“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
“They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
“Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psa 19:9-11)
I’ve been a minister of the gospel since age 24. I am now 73. Yet I’ve never seen such opportunities available for ministers to be able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to so many people around the world. I would encourage any minister, or any child of God for that matter, to see about providing a blog on the world-wide web.
As an example, I’ve shared the gospel over the internet since 1999. Some I’ve done through forums. The thing about the web is it has a life of its own. Whatever you put on the web will stay there, long after you moved on to other things. (I actually have 700+ studies on the internet.)
I don’t know the numbers of people who have read my studies. On this blog that I began in 2009, I’ve had over 134,000 readers.
As for who takes notice of my current blog, here is the latest map that shows where the readers are coming from –
The point is that any minister can do what I am doing. I am simply one of multiplied millions of Christian ministers who keeps looking for avenues to share the story of Jesus Christ.
With that in mind, of the 300 entries in the archives of this blog, here are the five entries that have received the most readers. (Beginning with the most read.)
1st – Passing Through the Valley of Baca.
2nd – My Story.
3rd – 500+.
4th – Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement.
5th – Jesus, the Wonder and Mystery of the Bible.
“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.
“Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
“The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa 11:6-9)
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true as far as it goes. Words alone can have a limited effect, while pictures can address our thinking in many ways.
For example the two pictures above seek to depict what earth could be like during the millennial (1000 year kingdom age) reign of Jesus Christ. Do not these pictures paint peaceful scenes on the canvas of our minds and hearts?
And yet words and pictures cannot be separated. We think with words. We think with both our feelings and senses, with scenes, and with words. And this is what makes the Bible a living book of wonder.
The Spirit of God uses the words of Scripture to paint eternal truths in our hearts and minds. These eternal truths are the major source of the believer’s evolving Christ-likeness.
I use the term evolving with regard to a believer’s growing up in Christ. The apostle said it this way -
” … but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord [in the Sacred Scriptures], are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2Co 3:16-18)
Notice I put in brackets, ‘in the Sacred Scriptures’. I do this because this is the context of what Paul is addressing. For the non-believing Jew, who refuses to accept Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, a veil lies over his heart. Even when he is reading the Scriptures, the veil shuts off the transforming glory of the Lord.
But as the believer gazes with faith into God’s Word, it causes a spiritual transformation effect that Paul describes as, ‘from glory to glory.’
The is the glory of Jesus Christ reflecting on our hearts. Not a fading glory such as what was seen on Moses when he came down from the mountain. The glory of Christ in our hearts will never fade.
This was a major battle issue in the early Church.
Paul sets this forth when he tells the Galatians, that they are being tempted to exchange a true spiritual life for forms and rituals of Judaism.
Old Testament Judaism carried only the husk of what was to come. It did not have the power to produce life. The reality of the life to come could only be found in Jesus alone. It would come forth from the finished work of the cross.
“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
“This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing [the gospel] with faith?
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:1-3)
Did you catch it?
Certain Judaizing teachers were presenting a false gospel in saying that the Gentile believers had to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. The result was that these Galatian believers were beginning to lose their new-found freedom in Christ Jesus. Paul brings them back to the true message of the gospel.
A key term is where Paul uses the word, ‘portrayed’ [prographo]. The apostle is drawing attention to the message of the cross that had been set forth beforehand in the Old Testament prophetic writings, from Moses on. The term ‘grapho‘ carried the sense of, ’a painting‘.
The gospel had been painted throughout the former testament in word-pictures of the story and of the glory of God’s Son. Those stories of the coming Savior were now being painted in the hearts of the Galatian believers through the preaching of the cross.
But there was a problem. Paul warned these Christians that they were being tempted (bewitched) to exchange their spiritual life in Christ Jesus, for the husks of a covenant that had been set aside by God. The Law had served its purpose. Messiah had come.
The covenant of Moses was never designed to do what only God could do for us through the cross. The Law could not offer eternal spiritual life. It could only point to the life that was to come.
Paul describes our new covenant life this way -
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.“ (Gal 2:20-21)
This brings me to the focus of our covenant in Christ. Let’s begin pick up with …
Our Life Exchange in Christ
The short side is that the Holy Spirit takes the very nature of Christ and weaves that nature into the fabric-being of the believers spiritual nature. It is in this sense that we are in the process of exchanging natures.
One of the best descriptions of this ongoing nature exchange is where Jesus says -
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)
Here Jesus addresses the changing of a yoke.
One of the common Jewish expressions during the time of Jesus was, to ‘put on the yoke of the Law’.
As good as that may sound, there was a problem. Not only was the Law of Moses a burden to bear, but it even contained a curse upon the person who did not keep the whole Law.
What was the real problem with that yoke?
The problem was that no one could keep the Law of Moses. You would have to be a totally perfect man, that is, someone who never once sinned, and had never broken a single commandment of God, in order to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses. Keep in mind the curse.
The answer is that only one Man ever did so. Jesus was that perfect Man. He gave up His life on the cross, so that His life could be credited to believers, and imparted in every one who would receive Him as their own Lord and Savior.
Out of the cross would come a brand new ‘race’ of people who would be born from above, who would be given the merits of Jesus. And out of the merits of Jesus, the Holy Spirit would begin inscribing eternal truths into each and every one of God’s new covenant children.
The disciples had to reach this understanding. This was why a council was called for in Acts 15.
The struggle was in full force. It was between those Judaisers who demanded that the new covenant work hand-in-hand with the Law of Moses. Then you had those who believed that the new covenant was entirely new, and that salvation was by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Take note of what the Apostle Peter had to say -
“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them,
“Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
“And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
“But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.
