1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

This is the second part of LIVING AS CHRISTIANS IN OUR MODERN WORLD. Paul the apostle, an instrument in the hand of God was and still is teaching God’s people how we ought to be living in any age we find ourselves. This second part, will itself be in two parts. In this part we will look at verses 1 – 12.

In these verses we see that caring Chrisitans live, not for themselves, but for the Lord, and those who have come to Christ through their ministry.

Paul calls the Thessalonian church to remember how it was when he came to them. He reminds them how he worked and labored; how he had suffered persecution, realizing they were as well.

The concern Paul had, as any man of God does, is that the people be strong in the faith. There were and are temptations which lure God’s children off the path of living the Christian life. It is especially so in the time of Paul’s letters, and in our time as the time of Christ’s return draws ever nearer.

What joy there is for a mother and father who raise their children in the precepts, statutes, judgments, and commandments of the Lord when their child gives their life to Him. When a father teaches his son how to safely operate the farm tractor, and that boy takes it up like he was born on it, and almost may have been. The joy, the hope of the Christian is when he/she sees one they have taught living according to God’s Word. What joy Paul must have felt and received when word came to him how these had grown in the faith.

“For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.” 1 Thes. 2:1-2

There is great assurance in these verses. The work of God is never in vain. If one person comes to Christ as a result of our presence it is not in vain. This church was a very active church, and very much alive. They were not in the least way in danger of losing their candlestick.

Even though persecution arises we are to continue to be bold with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we are persecuted for our faith, and because of our boldness of speech we should approach it just like Peter and John, and all the apostles in acts chapter four. They were commanded not to speak in that name (the name of Jesus). They went and told the others, and they all just prayed for more boldness.

“For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” 2:3-6

The concern of a parent is noticed in these verses. Paul, having been gone for several days, maybe weeks or months, shows his concern for their growth. He reminds them of his work and faithful ness, and the things which the taught them the three weeks he was with them.

“A flatterer can use either truth or lies to achieve his unholy purpose, which is to control your decisions for his profit.” WARREN WIERSBE. Paul did not use flatterery, or manipulation. He was not in it to please Paul or other men. that should also be the heart and attitude of any man who is called by God into a position of leadership and service to God’s people.

If a Christian is to lead he must be sure of his/her motive. If it is to receive glory from man he can be bought off. The man of God does not seek to please anyone, but God and His Son Jesus.

“But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”  2:7-9

Today there is much said about expectant mothers and their drinking of alcoholic beverages. It is because the alcohol gets into the bloodstream from which the baby is sustained and can cause awful deformities and even addiction to alcohol.

The loving caring mother will not eat or drink anything that would bring harm to her baby, either before or after it is born. She feeds, and cares for that child holding it close to her heart.

We are to be as a caring and nourishing to the unborn-again, and the new born-again as an expectant and nursing mother – just like Paul.

“Ye are witnesses, and God also , how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. ” 2:10-12

Servants of God see themselves not as dominant leaders, but as servants to the people, while remaining faithful to God. The witnesses of Paul’s service was the people which he served. He had faithfully ministered to them the Word of God, words of encouragement, hope, exhortation, and reminding them that they were God’s children in His kingdom.

That is our calling as Christian leaders. How do our people view our service?

Words of Jesus; Son of God, God the Son – 082120

“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately,  ‘Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?’

And Jesus answering them began to say,
‘Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’ ”  Mark 13:3-13  (KJB)

With The Precious Blood Of Christ

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”  1 Peter 1:18-25  (KJB)

Let Him Be Accursed

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-10 (KJB)

Continuing Prayer

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:2-4 (KJB)

The Apostle has just dealt with Christians who have in their employment people of lesser wealth. Masters were to treat their servants or employees rightly (Colossians 3:22-4:1).  The verses above could also be  Paul’s words for them; but even the words of Paul in the previous chapter are words for Christians in every age.

What was the Apostle encouraging the saints at Colossae to do?  To continue in prayer.  The request was for Paul to have an open opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that all about Jesus would be revealed as the word went forth.

How we need that continuing prayer today.

As I read these words this morning I got to wondering about the phrase the apostle Paul used “Pray without ceasing”.  Is there any difference between “Continue in prayer” and “Pray without ceasing”?

I found this note from the Matthew Henry Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing…

Note, The way to rejoice evermore is to pray without ceasing. We should rejoice more if we prayed more. We should keep up stated times for prayer, and continue instant in prayer. We should pray always, and not faint: pray without weariness, and continue in prayer, till we come to that world where prayer shall be swallowed up in praise. The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business, and every good work.

Pray for those who are standing in the place of sharing, of preaching the gospel of Christ. Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, for an open door of opportunity, and His work in revealing the word of God to the hearers.

In Jesus Christ alone is there honest sincere prayer heard by the throne of God; and that through the blood of Christ shed at Calvary’s cross, His burial, and resurrection.

