Watchman, Watchman, Tell Us What You See

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Israel9“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” (Isa 66:8)

Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mat 24:32-34)

 

Journal,

It has been on my heart for a while, to share some thoughts about the second coming of Jesus Christ, and of the end of the Church-age as we know it. However, there is something I need to say upfront. This is not about setting a date. Only a fool would set about to declare the hour or the date of Christ’s return.

Keeping that in mind, it is important to take note that the Lord gave us ample evidence and instructions to consider with regard to the season of His return. The season of His return is what I seek to discuss in this blog entry.

Let me begin with some general questions that I was recently asked by a dear sister. She asked me, “Do you think Obama plays a role in the end times? Now that America economy is down, are we ripe for a take over? Will Russia take over Israel and will America Stand in the way of letting this happen? Are we closer to the end, what should we be doing? Thank you Buddy for all you do.”

The box to the right is the simple response that I gave her.End Time

Now for the sake of other things, let’s talk about …

 

The Time Clock

I believe that Israel became God’s time clock, on May 14, 1948. That is when a nation and a land was born in one day. (Fulfilling Isaiah 66:8)

Israel had to once again become a nation among nations to fulfill prophecy. This is why the apostles asked the Lord, “Is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Act 1:6)

Keep in mind that Jesus had appeared to the disciples over a period of forty days. He was, “Speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” 

It is highly unlikely that the disciples would have asked the question about Israel, had not Jesus shared this with them. Keep in mind that Israel ceased to be a viable nation on the earth in 70 a.d. There was no nation of Israel until May 14, 1948. Therefore to fulfill prophecy, a nation called Israel had to reappear in a moment of time. And so it did!

Now we can consider what the apostle Paul said about Israel’s nationhood. Listen:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.’ THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” (Rom 11:25-27)

Time no MoreFinally, we need to recall what Jesus said about Israel -

“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)

Do you see it? There had to be a house of Israel in place, for this statement to be fulfilled.

My advice to certain prophecy teachers, ‘Don’t make Isaiah 66:8, fit the church. The church is not a land, nor is it a nation. Jesus Himself said that His kingdom WAS NOT of this world. Only a nation called Israel can fulfill the Isaiah prophecy.’

Another clue to the second coming of Jesus, could very much involve the time frame of …

 

The Seventy Years

If May 14, 1948, is God’s time clock, is it possible that a seventy-year prophetic pattern can have any relevance to the second coming of Jesus?

Consider the pattern -

  • When Judah was taken captive to Babylon, God said to Jeremiah, “This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when the seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation…” (Jer25:11,12)
  • Seventy years later the Lord brought Daniel’s attention to the prophecy of Jeremiah:  … in the first year of his reign [Darius], I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophey for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” (Dan9:2)
  • Daniel is given a series of visions that have to do with God’s Messiah and the time frames for varied nations. Again we hear: Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end to sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to set up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” (Dan9:24)
Notice the fuller content of this prophecy – “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

“Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” (Dan 9:25-26)

While this prophecy may seem difficult to grasp, it has long been the precursor for determining the first coming of God’s Messiah. (Also the second coming.) The Daniel prophecy is the primary reason multiplied thousands of people came to be baptized by John the Baptist. The time had come.

This prophecy is also why later Rabbinic Law placed a curse on anyone who attempted to calculate the time of Messiah from the book of Daniel. While the prophecy did not give the hour or the exact date, it did give the time frame. (This is all we are looking at in this study.)

I wish to keep all this as simple as possible. Rather than get into the finer details of how this prophecy is played out in redemption history, let’s continue with the issue of ‘seventy.

  • Where do we see the seventy-year time frame again? Think about the destruction of Israel. Seventy years Signs of Times 8after the birth of Christ Jesus, Jerusalem lay smoldering in flames, in 70 a.d. 

Now let’s consider if the seventy year prophetic emphasis could have any relevance with Israel today.

This brings us to…

 

May 14, 1948, Plus Seventy Years

It doesn’t take much to apply a seventy year time frame to Israel. 1948 plus 70 years brings us to 2018. But there is something else we must consider. Daniel provides a final seven-year period that has to do with what is called, ‘the time of Jacob’s troubles.’

The seven years is often accounted as the time of the tribulation. For all who believe in a rapture of the church, there are two things to consider. Some believe the rapture takes place at the very beginning of the tribulation period. In this time frame, the rapture would have occurred in 2011 thereabouts.

Those who believe in what is called the ‘mid-trib’ rapture, then the rapture would occur thereabouts in 2015.

Signs of Times 7For those who don’t believe in a rapture, the point at hand does not change. If the seventy-year prophetic rendering can be applied to Israel, it goes to reason that we are living in the very time-frame of the Lord’s second coming.

Does this bring me back to setting a date for the coming of the Lord? Far from it. I am merely speaking of the season for His coming. The Lord Himself, and the prophets, and the apostles, all gave signs to consider with regard to the coming of the Lord.

Keep in mind what the Lord said to the religious leaders of His day -

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.

“But He replied to them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” ‘And in the morning, “There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.”‘

“Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Mat 16:1-3)

The Pharisees and Sadducees were demanding that Jesus give them a miracle sign that He was the Messiah. He merely responded to their wicked hearts in why they were asking for a miracle sign. He then pointed to the one sign that they would be responsible for accepting.

Jesus said,

“‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.’ And He left them and went away.” (Mat 16:4)

The sign of Jonah spoke to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, that there would be no Signs of TImes 4salvation aside from believing in that sign.

But why would Jesus call attention to the signs of the times?

The reason is the time of Messiah had already been laid out in the writings of the prophets, including the writings of Moses. In another place the Lord said to them, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:46)

Thus we have ‘signs of the times’ to consider for the second coming of Jesus. God did not leave us with nothing to consider with regard to the second coming. 

In speaking of the given signs of His second coming, Jesus said,

“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

“Then He told them a parable:

“‘Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.’” (Luk 21:28-31)  - The fig tree parable has relation to Israel. 