“All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” (Act 15:7-12)
See it? The yoke of the Law was impossible to bear.
Let’s come back to the yoke of Jesus Christ.
Yes, Jesus calls believers to walk in yoke with Him. But was a yoke that contained…
The Promise of Two Rests
Listen very carefully once again -
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)
Notice where the Lord speaks of two rests. The first one is given. The second rest is found.
The first rest is anapauo, which means there will be no more laboring or groaning under the weight of the former yoke. You are free from any labor for salvation. This is the refreshing rest that speaks of relief from the weight of sin.
This is the salvation rest of being saved through Christ Jesus. It is simple. Jesus said, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
The second rest is a discovered or learned rest. It is the word anapausis. While both words share the same root, this word implies recreation.
This is the discovering of the rest in God’s new creation. We truly discover this rest as we under the yoke of Christ, and learn from Him.
We are to learn to walk with Jesus. Jesus is imparting to us the true way of life. Not only is the Lord teaching us how to live, but He is communicating and unfolding His very nature in us.
The truths of God are being unfolding in our hearts.
So what does all this have to do with our beginning Scripture with pictures of the millennial kingdom reign of Christ?
Good question. The answer is found in one other thing that Jesus said about the two rests.
Jesus said our new nature would evolve itself into a …
Gentle and Humble Heart
Keep in mind how the Isaiah millennial promise ended -
“They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Now compare this to what Jesus said about His nature -
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart …”
It is the implanted heart nature of Jesus Christ that is infused into our own spirit nature. The apostle said that the one who is joined to Christ Jesus, becomes one spirit with Him.
This is why that when a person is born again they become aware of new likes and new dislikes. The things they once love, they now began to shun. And the things they once hated, they now find themselves beginning to love.
This is also where new believer finds old friends disappearing. Light and darkness can have no fellowship.
But the greatest effect of our new nature is in gentleness and humility. The new believer cannot bear to see others suffer, whether they be human or animal.
A new kind of love now flows from the heart of this born from heaven person. The new believer with his new nature is beginning to measure up to the Isaiah statement of, “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain.”
You see, we are the people that belong to another age. The apostolic writer said that present believers in this age are actually drawing on the powers of the age to come.
There is so much more to be said of our new nature. It simply brings me back to the title for this article,
Dear Christian – What’s Happening to You?
Think about it. While you think on these things, take time for this song by Sarah Sadler, ‘I Am a New Creation.’In Christ Always, Buddy
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!
“Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” (Luk 13:34-35)
Don’t be surprised at the title of this entry, ‘What are we doing wrong?’
Some years ago I subscribed to the Jerusalem Post. One morning while reading the Post, this statement stood out; ‘What are we doing wrong’.
It was part of an ad that had been placed by the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Tovia Singer. Rabbi Singer was coming against Christianity and against Jesus Christ as Messiah of Israel. He was promoting his anti-Christian audio tapes. This is how the ad read in part -
What Are We Doing Wrong, and What are They doing right? Why Have more Jews Converted to Christianity in the Last 19 Years than in the Last 1,900 Years?”
I could hardly believe my eyes. If I were a Jewish person reading that ad, I would not be concerned about purchasing Tovia’s audio tapes. I would want to know why so many Jews were converting to Christianity.
Are you interested? Let’s begin by talking about …
The Strange Mix in Israel
Did you know that a great part of the citizenry of Israel is secular and not religious. How can that be?
We know that Israel fulfilled certain prophecies by becoming a nation among nations in 1948. After all, Moses and the prophets foretold of the ingathering of the Jewish people in the latter days.
Since all this was written beforehand, how can it be that so many Jews in Israel are secular, and with a great many who are either atheists or agnostics?
Does that surprise you that many Jews are atheists? According to statistics a full 37% of the people of Israel are either atheists or agnostics.
This makes the Israel fourth in a list of nations with the highest percentage of atheists.
Yes, Israel is a strange mix. There is even a hatred between the secular Jews and the Orthodox Jews. It got so bad in years gone by that you would often read about a civil war in the making.
It is not as if the Bible leaves all this unsaid. The Bible is the only book in existence that records history before it happens.
Where did it all begin? After all the ancient people of Israel had long believed in the coming of God’s Messiah.
This part of Israel’s history begins with …
The Rejection of Jesus and the Sword
Keep in mind that not all Jews rejected Jesus. In fact the early Church was totally Jewish. Yet, Jesus said that His coming would affect Israel so deeply that it would be like a sword.
Take note -
” … whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” (See fuller context - Mat 10:32-39)
Of course it began with the rejection of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah and the King of Israel. When they rejected Jesus, as a nation Israel lost citizen rights to being the people of God. They had long seen themselves as ‘the kingdom of God.’ That was no longer the case.
“Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’?
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (Mat 21:42-43)
They became a people without a kingdom. The term, ‘kingdom of God’, meant the direct rule of God.
This does not mean that the people of Israel would no longer figured into God’s plan for the ages. Quite the contrary. Their rejection of Jesus and God’s rejection of them as His people is well noted in Scripture. But also noted in Scripture is their coming to know Jesus as their Messiah.
But an issues needs to be make clear.
It’s Not About Anti-Semitism
I realize that the first thing that is thrown at anyone who would place the Jews in a bad light, is the term ‘anti-Semitic.’ But anyone who reads and studies the Scriptures knows how ridiculous that statement is.
