, and given the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit for the New Testament Church and Scriptures.  They were and are those whom are sensitive about sin and its destruction in human life.  They have a heart for hearing God and His Word.  The Church is built on the apostles and prophets.  The prophet today would probably be better known as  “Preacher”.  This is still how local churches begin.  The local church is where the gifts and power of the Spirit are demonstrated.  The Body of Christ is manifest in the local church.

Evangelists are gifted by God to seek out the lost and are particularly gifted at presenting  the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable way.  They are also gifted to teach others how to be soul-winners.

Where the previous three are itinerant [traveling] messengers the pastor/teacher is one who sticks around awhile.  He loves the people as his own family.  He preaches the Word of God to them and teaches them how to apply  the Word to their lives.  He is one who is really more concerned about their spiritual walk, spiritual growth than numerical growth.  The pastor will leave the numerical growth up to the Lord.  The pastor simply sows the seed of the Word and the gospel and leaves the increase up to the Holy Spirit.  He teaches by word and example.

In verse twelve we see a twofold purpose for these spiritual gifts;

1. The perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry;
2. Edifying the Body of Christ.

Number one, the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher is to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry.  These four are the equipping/leadership gifts of the Spirit.  There are other gifts listed in Romans 12:3-8;  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and here in Ephesians 4:11.  Each of these gifts of the Spirit are needed in the local church to for the people to grow and be healthy and powerful for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Number two, the equipped Body will be operating in the unity of the Spirit and truly “building up” the Body of Christ.  When everyone “in Christ” recognize their place of service, then, the Church has been built up and is honoring and pleasing to Jesus.

THE WORK OF GOD AND THE FRUIT OF THAT WORK (vv. 13-16).  When the Body of Christ is being equipped and built up there are four evidences of spiritual growth.

  1. We become more Christlike caring for the needs of others, experiencing others hurts and sorrows.  We grow in knowledge of Him and His Word and work of His Spirit.  We reach a place of maturity where we are not offended by truth; or the color of the carpet.  This lever of maturity is still seeking the fullness of Christ.
  2. We begin developing a stability of faith.  We begin to understand truth and are not tossed around by false doctrines and teachings.  We are learning to test all teachings by the Word of God.
  3. We have a love for truth, coupled with a lover for people, the lost, and even backsliden  When others are confronted with the truth love will not permit us to condemn, but we will admonish them by pointing to their real need; realizing from whence we have come.
  4. We realize that there must be a unified work.  We have purpose through cooperation.  By joining our hands, prayers, finances, families, ministries, and our hearts we are in cooperation with one another and ‘building up’ the Church.  That means we would be the most powerful force on earth; through Jesus Christ.

When you have grace working in you  through  Jesus Christ you will be the better for it, and the world will benefit from it.  Grace works everyday in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ.  Let each of us submit to the work of grace and the Spirit of God every day.

-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

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

Who We Are, and Our Blessings In Christ

Ephesians 1:1-5

Purpose of this study:

1. To discover the greatness of being in Christ;
2. To know the richness of His blessings;
3. To know and understand our purpose in Christ;
4. To better understand our calling.

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul the apostle while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Ephesians is known as one of the “prison epistles”, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The city of Ephesus was the seat of “Diana” worship (Acts 19 note verse 28).  A goddess worshipped by a superstitious people and profited on by business men and silversmiths.  The preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ caused a great loss of income for these men and their businesses when some of the worshippers of Diana, turned from idolatry to the true God (Acts 19:23-41).  These men would have done almost anything to take away Paul’s and other Christian’s right or freedom to speak.

This church is the same church that would receive a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ a few years later.  It can be read in the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter two, beginning with verse one.

At the time of Paul’s writing, approximately 55 A.D., the church of Ephesus is strong in faith and longing to grow in the Spirit of Christ.  In this letter Paul teaches them two main truths:  1) Who they are [their position] in Christ (chapters 1-3); and  2) How they are to live [their practice] (chapters 4-6).

Knowing who we are in Jesus is still important for Christians.  By knowing our position in Him we are strengthened in faith, and greatly encouraged to live for Him.

If we are to be the Christians God calls us to be we must be discovering the greatness and riches of being in Christ, our calling, the richness of His blessings, and the purpose of our calling.

The term “In Christ” or its equivalent is mentioned at least 34 times in the bood of Ephesians.  Fifteen of those being in the first chapter alone.  So we learn already that it is important for  us to recognize, to know who we are in Jesus Christ.

CALLED OUT AND FAITHFUL (vv. 1-2).  “Set apart”, “called out” and faithful.  Consecrated unto the Lord is the meaning of the word “Saint”.  The Christian has been called out of sin, set apart for the glory of God to be different from the world philosophies, and doctrines.

The Christian understands the problem of sin, and the human heart, as best as can be understood, and that is by the understanding which God gives by His Spirit, His word, and the life of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:10-11 spells it out for us; “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…”  We are called out of sin, unto faith in Jesus Christ; to live in the Spirit of Christ for the glory of the Father.

The “faithful” are the one’s who dedicated to the work and will of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  We glorify Him with a life given to living holy, separated, lives of witness.  The words we speak, our work ethic, our family lives, our church service and our worship of God alone is a witness that other’s will see or won’t see.  Unwavering faith in God, and His Word, and holy desire for His will to be done is shown in faithfulness.  Faithful in belief.  Faithful in and to His Word.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (KJV)

THE RICHES OF HIS BLESSING (v. 3;  2:6).  These blessings are not in the material things of this world, although we are told that all things are under His feet.  The blessings of Christ are spiritual, however, they are not limited.  “Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV).  I don’t know if we were meant to understand this whole all thing, but it sounds so full, awesome, and glorious.  Do we put enough emphasis on the spiritual things of Christ?  It doesn’t seem so in my life; and I really doubt it is in most Christian’s lives.

These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places; that is the place where Jesus is.  The blessings that Christian’s have in Christ Jesus cannot be attained through science, technology, knowledge, sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, rituals, liturgy, rites, religion, flagellation, wealth, or fame.  These blessings are all part of the grace given us who are in Christ Jesus through faith in Him by His death on the cross; His carrying our sins away; and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.  These are blessings of His grace.

In these spiritual blessings there is cleansing from sin, condemnation and guilt.  There is the personal relationship with holy God reserved only for those who have no sin debt.  We also have the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ and the Father; and in complete fellowship with Him.

OUR ELECTION AND OUR LIFESTYLE (v. 4).  If a king were to choose you as their son or daughter would you not find it a great privilege, and honor?  If the king were known as a wealthy, and good, and honorable man I think most of us would be honored by the prospect.  This is not likely to happen, of course, so don’t set your sites too high for this; except when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the King of kings.  He will rule with honor, power, and goodness; and He is wealthy.  He has chosen us in Himself.  We are getting into a topic of great controversy, and that is dealing with “Election” and “Predestination”.  There are some “scholars” and preachers/teachers who try to avoid these doctrines.   They are, however, in the Word of God, and need to be dealt with.  I am not sure that I can aid in this or not, but since they are here, I will say this.  When it comes to “Election” we have the clear teaching from the Word that those who are in Christ have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.  It is great to know that God chose me, and that He knew me long before I was ever conceived in the womb of my mother.  That is so of all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Dealing with this “Election” of God let us look further into Scripture – “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Exodus 33:19 (KJV).  As our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Judge… He has every right to choose whomever He will, to call to Himself.  Someone may ask, “Doesn’t mankind have a ‘freewill’?”  To that I would readily agree.  The very fact that God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden near the “Tree of Life” tells me that God gave them a choice, thus free will to choose to obey or disobey.  They chose the latter of the two, and sin, death, and misery came into the world.

So how do the teachings of Election, the Sovereignty of God, and man’s free will operate?  I don’t know that I have the answer to that, but these things I do know and believe; and that is that God says that He knew me before the foundation of the world and He chose me; He has enriched me with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and that according to His will, the free will of men, and  His Sovereignty somehow work together to fulfill His will and glory.

The greatness of this “Election” is that God chose me before I ever did anything good or bad.  His choosing me was not based on any merit of my own, but solely on the grace of God alone.  Since He chose me before doing anything good or bad, that only means that there is nothing I could do to be plucked from my Father’s hands:

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (KJV)

This does not give license to sin.  This does give us freedom from sin to live for Jesus Christ.  Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ we were bound by sin.  In Christ we are free to live for Him, and Him alone. This election is a calling to holiness (2:10;  John 15:16).

OUR PLACEMENT IN THE HEAVENLIES (v. 5).  By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross we are born into relationship with the Father (John 3:3;  1 Peter 1:23).  By that blood we are legally sons/children, however, there is something else that happens to those who come to faith in Jesus Christ.  We are placed into the position with Christ as legal heirs of all that is His.  That is the “Adoption”.

That is the predetermined plan of God.  That is the “predestinated” will of God.  In John 1:12 we are told this – “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them tht believe on His name.”  Some new translations place children where the KJV uses sons, and that seems to me to be a tragedy, for we miss the greater meaning.  With Christ as our Lord and Savior we are given the same rights as the Elder Son, who is Jesus.  In the Old Testament economy the elder son received a majority of the father’s estate, and was given the responsibility of caring for the parents when they became unable to care for themselves.