Then we have this to understand…

 

It Ends in Jerusalem

The Bible defines the spirit of antichrist as denying that Jesus is the Son of God. John wrote:

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1Jn 2:22-23)

Many are little aware that the religion of Islam is antichrist in its core beliefs. Listen to one of several statements found in the Qur’an, about Jesus is not the Son of God.

- Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become the Lord of Mercy to beget one! —Qur’an 19:88

Is it any wonder that the radical Islamic religion by in large, hates both Christians and the nation of Israel. America is called, ‘the great satan‘, and Israel is noted as, ‘the little satan’.

Also pay close attention to the world scene today, and especially the middle eastern nations. The entire middle east is caught in a struggle with group pitted against group. And yet in all this, everything continues towards Jerusalem.

Mulsim comes to JesusSpecial Note: It needs to be said that Muslims by the untold numbers are turning to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Perhaps this is what the Lord meant, when He said, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.” (Rev18:4) — The ‘her’ is the mystery religion of Babylon. And remember that ancient Babylon included both Iran and Iraq, and much of the surrounding Muslim nations.

According to a Muslim cleric (Imam), Muslims by the millions in Africa are becoming Christian. There are even Muslim mosques that are becoming Christian mosques. The Lord is appearing to Muslims in dreams and in personal visitations.

The greatest help that a Muslim can get is to have a Christian Bible placed in his or her hands. This is happening. Former Muslims are now preaching the gospel over television, by radio, and by the internet. Muslims are crying out for Bibles.

 

There is so much to be said about the alignment of the nations in the last days.

Without laboring this too much, take time for these Scriptures –  

“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zec 12:2-3)

“And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 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.” (Zec 12:9-10)

“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” (Zec 14:2-4)

 

Calling For the Watchman

What about it Watchman? Can you proclaim the Signs of Times 3good news of happiness for God’s children, and all the while help to prepare them for the things to come?

Several years ago I was confronted by a minister in that I was out of step with the message for today. I had just taught on the second coming of Jesus Christ. He let me know that I should be preaching on the prosperity message among other things.

Yes, I spoke with Him about our call as gospel ministers, that we are not to neglect to preach and teach the fullness of the gospel, which includes both the second coming and the judgments to follow. 

Listen to the charge that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy. It pretty much says it all -

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2Ti 4:1-5)

The minister I mentioned actually presents a sad picture.

Yes, I am afraid the time has come when the gospel message is being distorted beyond measure. I see a larger part of the nominal church digressing morally and spiritually.

Homosexual preachers being ordained to the pulpit. Homosexual marriages taking the forefront. A love for pleasure is quickly replacing a love for godliness. Young people awash in a world of drugs and rebellion. Marriages are crumbling at an astonishing rate, while recreational sex is flooding the airwaves by way of television, movies, and computers.

Need I go on?

Did not the Lord say that His coming again would be just like it was in the judgment in the days of Noah?

It says,

“God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.

“‘Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.’” (Gen 6:12-14)

As a final thought, let me address one more thing. It has to do with …

 

The Lord’s Promise to His People

Just as God had Noah prepare an ark for the salvation of his family, even so, the Lord Jesus is God’s ark of safety for all true believers.

I use the word ‘true‘ for the sake of understanding that not all people who call themselves Christian are trueEternal Security Christians. Just a look at the church world will confirm that issue.

What then is the promise to the people of the Lord? His promise is that not one single person who truly trusts in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savor, will ever be lost.

Jesus explains the will of the heavenly Father, about all believers -

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of ALL that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (Joh 6:38-40)

I pray this study will be an encouragement to my readers.

Why not take time for this song, titled, ‘So Close, I Believe.’

Your Friend in Christ,

Buddy

 

Our Victory and Our Rest

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“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2Pe 1:19)

 

Journal,

Its been about three weeks since my last journal entry. Sorry about that. I’ve been out of the country on a ministry trip to Mexico. So, I’ll begin this entry with a synopsis on a Youth Conference held in Las Choapas, Veracruz, Mexico.

 

The Beautiful People of Mexico

The Mexican Youth Conference was well attended and well blessed. Our team spoke to the youth on various subjects. (Large turnout. No parents allowed.)

Nathan began the Youth Conference in speaking to the youth in Spanish, on the subject of ‘Walking in the Spirit.’ The young people responded like sponges. You could see expectancy on their faces. Lori had a special meeting with the women. 

As the conference progressed, one of our team members spoke from a Satanist background. Another was molested as a youth. Another was deeply involved in pornography and was introduced into it by a youth leader. And another spoke on purity of life. 

What made everything even more telling is that none of the team members knew how and what the other members would be sharing. The entire event was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. (There were times I was simply overwhelmed and could only weep.)

Sunday morning was for general attendance. The building overflowed with several hundred. The royal anointing of God rested upon every part of the service. 

Once again I caught myself weeping. When their worship group began, it was like a river that began flowing from the platform. The Lord of glory was meeting with us. 

I was honored to address the congregation. My ministry was on, ‘The Children of the Cross.’ God gave me insights to share about the kingdom of God, how each church is an embassy for the government of God, and how the Lord sent Pastor Pedro as an Ambassador of the kingdom to raise up their church as an embassy in Las Chaopas. 

I don’t know how many came forward for first time salvation or re-dedication. I estimate at least 60-70. Pastor Pedro later said that they had never had a service like that. Actually, I don’t recall having been in a service of that order. It was all the Lord’s doing. I believe it will be awe-inspiring as to what comes out of all this. (Like the ripple effect when a stone is thrown in the water.)

Other highlights will be shared this Sunday by our ministry team. However, there is one very important point I need to make. We could have done nothing without Nathan. Nathan did an outstanding job in having to translate for so many speakers, and yet he never complained about his own physical difficulties.

Thank you son. I am so proud of you. And I’ve also very proud of our team. What a bunch of troopers.