If someone like me is anti-Semitic, then Moses, the prophets, the apostles, and even Jesus would have to be called anti-Semitic. The very things that I share come from the writings of the Old Testament prophets, and the new covenant apostolic writers. It’s all about redemption history.
It goes back to the first books of the Bible, that is, to the writings of Moses.
When Moses was about to leave the earthly scene, Moses sang a prophetic song over Israel. In this song Moses spoke of the falling away of Israel, of Israels wandering through the nations, of their peril of life, and of Israel’s return. The song of Moses actually lays out the history of Israel. (Found in Deu32),
In his song, Moses says,
“They have acted corrupted toward Him, they are not his children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.” (v5) (Peter quotes from this verse of the song of Moses on the day of Pentecost.)
Moses goes on to call them a foolish and an unwise people from whom He will hide His face. He says that God will make Israel jealous with a people who were not a people. He also says,
“Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future.”
The prophets continue this theme with …
When God Hides His Face
The fact that God would hide His face from Israel is a theme that trances its way through the Bible. God speaks through the prophet Hosea, saying,
“I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15)
Recall what Jesus said over Jerusalem?
“You will not see Me until you say, ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Yet there is something else I need to share about Moses. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Did you know that the rest of the Bible including the New Testament actually work out from the books of Moses? If there were no Genesis, the book of Revelation would make little sense, and thus and so.
I wish I had time to take my readers through the entire song of Moses. Hopefully many of you are already picking up on the prophetic elements in this song.
But that is not the end of the story of Israel. Paul said,
“For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom11:15)
Does any of this tell us why Israel is so secular with so many atheists and agnostics among here citizenry? Yes, there is a lot to be said. There are elements that help to understand this dilemma.
Let’s continue with…
A Rediscovery of Jesus
The Jews are only of late beginning a true major rediscovering Jesus for themselves. One Jewish writer said that the number one topic of discussion on the streets of Jerusalem today, has to do with Jesus.
For the most part the Jews never knew that Jesus was Jewish or that He and the apostles were ’sabras.’ (Of the land.) They were left under the impression that Jesus was some kind of Gentile Roman or Greek God. That is changing on a major scale. They have become intrigued with Jesus.
Their rabbis with their Talmudic Religion, had misled the Jews so often that many became turned off by the Jewish religion. The Bible also told us this would happen. God spoke through Isaiah, saying,
“Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men [rabbis] will perish, and the discernment of their discernment men will be concealed.” (Isa 29:14)
In the heart of the Jew is a vacancy that can only be filled by God Himself. (Of course this vacancy is in every human.) This is why so many Jews are finding Jesus as their Messiah. And this vacancy will be the turning point of the nation. Keep in mind what Jesus said,
“Until you say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’
The prophet Zechariah told us how this rediscovery of Jesus would happen. Israel and Jerusalem are going to face a war in the not too distant future that will bring about this cry for Jesus. I would encourage my readers to read the whole of Zechariah 12.
It is in the time of this war that we read this one verse:
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zech12:10)
Paul said that all Israel would be saved.
Do you not find it strange that Israel’s greatest support comes from Christians today. There is a reason for this. Think about it.
If you would like to know more about what is happening between the believing Jews and those Jews who do not believe in Jesus, take time for this debate between two Jewish men, Rabbi Tovia Singer, and, Dr. Michael Brown.In Christ Always, Buddy
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.
“For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery.
“They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end.
“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses.
“He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.
“Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven.” (Psa 107:23-30)
Over my desk is a picture that my oldest son gave me as a gift. It is a picture of the disciples on the stormy sea of Galilee.
After Jesus calms the sea, the disciples asked a question among themselves,
“What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Mat 8:27)
Good question. More people need to ask that same question, today.
The question has been settled for me long years ago. I have met Jesus personally. I know what kind of Man He is. Over my many years, Jesus has been ever-present to guide me through the stormy seas of life. There have been quite a few.
But I can certainly understand why the disciples became alarmed on the stormy sea of Galilee.
I met her in dry dock in Seattle, Washington
The USS Calvert, was the oldest troop transport in the Pacific fleet and one of the most decorated. She was undergoing some needed repairs. This was in 1962. I had spent a year and a half in the Philippines, and now I was to serve as one of Calvert’s radiomen.
What an initiation! On our voyage down the coast to San Diego we met a fierce gale off of Oregon. I watched her bow disappeared beneath the waves and then rise up again. The old ship would shudder. It was electrifying.
But for the USS. Calvert it was business as usual. The old ship had seen greater storms than this one. She just kept right on course.
I will never forget my year and a half as a radioman on board the USS Calvert. We carried troops throughout the far east, always ready to make assault landings.
Anyway, many years later, the Lord gave me a dream about a ship. In the dream the Lord directed me to take the ship out from the coastal area and launch into the deep waters.
When I awoke, I understood my instructions. We were to move Christian Challenge away from the shallow emotional driven teachings that were making rounds in certain movements at that time, and launch out into the deep of God’s faithfulness.
It had been troubling me for some time how so many of the modern-day, teachings appealed strongly to man’s natural inclinations, yet seemed to have little regard for a true Christ-honoring walk with the Lord. It was rare to hear any teachings on repentance or on the second coming of Jesus Christ.
I will never forgot how a minister visiting our services, felt a need to caution me about preaching on the second coming of Jesus, that I was really out-of-step with today’s message. It didn’t take long to make clear my position on what he had to say.
My point – Where are the teachings on godly living, on having a sanctified heart, on having a heavenward focus and not an earthly focus?
No indeed, I am not against prosperity, but Biblical prosperity does not have its emphasis on dollars. It has to do with having a proper heart-relationship with the kingdom of God.