The Gift of Suffering

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”  Philippians 1:29 (KJB)

A major automotive company has a commercial of a new medium size truck. In that commercial they show people doing many different things to show how the race of Adam puts  himself through a lot of suffering, and all for the fun and adventure of it.

People go to gyms every day of the week to “work out” for the purpose of “staying in shape”, getting in shape, and to be physically fit.  They do this then they have aches, and pains, and have even been overheard saying, “I have to go to the gym today.”  Some run, many walk pushing themselves to their limit.  They suffer with a goal in mind.

We often think nothing of suffering to gain our intended goal; but did you guess that; or did you know that suffering for Jesus Christ and His gospel is a gift from Him…

“…It is given in the behalf of Christ… to suffer for His sake…”

No one enjoys suffering.  I am recovering right now from a whole day spent yesterday helping two of my sons put in laminate flooring in our house.  We did two rooms.  I am grateful to the men for actually doing it; I merely helped supplying the planks, doing saw work, etc.  We got it done.  The outcome is wonderful.

We could say that the outcome of our suffering for the name of  Christ is marvelous, wonderful, and magnificent.  When we suffer for the sake of Christ, He is glorified.

I cannot say that I have ever suffered too much for Christ.  We do have brothers and sisters in Christ in countries like some of the nations of Africa, India, even Saudi Arabia, and many more.  Hang on brethren in those nations.  Continue in faith believing not only in Jesus Christ, but also in suffering for Him.

Lord Jesus, I pray that I too will be faithful in times of suffering for Your name. Amen.

The Truth

“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8 (KJB)

The truth is what Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. Jesus is the Persona of Truth (John 14:6).  The apostle was not going to use the truth to control those who were walking, living in the truth.

Neither can  the Pastor, teacher, preacher of today.  The word of God is the truth.

I will leave you with some thoughts from a couple of sources:

From F. B. Meyer…

“None can really injure the truth or stop its victorious progress. As well try to stop the sunrise. We often help others most in our weakness, because then we rely most on the Spirit of God. It is the noblest end of life to build up others through our own expenditure, even to the draining of our strength and resources. The world is apt at destruction; and indeed not much art is required for pulling down. But the divine work is to build; we have God’s authority for that.”

and from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary…

“Our apostolic power is given us that we may use it not against, but for the furtherance of, the truth. Where you are free from fault, there is no scope for its exercise: and this I desire. Far be it from me to use it against the innocent, merely in order to increase my own power (2Co_13:10).”

The truth of  the gospel is that  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief sinner. He died for me, and gave me a brand new life.  He died on the cross that all who would believe on Him might be saved (John 3:15-18).  He was buried, and He rose again.

He lives. He lives. He lives. That is the truth.

Those Christians

“Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.  Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  Acts 11:22-26  (KJB)

The word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ was spreading, growing, lives of Jews and Gentiles alike were being changed by the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).  Some changes were not good for the one’s preaching the gospel; because sometimes hearts grow hard against the gospel, and their lives are darkened with their minds and souls.

When the word of God and the gospel is preached there is always a response.  Some will just say “No! Not now”,  Some will give positive acceptance to Christ with a “Yes! I believe”; then there are those who are angered by it and set out to destroy the messenger.  You will also have the passives who will do nothing with what they hear.

Barnabas was sent to go as far as Antioch.  He saw the grace of God and was glad; that is that the grace of God was working wherever he went on the way.  He must have arrived in Antioch and realized there was so much work to do that he needed help; so he went to find Saul to come and help.

Saul joined with Barnabas and they taught much of the people there.  Some where in the ministry of these two men of God the name “Christian” came to be what they called a follower of Jesus Christ.  Whether it was a derogatory term or just a name that seemed to fit is probably not even needed to know.  The name “Christian” has stuck, and it is a good name. It simply means “Follower of Christ”.

Yes I am a follower of Christ.  I want to pattern my life, my actions, my words, my heart, and my soul to His way.  I am one of those Christians who believes that when you meet Jesus your life is changed.  I am one of those Christians whose whole life is affected by the Spirit of Christ in me.  I still commit sin, but I am ashamed of my sin, repent and He forgives me.

The Christian life is one to live inside the church house, the family house, on the city square, the traffic jammed highways and freeways, grocery check out lines, theme park lines, the voting booth, and as a politician too.

May God give me; may God give us all the strength and boldness to be like Jesus Christ.  Yes, I am one of Those Christians.

They Would Not Quit

“Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.  But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, ‘Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.’  And when they heard, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.” Acts 5:17-21 (KJB)

Thinking of our Christian brothers and sisters in nations where the gospel of Jesus Christ is not received in a spirit of freedom.  I salute you, and thank you for not quitting.  I also ask you to pray for us here in the United States of America; for though we are free; having the freedom of speech, and freedom of religion there are many who are trying to push the gospel out of the public, and have the word of God stay behind closed doors of our churches.