Now consider this; since we are born into the family shouldn’t we just receive a minority of the inheritance?  Jesus has paid the price of our sin, making it possible for us to be in God’s family in the first place; He is the One who deserves it all.  By grace He places us with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him.

There is an example of this given in the Law of Moses concerning inheritance, and the daughters of a man who had no sons, and would be left out of the inheritance except for the grace given.  Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-7) had five daughters, and he would be left out of inheriting any of the promised land, leaving nothing for any sons who might come along later.  Thus, in a since, they are placed in the position of an elder son, inheriting the land that would have been their father’s.

There is such a wealth at the hands and feet of every believer in Jesus Christ.  It is a wealth that is not of this world, however it is accessible in this world; and through it and by it we can live in victory.  The enemy has been defeated.  Let us rejoice.

We are “Predestinated” to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and that is to live in glory.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 (KJV)

We have yet to “tap into” the wonderful resources that are ours in Christ Jesus.  If we were the people of God in Christ that He has called us to be, walking in the Spirit, walking in the power of His word, there is no attack of the enemy which could stop us, and no human force could stand in our way; and He would be seen and glorified in many hearts and lives.  What God calls “Complete” is complete.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heavenly Vision

The Heavenly Vision

Acts 26:19-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ Jesus there is also a wonderful inheritance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obedience to the heavenly vision will give us five things:

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Confronting The Culture

Confronting The Culture
Acts 17:15-34

The apostle Paul has been to Thessalonica, and forced to leave there due to those who were trying to kill him, basically the Jewish people, as he taught them in their synagogue.  He then goes to Berea, and the Jews of Berea are much more “noble” because they search the Scriptures to see if what Paul is teachiing them is true.  In Berea, though, Jews from Thessalonica come to bring ill to Paul, and the message of the Gospel.

The apostle is then forced to leave Berea, sent to Athens, and there he discovers a mission field ripe for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CITY OF ATHENS IS WHOLLY GIVEN TO IDOLATRY (vv. 15-16).  The world in which Christians live today is much like Athens of Paul’s day.  The United States itself, is made up of many religions.  Though it was originally built upon Judeo/Christian principles taken from the Bible there are many parts of the culture who want nothing to do with Christ, Christianity, and some do not even want God in the picture of their lives, or this country.

We have already had prayer removed from our Public Schools, and in order for “unity” which is basically “uniformity” we must not pray in public meetings, as Christians, in the name of “Jesus” any longer; we might offend someone.  It is best in those situations not to mention the cross or resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, it is okay for the muslim to pray and use the name of Allah, the moon god, one name of many gods which Mohammed originally worshipped.  It is okay for the Buddhist to mention Buddha, and all the religions can mention their deity.

Idolatry permeates our land.  It begins with the god of Greed.  Greed rules through the hearts of men and women of all ages, and in business galore.  If more wealth is all that is in your heart and life, then you are certainly full of the god “Greed”.  He controls your thoughts, your heart to the point that your family is neglected, and most of all, God is out of the picture.  For some Science is the answer to all our ills, and the drive of some to conquer space and inner space.  Technology is also the answer for getting further into outer space, searching the galaxies, stars and planets for other life.  It also seems to be the answer to greater mobilization, and better sources of knowledge (science).

Mankind himself has become a god of sorts.  It is after all our knowledge that has made such strides in medicine, science and technology, and gains of great wealth.  It is us who has done it.  Arrogance, pride, and rebellion against holy God is what that is and it will not stand forever.

As Christians we must shun falling prey the lies of the false prophets and teachers who tell us that we are our own source of prosperity, health, technology and science.  The culture may be wholly given to idolatry, however, as Christians we have the message that can change the world, and that message is the gospel of Jesus Christ; that He died for our sins, according to Scripture; and that He was buried; and the the third day rose from the grave bodily and was witnessed by more than five hundred witnesses; and that all who will come humbly before Him confessing their sin, repenting, and calling on His name shall be saved – receiving eternal life with Him.  Anything short of Jesus Christ is pure idolatry.

THE APOSTLE’S DISPUTATIONS WITH THE JEWS AND GENTILES (vv. 17-18).  Even in Athens Paul goes to the synagogue.  He wants his brethren “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-5) to come to faith in Christ.  He longs for them to repent and believe.

It is quite evident by the apostle’s preaching and teaching that the gospel is meant for all who will hear it and believe.  We may curse the fact that our country [the United States of America] is being filled with people from other parts of the world.  It shows me that others are desperately wanting to come to a nation which is free from tyranny, free from communism, and free from a state religion which tells its people how to live their lives, how to dress, and kills them, or takes their property when they convert to Christianity [so far].

We should be thankful for the numbers who are coming to America seeking these things.  The greatest gift the United States has to give these people is the message of Jesus Christ, and the freedom from sin and its condemnation.

A NEW DOCTRINE NEEDED A NEW HEARING (vv. 19-21).  The people of Athens were curious about this new doctrine of a crucified, buried, and resurrected man.  The Athenians were debaters, disputers, and philosophers.  They enjoyed hearing new things, then disputing them with the promoters of that teaching.

We live in a time when people are moved by debate, apologetics, and arguments.  Everyone has an opinion, and no one’s opinion is better than any other, except the ones you agree with.  That is the philosophies of men.  However, the message of the apostle Paul, and any messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not debatable, because it is the truth.  Others may dispute it, despise it, disdain it; but that doesn’t affect that it is still the truth.

It is surprising and almost shocking to realize that there are still people, even in the United States of America who have not heard of the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I found that out a few years ago while I was attending Boyce Bible School in Louisville, Kentucky.  While working part time at a Townhouse, and Condominium living area as a gardener the chief gardener ask what Baptists believed and I told him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His response was, “I have never heard that before”.  He told me that he was Catholic, so I understood.  It still surprised me to know that there were people in the USA who had never heard the true message of Jesus.

With the many beliefs in our nation today, there are probably many more who have never heard, but would be curious, should they ever hear even a smidgen of the truth.

THE MESSAGE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL (vv. 22-31).  With the many idols which Paul saw in Athens he marvelled that there was a place [an altar] “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.  It is as though, they had erected an altar to all the gods/idols they could imagine, or think of; and just in case they might have missed one who might happen to be the one true God; they erect an altar to Him.

These were a very religious people.  The KJV says “superstitious” which fits as well.  When people are unsure of a deity or deities, they will be very superstitious.  That is when you have them going to horoscopes, reading tea leaves, turning to nature worship [pantheism], black arts (such as witchcraft), and old nature religions (including druidism); the worship, or dependence upon any image of man is idol worship; the worship of any of God’s creation is also idolatry.  Paul likens such worship as the “worship of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

Paul did not present it so bluntly, nor did he even mention the worship of demons to them, but he  did make it quite plain that there was only one God who was worthy of worship, and by whom He will judge,” by that man whom he hath ordained” (v. 31) ,and His name is Jesus Christ.  He is the resurrected One, and He ever lives and is seated at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13: 8:1; 10:12: 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

A DIVIDED CROWD WITH A DIVIDED RESPONSE (vv. 32-34).  When the gospel of Jesus Christ, ie.; the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins, His burial – carrying our sins away never to be judged  by them again once they have been confessed and there has been repentance, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave, appearing to over 500 witnesses during the forty days before He ascended into heaven; is preached there will continue to be various responses.  There was in Paul’s day; there is in our day.

In the 17th chapter of Acts we can see varied responses to the gospel as Paul went and preached in the synagogues and other places.  Many of the Jewish leaders resisted the gospel, the Word of God (vv. 1-9); Some of them heard and believed including  Jews and Gentiles (vv. 10, 15); Then, in these verses there were those who ridiculed the gospel of Christ Jesus, and some of these believed it.

In this message Paul told the people of Athens of the “Greatness of God” – He is Creator (vv. 24-25).  He tells them of the “Goodness of God” – He is Provider (vv. 25b-26).  The apostle tells them of the “Government of God” – He is Sovereign (vv. 27-31a).  He does not end with that, however, and concludes telling them of the “Grace of God” – He is Savior (v. 31b)

The opinions and philosophies of men are just that opinions and philosophies, which have no power, little lone saving power.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:16).  It is the position of the man and woman of God to preach the gospel, to proclaim the gospel; it is the power of God to save people through the gospel.  We have no power to save, only God does.

Some of these in Athens heard Paul and rejected the message, and some said, “We will hear you again on this matter”; and others received it and followed Paul.

The important thing is what will you do with the message of the gospel.  If you hear it and believe, and call on the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation, you can be saved.  If you reject it, and die you will go to eternal judgment.  The choice is yours when you have heard the word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

No Payment Due

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”  Romans 8:1

One of the things that many people do not often remember, or want to remember, is that everyone is born into the condemnation of sin; separated from God, and no relationship or fellowship with Him.  Jesus Himself reminds us of this when He said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”  John 3:18.

This condemnation is eternal, unless something is done about it.  Something like your death for your sins, but that would not get you eternal life with God; but only eternal judgment.  The death of another person for you would not suffice either, unless that person were without sin; perfect and  holy before God.  God, because of His great love for us gave us His Son to die and pay the penalty; the price; for sin, which was mine and yours.  All our sin was judged upon Him by His Father.