Jesus said it this way -
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“ (Mat 6:30-34)
Some people don’t catch the essence of what Jesus is saying. To seek ‘His kingdom’, means to seek God’s direct rule over your life, and not to seek to rule your own life. To seek ‘His righteousness’ means to seek His way of living.
David said it well enough – ‘He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’
Over time I began to really appreciate what the apostle Paul meant, when he said,
” … we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” (Eph 4:14-15)
Oh yes, we had to deal with some ridicule in the background, but it was my responsibility to live in obedience to the Lord.
Making Course Adjustments isn’t easy
Would you believe that making a change in course is a major part of every believer’s walk with the Lord. Even the apostles had to learn to separate misguided teachings from the truth of the new covenant. And believe me, it is very easy to get caught in unhealthy, misguided teachings.
Being under bad teachings does not mean a person isn’t saved. But when the light comes it is time for a course adjustment.
Is it easy to make a course adjustment? Not really. Sometimes these course adjustments will cause a separation from those that we hold dear.
It is interesting how so many years earlier, the Lord gave me the very same instructions that He gave to Jeremiah.
” … Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.
“They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them. Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,’ declares the LORD. ‘So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.’” (Jer 15:19-21 NASB)
Are the Winds Blowing for You
Don’t think it strange. The winds of false teachings and false movements have blown across the church from its infancy. They seem to be growing stronger all the while. Do you feel like you are being battered about by strange winds?
Perhaps your ship needs to make a course adjustment. Maybe its your turn and your time to find the calm peaceful waters that belong to the covenant of God’s dear Son. The Lord wants to bring you into the safe harbor of His love.
Guess I need to find a stopping place. I would dearly love to hear from any of my readers who feel the Lord has spoken to them through this journal entry.
(You can write me personally – Buddy@ChristianChallenge.Org. – I am also on Facebook. You can message me there. https://www.facebook.com/BuddyMartin.)
Please take time to listen to ‘New Destiny Quartet’, as they sing, ‘Master of the Wind.’ The Lord would like to speak to your heart.
Your friend and brother in Christ,In Christ Always, Buddy
… He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.
“How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” (Psa 40:1-4)
In the Bible, the term clay is often symbolic of a troubled life or of a hardened heart. David speaks to this in our beginning Scripture.
The Lord brought David out of the miry clay of destructive surroundings. He then settled David’s feet firmly on the Rock of His salvation.
Notice carefully to what David says:
1. God blesses the man who makes the Lord his trust and has not turned to the proud.
2. God blesses the man who does not lapse into falsehood.
The point is that the heart that lapses into some form of falsehood, becomes an uncontrolled and an unprotected heart. This kind of heart is open ground for the enemy to sow seeds of sinfulness and destruction. A falsehood becomes a form of false security.
But Satan’s ultimate goal is to create such despair in our lives that repair seems impossible.
Take note of how the Bible describes the kind of life that is without control:
“I passed by the field of the [spiritual] sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.
“When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.” (Pro 24:30-34 NASB)
What is the answer?
It really is a heart issue. People live from what is in their heart, whether they realize it or not. And so we must always begin with the heart.
Here it is – If you knew that God could and would give you a brand new heart and a total make over of Life, would you want it?
Sure you would. Please don’t think that I am talking about religion. I’m talking about the heart-promise of the new covenant.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter had this to say to the Hebrew people,
“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
The people knew exactly what Peter was talking about. The promise of a new heart and of a watchman to help guard the hearts was written throughout the Old Testament.
Let’s pick it up the promise trail with Moses, then Ezekiel, and finally Jeremiah:
[Moses] “The LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” (Deu 30:5-6 NASB)
[Ezekiel] “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Eze 36:24-26 NASB)
[Jeremiah] “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt …
“… They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer 31:31-35 NASB)
Now, pay very close very close attention to this one statement that the Lord spoke through Jeremiah -
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘know the Lord,’ for all will know Me….”
That stand-alone statement reveals how the new covenant cannot be bound up in any religion. No one will be able to say, ‘Lo, Christ is [found] here,’ or, ‘Lo, Christ is [found] there.’ Why is this? Because the Spirit of Christ Jesus will indwell the heart of every one who belongs to Him.
This accords with what Jesus Himself said,
“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
“I and the Father are one.” (Joh 10:26-30)
All the ancient promises that were made to Israel would be fulfilled in Israel’s Messiah, and thereby would extend to all the people of the earth.
Redemption has always been about all of humanity. God’s love for the fallen family of Adam included Jew and Gentile. Many don’t realize that Israel was as much a member of the fallen race as any other people.
This is why it saddens me to see some believers on a ‘Jewish lust trip’, thinking that if they can somehow have a special relationship with the Jews, that God would love them more.
God’s love for humanity has nothing to do with racial or ethnic boundaries
Let’s continue …
The promise – A new heart. A new watchman. A new love.
Please don’t misunderstand me when I say that the new covenant is not a religious covenant. I simply mean that the new covenant is not of this world, nor can it be restricted to any form of religion institution that may arise
I am not saying that God’s people should not gather in flocks of His choosing. We are commanded to gather ourselves together as spiritual units (flocks). This is what the Bible word that is translated as ‘church’ means. [ekklesia: el-kley-see'ah - A called out public assembly of believers.]
It is to be understood that while Jesus places each of His people into a body of believers, yet we are to know that all believers are one body in Christ, and that no single religious entity on earth can be said that they are the church.
