Of Trees and Men

Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
                 Matthew 12:33-37

Good trees produce good fruit. Bad trees or evil trees produce bad fruit. Men evil, and good produce fruit as well.

If a person’s heart is evil, out of that heart comes evil fruit. If a person’s heart is good they will produce good fruit.

The words we speak are coming as produce from the heart. What kind of words do we use? If we are always tearing down someone else, trying to make ourselves appear better to others then that is a fruit of evil. When we build others up over ourselves that is good fruit.

That good fruit comes from a heart that has been changed by the grace of God. That grace was put on display as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross suffering for the sins of the world and He died there, was buried and He rose again justifying those who come to Him and changing our hearts to produce good fruit in life and words spoken.

If any be in Christ Jesus they are a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have been made new.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Hear God’s Words

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:47

Jesus was spending time telling the religious leaders of their unbelief. They claimed to love Moses and the Law; also claiming to be children of Abraham. Though they were biological descendants of Abraham Jesus was confronting them concerning their spiritual connection with Abraham. They had none.

The message from Jesus for us today is this. Just because you were born in a Christian household does not make you a Christian. A friend of mine once told me this, “God does not have any grandchildren.” Those who believe in Him through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son Jesus are sons and daughters of God – born again by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The evidence you are a child of God is clearly explained in Jesus’s words above. We hear His word and do them. We believe His word and put them to work in our lives.

How about you? Have you been born again? Do you believe the word of God concerning what He has said about Jesus His only begotten Son? If you do not, then you are not a child of God, but a child of wrath, and doomed eternally.

You can call on the name of Jesus right now, turning from sin and unbelief, to the Lord Jesus Christ believing Him.

The Way We Speak of Our Neighbor

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”  Matthew 5:21-22  (KJB)

Has anyone ever heard of “Assassination by words”? Maybe I am making it up; but I believe that is what is happening in our nation (U. S. of A.) today. Maybe I need to remind my brothers and sisters in Christ who our neighbor is.

Our brother is our neighbor. The man or woman across the street or road; or across the creek  is your neighbor. The people of China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel are our neighbors. Remember Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan.

I write this because the Lord reminds me of this quite often. I am not without guilt of assassination by words. May God forgive me; and may those I have assassinated by words forgive me too.

The political climate is hot, very hot, hotter, it seems to me than I can remember. Mean and vicious words from conservatives as well as liberals and in betweens.

Calling another person who disagrees with us a vile, vicious name is a sure sign we have lost the argument. If we disagree with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that is fine, but they are still part of Adam’s race who deserve the same respect you and I do. We are not authorized to call them ugly and vile names because of their party affiliation.

“Well they do it” does not give us the right to retaliate. God’s love is the greatest power on earth. If we are children of God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are to love our enemies, and that means we have no business, right or authority to assassinate by words the character of any other individual.

By the power and grace of God let us cool this heat of hatred with words of grace and mercy.

The Words Of Wise Counsel

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, ‘Thou art my sister;’ and call understanding thy kinswoman: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.”  Proverbs 7:1-5  (KJB)

Stand Guard Against the Evil

“Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.
Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, ‘How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!’ ”  Proverbs 5:7-13 (KJB)

When You Will Understand The Fear of The LORD, and Find Knowledge

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5 (KJB)

That They Might Accuse

“And as He said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things: laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth, that they might accuse Him.” Luke 11:53-54 (KJB)

The things Jesus had said about the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the lawyers was what they needed to hear. Did they like it? Not hardly. They became angry, even bitter, and were seeking how they might trap Jesus in His words.

Jesus had denounced them with “woes”, and telling them of their judgment coming. They had opportunity to repent and to see who Jesus really was; but that would upset their way of rule, take power away from them over the people.

Political maneuvering, and posturing to get what they wanted.  It has been going on for centuries. It does not matter where or when. It goes on.  It was going on over the life of Jesus Christ; and these men, though they were not politicians, they had influence in the lives of political leaders.

They with an urgency urged Jesus, with vehement, hot, and flashy words trying to provoke words with which they could hang Him.

When we see this and we now know the outcome of it we know that all that happened was under the sovereign hand of the Almighty. What was about to happen within a short time was for the redemption of Adam’s race.

Jesus, the Son of God, became the Son of Man, that the sons of men, might become the sons of God. Jesus the God-Man; fully God, and fully man. God the Son. Jesus knew what He was doing. Every word He spoke; every word He speaks is true, righteous, and holy.