Because of this wonderful gift of God, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”  Isn’t it glorious and wonderful knowing all your sins are clean gone, and all the debt of sin is paid in full.  NO PAYMENT DUE.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Put Off, Put On, Put Away

Ephesians 4:20-25

A few years ago a church of  which I was pastor had a Sunday afternoon Nursing Home ministry one Sunday of each month.  There were several who attended the service, and we sung hymns, and I usually preached a short message.

Almost every Sunday we were there I made an attempt to visit a moment with each one, shaking their hand, placing a hand on their hand or shoulder, even kneeling beside them so I could hear what they wanted to say.  One man in particular, which I remember well; and this shows the repulsive side of me; was a man who was pushed in a wheel chair to the service.  This man was unclean, he stank, and it was so bad the flies even noticed.  I tried to give him the same attention I gave all the others.

The first time I met him I am sure I pulled away, but quickly caught my action, and still spoke with him.  That must be a small bit of how God senses our stink of sin.  The odor of sin is more than He in His holiness, righteousness and justice can endure, but in His wondrous grace, and tender mercy He provides cleansing, and new clothing of righteousness which is the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Would God provide this cleansing, new clothing, and new life to continue living in that stench from which we have been delivered?  By no means.

OUTLINE –

I. THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST (v. 20).

II.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN” (vv. 21-23).

III.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN” (v. 24).

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING (v. 25).

THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST.  We already know the way we have left behind.  It is time we learn Christ.  This is not learning about Him, but LEARNING CHRIST.  This means a life, road, path of sin, stench, death and destruction is left behind (Ephesians 2:1).  It was a life that knew not that it was enslaved until the Light of Christ broke through.

It is good to learn about Jesus Christ, however the Christian LEARNS CHRIST.  That means we love Him more than anything else; we love and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.  That means that we walk with Him and He with us (John 14:21, 23-24).  That means to live His life so others see Him within us.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN”.  When Jesus delivers us from that life of sins condemnation and its stench the old stinky clothes of sin must be removed; sometimes, however the Christian getting full of themselves rather than full of God, put the old clothes back on.  Delving into the sewage of our sins, the stench hangs around again, and we wonder why God seems so far away, and we have started getting into the old, former way of life.

The people of Ephesus were known to be worshippers of Diana, and this made the Christian life a little difficult, because all the Ephesians were almost expected to be Diana worshippers.    Every culture or society is difficult  for the Christian life.  We say things today like, “It’s hard to be a kid today”.  “Things are different in this day than they have ever been”.  I am one who begs to differ with that.  Someone has said, “The more things change; the more they remain the same”; and that looks right to me.  I read the Bible, and in the prophets I see people who are absolutely no different than the people of today are.  That is why we need the apostle’s inspired words today.

Put them off… that is not what you learned Christ.  That old life of self, sin, and its stench must go.  “Put off” that old garment spotted by the flesh.  Since the apostle is telling us to “put off” that surely means that it is  in our power, through the Spirit of Christ [Holy Spirit] to put it off.  We have the POWER of God to put off the evil.

Then there must be “renewing in the spirit of your mind” as well.  Before we were born of the Spirit of God our spirit was dead to God.  By the power of the Spirit of God our spirit was born of God; we are empowered to overcome all sin; to put off the garment of sin, and put on the “new man”.  The “putting off” comes before the “renewing the mind”.  The old stench of sin on those grave clothes blocks the fragrant scents of heaven and of God’s glorious grace. (Colossians 3:8-9).

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN”.  The “new man” is born of God to be like God in His holiness, and righteousness; through His Son.  We are told by Paul nine times within his epistles to “Put on” something…

1. In Romans 13:12 he writes, “Put on the armour of light…”
2. 1 Corinthians 15: 53 & 54 “Put on  incorruption… ‘put on immortality” twice in these two verses;
3. In Galations 3:27 “put on Christ…”;
4. Ephesians 4:24 “Put on the new man…”
5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God…”
6. Colossians 3:10 “put on the new man…”
7. Colossians 3:12 “Put on… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
8. Colossians 3:14 “Put on charity…”

We are to “put on” the life of Jesus Christ.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING.  Lying is a means of deception.  Deception should never be in the heart of the believer; the follower of Jesus Christ.  Deception’s intent is to cover the truth, and reveals nothing except that the one lying, deceiving cannot be trusted.  Deception is a tool of the enemy.

The truth is precious among friends, neighbors, and practiced among them.  Sometimes truth hurts, however, it is a means of great peace, and to great peace.  Truth is the way to the knowing of God, and all knowledge needed knowing.  Truth is the way to strong faith, and new, rewarding fellowship with one another and with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is the Truth in Person.

Those who do the truth come to Jesus.  “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  John 3:21 (KJV)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  John 3:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Death Of Sarah

Abraham and Sarah had came to the land of Canaan about sixty two years previous.  For twenty five of those years they  had waited for the promised son, Isaac.  They had been through much together.

Almost from the first day they arrived in the land a severe drought had struck the land, famine had set in, and they went to Egypt leaving the place of promise which had been given them by God [YHWH].  In Egypt they would have probably “picked up” Hagar, and Egyptian slave girl.  The sovereign hand of God is seen in every element of the decisions which they made together.  The LORD of all has a way of teaching us dependency upon Him.

For sixty plus years they had walked together, suffered doubts and fears together, believed together, grew together, and now with Sarah being one hundred and twenty seven years of age, her aged body dies.

We must remember; death is not a friend; it is the fruit of sin, or its wages as Paul says in Romans 6:23.  Death is the enemy of mankind.  God [YHWH] created us for eternity.  He created us with an eternal soul that yearns for Him.  It is a longing that far too many fight and struggle against by denying the existence of God.  Denying the existence of God is almost like denying yourself.  You exist, and since you exist means that you had a designer, builder, Creator, and His name is Jehovah [YHWH].

“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”  Genesis 23:1-2 (KJV)

One of the things which Genesis is clear about is our life and death.  It begins with creation and a garden, and ends with a “coffin in Egypt.”  From creation to the grave.  It is a sad commentary on the beginning and end plight of mankind.  It reminds us that we have an eternal destiny, and that GOD is the one who is in charge, sovereignly guiding, the affairs of all people, and nations.  We see that more clearly through all of Scripture.

Death is not a real pleasant thing to talk about.  With some people you don’t even want to use the word “D-E-A-T-H”.  Let’s be true and faithful about death.  As I have already mentioned it is the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and it is the “last enemy” to be destroyed; and that destruction will be by the appearing of Jesus Christ in His glory.

It doesn’t appear that Abraham or Sarah had a fear of death.  The reason for that being their faith in GOD.  It has been through the life, faith, and testimony of Abraham and Sarah that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save condemned, dying sinners from our plight.  We are born spiritually dead – that means no relationship with God and thus no fellowship with God, because of sin.  Because of the work of Jesus Christ, ie., His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection we can be “born again” into relationship, enabling our fellowship with Him; and receiving eternal life,  living for Him now, and eternally with Him.

The follower of Jesus Christ need have no fear of death because of the cross of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection.  The resurrection of Jesus proves without doubt that the enemy of death has been defeated.  All who are in the faith of Jesus Christ will be raised to life.

Even Sarah, Abraham, all the patriarchs; and those who were before them; and all who came after them unto the cross of Christ will be raised to life again.  All those who have believed following the death of Christ on the cross will also be raised to life.  WOW!!! What a glorious day that will be.

It is a wonderful and glorious thing to know that though Genesis ends with that “coffin in Egypt”, the Scriptures end back in a garden, and in the presence of the LORD in glory – Heaven.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” Titus 3:5 (KJV)

The faith of Abraham and Sarah was looking to the One who would come, die for the sins of mankind, be buried, and rise again from the grave.  Believe Jesus and be delivered from death, and its fear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

A burden is a heavy thing to bear.  As we begin reading this “parenthesis” in the letter of Romans we find Paul with a heavy heart.  What has grieved his heart?  What is this burden?  It is the weight of the state of anathema which is on his countrymen – brethren – the Israelites.

A question could be asked why are they in such a curse?  Due to their unbelief at the coming of Messiah.  Their crucifixion, and putting to death the One who was foretold by the prophets, and the Law.

Another question comes to my mind;  Am I, would I be willing to be accursed that another might be saved from that curse?  Let us keep in mind this is a nation of people who have received many a blessing from the One whom they crucified.  Those blessings are listed in verses four and five; and those are not exhaustive.

This “parenthesis” covers chapters nine through eleven.  The ninth chapter shows us how God has dealt with Israel in the past; up to and including the time of Jesus Christ.  The tenth chapter shows us how God is working with them in our current age – the Church age.  The eleventh chapter shows us God restoring Israel in His future work with them.

I was once asked, “Why is this a parenthetical statement?”  My answer is that Paul has through chapter eight been dealing with the sins of mankind (chapters 1-3); the wonderful work of the grace of God (chapters 4-8); and then in chapters 9-11 he begins dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.  Then in chapter twelve he begins dealing with the fruits of grace in the believer’s life.  I hope that explains it.