So now we come to the issue of …

 

Man’s Restless Heart

Humans are born with a restless heart. Wars are continually fought over this restlessness. Religions are created out of this restlessness. There seems to be no fix. Drugs-alcohol can’t fix it. Popularity, power, wealth, want to be someone special can’t fix it.

But why, why do we have such restless hearts? Augustine said it best, ‘Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.’

This brings us to man’s place with God and …

 

Partaking of the Divine

Ever since the fall of Adam, there has been a vacancy in the hearts of all humankind. David and Solomon spoke to this longing of our heart.  Listen:

[Solomon] “[God] has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecc 3:11)

We are eternal creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Adam’s fullness of life could only be met in God Himself. Hence Solomon tells us that ‘eternity’ itself dwells in the deepest part of our human makeup, and can only be awakened by God.

David was a prophet. In Psalm 139, David calls attention to the mystery of God’s relation to His human creation

“You [God] scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psa 139:3-6)

In another place David says,

“What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Psa8:4,5)

And so we come to the purpose of the cross. The purpose of the cross was and is about…

 

Our Victory and Our Rest in Christ

The term Christian carries various meanings such as, Christ like, belonging to Christ, followers of Christ, and even ‘the anointed ones.’ [Jesus Christ is the Anointed One.]

This is why Jesus describes the believer as having a divine outflow of life from within.

“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.” (Joh 7:38-39)

In the new covenant, the Holy Spirit enters a believer’s heart with the fullness of our restoration to the heavenly Father. Both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul said that we now partake of the divine life. It all took place at the cross.

This is why you find so many terms of victory in the New Testament writings, such as, ‘more than conquerors’, ‘seated with Christ in heavenly places’, ‘entered His rest’, ‘heirs and joint heirs with Christ’, ‘triumph in Christ’, ‘all things are yours’, ‘glory of the children of God’, ‘the law of liberty’, ‘no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus’, ‘passed out of death into life’, and myriads of other related statements.

Oh yes, we’ve managed to make a mess out of things by creating religions in place of relationships. I think there is no greater need than for a child of God to come to the knowledge of what being restored in Christ truly means.

Through Christ we are brought to our rightful place in God’s created order. This reflects on what Peter was talking about when he wrote,

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2Pe 1:19)

And remember well that the best is yet to come.

While you think about these things, take time to listen to this wondrous older chorus, ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.’

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In Christ,

Buddy

 

 

The Children of the Cross

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“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted;

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God;

“to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isa 61:1-3)

 

For my Readers,

I want to do something a bit different with this journal entry. The Lord has given me a message that could be a life-changer for many of His children. It could also become the message of salvation for those who do not yet know the Lord.

Are struggling with a heart ache? Have you had a failure in marriage? Do you have straying children? Please take time to listen to this message that I shared at the Christian Challenge pulpit this past Sunday. It could heal your heart. It is titled, ‘Children of the Cross.’

 

 

I am including an outline of the message for you who would like a study guide…

 

The CHILDREN OF THE CROSS

Intro: EPH3:8-12. Eternity was stunned at the cross. It was so amazing that the angel powers were stopped in their tracks. 

Snippets from MATT 27:42-54. 

Two things I would like this ministry to do for you. 

First – Learn what it was that stopped eternity. 

Second – How standing still can change your life. 

I – The Gospel’s Hidden Mystery 
1. The gospel story was foretold with a hidden mystery not fully understood. Cf. 1PE1:10-12. 
2. Gospel message does not limit itself to the dark side of cross. Message includes death, burial, resurrection, ascension, glorification. 
3. What astonished the angels? Cross is birthing place of a family. HEB2:9-13.
4. Every person born again receives the family seal. Cf. EPH1:11-14; HEB1:13,14.

II – The Story of the Children 
1. There are four things the children of the cross need to know and understand. 
a. GOD is your FATHER. ROM8:38,39) 
b. Lordship: Nothing out of His control. (ROM11:36) 
c. God is Faithful. (2CO1:2,20; 2PE1:4)
d. Holiness. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness. Cf. 1PE3:10-16. 
2. The great truth of the cross. It is both your dying place and your living place. Cf. 1JN1. 

III – Where Faith Stands Still
1. Standing still means to take time to listen to and to hear from the Lord. Cf. MAT6:7-13. 
2. To seek God’s will. Sometimes suffering is in the will of God for our lives. Cf. ACT2:22-23; ACT5:41. 
3. There will also be corrective disciplines. Some of your deeper spiritual experiences will come from a discipline. Cf. PS94:11-15; 119:66,67; HEB12:10,11. 
4. What does faith say? “Lord, be glorified in my life.” Cf. PS115:1. 

Conc: End with EPH1:9-14.

 

In Christ Always,

Buddy

Do You Really Know the Lord

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“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.” (1Co 2:14-15)

 

 

Readers,

The past December (2011) I shared a study entitled, ‘Never Go With Strangers.’ I felt a need to re-emphasize that study again, but with more insights about what knowing the Lord is really all about.

I do this with regard to what the apostle said -

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Php 3:1-3)

There is one question that can only be answered on a personal basis. I don’t ask to entertain doubt about someone’s salvation. I ask so that my readers can decide for themselves if their relation to the Lord God is what it really should be.

The question that needs to be answered is simple – Do you really know the Lord? 

 

An Innate Knowing 

All true followers of Jesus Christ are given a unique spiritual ability to recognize those things which are of God. This ‘intrinsic’ knowing is functional to our born-from-above spiritual nature. It is a knowing that becomes even more acute as a believer matures in Christ.

The apostle uses the term ‘spiritual’ with regard to our maturing in Christ. Paul said that the mature spiritual believer ‘knows’  and ‘appraises’ all things.

These words are important. The word ‘know’ is ‘eido’ in Greek. It means ‘to turn the eyes, the mind, or the attention to a thing, that is, to be skilled in knowing the spiritual significance of a thing.

Then we have the word ‘appraises’. The Greek term, anakrino, carries a forensic sense which addresses an investigation to decide either the excellence or the defect of a thing.