In the text above we see those who hated Jesus Christ, and had a hand in His crucifixion and death now hating His disciples, locking them in prison, trying to silence the power of God in Jerusalem.

The angel of the Lord freed them without even opening the jail doors (verses 22-26).  The angel also sent them to the temple to teach, and they went and taught.  They would not quit.  They would not be silent.

Neither can the Christian of 2019 be silent of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People are perishing.  There are people dying in their sins.  Christian of Africa continue to stand and preach the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christian of India, continue to preach the gospel.  Christian of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey continue to preach the word of God.

Christian of the United States of America be faithful to preach the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

They Would Not Quit.  Neither should you or I.

To the Hypocrite, Religious Leaders

“Serpents, generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33

These words spoken by Jesus is from the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  They are spoken through most of the twenty third chapter of Matthew.  He calls them, serpents, vipers, hypocrites at least nine times.  Now He tells them they speak poisonous words.  They bind people in legalism, and make their converts more a child of hell than themselves (v. 15).

O how we as pastors and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  O how all of those who are born again need to realize that in Christ Jesus we have been made free from the demands of the law, because the law is within our hearts and minds to do it.

From the Pulpit Commentary on Matthew 23:33…

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers; γεννηìματα ἐχιδνῶν: offspring of vipers. Our Lord repeats the Baptist’s denunciation (Mat_3:7). They were of devilish nature, inherited from their very birth the disposition and character of Satan. So Christ said on another occasion, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth” (Joh_8:44). How can ye escape? Πῶς φυìγητε; the deliberative conjunctive, How shall ye escape? Quo mode fugietis? (Vulgate). There is no emphasis on “can” in the Authorized Version. What hope is there now of your repentance? Can anything soften the hardness of your hearts? The Baptist had spoken more hopefully, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” But now the day of grace is past; the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed; there remaineth only the fearful looking for of judgment.
The damnation of hell; literally, the judgment of Gehenna; judicio Gehennae (Vulgate); i.e. the sentence that condemns to eternal death (Mat_5:22). The phrase is common in the rabbinical writings (see Lightfoot). “Before sinning, we ought to fear lest it be the filling up; after sinning, we should trust in a truly Christian hope that it is not, and repent. This is the only means to escape the damnation of hell; but how rare is this grace after a pharisaical life!” (Quesnel). Hypocrisy is a bar to repentance.”

May hypocrisy be cast out of my heart. May hypocrisy be the enemy of my heart, my mind, and my life.  May hypocrisy be cast out and trod under our feet.

For Christ’s Sake, Do Your Brother Well

“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer, and to beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.  For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by you, brother.
Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin you that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake I rather beseech, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.  I beseech you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which in time past was to you unprofitable, but now profitable to you and to me: whom I have sent again: you therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: whom I would have retained with me, that in your stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: but without your mind would I do nothing; that your benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.  For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you should receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto you, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
If you count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.  If he has wronged you, or owes anything, put that on my account; I Paul have written with mine own hand, I will repay, because I do not say to you, how you owe unto me even your own self besides.  Yea, brother, let me have joy of you in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.  Having confidence in your obedience I wrote unto you, knowing that you will also do more than I say. But immediately prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
There, you salute Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow laborers.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Philemon 1:1-25

REFERENCES: Ephesians 1:2; 3:1; 2 Corinthians 7:13; 9:7; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 16:17; Colossians 4:9; Genesis 45:5

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of you in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
Wherefore I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.  For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
You, be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but you be partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,  but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.  Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed unto you keep by the Holy Ghost which dwells in us.  This you know, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.  The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, you know very well.”  2 Timothy 1:1-18

REFERENCES: 2 Corinthians 1:1; Titus 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2, 10; Acts 9:15; 16:1; 19:10; 22:3; Galatians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 4:7; 5:19; Romans 1:16; 2:20; 3:20; 16:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Matthew 5:7; 25:34; Ephesians 6:20

The Righteousness of God

God’s Righteousness

Romans 10:1-8

Paul is still in his parenthetical statement, and now addresses the unbelief of the nation of Israel. Many of these things in reference to Israel are a means of warning, and also encouragement for Christians of all ages.

In chapter nine we see that this statement exposes the nation’s rejection of Jesus as their true Messiah. Jesus, as a matter of fact, became a stumbling stone to them, and opened the way for the whole world to be saved.

Israel rejected Jesus and the Gospel, but God is not through with His nation. He has a remnant being prepared to return to Him.

Much of the problem with Israel was and is their unbelief. It is a peril to anyone. Unbelief kept Israel from entering the Promised Land the first time they had the chance to enter (Numbers 14; Hebrews 3). Unbelief keeps people from trusting God’s Word. Unbelief keeps people from faith in Jesus. Unbelief will mean failure to enter into the promises of God through His Son.

Things we need to see in this study of chapter 10 –

Though Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles he is still burdened for the people of Israel, even though he knows of their hard, obstinate, and unbelieving hearts (vv. 1-3).