It seems to me that this parenthesis is used by the apostle to show quite clearly, that since God gave many unconditional promises to Israel, and His will to fulfill them; He gives His body – the Church – evidence that He doesn’t quit, or give up on His people.  I like that kind of assurance.  Israel is evidence of God’s fulfilling His Word.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).

II.  THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).

III.  THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).

IV.  THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).

THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).  Paul seems to have been quite aware of the problems of relying on conscience alone to make right and godly choices.

The conscience of an individual can be shaped and molded to reflect one’s culture; and not necessarily what is right and wrong according to Scripture or Christ.  The conscience which is subject to the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will make Biblical, conscientious, godly decisions; and if they don’t the conscience will be burdened with guilt, until the transgression has been forgiven.

Paul’s conscience and the Spirit of God bore witness that he had a heavy burden for Israel concerning their curse.

The reason some people can make evil choices concerning right and wrong, or godly and ungodly decisions is because their conscience is not in tune with God or His Word.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  He was burdened for his nation of people.  They are his brethren “after the flesh” – meaning these are the people he was born into.  What the apostle is about to say is one of the most profound statements he will ever make.  This is the most Christlike statement anyone could make.  It is even more Christlike to show it, and Paul demonstrates it quite vividly in the book of Acts when he is willing to give his life to be sure the people of Jerusalem hear the message of their Messiah.

THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).  It is certain that from this statement that Paul knows of the curse on the nation due to their unbelief and rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.  This word [accursed] is the word “Anathema”, and it conveys to us the most horrible and vile of cursing.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

“9:3 accursed. The Gr. word is anathema, which means ‘to devote to destruction in eternal hell’ (cf. 1 Cor.12:3; 16:22; Gal.1:8,9).  Although Paul understood the exchange he was suggesting was impossible (8:38,39; John 10:28), it was the sincere expression of his deep love for his fellow Jews (cf. Ex. 32:32).”

Paul knew that he himself was not spotless, holy, undefiled to be that sacrifice, and that the sacrifice had, indeed, already been given by Jesus Himself.  The only spotless Lamb to ever be offered for the sins of man, and complete the offering was the offering of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36).

Could I love so deeply that I would be willing to take another’s  place in hell?  In the love of Christ I can.  Isn’t that the essence of the love of Jesus Christ?  To be willing to give one’s life that another might live.  As Isaac was led by his father up the mountain, he went faithfully.  When he arrived he allowed Abraham to bind him, and lay him on the altar.  He had given his life for his father, and seemingly without any explanation; just trusting the father (Genesis 22).  Three of King David’s chief men, went through enemy lines, hazarding their lives so their king could receive a drink of water from Bethlehem’s well –

“And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.  And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.” 2 Samuel 23:16-17 (KJV)

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

Our lack of love is seen today in that we don’t tell others the gospel of Jesus because we are fearful we may not be accepted, we may not have time.  How much time does that one God gives us opportunity for witness have?.  We may not be popular.  We might even be attacked physically, or at the least verbally.  How is that for loving to give our lives?  I cannot say with Paul, “I would wish myself accursed…”  Even knowing that my “sacrifice” would be of no benefit.  I am unworthy and unable to save myself.  How can I save others, except through giving them the hope that is in Christ Jesus alone.

THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).  “Israelites” were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and these were children of the promise.  From the fall of Adam and Eve, yea, even from creation, and before in the heart of God there was the nation of God who would be the progenitor of the Savior of the world.  Many nations would come to God, believing Him, calling on His name, worshipping Him, and glorifying His name.

The blessings of Israel were God’s “adoption” of them to be His witness nation to a condemned world.  The Israelites were recipients of the covenants of God, the law of God through Moses, the service of God in the priesthood, the tabernacle furniture, and tools; the pictures and types of the future Messiah – the promises; and they were the one’s by whom came the Blessed One through the virgin Mary.

We must learn from the blessing of Israel as Gentiles who are believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  They became hard hearted due to their “security” of the temple, arrogance in having the law, the adoption, the covenants, and believing the blessings were of the flesh, and not of the Spirit of God.  We cannot follow their path to destruction in unbelief.

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to evilly think we have it made because we have earned the  place of forgiveness, love, peace, and grace of God.  We are not any different than any other individual upon this planet.  We have sinned.  We have transgressed the commandments, the laws of God, and He has given us forgiveness and grace through the finished work of His Son.

We are commanded to take this wonderful message of salvation to the world.  When we don’t do that we fail, and become similar to the nation of Israel.  Jesus Christ built, and continues to build His Church upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.  Every confession of faith in Christ adds another living stone to the building of His Church, and nothing can prevail against her.  However, should we become arrogant, disobedient as individual believers or even as a local church; He can, He has, and will raise up another local church or individual to take our place.  We do have His assurance that we are saved; “Yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

That is not something we should or would look forward to.

THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).  Through the mercy of God Mary, a virgin was chosen to bear the Son of God and birth Him into the human race.  This was not an accident, a fluke of nature.  Virgin births, little lone virgin conceptions do not happen by accident.  They can only be planned by God, and that is what makes a miracle. The unnatural, impossible, and glorious happens by the hands of God.  It happened as the fulfillment of His promises to send, this King, this Savior, this Messiah, this Great Physician, this Great High Priest, this Prophet of prophets; this God-man; the incarnate Son of God.

This One was born into this nation who would reject Him, make a false judgment of Him, crucify Him, put Him to death, bury Him in a borrowed tomb, and three days later rise from the grave; conquering sin, hell, death, and the grave.

Paul, here in this fifth verse is affirming the sovereignty, and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ – “…The eternally blessed God. Amen.” (v. 5).

The Christians of today, the Body of Christ, the Church is the means of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world.  Let us be faithful with the message, the only message that will save and change the world; for the glory of our Lord and God.  I am to be the messenger of the gospel of Christ Jesus that God has called me to be.  I can do no better or worse than my love for Him.  The same is true of all who have been called in Christ Jesus, “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1).

O for a heart like Jesus who was willing to endure separation from the Father to become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and to give His righteousness to us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  To have a heart like Paul we must know our Savior as Paul did.

O Lord our God; give us your heart, and a heart like your servant Paul; that souls who are lost might hear of YOUR wonderful grace and mercy displayed on the cross of Calvary.

-Tim A. Blankenship

All Wise Savior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Just A Thought 01/13/09

One Four Three

A three word sentence.  If you look at this mathematically 1+4+3= 8.  What can this possibly mean.

I want us to see this not as a problem of arithmetic, but an answer to a lot of human ills.  It is amazing what this three word sentence can do to the hearts of many people, and with time, could be a change with all people, one way or another.

Let’s first of all look at that first word “One”.  There is first of all only YOU.  You by yourself, are a unique being.  You were made in the image of our Creator, whether you believe that or not makes no difference from the truth that you are.   There is no other like you, and when you refer to yourself to someone else you say “I”, and that is what the word “One” stands for.  There is only one you, and no more; and you are the “I” in your life.

The second word “Four” refers to another word; a four letter word.  Now there are many four letter words, some of which are not fit to be spoken or written.  In the United States of America there are different kinds of expression of this four letter word of which I refer to.  “Love” is that four letter word.  Another four letter word which is really behind a lot of the word is “Lust” rather than love.  That is often meant in a man’s heart toward a  woman, rather than genuine love.  Lust takes and gives nothing but pain and harm.  Love that is genuine and true seeks the good and well being of others, and of another.

Parents, your children need to hear you tell them “I love you”, and they need to hear their Mom and Dad say to one another, “I love you”, and not only saying it, but expressing it in many ways.  Kindness to one another.  Even when you are angry with one another refrain from name calling, which leads to bitterness, anger, and long time harm through memories; and can and often does go into the next generation, if not corrected quickly.

Love thinks of the well being of others, and not of the “I”.

The final word we see is “YOU”.  When you are speaking to someone else you refer to them as “You”, or by name.  To myself I refer to the reader here as “YOU”.  I pray that this will make an impact on your life, your family, and all the people who come into your life.

Husbands and wives; there may be some reading here who are on the brink of divorce.  Have you forgotten the words “I love you”?  Have you demonstrated that love by kindness, affection, an act that does not involve sex, nor expect it in return?  Genuine love comes by sacrifice; giving yourself, even at great expense, for the well-being of another.  It is possible to save your home, your marriage, the future of your children, and your very own future with those three words, “I LOVE YOU.”

These three words are very difficult to say, and maybe they should be.  They should never be said with an ulterior motive, selfishly, or without thought.  It should mean that we care, that I am here for you, that whatever you need, and it is in the power of my hand to provide it; it is yours.

Loving others genuinely is sometimes difficult, because “I” am sometimes selfish, self-centered, self-seeking, and we, you and I, can see that in small children if we will see it.  See it in them as they play, and suddenly one says, “Mine!”

The greatest good that could take place in our homes, communities, churches, States, and Countries is to begin telling others, “I love you” with a genuine heart, or merely by showing “I love you” with an act of kindness, when we have not been treated so kindly.  And do so without expecting anything in return.  Do it because you genuinely love.