In another place the apostle says that all things have to be examined – Listen:

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1Th 5:19-22)

The term ‘examine’ belongs to the class of ‘knowing.’ Dokimazo simply means to prove whether a thing is worthy or not. There are many false teachings to be found in the realm of Christendom. It is the believer’s personal responsibility to find out if these teachings are worthy of the gospel.

 

The Crown of a Believer’s Life

The crown of a believer’s walk rests in this ability to truly know if a thing is of God. It is this knowing that protects the believer from error.

The English language doesn’t always carry the fuller meaning of a Hebrew or Greek term. For this reason it is good to know what certain terms really mean in the original languages of the Bible.

For example, Jesus said,

“I am the good shepherd, and I know (ginosko) my own and my own know (ginosko) Me.” (John 10:14)

Ginosko addresses a personal closeness. Jesus said that He addresses each of His sheep by name. He also stated that His sheep know His voice. It is in this secret of knowing the Shepherd personally that compasses our love and loyalty to Him.

 

 

 Fleeing From Strangers

Let’s continue with Greek terms. Listen carefully:

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know (oikeios) his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know (oikeios) the voice of strangers.” (Joh 10:4-5)

Now we find a different word. The Greek for ‘know’ here is the word, ‘oikeios’. Oikeios implies, ‘belonging to a household’. Oikeios is a family word. Jesus said that because of His family relationship to the sheep, they would never confuse who is doing the speaking.

Remember how we teach our children not to go with strangers. That is the idea being projected here. Not only will the sheep not go with a stranger, but they will actually flee from the stranger’s voice and beaconing.

Now notice again how the term ginosko is used:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know (ginosko) 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 10:27-29)

Knowing Jesus Christ is knowing salvation.

 

It’s All in the Knowing

Did you catch it? Jesus is saying that no one can be saved and not know it. Salvation is a knowing relationship with the Lord.

Listen to  how the Lord defines eternal life in His prayer:

“ … and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.’

“’…This is eternal life, that they may know [ginosko] You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’” (Joh 17:1-3)

There it is. Eternal life is all about knowing the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

A Deepening Knowing

When Jesus said that His ‘sheep’ know His voice, notice that Jesus did not use the term ‘lamb’. Until the lamb becomes better acquainted with the voice of the Shepherd, the lamb will follow other sheep and especially the mother.

Does that mean the lambs have little protection? Not at all. Consider:

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)

Now let’s talk about why this issue of ‘knowing’ the Lord is so important.

 

Deception – The Hallmark of Satan’s Work

The ability to know if a thing is of God is important because the supernatural realm makes up more than the things of God. Satan is a spiritual being. The hallmark of Satan’s work is deception. Paul said,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this spiritual darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph6:12)

We are especially warned that in the last days there will be a great increase of deception in the earth. The Lord said that this deception would be so acute that even the very elect will have to keep up a special guard.

Consider these cautions:

“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.“ (Mat 24:24-25)

 “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2Ti 3:13)

 “ … there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

 “… in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2Pe 2:1-3)

 

 Appealing to the Flesh

The work of demons is closely linked to the prideful flesh of man. And what the prideful fleshly person attributes to God, are actually ‘soulish’ powers at work.

James  gives us the basic description of how the soulish person functions. James 3:13-18)

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic..”

The word for ‘natural’ is the word, ‘psuichikos’.  This word speaks to the sensual side of our lower nature. Did you take note of how ‘psuchikos’ relates to, ‘demonic’? 

And so where you have bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, earthy, natural issue at work, these characteristics give place for the demonic.

James goes on to describe what is truly of the Lord;

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

When prideful flesh is at work it glories in itself.

 

 

Making Careful Examinations 

The way Paul taught believers is to check things was by use of the Scriptures. According to ‘what is written’ is always to be the testing ground for teachings, experiences, and prophecies.

Listen to Paul’s instruction on teachers:

“Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” (1Co 4:5-6)

Again, did you catch it? We are never to exceed, ‘what is written’.  If the teaching is truly of the Lord, it will always line up with the Word of God.

We must always check teachings to make certain they are in agreement with the true gospel message. This is where caution is important. It is easy to prove many things in the Scriptures, but are these things in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan does his work through half-truths.

Then we are to look at things that are said to be spiritual operations. Demonic spirits bring a false anointing. These spirits love to prophesy. They love to give information about people. They love to be the center of attention.

 

Learn Spiritual Balance

The balance comes where God’s people are told to keep a pilgrim attitude about life. We are to hold tightly to Jesus, and loosely to the world. There is a prosperity message making its rounds today that is very much earthly centered. Where is the balance?

Paul said,

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

True Biblical prosperity has a spiritual base. It is an outflow of a proper relationship with the Lord. This proper relationship has a heart attitude in the word ‘humility’. We are to live with humble hearts before the Lord, never striving after things of the world.

The Lord Himself said that if we will seek first God’s kingdom, and His righteousness, then everything else will be provided for us.

What’s the message in all this? It is simple. As a believer you must learn to trust your own spiritual intuition and never ever hearken to the voice of a stranger. The Shepherd is the guardian of your soul. Trust in Jesus with all your heart.

Think about these things.

Here is a song for your meditation … Lead Me to the Cross’

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

God’s Mysterious Gift of Life

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“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gn2:7 nasb)

 

Journal,

All life is a gift from God. Angels have life. Animals and plants have their life. Every order of creation has its own life.

And yet no other part of creation was given the measure of life as was given to Adam. Adam’s life was purposely enjoined to God Himself. Actually Adam is the only person in the Bible aside from Jesus Christ, who is called ‘the son of God.’

Yes, Adam shared a kinship with God that no other creature had. He carried with him the image and likeness of God. It is difficult to even imagine what Adam was like in the beginning.

Being made in the image and likeness of God meant something very special to the whole of creation. This is why it was a black day for all creation when Adam chose to act on Satan’s word rather than to live by the instructions that the Lord God gave him.