What everyone needs to know is that when one is trusting the Lord Jesus Christ; there is no longer any need to search any further for righteousness: He is “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (v. 4).

The Jews in their zeal set out to obey the commandments, and have the righteousness of God, but failed to see the intent of the law – if one wants to live by the law then, he./she must obey it completely – righteousness is unobtainable through our own righteousness, because we have none (v. 5).

The righteousness of ‘Faith’ trust completely in the work of Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross – there is no need of looking in heaven above, or the earth below, because this message is very near us, even at the door (vv. 6-8);

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (KJV).

No one needs to look any further for righteousness, ie., being made right with God, than to the cross of Jesus. He has fulfilled all righteousness. Any other righteousness is self- righteousness, and that is a stench in the nostrils of holy God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Be Fruitful

Be Fruitful

Col 1:10 (KJV) Might be fruitful in every good work…

When a tree matures enough to begin bearing fruit it will bear the fruit it is supposed to bear. An apple tree will bear apples. A peach tree will bear peaches. A thorn tree will bring forth thorns. You get the picture.

People bear fruit as well. When you were a lost sinner you bore fruit which would be compared to a thorn tree – basically useless and certainly not glorifying the Lord. We all were in that “thorny situation” at one time. A sinking ship, that was going down fast.

Now, that we are saved we will bear fruit that is honoring to our Savior, and will glorify Him. What kind of fruit do Christian’s bear? 1) Evidence of a changed life; 2) Telling others about Jesus; 3) Praising God; 4) Living a holy life; 5) Displaying holy attitudes. The Christian, when sin has invaded the heart, is convicted, and immediately upon the conviction by the Spirit of God will seek forgiveness. She/he does not let sin lay around for long, but wants that fellowship with Jesus Christ sweet and glorious.

When we pray for fruitfulness in one another we ourselves will become fruitful.

Last Sunday morning we looked at the first part of the prayer Paul prayed here in the first chapter of Colossians, “…to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;“ Col 1:9 (KJV), and Sunday evening at the second part, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” Col 1:10 (KJV).  (Please note that this message was preached 9/17/2006 at Carr Lane Baptist Church)

Is this prayer important to the life of the church? Is it important that the Christians of today pray a prayer similar to this? I believe so to both of the above questions. It should be every Christian’s desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. It should also be our desire to walk worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to Him; glorifying Him. It should also be our desire to see all our brothers and sisters in Christ fulfilling the same. Therefore, we must pray for one another to that very effect.

The desire of Paul’s heart for this part of the prayer is that, “We might be fruitful in every good work”.

Let’s define what ‘Every good work’ is. It would seem to me that every is self explanatory, as is good, and work. Does anyone do “good works” apart from the work of Jesus Christ in us though? It is necessary that on the outward appearance, there are many who do ‘good works’, but what is meant by us being ‘fruitful in every good work’? It would most certainly mean that all the good things we do in the Spirit of God working in us, which brings glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A quote from John Gill, “being fruitful in every good work; saints are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; good works are the fruit, which, under the influence of divine grace, they bring forth; and this is not of one sort only, as trees usually do, but of every kind; being ingrafted into Christ the true vine, and deriving life, sap, and nourishment from him, they are filled with the fruits of righteousness by him, which they bring forth and bear, to the glory of his heavenly Father; and being such, they are pleasant plants to him, as fruit bearing trees are to the owner of them: wherefore, in order to the saints walking in their lives and conversations unto all pleasing, or pleasing in all things, the apostle prays they might be fruitful in good works, and that in everyone, in every kind of good works: “ (From John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible – e-Sword).

We cannot bear fruit except we abide in the vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.“ John 15:1-8 (KJV). Part of being in the vine and bearing fruit is getting answers to your prayers. That is seen in the above verse seven.

Let’s look at some of the fruits that we bear when we give ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.  There will be evidence of a changed life, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.“ 1 Cor 6:9-11 (KJV). Note, particularly the last verse. “Such were some of you…”
2.  Telling others of Jesus, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:18 (KJV). This commandment/commission is for all who follow Jesus;
3.  Praising God, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Heb. 13:15 (KJV);
4.  Living a holy life, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Cor. 5:7-8 (KJV);
5.  Displaying the “Fruit of the Spirit”, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Gal. 5:22-26 (KJV).

This fruit is not the same fruit. It is multiple fruits, and they are the good fruits of the Spirit of God, that works in us to accomplish the will of God and glorify Him.

Without knowledge which we spoke of last time, there would be no fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is a product of righteousness, which is produced through knowledge received by the Spirit of God, working in the mind, accomplishing the will of God in us. Every Christian bears fruit.

Let’s look now at how this fruit it produced.

1.  Comes by union with Christ Jesus, “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4-5;
2.  The wisdom of God is needed, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17. John MacArthur writes, “Lack of fruit is directly related to lack of spiritual wisdom”. (From THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY pg. 32).
3.  As Christians we must make every diligent effort, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Nation of Promise

What Of The Jew?