The greatest love ever shown was when “God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  God loves you.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, with His feet above the earth, His head toward heaven and His arms were outstretched as though saying “I love you, come unto Me”.

Because Jesus lives, I LOVE YOU.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 01/01/09

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!   To one and all who may read Fire and Hammer, and welcome to 2009.

The thought I have for today is concerning faith, and I want us to consider the “faith of Abraham” when the LORD called him to sacrifice Isaac.  When I last wrote of this event covering verse two, we saw that it was THE TEST OF A LIFETIME.  This time let us look at verse 3:

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:3 (KJV)

This was something completely new to Abraham.  God had promised Isaac from since before entering the promised land from Ur, and now God was saying “Sacrifice your son…”  It seems as though Abraham does not question, but rises early the very next morning, following the command from God, makes all the preparations, saddling his donkey, gathering servants to help him; getting his son Isaac up and about, cutting the wood, then heading off for “the place of which God had told him”

From the time Abraham left he was being obedient to the “heavenly vision”, following God’s direction.  He had no clue how this was going to end, but Abraham journeys on in the direction he was to go.  In the mind and heart of Abraham Isaac was dead, but he believed in the power of God and bodily resurrection (Hebrews 11:17-19).  After all, God had promised him to be a great people, and nation.

As we begin this New Year, we are somewhat like Abraham.  No we are not called to sacrifice our children – sons or daughters – but we are entering a time when we do not know what is ahead, and of course, every new day is like that. 

As a Christian I have been called to give my life a “Living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him” (Romans 12:1).  Christians are also called to go in the direction of a place which God has told us of.  With our eyes on Jesus we will make it.  That faith of Abraham is our faith.  It is the faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Are you going to that place Jesus is preparing for you.  If so abide in that faith that comes through Jesus Christ.  If not, look to Jesus Christ and begin that journey today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Evidences Of The Filling Of The Spirit

PURPOSE: To show that  by the Christian’s yielding control of life to the Holy Spirit that Christian is filled with the Spirit, making life more heavenly on earth.

OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 5:18 THROUGH CHAPTER 6: 9:

I.  BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).

II.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).

III.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).

IV.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).

V.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).

BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).  From the beginning we must understand that every born again individual is indwelt by the Spirit of God.  He inhabits your body along with your spirit that has been born anew in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have witnessed the activities of a drunk who was mad drunk by drinking by alcoholic beverage or some other drug legal or illegal.  The man or woman now drunk has become boisterous, knows no fear, will do things they would not normally do when they were sober.  The individual made drunk by this foreign substance, is controlled by another substance which has robbed him of self control.

Paul knew what the excess of wine did to people.  I know what the excess of wine does to people, as I am sure you do as well.  Most drunks believe they can drive, maybe even fly, or do anything.  Paul uses the likeness here in a somewhat analogous way.  Drunks (for the most part) become drunk willingly and by drinking what they know will inebriate them.  The Holy Spirit filled believer becomes Spirit filled willingly.  The drunk knows no fear.  The Spirit filled believer is not fearful.  The drunk does things he/she would not normally do, if sober.  The Spirit filled Christian does things he/she would not normally do, such as one on one witnessing, preaching, serving others, teaching, giving, loving, and living with the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) more practical things.

Now here is wheree this analogy breaks down.  The drunk has no self control, while the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Spirit filled Christian, gives each Christian self control.

In verses 19-20 (Colossians 3:15-17) we begin seeing what the life of the Spirit filled person is like.  He/She is in an attitude of worship.  He is at peace with God in his heart, always praising God.  Always a song in the heart and on the lips.  The Spirit filled/controlled Christian will have their lives filled with song and singing.  Always thankful, for all things, and identified in the Lord Jesus.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).  Further evidence of Spirit controlled living is submission to one another.  Submission in this event is recognizing God ordained positions and being subject to those who are in those positions as God has designed and led.  For the man; a woman is far superior to the man at being a woman, and all that God has designed for her to be and do.  For the woman; the man is far superior to the woman at being a man, and all that God has designed for him to be and do.  Therefore, there is cause for us to submit to one another.

As members of the Body of Christ [the Church] our Lord and Savior, we are to be first submissive to Him, and if we are genuinely submitted to Hom we will also be to one another.  We will be accountable to each other in our walk with Christ.  When a brother or sister in Christ submits to another Christian it is motivation for Christian living unseen any other way.  We submit one to one, all to one, and one to all.  Husband to wife, wife to husband, and children to parents and parents to children; of course remembering that God has placed some in positions of authority.

Wives are to submit to their husbands [in the Lord] because God ordained it so in the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:11-13).  It was from Adam’s side which God created woman to be his helper.  Believe me ladies; we men need a lot of help. 8)  She is to submit to her husband as to the Lord and for His sake.

The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…  The head is what keeps the rest functioning properly.  Without direction, vision and leadership from the head the collective body will fail.

In every organization, business, military endeavor, church and home there must be a head who will lead the way.  If all try to lead you have chaos.  Now, we understand as human beings, leadership that is dictatorial is not responsible leadership.  The head, in human affairs, will listen to advice and counsel from others, and make decisions accordingly.

Wives and their husbands should be able to sit down together and make plans and talk things through.  Generals who listen to good advice from privates would be wise Generals indeed.  In many cases it may be that listening to Privates, is part of the reason they made the promotion of General.

The husband is a wise husband, and wise head who will listen to his wife.  The husband as head of the wife and analogous to Christ should also see the picture of sacrifice.  Christ gave Himself for the Church.  If the husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife she will have no problem being submissive to him.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).  Holy Spirit filled husbands love their wives sacrificially.

As Jesus gave Himself for the Church in order to have a glorious bride the Spirit filled husband voluntarily gives himself to and for his wife.  She is a special and precious treasure.  He will see her as an extension of himself, a partner, a friend, a helper for life.  He cares for her well being; physically, financially and spiritually.  He loves her as he loves himself.  A man will give up almost anything to do what he wants to do – what he REALLY wants to do.  If the husband really loves his wife he will give up anything to show her that love.  Jesus gave up the glory of heaven for a time to show He loves His bride.

No longer under the care of his parents he loves his wife and becomes one with her for the rest  of their lives.  There is no one else by her that he sacrifices for, not even himself.  If husbands want reverence from their wives we must first love them sacrificially, and do so at the expense of our own comfort, pride, and well being.

Here is some other sacrifices husbands can make for their wife’s benefit:

  1. That favorite football team that’s playing the same time your wife wants you to go shopping with her; what will you do?
  2. Her favorite TV show is on the same time as yours; what will you do?
  3. Your home from work for the day, there are things you could be doing that you enjoy, the wife is working, and there are dirty clothes to be washed, and dishes in the kitchen sink; do you wait for her to come home and do them? or will you do them? instead of what you want to do?

The above mentioned things are not giving your life, but merely giving up your wants for what would be good for her.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).  Obedient children are a blessing to any home.  Children who love our Lord, and are Spirit filled are obedient and hold their parents in honor and respect.

The Christian home should reflect the likeness of Jesus.  Even though He is the Creator of the world He subjected Himself to Joseph and Mary in honor and obedience.  Children who are born again and are controlled by God’s Spirit are an excellent testimony of God’s power to change lives.  Children who live solely for self are not subject to anyone, not even God.  It is a sure sign, that if a child is disobedient and disrespectful to their parents, they are in the same condition with God.

The same can be said of the father who is abusive to his children, and neglects to hear their cries and hurts.  If the father provokes his children, or does not sacrificially love their mother, he is not Spirit filled or controlled.  The Spirit filled – controlled – father teaches, encourages, without downgrading his children.

The care and encouragement in the Lord is what our children need.

Living as Spirit filled Christians is about as close to heaven as we will come in this world; at least until Jesus Comes and makes all things right.  Our God has equipped us, and given us His Spirit to help us in the endeavor of living holy lives.  It is only possible as we yield our selfishness to the control and influence of His Spirit.  Yielding will bring harmony to the church, marriages, parents, and children, and in all realms of living.

The only way to Spirit filled/controlled living is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).  Remember the Submission part; about submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God… (v. 21).  It is for the place where we are employed as well; or the place where we employ employees – as owners or boss.  When we see ourselves as the servants of Jesus Christ it will not matter what our job, but in the power of God’s Spirit will do our job “as unto the Lord.“

The word servant used here is a reference to “slaves”.  Slavery was a dominant institution during the time of Paul’s writing.  According to some the word is used in referring to involuntary or voluntary slavery.  If this means “slave”, then how can it apply to Twenty first century America?  It applies in the factories, grocery stores, farms, churches, families, government offices, Law offices, Court buildings, Police headquarters, Fire stations, Ambulance services, Hospitals, Highway/Road departments, etc., thus, everyone is an employee somewhere.  An employee must appear at work at a set time, leaves at a set time, is paid on a set day, and must work according to the employers policies; or be fired.  When you are working for someone other than yourself, you are serving someone.  In what is called service oriented businesses; even if you are “working for yourself” you are still serving others.  You may not like the term, but you are a servant to that employment – a slave.