Adam’s fall would affect all of creation. Paul takes note of this -

“… the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.“ (Rom 8:19-21)

 And so we have…

 

The Fallen Children

This is why it is so important to understand Adam’s original place in creation. It helps us realize why God loves the world so much. Even though the Adam race has been defiled by sin and darkness, God has never stopped loving humankind.

And so Jesus Christ came into our world. This is also why Jesus is called ‘the last Adam.’

Listen and learn:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

“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 3:17-18)

And again,

“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1Co 15:45)

Jesus came into our fallen world to redeem and set free the fallen race of Adam, and to create a new race called, ‘Christian.’  A Biblical Christian has been anointed with the very life of Christ Himself.

This is why the apostle said -

“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.” (Gal 2:20)

 

Jesus the Last Adam

The mysterious gift of God speaks of the life that Adam lost, and even beyond. Out of the cross would come a new creation, and in this new creation would come the sons and daughters of God.

But there is something crucial we need to grasp. God did not provide the last Adam (Jesus) a body from the dust of the ground. Indeed not. The Father provided Jesus with a body that belonged to the original race of Adam. By overshadowing the Virgin, Jesus would enter our world both as the Son of God, and also the Son of Man.

In this way Jesus could become the source of eternal life to all the children of Adam. Out of the cross came a judicial verdict based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The judicial verdict is simple. It says that anyone of the Adam race is given the right to call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and become a member of God’s new race of Christians.

Listen to Peter on the day of Pentecost as he exacts God’s judicial verdict for the whole of the human race -

“‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’” (Act 2:21)

And thus with the apostle Paul -

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’” (Rom 10:12-13)

Calling on the name of the Lord means to confess and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; that the person realizes they cannot become good enough to be saved; that they recognize themselves as lost sinners, and a appealing to Jesus Christ as God’s provision for salvation. It is as simple as that.

 

The Mystery of Eternal Life

For all who call on the name of the Lord, these become the children of God, and as children of God they are given the very nature of Christ, the last Adam. Because we are given a godly nature, this is why sin hurts so much for a true believer. Yes, we can and do sin, but sin is contrary to our spiritual nature from above. Sinners sin by nature. Christians sin by temptation. There is a vast difference.

Concerning our new life, the apostle wrote -

 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2Co 5:17-19)

The issue of eternal life is that eternal life cannot be forfeited, just as the natural man cannot lose his natural human life. We are what we are.

And the apostle John says that we are now the children of God. The apostle Paul also speaks to this.

Listen with your heart -

[John] “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1Jn 3:1-3)

[Paul]  “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!’

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Rom 8:15-17)

Welcome home, all you children of God

And so the new race of Christians are actually…

 

The Children of the Throne

There is much to our future that we are not told about. We do know that all of creation, including the angels, anxiously await the crowning moment when all God’s children are fully restored to their rightful place in creation.

Yes, all the angels recognize each of God’s children. Every child carries in their heart a seal of redemption. In this seal is the very essence of, ‘I belong to heaven.’

In addition to the blood seal, every child of God has already been seated in Christ in the heavens. This is why we can be called ‘children of the throne’. What creation is waiting for now is the children’s full restoration to the glory of God.

Here it is in a nutshell:

For it was fitting for Him, 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.” (Heb 2:10)

 It would not do to leave off what the apostle Paul had to say about the children’s glory -

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things?

“If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:29-31)

Touch one of my kids, you touch Me – Lion of Judah

Yes indeed, the life of God in the heart of a child of God is both wonderful and mysterious. It is no wonder that we sing so much about heaven. After all, we are just sojourners in this world. We are looking for the city whose builder and maker is God. But not only a city, the Bible says we also have a country that has been prepared for us.

It is kind of hard to find a stopping place, but stop I must. Just keep in mind that the apostle said that nothing would ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus. God’s love is eternal.

For your meditation here is a song about the Lion of Judah…

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

The Valley of Baca

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 “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.” – (Psa 84:5-7 NASB)

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Journal,

I’ve thought it would do well to resend a writing that I provided well over two years ago. It has become one of the highest readings of my blog. It has to do with what the Bible calls, ‘the valley of baca.’ Hope it refreshes your heart.

 

Have you ever been through the valley of Baca?

Sure you have. Every human has been there The valley of Baca is the valley of weeping. The valley of Baca is part of our journey of life. My wife and I are very familiar with this valley. Forty-three plus years ago we stood by the grave of our nine month old son. We were passing through the valley of weeping. How our hearts filled with sorrow.

But the valley of Baca isn’t simply about tears. Believe it or not the valley of Baca is also the valley of strength. It is in the valley of Baca that a believer finds himself being renewed in the Lord. Betty and I knew that we would see David Lynn again. There was no question in our minds about that. That knowing has become one of the trail markers on our journey of faith.

There is an explanation for this idea of Baca also being the valley of strength The truth of the matter is that…

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We are on our way home

No matter what else Psalms 84 may speak to, it also carries its own spiritual significance for our journey of life. And so Psalm 84 begins with,

“How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Vv1,2)

cross with shining light from above Glitter

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Psalm 84 opens with the longings of the heart. And while the Psalm has in view the earthly Jerusalem and the tabernacle, its deeper spiritual inference is for those who have been born from above. Its deeper spiritual lessons go far beyond an earthly Jerusalem.

To be born again is to be born from above. In this ‘heavenly’ birthing we actually become children of God, or, heaven’s children. In the heart of every born-from-above person, God places the seal of the ‘Holy Spirit’. Paul calls this seal the ‘pledge’ of our inheritance. (Or, ‘the seal of redemption.)

The seal cannot be broken. It is a seal of ownership. It is also a seal that carries with it the very essence of heaven. We can think of it as our ‘going home’ seal. The seal lets us know that we are pilgrims in this life. It is because of the seal we can say with Paul,

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.” (2Co5:1,2)

See the connection. The Psalmist said, “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord.”

But in the meantime, we groan. We all have these groaning times in this life. Paul uses the same language as the Psalmist.