Romans 3:1-8

I. THE COMMITTED WORDS OF GOD (vv. 1-2).

A. Christianity owes much to the Jew.

1. Abraham – father of nations.
2. Abraham – friend of God (James 2:23).

B. The law, which came through the Jew reveals all to be sinners.
C. The precepts of God tell us what we are to do.
D. God’s Word is enduring, “Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89).

1. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words shall not pass away.”

E. The Word being committed to the Jew is also their condemnation if not obeyed.
F. Do they (the Jew) have any advantage?

1. Paul says, “Yes!” “Much every way…” It is basically the promises of God to Abraham and the nation.
2. God’s promises will not fail.

II. THE CONSISTENCY OF GOD’S TRUTH (vv. 3-4).

A. The Jewish teachers/leaders had a problem with the gospel of Jesus because it seemed to them, to negate God’s promises to Israel.

1. Will some people’s unbelief make God’s promises null and void?
2. Paul’s answer is “No!”

B. Man often breaks promises, whether it is intentional or unintentional
C. God is Truthful, He never lies; man on the other hand, is a noted liar.

1. God always keeps His promises.
2. We, as humankind are known for not keeping our word faithfully.

D. Since God’s Word is true, we can have confidence that He is who He says He is; we are who He says we are, and we are in need of what He says we are in need of.

III. THE COMMENDATION OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.

A. The questions presented thus far, which Paul has asked, prove the righteousness of God.
B. By what Paul previously has written, he has shown that the unrighteousness of mankind shows the very righteousness of God.
C. The unrighteousness of man commends God’s righteousness.

1. If God judges unrighteousness does this make Him unrighteous when he is commended by unrighteousness?
2. Of course, the answer to this question is an unequivocal NO!
3. His judgment of unrighteousness proves Him to be righteous, and holy.
4. If God does not judge the sins of mankind, how would it be possible for Him to Judge the wicked at the last day.

D. Paul was probably being accused of teaching people to sin in order that God would be glorified.

1. There is nothing here to give us that idea.
2. Those who would teach or believe such and declare God unrighteous, because He is commended by unrighteousness, and yet judges unrighteousness is boiling in condemnation.

E. Man’s condemnation is sure, if he rejects God’s call to repentance, to Jesus Christ, and to righteousness.

IV. WHAT OF THE JEW?

A. They have disobeyed God’s Word time and time again, but yet, they too can be made right with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
B. One day the whole living nation will repent and follow Jesus (Romans 9 – 11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Ready to Preach the Gospel

Romans 1:8 – 15

Praying for others is an expression of concern for them, and of trusting them to His care. It is first of all, for God’s guidance, providence, and personal spiritual growth. Secondly, that their witness [ good witness] may be seen and spoken of by all.

Prayer lets others know you are praying for them. We encourage others in the faith for the believer, and lets the lost know you are concerned for their eternal well being. It bonds the people with one another and to the one praying for them. In the Latter (above): it give strength for greater service.

In prayer we accept God’s grace toward all (v. 12). Our faith is mutual – no one is greater than the other. The faith that saves me is the faith that saves you – the faith from God.

In prayer we acquire a desire for spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit characterize the Spirit-led believer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23. Righteous actions. ” For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. ” Philippians 4:16-17. ” By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15. We desire to see people come to Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. These fruits will be seen, known and recognized by others.

We have a glorious message to proclaim (vv. 14-15). To the Greeks – these were considered the civilized and wise. To the barbarians – considered unwise because they could not speak the Greek language nor were they assimilated to Greek culture. The message of the gospel is for the “Wise” and for the “Unwise” – the culturally correct and incorrect – the rich and the poor. We ought always: by prayer, supplication, and the study of God’s Word, be ready to preach the gospel wherever God may call us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day Three Hundred and Three

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the poor, the orphan, the elderly, the sick, and all people to be treated justly, and fairly by all who name the name of Christ and by all who are in positions of authority in government.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” Proverbs 14:31 (NKJV)

“The rich and the poor have this in common, the LORD is the maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Luke 4:18-19

Day Three Hundred and Eight

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to have the boldness of Peter and John as they entered the Temple in Acts 3; and for my life to be lived that others will notice that I have been with Jesus.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13 (NKJV)

Looking At The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12 continuing…

We will be looking at each of the Beatitudes individually through the next few posts.

LOOKING AT THE BE-ATTITUDES

Matthew 5:1-12

When we begin looking at the Sermon on the Mount we see how Jesus expects His dedicated followers to live. There are far too many professing Christians that are saying and believing, “We are not required to obey the law any longer”, thus we have a bunch of reprobate professors of Christianity. There could not be anything further from the truth.

Where the law only told us the way, but did not provide aid in the way; Jesus came fulfilling the law and because of His Spirit living within also enables us to live the law in our lives. The law which once was only written in cold hard stones, and could not reach stone cold hearts, is now written in hearts of flesh.

