Fixed Points in Time

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“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Php 1:6)

 

Journal,

If you could write a story of your life, chances are each chapter would begin with an important event that was taking place in your life. I like to call these events as ‘fixed points.‘ We all have these fixed points that we can draw on.

Here is one of my fixed points -

He Who Began the Good Work

It was 1964 and I had just resigned from a religious association that had been an anchor in my walk with the Lord. But I knew that the time had come up pull up anchor and set sail. The witness of the Lord was without question. 

The next morning a dark gloom settled over my mind. ‘What will I do now? Where will I find fellowship.’ 

I fell to my knees and reached for my Bible. As the Bible fell open, this Scripture just leaped out –  

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Php 1:6)

God had spoken. The gloom instantly lifted. And that moment in time became a fixed point in my walk with the Lord. I knew deep in my heart that my journey of life was well in the hands of the Lord. 

 

God has fixed points, too.

Jesus told the disciples about redemption’s fixed points, and that these points were not for them to know. The disciples asked the Lord when the kingdom would be restored to Israel. He said,

 “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Act 1:7-8)

The Greek word for ‘epochs’ (kairos, pronounced, kahee-ros’) refers to an occasion, a set time. It carries the idea of a new opportunity.

 

Even Our Days Are Ordained

That being said, the Lord also has fixed points in our personal walk. David alluded to this:

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. … Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Psa 139:14-16)

Did you catch it? David said that our days were ordained of the Lord. The Hebrew for ‘ordained’ [yasar] means to fashion, to shape, or to devise, as with work of creation. This word includes the idea of election and predestination.

The Apostle Paul speaks to this:

“ … also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” (Eph 1:11)

And again,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10)

The Greek term for ‘workmanship’ (poiema) has to do with a finished product. In this case, believers are the finished work of the cross.

But this needs to be understood in the sense of the believer’s redemption in Christ.

Let’s take this a step further, into …

 

What is Finished – What is Ongoing

It is important to understand the finished work of the cross in its Biblical sense. Where ‘poiema’ denotes the finished work, it also relates to the word, ‘poiesis’, which speaks of an ongoing work, and to the word, ‘poietes’, which addresses the one who is doing or has done the work.

All three of these words include the thought of a poet. While the poet is working on his project, he always has the finished work firmly fixed in his mind. This sense carries over into the finished work of the cross.

The finished work is already complete in the chronicles of God, but we as believers are experiencing our shaping throughout our life time. Thus we have the paradox of ‘fixed points.’

The paradox involves two issues, the positional truth, and the experiential truth.

The positional truth is that God’s work in the believer is finished. The experiential truth is that the believer is a work in progress, where his life is being shaped for the eternity to come.

Back to ordained events. Now we need to look at…

 

The Message Behind the Message

The message behind the cross is that Jesus is the author & finisher of our faith; that we are God’s ‘finished’ workmanship; that we are destined for glory.

It is the message is that nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate the believer from the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ.

Out of the cross comes the Shepherd’s promise that, “I will never leave you and I will never desert you.”

Then we have this on the experiential side of the cross. Listen carefully:

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

“[with the knowledge that] it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Php 2:12-13)

Once again, did you catch it. It is God who is working out our salvation. The ‘fear and trembling’ comes from realizing this awesome revelation that God is fully at work in my life.

Actually Job describes this very aspect of fear and trembling. Listen to Job:

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Do you see any doubt in Job, about his eternal salvation? Not one bit. When Job ends of saying, ‘My heart faints within me’, he is speaking of the awesomeness of His Redeemer God.

Now with regard to the Lord working out our salvation, let’s hear it 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)

These Scriptures allow us to realize that it is God who is at work in our lives, and that He is working in us that which is pleasing in His sight. It also helps to define what I mean by ‘fixed points’ in our lives. These fixed points accord with a Scripture that most believers can quote from memory -

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

These ‘all things” include ordained moments in our lives where a change is in the works. These fixed moments can be seen as transitional moments.

Now let’s talk about…

 

What is it That is Pleasing to God

What is pleasing to God is the revealing of ‘likeness’ and ‘image’ of Christ in all His children. We call this, ‘Christlikeness.’

The apostle John said that one day we are going to be just like Jesus. Our future glory and likeness to Jesus Christ is what the finished work of the cross is all about.

However, this exact likeness fulfills itself in our final stay in heaven. In the meantime we need lots of help in processing life. We don’t lose our human nature just because we’ve been born again. There will be trails, setbacks, failures, and victories without measure.

This is all part of our experiencing Jesus in this life.

Listen carefully:

“For it was fitting for Him [Jesus], for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

“For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb 2:10-11)

We are in the process of being brought to glory. The full glory takes place in our life to come.

And so, in Christ the work is finished. In our experience it is ongoing. We are being conformed to His image & likeness.

Now back to…

 

The Lord’s “I Am with You” Moments

There will be many defining moments in every believer’s life. Some will seem painful at the time, but all of them have to do with shaping the believer for eternity.  The issue is that every trial has a purpose and every revelation has something to say to us.

This is also why it is important to take to heart what the apostle said:

“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Php 1:6)

This is also why we must be able to say with Jesus, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.”

There is so much more to be said about ‘fixed points in time’, that I will leave off for now.

Now to hear from my readers – I would love to hear about one of your fixed points in time where a major change was in the works, and where the Lord gave you the assurance that He was with you.

Take time to respond to this journal entry.