You can talk to just about any one who works for someone else and they will often begin telling you all, or at least some of the problems of their employer.  There are a lot of people who are dissatisfied with their place of employment.  It seems to be human nature to complain, however, it is not God’s nature.

Be obedient… unto Christ (v. 5), could form the entire sentence.  Even when the boss seems to be messing up, if we are to be faithful, Spirit filled Christians we comply with his directions – as long as his directions are not immoral, or physically harmful, and/or violate your conscience.

Spirit filled Christians are different in their labor than are the rest of the laborers.  Where others complain and slack off in their work the Spirit controlled believer is thankful, and works his/her best.  Her single purpose being to glorify Jesus Christ.

The very fact that more is said in these verse cold show who the majority of Christians were in this church.  These words to encourage them in their labor.  It is Jesus for whom we labor.  The Scriptures say nothing of a division of secular and sacred.  For the Spirit filled Christian all things are done, as unto Christ.

The Spirit filled Christian employee will not serve with eyeservice; seeking the approval of the boss only when he is watching.  This term eyeservice implies only doing the work; and maybe even with a little more effort; when being watched.  Many people who are of the world work one way when no one is watching and a completely other way when they know they are being watched.  To please the boss (while he is watching) could mean a promotion, they think.

It is the will of God that Christians do their work heartily as the servants of Christ .  The work of the Christian is not to please men, but to glorify their Lord.  Those Christians who do their work unto the Lord will recrive eternal rewards from Christ (Colossians 3:24).  This is not unto salvation but rewards which glorify our Lord.

Doing a job cheerfully can be contagious.  Others see you working, and enjoying the work of your Lord, and it begins to rub off on others.  What kind of witness is it to be sour and complaining about low pay, no benefits, poor work environment, and whatever other complaints there are?  I heard Elisabeth Elliot say, “If you aren’t doing the work you like, then, like the work you do.”  We  can only learn to like it by seeing that  our true Master is our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verse 8 is the link to what has just been said.  If  there is anyone who has doubt that this idea of servanthood is not relevant for our day, Paul includes, “Whether he be bond or free”.  In other wards the principles given are for all Christians, and for all ages.

When we go to a place for employment we are subjecting ourselves to their rule of practice and operation.  We voluntarily become a bond-slave to our employer with the understanding we are being  paid for what we do, and at an agreed upon wage.  However, if we expect to be paid, the employer expects good work.

The good work that Christian employee does, along with a joyful and giving attitude, is a witness to everyone around, including the boss.  God promises reward to those who serve the Lord in this way.

When it is said and done we are all bond-slaves to someone or something.  There are some who are slaves to sin and obey its every craving and desire.  The Christian, however, is free from sin, and is a bond-slave to Christ, because he was redeemed with the purchase price of the shed blood of Jesus (Romans 6:14-18).

The Christianity part does not lay on the employee alone; that is the responsibility of every Christian employee and employer.  We look now at the duties of the Christian employer, Business owner, Supervisor, Boss; let’s also keep in mind 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  We are all subjects of Christ.

The “master”  is to do service to the servant, “as unto the Lord”.  Paying a wage that enables the servant to have a life supporting his family and providing for their health needs.  This is speaking of the Christian employer.

For the “master” he is to do it as a servant of Christ.  Not beating, nor threatening, but encouraging.  The “master” realizing that he too has a Master “in heaven”.

The Master in heaven has no “respect of persons”, but every one of His children are equal in His sight; receiving from Him according to their need.  The master/employer should  treat his employees equally according to their needs and abilities.

When Christians are filled with the Spirit they will be the best employees an employer can find, for they see that they are servants.  Servants not of their employer, but of Christ, who is Master over all.

The Christian [Spirit controlled] employer will give the best of care to his employees, because he realizes he has a Master, and when the employees are respected and blessed by their employer they will give more of themselves without complaining.

Wouldn’t it be great if employers were always on the look out for Christian employees because every Christian  who cam to work for them was a hard and joyous worker?

Wouldn’t it be great if the Christian employer was gracious and took care of his employees, and his employees loved him and because of his generosity worked their best for him?

We give evidences of the filling of the Spirit of God by these things which the apostle has written.  Husbands and wives submitting to one another, respecting one another’s place filled by God;  Children loving and respecting their parents, obeying them and parents filled with the Spirit correcting their children with love;  Servants/Employees be submitted to their bosses; Christian employers/bosses/business owners submitted to the servant.  As Christians we must remember we are to be submitted one to another.  See the other as better than ourselves and seek others well being.  This is a practicing, active, living Christianity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Grace Into Lewdness

“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4 (NKJV).

Yes! This is the same verse as yesterday’s. However it seems prudent to deal a little more on that part of the verse which is in bold print.

It is sad that there seems to be a growing number of professing Bible teachers who call themselves or have been called “Free Gracers”. Grace is free from our loving God and Savior, however, the fact of its being free to us does not give us freedom to live without control. That is usually what is meant by those who believe in “Free Grace”. It is usually meant that when you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or they would just say Savior, then you have the “Liberty of conscience, or spirit” to live as you so please.

In affect, they turn the “grace of God into lewdness”, and the idea of Christian liberty is taken beyond what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is; there is liberty”. We are free in Christ.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:12-18 (KJV)

The freedom which we have in Jesus Christ is not freedom to live as we please, but freedom from the law of condemnation, and freedom to live for Christ and unbound by sin. Before salvation we were servants of sin. Having Jesus as our Lord and Savior unbinds us from sin, then, to serve our Lord Jesus, and to live in the way that will glorify His precious and holy name.

It is not in the heart of a child of God to continue in disobedient, rebellious sin against our Lord. Jesus is Lord of the true believer, the true child of God. If the heart of the individual professing Jesus as Savior is not prone to glorify God by living for Him, then, that heart is not redeemed, and needs Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The heart of the truly saved individual desires to live in such a fashion that Jesus’s name will be glorified in their life. It is not given to the disobedience of sin.

The teacher who teaches such heresy is not a teacher of God, but is one of those who has come in “unnoticed” or “Unawares”. Take heed to what every teacher, who is teaching, teaches. Use the spiritual discernment which the Spirit of God gives you, along side the Word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Neighborly Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Astonished and Wondered

For sometime Jeremiah had prophesied that judgment was coming if there was no repentance. Now it was “At the door”, and the priests and the prophets – the false ones – were going to be “Astonished and Wondered” about what was coming on them. They were in darkness. They could not see the wrath and judgment of God. They could not hear the message of God’s Word. They were themselves in the darkness of the people.

“The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, without inhabitant. For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘That the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets wonder.” Jeremiah 4:7-9 (NKJV)

The lion here, of course, is reference to Babylon, and that fits because archealogical pictures show the Babylonian symbol of power was a winged lion, at the royal palace, and in the city around it. The lion has been waiting for such an oppportunity to come and invade this proud and idolatrous people. The lion is an animal of stealth. The male, of course works off of fear. In the New Testament we have these words spoken, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1 Peter 5:8). Nebuchadnezzar was a destroyer of nations, and none could stand against him, even God’s people, due to their idolatry and lack of repentance.

Nebuchadnezzar was coming toward Jerusalem, and he would leave it desolate, laid waste, and without any inhabitant. The people of Jerusalem were thinking that Jeremiah could not be right. “This was, after all, God’s city; with God’s temple, and God’s people. He would not allow it to be overthrown, defeated and left in such a way”. Had not God promised that the kingdom of David was an everlasting kingdom?

False security rest in immoral hearts who are not trusting in the Lord, living as they please, and believe that God cannot judge them because of His promises. Can we not see that He judges His people, His children because of the promises made. True security rest in the morality of a cleansed heart and forgiveness that causes the forgiven to live holy lives for the glory of the LORD. It is not a matter of commandment or law, except that law of God that is written in the heart of the child of God.

Jeremiah calls for their repentance. Time and time again he calls for repentance; “…clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail…” was a call for humility before God, recognizing one’s sinfulness, and need of mercy and grace. Where is the call for repentance for the children of God today. As Christians we claim to be the children of God, people of God, the Bride of Christ, the Church, the Body of Christ; and yet there is little to no lamentation, or mourning, or weeping. There is no sorrow over our sins, little lone the sins of a lost and wicked world.

Some have asked and are asking is God judging America? It seems this question is being asked especially with the overwhelming flooding of our country, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and crop devastation due to such. The answer to the question is YES! It started when we began tolerating sexual immorality. The judgment started with homosexuality becoming an excepted practice. Hear what Paul the apostle says,

“For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion. And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die —they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” Romans 1:21-32 (HCSB).

This judgment is due to a departure from the Living God to worship things, self-worship; magnifying the created over the Creator. Because of this God gives them up to their depraved minds, and look at what follows. Men with men, women with women. That is the judgment of God on the United States of America, the world and all who will stand and be advocates for evil. Unless there is a mass repentance, and soon, there is no hope for America to stand as the free nation that it once was. God is sending a foreign power to take us, and it may not be by force, but by a religious power through our democracy. Then, child of God, we will be under the rule of a government that hates Christ, and the true God, and those who follow Him. In truth all the governments of men hate God’s rule, including that government that calls itself “Democracy”. The democracy of the United States is gradually working against all that is holy, godly and righteous and just.