Anyone professing today that they live by the Sermon On The Mount had better read it before they make such a bold announcement. It is far more binding, and has much more it requires than does the Ten Commandments. We will look at some of those things when we get to those areas.

In this lesson of the ‘BE-ATTITUDES’, using a little play on words; we find the attitudes the individuals who are in the Kingdom of Christ Jesus the King, are to have.

There are nine “Blessed(s)” given. The meaning of the word “Blessed” is ‘happy’. That is a “Beatitude”. Each “Blessed” is a reference to more than happiness – it has most certainly to do with spiritual joy. Happiness (as often defined or thought of) is determined by circumstances; events which take place in one’s life which can either add great excitement and temporary happiness, or great distress and sorrow. If it is an event which brings temporary happiness and excitement, it is only fleeting. Spiritual joy is an attitude attainable only by faith in Jesus – having a close personal relationship with Him. The happiness of which these Bible Blessings speak of is an enduring happiness, an inner joy, which is everlasting, and cannot be taken away.

Matthews Gospel tells us that it was the disciples whom Jesus taught. After having multitudes following Him He probably felt a need to get away. If not only for His disciples sake. This is the first major teaching of Jesus in this Gospel. It covers chapters five through seven. It could be called PRINCIPLES FOR KINGDOM LIVING. This was the King’s way of setting up His kingdom, and preparing the hearts of His people for what was to come. It was a different kingdom, than what the religious rulers had heard and taught. For some reason they missed the part of the “Suffering Servant” (Isaiah 52-53), dying by the hand of God, and taking away our transgressions. We see by these that there is happiness, fulfillment, and joy in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior.

Jesus is the Fulfillment of Scripture

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.'”  ~Jesus (Luke 4:18-21)

The Good News of the Kingdom of God

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.’  Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And Jesus said unto them, ‘Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.’  And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him.  And when He had gone a little further thence, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.  And straightway He called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him.  And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught.  And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.”  Mark 1:14-22

Until Jesus Returns

Acts 1:1-26

1. PROCLAIM THE CONVINCING PROOFS OF OUR LORD’S PASSION (vv. 1-4).

Luke, our writer and historian of the Christ who was born in Bethlehem’s manger, gives us thorough details of the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord.  You can read these details in the gospel of Luke.  The book of Acts is a continued bit of history of Christ, His Holy Spirit at work in the Apostles in the early church.

The Gospel written by Luke is the “former treatise” which he had written to Theophilus.  Luke, beginning the gospel, writes,

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”  Luke 1:1-4 (KJV)

He writes to an individual who must be of royal or noble family.  The term, “Most excellent Theophilus” seems to be an indication of this.  Luke sees it very important to record the documentation of the eyewitness accounts, and the preachers of the word.  He also records it for the benefit of Theophilus, that he “…might know the certainty of those things…”.

The title “Most excellent” is dropped in the writing of Acts.  It could be that Theophilus has become a believer in Jesus.  Luke writes of the resurrection as those “to whom also He showed Himself alive” (v. 3).  That is speaking of the apostles, and there were many more.

There are many atheist, doubters and sceptics who try and tell us that there is little to no evidence for the virgin conception, and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and some who even deny He ever lived.  What evidence can there be of the virgin birth?  We have the testimony of Mary, Joseph, and best of all we have the testimony of Scriptures.  The life of Jesus Himself shows us that He was not just another man, born by the seed of man, but by the seed of God.

Luke writes of the “passion” of Christ.  Do you know that Jesus had a desire to go to Jerusalem that final time.  Jesus had His mind set for Jerusalem.  He had His mind set on obtaining the redemption of mankind.  He had His mind set on paying the sin debt owed by all men and women.  If we only had the passion for Christ He has for us; what could be done in this world for His glory.

2. WALK IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT AND GO INTO ALL THE WORLD (vv. 5-8).

The disciples had seen Jesus tried, convicted, and nailed to the cruel old wooden cross.  At that time they had been fearful, and fled for their lives.  Jesus speaks to us of leaving with us a “Comforter” in John, chapters fourteen and sixteen.  We also have Jesus’s words that He is going away for a time, and then will return, and Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit [the Comforter] is an “Earnest” payment for the security and guarantee of His return.

Were these words, “but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…” meant only for the disciples present at that time, or do they have application for His followers today?  Yes and No!  For the disciples then, they did need to do as Jesus had said, and wait for the promise of the baptism of the Spirit.  He had not descended.  For the follower of Jesus Christ today, you and I were baptized in the Spirit of Jesus Christ the day we prayed to receive His free gift of salvation and He saved us.  There are times, however, where the follower of Jesus Christ today, needs to wait and make sure all things are right with and God, and that there are no hindrances to the work of God in our hearts and lives.