Paul’ instructions are:
“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.“ (2Tim2:22)
This is why the new covenant would not be a religious covenant. It would be a covenant of life where each believer would know and enjoy the Lord on a personal and an intimate basis.
It would be a life of, ‘Come to the waters.’
Do you recall what Jesus said when he stopped the priestly procession on its way to the pool of Siloam? Listen carefully where Jesus describes a life that is an outflow of the Spirit:
“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’
“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39 NASB)
Did you know that Jesus was speaking from the promise made in Isaiah 55. Once again listen carefully. (If you learn this you will never get caught up in religious-idolatry again.)
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?
“Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.” (Isa 55:1-3 NASB)
What is the keynote in this prophecy?
Listen! Listen to Me! Come to Me! Learn to have a heart like David’s! Incline your ear!
What Kind of Heart do You Have
Is it a heart that has learned to listen to Jesus.
Do you need help? Help is on His way. Just call upon the Lord Jesus. He is very near to you, as near as your heart and your mouth. Jesus is only a breath away.
God’s message never changes -
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 NASB)
While you think about these things, take time for this song. The Lord gave it to me a number of years ago. It is titled, ‘What Kind of Man is This.’
Much love to be found in Jesus,
In Christ Always, Buddy
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (Joh 14:2-3)
While stationed in the Philippines Islands, I sometimes flew as a radioman aboard a P5M. These were seaplanes known as submarine chasers. Our role was to chart Soviet and Chinese shipping in the South China Sea, especially with regard to Vietnam.
When we reached a certain point I would send a coded message back to our home base, which said, ‘We have reached the point of no return.’ The message meant that in the event of problems, we would not return to base, but would need to go to a closer safety point.
The question I pose for this study is simple - Is there a point of no return for a true believer in Jesus Christ?
Let’s begin by talking about …
The Religious Struggle
One struggle some believers have is in trying to find the right religion. Thus they go from one group to another, seeking to find God’s perfect religion. The problem is that God’s blue print for life is not found in an earthly religion. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world.
Roman Catholics don’t have God’s blueprint. Neither do Southern Baptists, nor Pentecostals, nor any other group you could name. The blueprint of heaven is found in only one place. It is a matter of an encoding of the heart.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
This is not to say that some Christian groups don’t have a better foundation of Biblical teachings than other groups. But the matter never changes. There is no institution or religious order on earth that can say, ‘We are the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through us.’
Of course no one would dare admit to making such a statement. But is this not the premise of many sectarian groups? They may not say it that way, but they certainly believe it.
Where is the Encoding to be Found
It needs to be understood that the encoding of the heart is found in only one way.
Moses – ‘It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?”‘
“Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?”‘
“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity.’” (Deu 30:12-15)
Paul - “But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows:
“‘DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, “WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?” (that is, to bring Christ down), or “WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).’
“But what does it say? ‘THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART’–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, …
“… that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
“For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’” (Rom 10:6-11)
Did you catch it? Read those Scriptures carefully. Let the Lord minister to your heart.
There is no disappointment for the person who believes in and has received into their own heart, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is in this event that the heavenly encode is sealed in the believer’s heart. The Bible calls this, ‘the seal of redemption.’
And so, Moses laid down where life and death is to be found. This great servant of God, had the Lord God and His promised Messiah in view. This is also where the term, ‘word of faith’, needs to be understood.
As a sub note – Some ‘word of faith’ teachings tend to obscure what this term means. We are not little gods on planet earth, who have the god-like ability to create things by simply speaking them into existence. That form of teaching belongs to the category of occultism.
[Occult defined - A belief in supernatural powers and the possibility of bringing them under human control. This is the underlying basis of witchcraft and spiritism of other sorts.]
You may want to view this study that I shared over three years ago. It is still relevant. Titled, ‘Beware of the Lie’
Living Life With the Encoding
Most believers today are spiritually mature enough to realize that God has people throughout the varied Christian groupings. We know full well where the encoding of heaven comes from.
The apostle said it well enough -
… the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
“We proclaim Him [Christ], admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Col 1:26-28)
The Bible says that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And God wants all believers to discover this truth for themselves. It really isn’t a matter so much of where you attend church. This is no question that God does place His people into flocks. Simply be where the Lord wants you to be.
What is important, however, is that believers understand the essence of God’s heavenly covenant. The new covenant is an eternal covenant that gives us eternal life.
The people of the new covenant are a heavenly people. They are a people born of heaven. They are given a heavenly directed heart. (That is what being born again actually means.)
Jesus is the heart and soul of the new eternal covenant. His life is our life. This means that new covenant life is under the tutorship of the Spirit of Christ.
Listen very carefully once again:
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
Paul explains this very well when he says,
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal2:20)
And now let’s talk a bit about…
The Father’s House
Folk sometimes wonder what specific role does the Holy Spirit have in a believer’s life. There are many specifics to be had but the one most important to our walk of faith is how the Holy Spirit acts as our guide in our journey from earth to heaven.
Listen to these Scriptures:
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (Joh 16:12-14)
The Greek term for ‘truth’ speaks of an unveiled reality, that is, the very essence of a matter. Here the Lord is calling attention to the matters of the kingdom.
Notice Jesus said, “Whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
How real is this? Most believers are familiar with what Jesus said about His sheep –
But you [nonbelievers] do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Joh 10:26-29)
This Scripture responds to the first question I provided -
Is there a point of no return for a true believer in Jesus Christ?
The point of no return is set in place the very moment we are made a child of God.
This means that God’s people have the capacity to hear the Spirit of Christ speaking in their own hearts, also in providence, also in other ways too many to mention.