The anger of the LORD never turns away from us. The LORD is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11), and yet He is merciful. There are going to be those who will say, “Well this prophecy is for the nation of Israel/Judah. It is not for America and the Church of our Lord Jesus.” They are correct, however, Paul the apostle tells us that these Old Testament writings are for an example for us; “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 (KJV) and “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 (KJV). It would be good for you to read all of chapter 10 to get the full extent of what Paul is speaking. We are to learn from the sins of the nation of Israel.

The leaders of the nation would fear greatly the roar of the lion of Babylon. He has a track record of victory, and of being mean, vicious, and quite arrogant. It is the lying priests, and the deceiving prophets – false prophets – who will be Astonished and Wondered by the events of Jeremiah’s  prophecy.  In our day and the USA, there is a great amount of lying and deceitful prophets, and priests, who claim to be of God, but are filled with lying spirits.  God will have His way in all the nations of the world. One day every nation will come before God and give an account of its treatment of the Nation of Israel, and they will also give an account of the way of their hatred toward God. We can rest assured that God will win.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Power of the Parables

The Power of the Parables

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables…” Matthew 13:1-3 (KJV).

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:10-17 (KJV).

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34-35 (KJV).

In the first three verses of this chapter we see Jesus beginning to teach a multitude in parables. People like stories. Many of us had stories read to us by our parents or guardians, and we loved hearing them. The love for hearing stories is most likely why the popularity of television and movies is so high. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and Camelot. Many citizens of the United States have heard the American Tall Tales, concerning men like Davy Crockett, Sam Patch, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill, and then there is also John Henry the steel drivin’ man. These are all stories that do not just tell a story, but capture your imagination, and cause you to dream and dream big.

Jesus told His stories with a different purpose, and they were powerful stories that were life changing; if you had the heart to hear them. Someone once defined a parable as “A earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I don’t think that is far wrong. These are stories of things most people were familiar with, and so should understand. It seems however, that the religious leaders, being hard of heart, were so set in their ways, and their spiritual understanding that they had no heart for understanding simplicity. There are seven or eight parables in this chapter. That depends on if you consider verses 51-52 a parable or not. It seems to me to be a parable, and may be the hardest to understand of the others.

The power of the parable is to hide the truth from the hard of heart (v. 11). A simple and some would call avoiding answer. The longer answer is that spiritual things are meant for the spiritual. The unspiritual or natural man cannot know the things of God, and Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. The natural man, unspiritual individual, has no heart for the things of God. The scribes and Pharisees though having a knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and rituals had no heart for God or knowing and doing His will. All they had was merely pretense and hypocrisy.

The things of God are revealed to those who are willing to receive them. Those who are drawn to God’s Son by God’s grace. The hardened heart has little or no understanding of grace, and knows only law and its condemnation. Jesus has warned of casting our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To continue giving the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God whose heart only grows harder with each word is a waste, and we should leave such individuals to God. When we have presented the truth of the gospel to them we have done what is required of us. I heard someone say, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, until all have heard it at least once”.

The power of the parable is to teach and grow those who do or will understand (v. 12). In the parable is the power for understanding the simplest of things. Those who are familiar with agriculture, and those to whom Jesus spoke would have been, understood about the soils, the seeds, and the sower. Many of these listeners had probably seen or been involved in the farming process, and knew exactly the picture that was given. Jesus was, however, giving more than an agricultural story; He was applying an area of life to the spirit of men. In this those who would understand would be receiving more than those who just saw or see it as just a story. In the study of these eight parables it is clear to me that they are all related to one basic lesson. I will not reveal that fully now, but will as we go along. One thing I think that should be obvious to us all is that it is related to the “Kingdom of heaven”.

What about these parables? Whoever has understanding will receive more understanding and grow in their knowledge of Christ Jesus, put on the things of Christ, and put away the things of the flesh and evil. This will be dependent upon the Christian’s obedience to what they have already received. If the Christian has heard the Word of the Lord, understanding what has been said, but will not obey, let not that Christian believe that they will receive anything further from the Lord, concerning His will. For example – If you ask God’s will concerning something of a moral issue, you have Scriptural evidence that it is wrong, and you go ahead and commit the sin, want to continue in that sin, though you know it to be sin; until you repent, agreeing with God and His Word that it is sin, you will not be given understanding on much else. Disobedience will bring you loss.

If someone shuns the desire of God they lose even the possibility of knowing Him. They lose any sense of morality through their conscience that they may have had. They lose their ability to think reasonably – think of the plight of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, and that is God being merciful. They lose their lives to sins bondage. ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:21-26 (KJV).

Abundance of understanding will be given to those who hear these parables, and not only understand the story, but its heart and spirit. These parables are positive in their meaning, however, they all have a negative aspect to them.

The power of the parable is to fulfill the Word of God spoken by the prophets (vv. 13-15). When we look at the writings of the Old Testament prophets we see that the people of God would not hear and heed the message the messenger brought them. They might listen, and probably did hear, but they usually did not like what they heard, and they would stone, imprison in a dungeon, or a waterless cistern, and sometimes killed the messenger/prophet; almost always shunned by the people. Isaiah the prophet was told when he was called and had surrendered to the call, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:9-13 (KJV). The people would not listen to Isaiah. How long was he to continue to preach without anyone repenting and changing their lives? The basic answer here is “Until the people are gone, and you are gone.” How many preachers do we know who would want a ministry with no converts, no believers repenting, and no changed lives; and God forbid; no baptisms?

There are people who have physical eyes, but cannot see the God of creation in His creation. They, also, can not see Him in His works and/or Word. They are blinded by their own way. They really do not want to see God or His work. It would take too much away from them and their good deeds. They will see the darkness as light. They have ears, but do not hear. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly presented and all they hear is an argument against their lives. Those type of people rejected the words of the prophets in their days. They had ears, but could not hear. They only loved the sounds of their own voices, their own hearts; wicked though they were. When people are satisfied with their own spirituality they will believe almost anything but the truth. They believe they will succeed and make it to heaven by their good works and deeds, and they have none. The truth of Christ, His cross – death, His burial, and resurrection, ascension and promise of His return will be the very Truth which judges them on judgment day. Jesus will be their Judge, rather than their Savior – What of His mercy then?

The power of the parable is to reveal what the prophets desired to see. In some ways I would have loved to spoken with Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I will one day be able to sit down with them in God’s Kingdom. As I read the prophets today I can hear their hearts, there are times I can almost feel their pain because they see a people, who are supposed to be God’s people who will not bow before their God, except in pretense and hypocrisy. You can hear and feel the heart of Jeremiah as he says, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jeremiah 9:1. The prophets desired to see the people of God quit their idolatry, their gross rebellion, their pretense and hypocrisy. God has always been a jealous God. Jealous meaning that He is the only one worthy of worship, and that He deserves our complete, total, and whole admiration. The prophets foretold of One who would come to redeem the world, restore Israel to her land, and bring the Gentiles into the promise. They longed to see the “Promised One”. They are now in His presence rejoicing in His glory. We can yet hear their words as we read them. They have been kept and preserved that we may hear and know the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ; hear Him and believe and live forever.

The prophets had a longing heart to see the fulfillment of the Word they had penned down. Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the prophets messages. The apostle John wrote, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (KJV). The main focus of that verse which I wanted to point out is that “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of the prophetic Word is concerning Jesus. Of Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, it is said, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (KJV). If one wants or desires to understand these and all the parables of Jesus one first needs to know Jesus.

Let’s look at a contrast of hearts:

1. The dull of hearing rebel against the preacher; The Illumined ones hear and support the preacher.

2. The dull of hearing pull away from service and regular worship to the Lord, worship their own way; The Illumined ones desire to be active in solely the worship of the Lord, and with other believers.

3. The dull of hearing increase in hypocrisy by their ritual and tradition; The Illumined ones despise hypocrisy, especially in themselves, and yearn for genuineness.

4. The dull of hearing have a lack of spiritual understanding, often thinking they are the really spiritual, but what spirit are they of; The Illumined ones are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ.

5. The dull of hearing rationalizes personal sin; The Illumined ones hate personal sin and judge it by the Spirit of God andHisi Word.

6. The dull of hearing lose any understanding they may have when they refuse the truth: The Illumined ones increase in spiritual understanding.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Problem with Self-Reformation

The Problems of Self-Reformation

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45 (KJV).

There is not much talk of “Demon possession” in our modern or “Post-modern” era. We are too sophisticated for demons. We have psychiatry, and psychology to handle the things that tend to control us. We can’t have anything spiritual enter the picture. Then, we wonder, “Why can’t this problem be solved?” or “Why can’t George overcome his alcoholism?” or “Why can’t Cheryl quit smoking those cigarettes?”, or something we consider worse, “Why can’t Harold over come His sexual abuse of children?” According to the experts this final one is never overcome. My answer to that is NOT BY PHYCHIATRY, PSYCHOLOGY, OR SELF REFORMATION.