Every Christian has been given the power of Christ.  The power to live a life that will glorify Jesus.  The power to be a witness for Him in all our lives and life’s activities.  The power of faith that will move mountains and cast sycamine trees into the sea.  I have not seen any Christian who has that kind of faith today, however.  Oh, that we would just believe God and His Word and trust the work  and power of His Spirit in our lives.

We have been given the “Great Commission” of Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, and He gives it again before He ascends into the heavens.  He tells the disciples then, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come on you…”  It was yet a future event for them.  It is an instantaneous event for the man, woman, boy or girl who calls on the name of Jesus for salvation today.  You and I hear things about “Change” today.  There is only one power that can change this world into a better world, and better men, women, boys, and girls; and that is the power of the Spirit of God in His people.

The hope of the world cannot be found in the political arena.  It cannot be found in any political figure, or political promise.  When we put our faith in the promises of men or women, we are bound to failure, and disappointment.  The only hope for individuals, kings, commoners; rich or poor; is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as Christian disciples/followers we have not only been commissioned by our Lord to go and make disciples; He has given us the power to go and do it.

If you want true change in the United States or the world it will come only through the crucified, buried, risen and coming again Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 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 1:7-8 (KJV)

3. BE BUSY IN GROWING AND PRACTICE OF FAITH AND IN PRAYER (vv. 9-14).

Those of us who believe that the second coming of Jesus are often accused of having our head in the stars or the sand, and not dealing with the things which really affect mankind.  I would agree that there are factions who claim to believe in the second coming of Jesus, but I have a question, “What Jesus do they believe in?”  Do they believe in the Jesus who said, “I will come again”, but later He said, “No man knows the day or the hour”? or do they believe in the one who professes to have a secret knowledge of God and Jesus, and they know when He is coming?  They might even say, “I am the one who is coming”.

We are told in Scripture, the words of Jesus to “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though the preceding was spoken from a parable, it still has the intensity of the call Jesus has for us.  He is telling His followers to keep at the tasks you have to do, maintain your lives, live and be faithful to the teachings of God’s word and all that He has taught us.  He has not told us to give away all our possessions, sell our homes and go to a mountain top and wait for His return.

I would imagine that as Jesus was speaking to the disciples, and they seeing Him ascend into the coulds would have been standing there in awe of what they had just seen.  For a while they would have put the words Jesus had just spoken to them out of their minds.  WOW! Was probably what they were thinking.  This was men who had seem Him walk on water, calm the storms, cast out demons, heal the sick, make the lame walk, heal the lepers, and raise the dead.  And now, they see Him in a living body of flesh ascend out of their sight, and into the Father’s glory.

“Two men” probably angels confronted their awestruck eyes and minds, with the words we all need to hear, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11 (KJV)  The disciples followed the instructions of the men/angels, went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and there they prayed, probably unlike any other time they had prayed.  You will notice all the disciples were present with the exception of Judas who killed himself by hanging, and plunging to the bottom of a cliff.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Acts 1:14 (KJV)

They had not yet received the Holy Spirit for power, witness and living.  They were to wait for the promise, and the promise came.

Continuing prayer is prayer that abides, prayer that is unceasing, prayer that is diligent, faithful, and trusting and believing, that God will accomplish what He pleases, in His time and in His way.  Those praying in the upper room numbered one hundred and twenty.  Of those who were there, other than the disciples/apostles, were Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brothers of Jesus – James and Jude (not the apostles by the same name) – and the women who had faithfully trusted in, and ministered to Jesus.

4. KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT NO ONE IS INDISPENSIBLE (vv. 15-25).

In a lot of areas of life, work, and society and culture there are some who feel they are indispensible.  They are badly mistaken, and sadly deceived.  That may have been the heart of Judas, the betrayer, as he went to betray our Lord.  He was in fact fulfilling a role in prophecy.  Nevertheless guilty of sin, of unbelief, of betrayal.

It was Peter who stood up to make the leadership decision of replacing Judas.  The question could be asked and I am asking it; “Why did they need to replace Judas?”.  Maybe “Replace” is not the right term to use, because no one is really replaced.  Someone that would have been a witness of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was required.

Peter saw that Judas and his acts, and the end of his life were a fulfillment of Scripture.  David had written about this in the Psalms.  See Psalms 69:25 and 109:8.  There have been many people  who have written of Judas’s; of which I have only heard and not read.  I know there are some who with great assumption consider Judas to have been a genuine saved, follower of Jesus Christ, and that he lost his salvation; however, the losing of one’s salvation just does not fit with all of Scripture.  Judas was just a man who never did see Jesus for who he really was, but was only his meal ticket and possible means of obtaining a high position in an earthly rule.  In verse 25, it reads, “that he might go to his own place”; which seems to be meaning that  he had his own eternal abode.