When Jesus said that He was ‘the Way’, this term resounds with prophetic overtones. He was saying that He alone is the way to the Father’s house.
The disciples saw the connection. We need to see the connection. This is why the earliest believers often referred to their walk with Jesus as, ‘the Way.’
Listen to the Psalmist as he describes both God speaking and how the Messiah sets forth the way of God:
I will hear what God the LORD will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.
“Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.
“Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way.” (Psa 85:8-13)
Do you see it? The footsteps of Jesus became our way to heaven.
And so, we are back to where we started.
Here is your meditation song. ‘You Raise Me Up‘. (Why not relax and let Jesus minister to your heart.)In Christ Always, Buddy
“‘The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice [Sing]* over you with shouts of joy.” (Zep 3:16-17) [*Heb: rin-naw' includes idea of joyful singing.]
Many mornings I wake up with a song running through my mind. The ‘waking up’ song seems to go beyond my gift of music. But perhaps this is one way that the Lord speaks to me.
The song that runs through my mind has a spiritual effect on me, sort of like a cleansing away of any rubbish in my life. (Rubbish would include worries or anything else that had bothered me.)
Perhaps we need to talk about this. Let me share some things that my readers may not have thought about, or perhaps in the way I’ll set them forth. But it all has to do with the Shepherd. What better place to begin other than with Jesus. (After all, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of our walk with Him.)
Let’s begin with…
The Shepherd Singing
The question is, “Does Jesus ever sing over His people?” Most of the pictures we see of Jesus are about his sufferings. And yet there are Biblical references to Jesus singing over His sheep. I’ll come back to that in a moment. Before I do that, let me add some other questions.
For instance …
What does the Bible mean by, ‘a song of deliverance’? Are songs of deliverance a part of our walk with the Lord? Where do they come from? Is there a special working power in songs of deliverance?
Perhaps David can share some clues. David is called, ‘the sweet Psalmist of Israel.’ The Hebrew word for Psalms speaks of ‘a song to be accompanied with instrumental music‘. [zamir: pronounced as zaw-meer']
Listen to David -
“Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” (Psalm 28:6-7)
Here David speaks of his song. But in another place David may be drawing attention to another kind of song.
“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.“ (Psalm 32)
Now, is David speaking of a song that he sings because of a victory, or is David including what we would call, ‘a song of the Spirit’, that is, a song that the Lord sings over His sheep, a song we hear in our hearts?
Perhaps both of these ideas are included. However, pay close attention to the following Scripture that speaks of Jesus singing.
“‘I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.’ And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children who God has given Me.’” (Heb 2:11-13)
Did you catch it? Note the bold in a lighter blue.
In case you are wondering, these statements are from Psalm 22, which is a prophetic Psalm about God’s Messiah. Notice carefully how Psalm 22 begins:
“A Psalm of David. ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.’” (Psa 22:1)
It All Begins With God
Take note of this beautiful Poem by Gloria C. Sutton. Why not include it in your morning as your prayer to God. Then consider the picture as God’s ‘Good morning to you.’
Now for your special meditation take note of these Scriptures. They are not in any particular order. We will begin with the Lord Jesus.
What the Bible Says About the Shepherd
What I want you to see in the following Scriptures is that the same Shepherd that cared for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and for all the Old Testament believers, is the same Shepherd today who cares for us. Take time to meditate on these Scriptures.
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Joh 10:14-16)
“He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’” (Gen 48:15-16)
“But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).” (Gen 49:24)
“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psa 28:9)
“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” (Psa 80:1)
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” (Isa 40:11)
“For thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.’” (Eze 34:11-12)
“And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” (Mic 5:4)
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.“ (Mat 2:6)
So, does the Lord sing over His flock? What do you think?
One other thing to consider. Did you know that the demons would leave King Saul, when David sang over him? Yes, indeed, there is power in the songs of the Lord.
Take time for this song by Keith Green, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’.In Christ Always, Buddy
It has been awhile since I have shared the latest statistics on the readership of my blog. The ClustrMaps above allow you to see where the blog is going.
I am deeply grateful that the Lord has given me an avenue for sharing the good news of His kingdom. I’ve had close to 120,000 readers.
Of the over 500 entries that are available through my blog, I wanted to share the top ten entries that have acquired the most readership. Perhaps there is something in the list that you haven’t had an opportunity to view.
Here is the list of the top ten entries from the blog archives that are the most read (Beginning with the most read) -
- Passing Through the Valley of Baca: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2010/01/passing-through-the-valley-of-baca/
- My Story: http://buddymartin.net/blog/testimony/
- Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/11/mercy-triumphs-over-judgment/
- Jesus, the Wonder and Mystery of the Bible: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/11/jesus-the-wonder-and-mystery-of-the-bible/
- 500+: http://buddymartin.net/blog/500-2/
- Salvation: http://buddymartin.net/blog/salvation/
- Honoring God With First Fruits: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/12/honoring-god-with-first-fruits/
- God’s Wings and the Blue Thread of Heaven: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/09/gods-wings-and-the-blue-thread-of-heaven/
- How Secure Are You in Christ: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2010/03/how-secure-are-you-in-christ/
- For The Love of Jesus Christ: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2012/02/for-the-love-of-jesus-christ/
“‘As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.’” (Psa 16:1-3)
One of the most beautiful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing was a woman everyone called, ‘Mama Ethel.’ Actually her name was Ethel Morgan.
I think the reason she was called Mama Ethel, was because she had worked for white doctors through her many years, and the children always called her, Mama Ethel.