In the meantime, here is a song for your meditation … ‘I Stand Amazed’

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

 

This mysterious thing called grace…

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“Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, the man who was raised on high declares, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel,
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‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He who rules over men righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springs out of the earth, through sunshine after rain. Truly is not my house so with God?
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“For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured; for all my salvation and all my desire, will He not indeed make it grow? But the worthless, every one of them will be thrust away like thorns, because they cannot be taken in hand; but the man who touches them must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they will be completely burned with fire in their place.’” (2Sa 23:1-7 NASB)
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Readers,

God’s promise to David was that the Messiah would to come directly from his lineage. It was this great promise that gave David a unique role as a prophet of God. Many of David’s prophecies were relational to Christ. He experienced Jesus long before the incarnation. David often spoke by the Spirit of Christ and for the Christ of God.

Here are examples of David’s visionary experiences with Jesus:

“Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” (Psa 63:2)

“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psa 2:12 NASB)

“The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” (Psa 110:1 NASB)

New Testament accords Psalm 110:1, as the Father speaking to the Son at the ascension of Jesus to the throne of heaven.

Understanding David’s unique visionary relationship with Christ, helps us to see the wonderful prophecy that begins with, ‘Now these are the last words of David’ as recorded above. Every statement in the ‘last words of David’ have a direct bearing on the eternal covenant of Christ.

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David provided a description of the finished work of the cross.

In David’s last words we are seeing how that the new covenant would unfold itself in the mysteries and wonders of grace. This is an area were some believers have their greatest struggle.

The key is in understanding the finished work of the cross. Salvation in the new covenant is entirely a matter of what took place in the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and how these things accrue to those who truly believe in Jesus. It is all about grace. Paul addresses this:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9 NASB)

And again,

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Tit 3:5-6 NASB)

Most often we think of grace as in terms of ‘unmerited favor.’ Of course this is true. But what does that mean? Renewing grace is what places beauty to the life of a believer. Grace is also God’s strengthening power.

The prophet said,

“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” (Isaiah 40:29)

Paul heard it this way:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)


The Spirit of grace.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of grace.’ A primary role of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant is to minister grace to those who have been to the cross. John 1:16 draws on this:

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (Joh 1:16 NASB)

The Greek is expressing a picture of grace taking the place of grace, even before the prior grace is exhausted. This supplying of grace is always from the finished work of the cross. The cross is both our dying place, and our living place. At the cross our entire lives were judged in Christ. At the cross Jesus exchanged lives with us. He took our place in order to gives us His place. And in the resurrection we were made one with Him.

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The Greek emphatic in John 1:16, is on two words,His‘, and, ‘fullness‘. John is saying that we need to realize the force of this truth. The truth to be realized in our faith walk is that all Jesus became in his ascension and glorification, has been placed on the account of every true believer. It is this fullness of Christ that we draw from continually.

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This is why John could later write,

“As He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

This is also why the apostle Paul said,

“[He] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

Under the new covenant the Holy Spirit brings us to the cross and thus passes us through the cross. In this passing we are made one with Jesus in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

The message of the cross does not limit itself to the death of Jesus. And the cross is not something we merely come to for forgiveness of sins. We actually pass through the cross. We pass out of death into life. We have been made holy in the sacrifice of Christ. The cross now becomes our altar of grace.

Listen once again to the apostle John:

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Joh 3:18 NASB)

And again,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (Joh 5:24 NASB)

We pass out of death and judgment into the eternal life of the Son. And so the Holy Spirit is always ministering the glorified Christ into our hearts. We might speak of this as ‘throne grace.’ The writer said,

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

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The beauty of the Lord.

Once again, grace is what adds beauty to our walk with the Lord. It is the beauty of the Lord that the Holy Spirit ministers into our lives. It is the fountain of His grace that we drink from. It is His grace that gives us songs to sing when we are beyond singing. And grace is the upward impulse of our hearts that causes us to long for righteousness.

Psalm 45 has long been considered a Psalm of the Messiah by both Christians and Jews. Notice how it speaks of grace:

“You [Jesus] are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips; therefore God has blessed You forever.” (Psa 45:2 NASB)

Grace always flows from the lips of Jesus. Even when we’ve done wrong and come trembling to the Lord in repentance, what is it we hear from His lips? We receive from Him grace for our need. John addressed this issue:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears [punishment] is not perfected in love [Or, does not understand God’s perfect love.” (1Jn 4:18 NASB)
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Living in the outflow.
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But as I said earlier, what gives grace its power is that we are living in the outflow of the finished work of the cross. This is where we need to understand the real distinction between how the Holy Spirit worked before the cross, and how the Holy Spirit now works as a result of the cross.

The one Scripture that sets this forth is John 7:37-39. Jesus said,

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures 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.”

What happened after the cross, is that the Holy Spirit now comes into the heart of a believer, as the Spirit of the glorified Jesus Christ. No person on this planet, of any age, has ever had the Holy Spirit in residence as the Spirit of the glorified Jesus Christ. This is essentially what the “Abba! Father!” experience is referring to.

The apostle says,

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!.’” (Romans 8:15)

The covenant of Christ is about God’s family. The grace we draw from is sonship grace. The grace we draw from is unlimited. This is why we sing, ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.’

Make no mistake in what I am sharing. We are worthy of nothing on our own. We are all sinners saved by grace. But saved by grace we surely are. There is no other way to be saved. The apostolic writer said that Jesus saves us to the utmost.

John said that we weren’t saved because we loved God. We are saved because God loved us. What a great mystery is God’s love. What a great mystery this thing called ‘Grace.’

Are you struggling over something in your life that went wrong? Do you feel like you made a mess of things. The Lord knows all about it. He has His arms outstretched. He will help you see things through. Always remember that nothing will ever be able to separate you from the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ.

While thinking about all this take time to listen to ‘Why Me, Lord?’

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Much love found in Jesus,

Buddy