Now it is time to have someone fill his position with the twelve.  It seems that there has been some debate over whether this was really necessary or not.  There are probably a lot of reasons that could be given to support their installing a twelfth apostle, and I would think that to be to keep the order of twelve.  There are twelve tribes of Israel.  Twelve may be a symbol of a completed rule of government, and when Jesus returns to set up His earthly kingdom, these twelve and those who have believed because of their preaching and teaching will rule and reign with Him.

Each individual is unique within the kingdom of heaven, and the future kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.  There is, however, no one who is indispensable.  Pride is the only thing that would cause anyone to usurp the authority of their own life over the rule of Jesus Christ, and the Father.  That was so with Judas.

The eleven disciples take a vote [cast lots], and the lot fell to Matthais.

5. LET GOD LEAD AND PROVIDE OUR LEADERS (v. 26).

Both of the men which they must choose from were witnesses of the Lord Jesus, and His resurrection.  That was a qualification of an apostle.  Their life was one of following Jesus, and faithfulness.  These were both well qualified men, but only one would be able to serve as apostles.

It would seem that all 120 people in the upper room had part in making this decision.  Some may argue and say, “Well they should have waited because Paul should have been the twelfth apostle”, but that could not be.  There must be one who was sent to the gentiles, and that was Paul who made a thirteenth apostle.

In the direction of choosing kings, presidents, premiers, and apostles and pastors we must let God lead and direct in that choosing.  He has His way in the ballots, and the lots which are cast.

God places leaders of churches, communities, States and Nations as it pleases Him; and all for His glory.  Trust Him.  He knows what He is doing.  He sees the total picture, and you and I only have a very small view, called today.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow may not come for you or me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are study notes for a sermon I preached September 14, 2008.

The Following Of Jesus

But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,  And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.  And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.  For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.  And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.  And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.”  Mark 3:7-12 (KJV)

Great numbers of people with sicknesses sought Jesus for healing. It is sad that many who were healed by Him never really followed Him.  This following was a temporary following.  In fact it is quite possible that many who were healed by  His touch were in the crowd some months later who were crying out, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him”.

So many today want the blessings that Jesus can give, but not the commitment of a life that is changed by His touch on the soul.  A fickle lot the human race is.  Thankful one moment for the work of the One who touches, heals and makes one well; and the next moment calling for the death of that same One.  Everyone living has received the benefits of living; general blessing if you will.  However, many who receive His blessings, still curse Him with every breath of His sweet oxygen.

While physical ailments were the needs of many, others came seeking deliverance from the demons which were possessing them, and making their lives miserable.

Those who were demon possessed came and began to proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God.  Jesus told them to be silent.  Jesus who is holy does not need vile, venomous, hateful spirits proclaiming His presence.  It does not say it in the text, but I am certain that those who were demon possessed and came to Jesus were delivered from their possession.

The very fact these “spirits” [demons] recognized Jesus declares Him to be Deity, the Son of God, God in flesh – who is worthy of all our respect, praise, worship, and adoration.  The demons recognized Jesus and Paul, “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? Acts 19:15 (KJV)”.  Do the demons of Hell know us?  If we are in Christ Jesus, of course they do.  It is a good thing to be known in hell.  All hell trembles before those who are in Christ Jesus and are living for Him.  Are you known in hell?

When we are known in hell we need to realize that the devil and his demons are out to get us, and destroy the testimony of Christ in our lives.  If you have no testimony in Christ you have nothing to watch out for.  You do have everything to fear.  It is almost a “good thing” to always have the devil breathing down your neck, tormenting, tempting, and wreaking havoc in the Christian life.  That only means you are tormenting Him by your life, and commitment to Christ.  The devil cannot stand a life that is committed to Christ.  He hates Jesus and he hates you.

If you need help to stand; help is as near as the written word and a prayer.  Always look to Jesus.  There is strength and deliverance in Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It Lawful…To Do Good?

“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.  And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.  And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.  And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.  And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”  Mark 3:1-6 (KJV)

These people came to “synagogue” seeking  help.  Did it matter that it was the “Sabbath Day”?  Only to those who watched with a longingness to catch Jesus “breaking their law”.  He was, in fact breaking no law; but fulfilling the law.  They were looking for anything with which they could charge Jesus, and cause people to turn from Him.

The man with the withered hand was a human life.  He had a need.  He had probably been to the synagogue many times and no one  offered to help him.  Now Jesus was there with a message, a helping hand and a heart of grace, mercy and love.

The Pharisees even teamed up with the Herodians.  The Herodians were a Jewish political “party” who were favorable toward Herod Antipas the governor at the time of Judea.  These people hated the Pharisees, but they hated Jesus even more.  The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was popular, powerful, and dangerous to their traditions and laws.  The Herodians hated Jesus because He was seen as a threat to the rule of Judea – at least as they saw it.

Jesus’ question should have really thrown them off their guard (“And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”).  Is not the life of a fellow human being of more value than a misinterpreted law or tradition?  Jesus thought so; and taught so.  The Pharisees did not.  Who will we believe?  Whom will we follow?

-Tim A. Blankenship