You can trust Him. You can put your life in His hands. Call on the name of Jesus “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). No politician can stop it. No political action, neither anything else can stop the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

When The King Prays

“And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,

‘O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: Thou hast made heaven and earth.

Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.  Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, and have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD, Thou only.’ ” Isaiah 37:14-20 (KJB)

The enemy was at the gates of Jerusalem. Threatening letters had been sent, mocking letters and words had been written and said for the people on the wall to hear.  The purpose was to cause them to fear.

Fear has a way of crippling, and handicapping the victim. Fear makes victims of its prey.  Fear is a coward which is a sneak; because it creeps in unseen, and often unheard until it strikes.

We all deal with it.  Notice what Hezekiah did when he received the fearful, mocking letter from the king of Assyria; he went to thee LORD, laid out the letter before Him and prayed.

God heard the king’s prayer and sent word to him, by way of the prophet; and God took care of the mocking king; and over night killed 185,000 of the soldiers of Assyria.

What is attacking you today? Have you put your faith and trust in the Lord by believing what  He says about His Son Jesus the Christ? Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again.  When you know Jesus you have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

When fear from the enemy comes in, you now have the authority of Heaven to take your case to the  Throne.

 

The Power of Words

Words are like bullets; once fired off they cannot be recalled.  Once spoken you cannot call a word back.  We can say, “I’m sorry”, but that word still is there in the mind of the one it was spoken to.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  That is not true.  Yes!  We can shrug them off, and go on, but the hurt is still there.

It is so much more loving, merciful, kind, and Christ like to give a word of encouragement, thanks, or praise; then a bitter, angry, or destroying word.  The question is – Do we want to build? or Do we want to destroy?

Hear the wisdom of Proverbs…

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:10-21 (KJV)

Remember Jesus’s words in the sermon on the mount…

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

When we speak unloving, unkind, hateful words we speak death; not life.  See what Jesus says above “…Shall be  in danger of hell fire.”

Further thoughts…

Verses 10 – 11 – The LORD is the source of many to trust in.  He is whom many who have called on the name of the Lord for salvation have run to.  Many a wealthy individual has all their hopes in their wealth, investments, and possessions. An island of safety in the midst of words of warning and hope (v. 10).

Verses 12 – 21 – You can see that the words of the foolish individual is more important to him/her than listening to others in verses 13, 17. Verse 16 speaks of giving gifts – not bribes to buy off judges, law enforcement, etc. Probably could be likened to a gift someone might bring to the King’s birth.

In verse 18 there seems to be some wisdom in “casting lots” for the ceasing of contentions.

There is reward; or destruction in our use of words. They can be the difference in life and/or death; destruction or building up.

There is much said in Scripture of words, the mouth, the lips, the tongue.  It is with great joy I can tell you of the Living Word, and that is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth as the God-Man, and gave His life to redeem you and me from our sins that we might live eternally.  Call on His name. Believe Him and be saved.

Christmas Day Twenty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to choose my words so as to build, and not to destroy; to speak wisely and constructively; to speak words of life and not death; that others may be drawn to God through His word and Spirit.

“Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20 (NKJV)

Wisdom Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Sixty and Six

“Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.
For a dream comes through much activity,
And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.” Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (NKJV)

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to be a Christian man of few words, but when I do speak to speak greatly of my God and Savior Jesus Christ of heaven and His riches; and the glories of heaven for all who will come to Him.

The Relationship of Jesus and The Father

“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, ‘Shew us the Father’?  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.”  ~Jesus (John 14:9-11)

The Return

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.  Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.  Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ‘Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”  Hosea 14:1-3 (KJV)

The Israeli society of the prophet Hosea’s day was not dissimilar from our own.  They worshipped gods aplenty.  There is not many in our society today who would admit to worshipping “gods”, but the United States of America is full of dieties which are worshipped.  There are two I can think of which are promoted everyday.  One is Democracy, as though that is the answer for all ills and lack of freedom in the world.  The other is Capitalism as though that will solve all the financial ills of the world.  There are others;  Money and finance, Science and technology, and Global unity.  One that may make even the best of people angry is we worship our children too.

I see it everyday.  People will jump when their children say “Jump”, “I have a ballgame tonight.  It is 100 miles away.”  Mom and Dad will take off from work to go to the game.  Many will not get up early enough on Sunday morning to darken the doors of their local church and worship the only one and true God.