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The tell-tale sign

The book of Hebrews tells is that this ‘longing‘ is one of the signs of God’s people through the ages. It is applied to the Old Testament saints who longed for Messiah and for a country that was to be their own. It says that Abraham “was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (He11:10)

Then it speaks of all the holy ones who were before Christ. Of them it says,

“[They] confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth … But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Cf. He11:13-16)

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When birds preach the gospel

Psalm 84:3,4 continues with,

“The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young. Even Your altars, O Lord of host, My king and My God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.”

The issue here is that heaven’s children are able see the goodness of the Lord in everything. Even the swallow has a lesson to teach us about God. Perhaps she knows much more than we realize. Did not the Lord say,

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt6:26)

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"Dove of Peace" Giclee Print

I’ve had a couple of unique experiences that involved birds. One was when we pastored a former church. For a good while each morning when I showered I would hear a bird outside the window. One day I caught a glimpse of her. She was on a limb right outside the shower. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I like to think that she was sent as an encouragement. Yes I know. I’m a dreamer.

Another time was when the Lord spoke to my heart to ‘Expect the unexpected.’ This was when the Lord gave me a miracle healing from cancer. I was sitting on the hill behind Christian Challenge during a time of devotion and meditation. When the Lord spoke to my heart, I glanced up and right above my head on the high line was a beautiful dove. She didn’t move a feather. I looked at her and she looked at me. Coincidence? Not for me.

Well, let’s continue, Psalm 84:5 says,

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion!”

Again we can reflect on Jesus. The highway to heaven’s Zion is the path of Jesus. The Psalmist said in another place that God would make the Messiah’s footsteps “into a way.” (Ps85:13)

So where are the highways to Zion? Are not the highways to Zion in our hearts?

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And where is our true strength?

It is in Jesus. The Psalmist said, “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You.” Did you know that most burn out in a believer’s life is a burn out of the flesh. There is no burn out in the Spirit. The Spirit refreshes. But if we are doing our work in the flesh, we will wither with weariness.

Let’s now look at the path that leads us home. After all we live in the nasty now-and-now.The Psalm continues,

“Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings.” (V6)

How many times have we been through the valley of Baca? I’ve been there often. There is no use in me telling you about my “Bacas.” You’ve been there. It is a place of deep sorrow. But it is in the valley of Baca that we come to know the Lord in a even more intimate way. Thus we hear in another place, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Ps30:5)

"Seashore Tranquility" Print

One day the Lord may pull back the veil of our life and allow us to see all the ways He intervened in those moments of deep sorrow. And what may amaze us the most, is when He shows us His intervention in our lives before we came to a conscious knowledge of Him as our Lord and Savior. It is very much like the song which says, “He was there all the time.”

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It was 1961. I was in Manila bay with a group of sailors and marines. In tossing a beach ball around, the ball got away, and I began swimming to retrieve it. What I didn’t realize was that the tide was carrying me out. On top of that, every time my fingers touched the ball, it sprang forward. When I finally realized that I couldn’t get the ball, I turned to swim back. But I had been carried far out into the bay. And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t fight the tide. It was pulling me further out. (Manila bay is part of the South China Sea, and is known for its shark activity.)

The short side of this is that I became so exhausted that I began to lose hope. I felt that the sea wanted to drag me down. Then I heard this thumpa, thumpa, thumpa, thumpa. A Philippine fisherman saw my distress and he headed his banka boat straight for me. That non-English speaking fisherman became my savior that day. But to this day I believe the greater Savior was behind the scene. My Baca valley turned to rejoicing.

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Every one of them appears before God

The Psalmist continues,

“They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.” (v7)

Listen to the language. Every one of them! Every one of them! Why does this sound familiar? Jesus said,

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn6:40)

This is Jesus saying, “Every one of them will appear before God in Zion.”

In another place He says, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me!” (He2:13)

It is like Jesus is saying, “Here we are Father. They are all here. I haven’t lost a one of them. I have kept them in Your name. The family is home.”

Salvation is an awesome and wondrous thing. But it only becomes truly awesome when we realize that our salvation is never based on anything we can do. Jesus alone saves us. He saved us. He is saving us. He will save us. He intervenes in our lives constantly. He intervened before we came to know Him. And He is ever-present in our lives afterwards to help us process every struggle.

Is it any wonder that our path goes from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from blessing to blessing, and yes, even from baca to baca.

Lets end our study with the ending prayer of Psalm 84. No need for me to explain prayer. Just listen with your heart:

“O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!” (vv8-12)

What say ye — How are you doing on your way home?

Much love to you from the Martins,

In Christ always,

Buddy



May the Lord be heart and soul in Your Life in 2012

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Friends,

I really do wish all my readers a wonderful 2012.

As for 2011, it was terrific year for Betty and me. We celebrated out 48th anniversary. Took our anniversary cruise to the Bahamas with several of our friends.

Perhaps the greatest thrill of our heart has been to watch the ministry that we parented in 1976, Christian Challenge International, continue to grow stronger and stronger under the guidance of our son Nathan.

It has been awesome to see the caliber of people the Lord has gathered to us, and to consider the strong leadership that the Lord has given to Christian Challenge.

Words could never express how so very much we are thankful for. But to give my readers a true feeling for all that we wish for your 2012, please enjoy these marvelous pictures. They can say more than I can as for our wishes for your 2012.

I do hope you have a sense of humor along with a laughing heart.

(Thanks Doug for the pictures.)

Always in Christ,

Buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Midst of the Congregation I Will Sing

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“…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 nasb)

 

Readers,

Notice the bold portion of the above Scriptures where we hear Jesus say, “Behold, I and the children who God has given Me.”

This statement draws on a redemption promise that God gave through the prophet Isaiah.

“And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” (Isa 8:17-18)

Then we have this in Isaiah:

“Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” (Isa 29:22-23)

 

Fulfilled in Christ

Jesus said,

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. …

“ … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds [looks to] the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (Joh 6:37-40)

Again pay close attention to the words in bold print – “Of all that He [the Father] has given Me I lose nothing.”