Mama Ethel went to be with the Lord, in July, 1999. That was fourteen years ago. But I woke up this morning with Mama Ethel on my heart. It was like the Lord was refreshing me with wonderful memories of this dear saint of God.
I think my readers will enjoy some of the things I’ll share about Mama Ethel. To begin with, Mama Ethel was one of the first members of Christian Challenge when we began in 1976. She was such a sweetheart and so full of the goodness of the Lord. And could she ever do the ‘Mash Potatoes’. (That is a dance of years ago. You old timers will remember it.)
Mama Ethel had a wonderful walk with the Lord, but she could also share some stories that would set your laughter button in motion. At the same time Mama Ethel was as spiritual a person as I’ve ever known. You’ll understand this a bit later in this entry.
Anyway, I’m going to share both some laughter stories from Mama Ethel and then some stories that show how deeply spiritual her walk with the Lord truly was.
With the laughter stories, I pray no one is offended. But if I don’t tell them as best I remember Mama Ethel telling them, we will miss out on some precious things.
Let’s begin with…
Don’t Run Ethel
Mama Ethel had been widowed for many years. She never remarried.
Here is the story from Mama Ethel –
Mama Ethel was young war bride. Her husband was back from WWII. Some of the soldiers were taken to Central State Hospital for recuperation. Mama Ether was visiting him. While they were lounging on the grounds, Mama Ethel saw a rather large gentleman off at a distance who was eyeing them. Suddenly the man started running towards them, and her husband said, “Don’t run Ethel. Don’t run. He is not going to hurt you.”
Enough of that – Mama Ethel took off running as fast as she could go. The man was chasing hard after her. What happened next tells the story. Mama Ethel tripped and fell. The man ran up to her, touch her on her shoulder, and said, “I got you tag.” And he took off running.
What Mama Ethel said next, I can’t repeat, but I’ll let you fill in the blank. Mama Ethel said, “I could have killed that *****!” (The word is generally offensive to our black friends unless they are using it among themselves.)
Don’t think for a moment that Mama Ethel was just a poor black sister with little education. She could speak French as well as English. She had spent a large part of her life traveling with the well-to-do families that she took care of. Mama Ethel knew what life was all about. She had been widowed for many years.
Now I have to tell another story where Mama Ethel reached back to her childhood. Every time she tells these stories, Mama Ethel would just burst our laughing. She would have all of us rolling in the floor.
Here is another.
Running Across the Field
This story takes place at a wake. This was back when funerals were held in the home and family and friends would gather until time to take the body to the cemetery. Some would stay all night. (I well remember this when my grandfather Martin passed.)
Here’s the story Mama Ethel told —
The body was laying there and the room had a number of family and friends attending. Visiting was robust as usual. Plenty of food was available.
Late in the evening everyone began to doze off. Mama Ethel said that when everyone was asleep, some of the boys took the body, placed it in a corner and fixed it where it wouldn’t fall. Then they began shouting out as loud as they could. “Wake up! Wake up!” (Something like that.)
Everyone was startled awake. They looked at the body and all at once, they bound for the door. There was such a commotion with everyone trying to get through the door at the same time. Mama Ethel said that in just a bit, all you could see was the bottom of white feet running across the field. (Those were her words.)
Mama Ethel did not tell these stories to make fun of anyone. We were family to her.
I loved to take Betty and our kids to visit Mama Ethel. Two things especially stood out to me. Mama Ethel always called me, Elder. She would never let us leave her house until she had gone to her pantry and loaded us down with goodies.
She always had a special love for our daughter Shana. She called Shana, ‘Little Mama.’
But the second thing that stood out was what I noticed in her living room. On her linoleum floor in front of the couch were two worn down spots. When I ask Mama Ethel about the spots, she just said those spots were where she placed her knees when she prayed to her husband. (She always called Jesus, her husband.)
Now for something about the deep of this dear woman’s walk.
Pray for Elder, He is in Trouble
It happened in March, 1978. I was holding a meeting in Garland, Texas. I’m going to do something different with this story. I went back into my earlier ‘memoirs’ to find where I wrote about this incident.
Here is the story as written in my memoirs. (Small adjustments are made for clarity. I tend to use my own special shorthand notes. I’ll use brackets [ ] to help clarify something.)
The Story of the Dark Cloud – As Recorded
Reflection – This meeting proved unusual in more than one way. The pastor, R. C. Sandifer had been in Alexandria, where we became acquainted. R. C. was attracted to my ministry and asked me to hold a seminar in their church. Two things happened that are noteworthy. In a prayer meeting at his son-in-laws home, the Lord showed me that some of the couples in that meeting would become part of the Christian Challenge. (I did not share this with anyone.)
In time, two of R.C.’s daughters and their families became part of our ministry. (Alan/Ann Stroud; Jeff/Nan Murphy.) The second thing was the physical distress. [For some reason] I began to get weaker. When I did make it home my physical body had grown so weak that I had difficulty walking. This had to be demonic in nature. The room I slept in was at Alan Stroud’s mother’s home. The walls had occultic symbols on them. (It was Alan’s sister’s room. She was gone.)
The testimony of God’s grace is wonderful. Joe Garlington was supposed to have gone with me but his daughter, Missy, came down with appendicitis.
Mama Ethel, a black sister who attended the ministry from Boyce, called Betty to warn her about a dark cloud following me. When Betty called Garland I was asleep. In trying to talk with her on the phone it was as though I were in a deep tunnel. I could hardly gather myself to speak. [It like I had to fight my way out.]