The Return is when God’s people will hear God’s voice and return to Him, and realize that the only hope I have; the only hope and promise we have is in the LORD of all things.  You will find Him in the cross of His Son Jesus; His death, burial and bodily resurrection.

-T.A.

Preserve My Life from Fear

This was the Psalmist prayer in Psalm 64.  There are times we all have people speak against us with hateful, malicious, envious words; and these words do harm to our thoughts and can affect our physical strength and stamina.  However, if we go around in fear of what people may say, may be saying, then we will continue in those losses.

“Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.  Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: that they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.”  Psalm 64:1-4 (KJV)

As I was reading Psalms 61 – 65 this morning these verses stuck with me more than others.  I like many other preachers have preached about the tongue.  The Bible speaks much about the human tongue and the evil within an uncontrolled one (James 3:1-12).

The enemy is ultimately Satan.  He has vitriolic words; especially against anything good and godly and righteous and just.

The Psalm shows words as being like a sword, bows and arrows; referring to “bitter words”.  How many lives have been taken by the use of hateful, envious, bitter, malicious words?  Maybe not physical life by the words themselves; but ultimately leading to the death of a young person, or a spouse, or a parent, because of these words.

Let me write for you here what I wrote in my journal this morning concerning these verses –

It was 64:1-4 that invaded my attentions.  It concerns the mouth and words and the tongue as a sword and bow and arrows.  Words do harm us.  In fact we can murder with our words the character, reputation, confidences, and sometimes even faith of others by hurtful words.

Be careful today how you speak.  Do not be anyone’s enemy.  Be a friend.  We all need a friend.  Let me give you a “Thumperism”  – “If you cannot say something good about some one, then do not say anything at all.”  Good words.

Speak especially well of Jesus our Lord and Savior.  He alone is worthy of worship and praise.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Worth Of A Picture…

There were a few times when I was a boy, growing up in the home of my parents, that my Dad would try to explain something to me. When it seemed as though he was not making it clear, Dad would ask, or make a statement; I am not sure if it was a question or a statement; “Do I have to draw you a picture”(?.) Maybe you can answer that for me.

Any way to finish the title of this article “…a Thousand Words”. Pictures explain a lot. If you have seen the Grand Canyon you can tell people about it, but that does not begin to explain it the way a picture can. Think of the Rockies in Colorado, or wherever you have seen them; can you describe them the way that photo you took of them can? There is not enough words in the English vocabulary to explain their grandeur; and a picture can only get close.

Pictures are an important part of life. Sometimes we receive word pictures. Sometimes we give word pictures. A lot of the Bible is word pictures. The prophet Isaiah was pretty good with word pictures.

If you were to look back to the seventh chapter Isaiah had gone to Ahaz the king with a message from God, and had asked the king to ask God for a sign. The king had refused to ask, and had even said, “I will not put the LORD to the test” (7:11-12), feigning humility, but exhibiting pride instead; because God had asked him to ask a sign. So Ahaz received a sign anyway.

It was the prophecy of a baby who would be born. One would be born to prove the truth of this prophecy – a son of the prophet – and the other; who would be the fulfillment of all Bible prophecy; was to be Immanuel [God with us] (7:14).

Now we come to the near fulfillment where the king [Ahaz] is shown that what the prophet has said will come to pass:

“And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.  For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 8:3-4 (KJV)

“This boy Mahershalalhashbaz was the picture which the prophet painted for the king to view and to see, and to know, that the invasion of Assyria was going to come on the land of Judah. The close fulfillment would happen just a few short months following the birth of this boy. He would not even be speaking the words, “Daddy” or “Momma”. The picture (given in 7:14) was also with a distant prophecy. A promise picture of a Great Hope for the people and the land of promise.

His name would be Immanuel [God with us]. He did come, and we know Him as Jesus. There was much judgment upon the land, before Jesus came. There was much more after Jesus died, was buried, rose again and ascended into Heaven. There is much more to come. Immanuel will come again, and He will make all things new.

There is a great thing about this too. Being Immanuel we do not have to wait for His physical appearing. He is present with us now. He is making lives brandnew. He is changing old, cold, dead, and heartless lives new, warm, quick, and full of passion for things that are good, and holy, and right. Hear Him as He speaks through His Word and through His Spirit. God will fulfill all His promises. Not one will go undone.

Do you see the picture? If not let the LORD open your eyes that you may see.

-Tim A. Blankenship