Christians who lack knowledge in how salvation works will always battle insecurity. The problem isn’t merely with the believer. In some pulpits Jesus Christ is being presented in a way that is not worthy of the gospel message.

The message they hear is often filled with fear and condemnation. It centers on a salvation through works, that is, a salvation that is based on a believer becoming good enough.

This kind of thinking is a misreading of the gospel story. The work of salvation is not our work. We are all sinners saved by grace. Salvation is God’s work from beginning to finish. He alone is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Here is an example where a Scripture is sometimes mismanaged:.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Php 2:12)

Sounds pretty plain. How then is it mismanaged? The problem is that this statement is only half of what is being said. Listen to the rest of the statement:

“ … for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Php 2:13)

Notice carefully that the working out has to do with God Himself. The believer is to place his faith in God who is at work in his life. The believer is to trust that the Lord is working His will in the believer’s life.

That isn’t the only Scripture that sets forth God at work in the believer. Listen with your heart:

“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)

Once again note the words in bold. God is the one who equips us to do His will. God is the one who is working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.  

 

 

The Author and Finisher

The apostle said he was convinced the good work that God began in us, He would perfect until the day of Jesus Christ. God is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the perfecter of His work. The Lord God began the work and the Lord God finishes the work

The Lord does not want His children to live in fear of any nature. And when the Lord speaks into our lives it is His purpose is to destroy our fears. Even when He needs to correct us, it is a correction towards life.

Here is an example from my walk with Jesus -

 

It was 1974

I had just resigned from my former church affiliation. The following morning at my office a dark cloud settled over me. What will we do? Where do we go? Where will we find fellowship? Did I miss God?

The last words my former pastor had spoken to me when I handed him my resignation was ringing in my ears, “Brother Martin, these people will never anything else to do with you.”

I fell on my knees next to a chair, and reached for my Bible. Lord, I need to hear from You. 

My Bible actually fell open to Philippians 1:6, and my gaze riveted on these words,

“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.”

The Son of God had spoken to my heart. Instantly the cloud vanished. No more fear! No more uncertainty. I knew everything would be alright. Our future was well cared for.

In my excitement I reached for the phone to call Betty. Little did I realize that she was facing the very same struggle at that very same moment. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, Betty said, “Honey, listen to what the Lord just shared with me.”

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10) — We were both using the KJV at the time —

The Lord had spoken to both of us at the same time. Betty knew just as I knew that our future was well cared for.

 

 

God’s Unconditional Promises

Of course I’m not telling any true believer something that you don’t know. Jesus has come to my aid myriads of times on my pilgrim journey. He does the same for all who belong to Him. What did the Lord say about His presence in our lives?

“ … for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, or will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5-6)

That, dear friend, is an unconditional promise.

This is where we need to understand Biblical promises.

Conditional promises are based upon some action on our part. Unconditional promises are based upon something God has promised with no aid from us. These are the, “I will” promises of God.

An example of a conditional promise is Luke 6:38, where the Lord says,

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Notice that it is by ‘our standard’ of measure that gauges the ‘pressed down’ blessings.

Unconditional promises are different. Unconditional promises are generally summed up as redemption promises. These kinds of promises are, ‘from God, through God, and to God’ promises. They cannot be broken by believers simply because we have no role to play in them. They are based entirely on the sovereignty of God.

 

The Bedrock of the Faith Walk

These ‘never-ever’ promises serve as the bedrock of our walk with the Lord. One of the very last things Jesus said to the disciples was,

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt28:20)

Another one is the John 10:27,28, promise where Jesus said,

“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.”

Some believers see the strength of their walk in how strong their grip is on God. This is not what Jesus is saying. The safety for a child of God does not depend on his or her grip. It rests entirely in the hands of the Lord. Jesus said,

“No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

A few more ‘never-ever’ promises

“…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

“…everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)

 

Our Inheritance in Christ

The point being that these promises are based upon something God says He will do. These unconditional promises relate to God’s redemption plan in Christ, a plan that was set forth before time.

Paul gave insight into this area, when he said,

“We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to [God's] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” (Eph1:11)

Notice that Paul said it is God’s will that is at work. The apostle John certainly agrees. He said that our birth from heaven was not a thing of our will. He says,

“[We] were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

When we were born again, it is because God opened our ears to hear, and placed in our heart to respond. We see this being worked out in a lady named Lydia. It says,

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

 

The stumbling, bumbling apostle

Have you ever been a stumbling believer? Sure you have. Think about a man called Peter. Peter actually denied the Lord three times. Was that the end of the story? Certainly not. Jesus sought him out, restored him in faith, and gave him the privilege of preaching the gospel at the very place where Peter had become fearful for his life.

Have you caught the point in all this?

— Regardless of how well we think we understand the mystery of our salvation, the fact remains that God’s unconditional promises do not rest upon how well we are able to do or how much we understand. They are not performance promises. Each of these promises rest upon God Himself. When He says that He will never desert us or forsake us, that promise cannot be broken.

Yes, we all become stumblers at times.  So we ask, “Why me, Lord?” About the best any of us can do is write songs about all this.

 

 

In the Midst of the Congregation

And so, we agree with the Psalmist who said,

“…in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise; and again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ … 

We write:

“I don’t know why Jesus loved me. I don’t know why He cared. I don’t know why He gave His life for me. Oh, but I’m glad. So glad He did.”

And,

“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

And,

‘All hail the power of Jesus name! Let angels prostrate fall…”

And,

“I am weak but Thou art strong, Jesus keep me from all wrong…”

And,

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, … Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”

Oh yes, we Christians write songs without end. And we will continue to write them.

But the message from heaven never changes. While we love the Lord with a love that cannot be measured, John wants us to understand something very special when he writes,

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1Jn4:10)

Think about these things.

In the meantime listen to this song that was written and sung by Kris Kristofferson – ‘Why Me Lord.’