From that time on weakness began to afflict my body. I didn’t really notice it until I began getting ready to leave. On the way out of town my car stalled on the interstate. [I could not get it to start. Tried several times.] It was then that I really knew something was wrong. I laid my hands on the steering wheel and began to pray and to rebuke the powers of darkness.
When I turned on the key the car came to life. I made it home. Early one morning the Lord spoke to me and said that He had delivered me from the mouth of the lion. I wept much over the goodness of the Lord. After a couple weeks I began a comeback. I determined not to give in to whatever this was. From this I learned some important things about spiritual warfare and about God’s keeping love. I had and have so much more to learn.
I realize this is getting a bit long but I really need to tell one more story. It has to do with Mama Ethel’s journey home.
Mama Ethel’s Knees
Once again I will reach into my memoirs. Here is how I recorded Mama Ethel’s homecoming.
Recorded Sunday, July 25, 1999 - Note: Ethel Morgan (Mama Ethel) died Monday. She was found on her knees in the living room with her face on her Bible. This was her way of praying.
Nathan and I attended her funeral yesterday at Taylor Hill. When Mama Ethel was a member of CCI at Boyce, she had worn two spots in her linoleum run at the couch where she knelt to pray daily.
Mama Ethel was a remarkable woman. Her family will miss her (especially her prayers and counsel) greatly. She is now with her husband, Jesus.
Yes, I believe that Mama Ethel was one of the majestic ones that David wrote about. Sure, Mama Ethel had her faults just as we all do. But what a heart for the Lord.
Was Mama Ethel different? Yes, she really was. But she lived a life without prejudice. She loved everyone equally. And one of her favorite sayings was, “Elder, there ain’t no black Holy Ghost and white Holy Ghost.”
There is more I could write about this special lady but perhaps what I’ve shared will touch someone’s heart.
Here is a song that I pray will touch your heart. Its about going home.In Christ Always, Buddy
“When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Gen 9:16)
“One who beats an animal to death must make restitution for it, life for life.” (Lev 24:17-18)
“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you … in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:7-10)
“A righteous person cares for the life of his animal, but even the most compassionate acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Pro 12:10)
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine.” (Psa 50:10-11)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” (Mat 10:29)
In the picture above is our dog Zach. Zach is a very small Yorke. The traditional Yorke has long hair. To begin this entry let me share a story about Zach.
Someone had left the back gate of our deck open, and Zach went exploring. He rarely goes very far from home. Anyway, I missed Zach, and went through the house and the back yard calling for him. No answer. Then in a bit I began to hear this pitiful yelp.
I followed the yelping sound, and there on the creek bank near the front of our house was Zach. His hair was entangled in a brier patch. The more he struggled the worse it became.
So, I worked my way through the briers with my pocket knife. Zach was overjoyed that I had come to his rescue. I picked him up and carried him home in my arms.
In the picture above you will see a cut away piece of brier entangled with Zach’s hair. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of this precious little animal that the Lord had given us. (Actually Zack was a gift from our kids to Betty.)
I am telling this story for more than one reason. First of all, this story reveals a lot about my heart. I’ve always had a special love for dogs.
Like most folk, I can hardly stand to see any animal suffer. This is the reason I stopped hunting years ago. It was never a pleasure for me to shoot an animal merely for sport.
(I’m not faulting those who enjoy hunting. This is just for me personally.)
But there is a second reason. I believe that animals carry a message to us from God Himself. And how we treat our animals lets us know if God’s message is getting through. If you aren’t sure about animals carrying a message from God, take time to reread the Scriptures that I share above. Note the bold color in blue.
Let’s take note of how …
God Teaches Us Through His Creatures
I certainly don’t wish to overemphasize how God makes animals a part of our lives, yet at the same time you hardly ever hear any teaching about this. Take the birds for example. Did you know that the birds have much to tell us? This is why Jesus instructed us to consider them.
“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!” (Luk 12:24)
The lesson seems simple enough. So much of the world lives in fear of what the future holds. Why should God’s children worry. We are to learn from the ravens, to live our lives with the knowledge that all our needs are provided for by our heavenly Father.
Can the ravens teach us more? Surely they can. Did you know that animals can receive special instructions directly from God. Have you never read when Elijah the prophet fled for his life. Listen -
“The word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
“‘It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.’
“So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.” (1Ki 17:2-6)
Think about all the lessons the Lord give us through animals. They are numerous. God’s people are likened to sheep. God used a donkey to chasten Balaam. The untamed colt that let Jesus ride on him. The fish that gathered so that Peter could catch them. The boy with the loaves and fishes.
The list goes on. Noah releases a dove and the dove returns with good news. A fish that brought money to Peter. How about Daniel in the lion’s den, where the lions would not even touch him.
The great fish that carried Jonah to his proper destination. All the animals that entered the ark under divine influence.
God says that animals can even teach us wisdom
“Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer;
“The shephanim are not mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks;
“The lizard you may grasp with the hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.
“There are three things which are stately in their march, even four which are stately when they walk: the lion which is mighty among beasts and does not retreat before any, the strutting rooster, the male goat also, and a king when his army is with him.” (Pro 30:24-31)
So the question remains…
Do animals have feelings and emotions
What do you think?
Anyone who has ever had a pet, can certainly tell you that their pet has personality, and feelings, and emotions. They dream. They weep. They bond on a level that we humans don’t really understand.
They care deeply. They will give up their life for you.
As a spokesman for dogs, I can tell you that dogs are unique in their unconditional love.
We have so much to learn from them.
Oh well, enough for now. Take time for a bit of humor.In Christ Always, Buddy