The idea of “self-reformation” is nothing new. Mankind has, since the fall of man in the garden, tried to reform and change himself/herself. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day were depending on their own merit and abilities to have self-restraint, and self-reform. They may have kept themselves from the physical act of some sins, but the sin was still quite active in their own minds and hearts. If the sin issue is not dealt with in the heart and mind it will still be a problem in the life of the one who desires to change. The only way to deal with it in the heart and mind is through faith in Jesus Christ; and receiving a new heart, a transformed mind (Romans 12:1-2). The end result of self-reformation is like what Jesus mentions in our text. You might sweep and clean out the place, but if you don’t fill it with the Spirit of Christ it is still empty and you will end up worse than you were before.

One of the fruits of the Spirit of God is “Temperance” or “Self-control” (Galations 5:22-23). This fruit is by the Holy Spirit, and He gives through His power the mind and heart to say no to cigarettes, liquor, overeating – gluttony, sexual immorality (which would include sexual abuse of children), etc.. These things can have a way of bindiing us all. They need not control us. By the power of the Spirit we turn them away, by seeing what this does to Christ, by seeing what these things do to the Body of Christ, and the harm they will do to our own. The Christian who is under the dominion of any of these things is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. You, however, cannot get control in your own strength.

We can see so many people involved in so much religious activity, ceremony, ritual, rules, regulations, etc. and their lives are in miserable shape before God. They have the appearance of happiness, but they are still far from God. Self-reformation is truly the downfall of our own age. If you listen to Oprah, and many gurus which she follows; the answer for us is positive thinking, lifting up yourself, visualizing a better you, or a better future. Our only true hope is found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you want to be a real “positive thinker” think like Jesus, and through Him seek to do only those things that please the Father.

When we achieve through our own abilities, or when we think we have, we have a tendency of pride, prideful rebellion against God. Pride is a destructive path more destructive than the most horrid of sins. Sin will be the judge of those who enjoy their sin (Jeremiah 2:19). Your own sins will judge you. The wicked generation who seeks not the things of God through His Son Jesus is in the direction of God’s eternal judgment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Medicine of Laughter

The Medicine of Laughter

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

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

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

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

-by Tim A. Blankenship

THE HAPPINESS OF THE REVELATION (2)

THE HAPPY DEAD

Revelation 14:13

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (KJV).There is happiness in death to the self, giving all for Christ, possibly even dying for the faith, and ultimate happiness when our salvation is completed at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Does the above statement shock you. Death is our enemy according to Scripture, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26 (KJV). The “death” of the above statement is the giving of one’s self for Christ’s sake.

In our day of modern technology there are many who have an innate fear of death. Maybe that is as it should be. Death tends to remind us that we are but finite (limited) beings, and uncertain of what lies beyond. That is shown in our technology, which appears at times to lengthen man’s life span.

It seems that man has always sought for a “Fountain of Youth”. It also seems, that in the minds of many, the new “Fountain of Youth” is modern technology. People fearful of growing old are almost shameful of their age. There are some who have made request, that upon their death their body be frozen in hopes that in some future day their body can be revived and cured of the ailment which caused their demise. There was, at one time a great effort at promoting “Cryogenic labs” which provided the service of freezing the dead. If you were rich enough and foolish enough to believe such things. I have not heard much about it in recent days.

The one who has faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ should know that for them death is an enemy which has been defeated. It cannot hold us, and escape from it is not provided by any of the technological advances of man. For the believer death is to be “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Why would any sensible person want to continue in a body wracked by pain, a life filled with tragedy and sorrow? Let me clarify something – Life is in God’s hands, and it is He and He alone who gives life, and He is the only one who has the right to take it, or those to whom He has given authority (Read Romans 13:1-7).

Who are “The Happy Dead”? Those who are dead to the self life, and living for Jesus. Those who while physically alive chose Jesus’ life for their life, and lived for Him, but whose bodies are now in the grave, and their spirits are in the presence of the Lord who will one day bring the spirits with Him to rejoin them with their bodies, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1 Thes. 4:14 (KJV).

Why should we call them “The Happy Dead”? or Why are they “The Happy Dead”?

In the first place THEY HAVE A PASSION FOR GOD. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 (KJV). “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Cor 15:31 (KJV). They receive that passion before their bodies return to the earth from which they came. The one’s who are in Christ Jesus have given their lives to Him for the cause of Christ and eternity. In doing this it shows their passion for Jesus. Their hearts are on Jesus, for Jesus, and not just to gain eternity, but because of it. Those who have died in Christ Jesus are now in His presence and enjoying happiness beyond our mortal understanding.

Secondly, THEY HAVE A PLACE WITH GOD. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15 (KJV). Through faith in Jesus and the finished work of the cross we are promised a place (John 14:1-3). Those who have a promised place with God throughout eternity have given Him a permanent place in their lives. They spend time daily in fellowship with Him. Reading, studying, meditating, and living by His Word – led by the Holy Spirit. They have found strength for living by Jesus living His life in them. There is no place four with God in the life of the wicked, but God does not joy in that, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezek 18:32 (KJV). He desires for all to come to salvation in Jesus.

Thirdly, THEY HAVE THE PEACE OF GOD. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7 (KJV). “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb 4:9-11 (KJV). Those who believe come to a place in their lives where they relaize that all their labors (for salvation) are in vain. They will realize that if they are to have the “Peace of God” they will cease from their own labors and completely trust in the finished work of grace by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Last, but certainly not exhausted, THEY HAVE THE PRAISE OF GOD. “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt 25:21 (KJV). “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt 25:23 (KJV). “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt 25:34 (KJV). God rewards those who are always faithful with that which He has given them. Your salvation is the greatest gift He has given. It could be asked, “What can I do faithfully with my salvation?” The answer for that is, “Do all that is in your ability and the power of the Holy Spirit to grow into the image of Christ”. Reading the Scriptures, praying, praising, witnessing, living the life that will honor and glorify Christ. Be faithful with the material blessings God has given. We all must remember that the praises of men have a short duration, but the praises of God are eternal. The praises of God begin when you act on faith in God’s Word. When there is sin in your life – agree with God. When it concerns the matter of salvation; it is only a work of God and God alone – agree with God. When God says, “This is my Son, your Savior” – agree with God. When you are in agreement with God you are walking with Him. When you do not agree with God you are away from Him.

In conclusion, the people who are THE HAPPY DEAD are those who realize their position in Christ Jesus. These are a people who are dead to the self-life and alive in Jesus. These are also a people who know that victory over death is their’s through Jesus Christ our Lord.

LOOKING FOR JESUS – GENESIS (2)

LOOKING FOR JESUS – GENESIS (2)

“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10c). Can Jesus and the gospel be found in the Old Testament? It is my declaration that He can and that the gospel is there as well.

Look in Genesis 3. This is the chapter of the fall of man and sin entering into the world. After the sin of Adam and Eve we find God’s declarations to the serpent, to Eve and last of all to Adam. Within this chapter there is a prophecy of a Savior who would come, and a type (picture, shadow) of what would take place by that Savior who would come. This is what we will look at in this post.

In God’s Word to the serpent He said (v. 15), “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” We can see the enmity (fear, strife) between the serpent and the children of Eve. It is even present to this day. When I see a snake it causes fear in me. That is one of God’s creatures which I want absolutely nothing to do with. In my mind they are a symbol of all that is vile and wicked and evil. If you want to handle the things, you go right ahead. If it bites you you cannot blame anyone but yourself. The same thing is true of sin. When you play with sin, it will bite you, and it already has.

The seed of the woman, the one who would bruise the head of the serpent is the promised Redeemer who would come. When Eve had Cain it seems as though she expected him to be the one. There was such expectancy. It is seen in what she named him “Cain…I have gotten a man from the Lord” (4:1). It was not to be Cain, because he was not a man who had a heart for the things of God. This prophecy would not be fulfilled for about four thousand years. It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. On the cross, upon which Jesus died satan (that old serpent) “Bruised the heel” of the seed of the woman. Upon that same cross the head of the serpent was not only “bruised” but the power of satan was crushed, and his authority over men taken away. After the cross Jesus rose from death showing that He was indeed the Son of the living God (Romans 1:4). By that same resurrection we have the promise of eternal life.

There is also a shadow/type of the cross seen in this chapter of Genesis. In Verse 21 it says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Now in the minds of some, this verse may seem very insignificant, but I do not think it will be to many who are reading this. Remember Adam and Eve had been warned by God that they would die if they ate fruit from the forbidden tree. Now they had eaten fruit from the tree, and God provided redemption for them. It was a covering for their sin. It was in the form of animal skins, and I personally believe the skins to be lamb skins. This was the first time death had come into the world, and it was God who did the killing. In this shadow of the cross there were animals put to death for the sins of these two sinners. God in his holy and righteous way provided a means of salvation which would bring salvation to the human race. To think that God in His wisdom, power, love and grace was showing us the wonderful life of Jesus Christ in providing covering for Adam and Eve. They had tried to cover themselves in fig leaves, but it was not good enough for God. The “Fig leaves” of religion, self-righteousness, good works, or ceremonial laws will never satisfy the righteousness of God. The blood or the righteous Lamb of God alone has done that.

Isn’t the love, grace and mercy of God something wonderful. It is the most wonderful knowledge that we could have. It is, in fact the most wonderful thing we could have in our lives.