Your Servant in Christ,

Buddy

 

The Path of the Godly – The Path of the Sinner

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“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

 

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

 

 _______

 

“The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psa 1:1-6)

 

Readers,

To appreciate the depth and beauty of Psalm 1, we have to approach it from a Biblical-Hebrew mindset. To God’s ancient people, religion was seen as an individual walking the road of life. The godly person’s traveling companion was God Himself. And God’s Word was his road map.

Thus we hear David say,

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Christians are the recipients of the ancient faith. Jesus is the Living Word who imprints in our souls the guidance found in God’s written Word. He speaks into our hearts the way we are to live.

The uniqueness of Psalm 1, is that it sets the tone for the entire book of Psalms. In this Psalm you have a description of the two paths than men can travel. One is the godly path. The other is the path of destruction.

It is no secret why some people live a blessed life while others live a life of muddiness and disarray.

Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 1, and other related Scriptures.

 

The Ancient Faith Realized

Take note of these Scriptures:

“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psa 16:11)

“He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.” (Pro 10:17)

“The path of life leads upward for the wise that he may keep away from Sheol below.” (Pro 15:24)

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Pro 4:18)

The Lord said,

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

And again,

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (Joh 10:4-5)

 

 

The Way – The Truth – The Life

In other places where Jesus said, ”I am the way”, or made reference to, ”broad is the way,” he was drawing from a rich Hebrew heritage. These terms were familiar to the Jews of His time.

The truth is that there have always been only two ways. You have the way of the righteous, and you have the way of the wicked. You have the way of Light and you have the way of darkness.

Hear another description of the two ways:

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Pro 4:18-19)

And so Psalm 1, and the Sermon on the Mountain are quite similar. Psalm 1:1, says,

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”

The very first thing Jesus says on the mountain is,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

 

 

The Happiness Of

The Hebrew word for ‘blessed’ is esher. (eh-sher) It comes from the same root as Asher, who was one of Jacob’s son. Literally it means, ‘O, the happiness of.’

Godly happiness does not mean there will be no points of sorrow or difficult times in a true believer’s life. This happiness has no regard to external circumstances. It is an inner contentment of knowing rightness.

While many look for this blessedness of life in things or in relationships, the godly knows that it can only be found one place. It is found in a personal walk with the Lord.

Another mark of the walk of the godly person is that it is not influenced by evil. This is what the term ‘holy‘ speaks of. Kodesh means to be set apart, to be distinct.

This is one reason that Satan hates believers. He is unable to mold them into societies that speak of evil.

Then we have this characteristic of the righteous man and woman. The righteous person delights in truth. Psalm 1:2, says,

 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

The righteous person loves the truth. His bend, pleasure, delight is towards God’s Word.

 

 

The Bouquet of Heaven

The ancients had a custom that when a child was born they would rub his gums with honey. The purpose was to begin very early teaching the little one that God’s Word is like honey to the soul.

David said,

 “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

The Psalmist adds to this in saying,

 “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” it is very likely that His Jewish audience would think about what David said.

But there is also another thought to be had. The righteous person’s walk with the Lord carries with it the very fragrance and sweet aroma of a heavenly life. The apostle said it this way:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.

“And who is adequate for these things?” (2Co 2:14-16)

While the righteous person carries with him a heavenly aroma, the sinner lives in earthy stench. But this is where God uses His own people to draw the sinner’s attention to a life that can be had through Jesus Christ.

 

The Living Word

Another thing to understand is that God’s Word is a living thing for those who believe and trust in Him. God’s Word is full of wisdom and power. It works itself into our very nature and spreads its healing love throughout our being.

This is why the apostle said,

 “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)

Peter was speaking of our attitude towards God’s Word. An infant instinctively seeks its mother’s breast for nourishment. We are to instinctively seek the nourishment of God’s Word. Our want is to be in the Word of the Lord.

Notice again that Psalms 1:2 says,

“In His law he meditates day and night.”

Here we need to bring out the Hebrew. The Hebrew word for meditate is ‘hagah.’ This word means to mutter, to emit a sound, to speak in undertone. A dove coos. A lion rumbles. Throughout the day the godly person pours out from his heart responses to the Lord. It is like a conversation is going on that cannot be heard by others. It is between the godly and his Lord.

The ancients were taught to process life moment by moment. Most every prayer would begin with, “Blessed are You oh Lord, our God. King of the universe.” Long prayers were not the rule.

When Paul says, “Pray without ceasing,” he is speaking in a Hebrew mind. The essence of Hebrew prayer was to bless God.

 

 

Firmly Planted by Streams of Water

It is in Psalm 1:3 that we find the description of God’s blessed child. Listen carefully:

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psa 1:3)

 

 

The Path of the Wicked

Psalm 1 then describes the life of a sinner. Again read:

 “The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” (Psa 1:4-5)

Three words describe the ungodly man – Wicked. Sinner. Scoffer.

The word ‘wicked’ comes from a word which means to be agitated; confused; in motion; restless. This is a character trait. The wicked are ethically lose & unstable.

Note Isaiah:

“But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” (Isa 57:20-21)

The term ‘sinner’ is from an archery term. It means to miss the mark.

The scoffer is a mocker. He makes light of all that is holy, both in his words and in his life style. His heart is filled with darkness.

God’s guidance tells us not to spend time with these people. They are without God and are on the path of a terrible doom. Eternal darkness is in their future.

 

 

Where the Wicked Cannot Stand

There are two places the wicked are unable to stand. They cannot stand in the judgment nor are they to be found in the assembly of the righteous. They live their lives under a cloud of judgment.

This is the reason a sinner does not wish to be in a church gathering. Their own heart condemns them. Where the godly person shares the joy of walking with God, the sinner is agitated and confused.

Psalm 1 completes itself in saying,

“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psa 1:6)

The Hebrew for ‘knows’ is a very strong word. Yada carries the thought of, ‘to watch over, to be deeply involved with.’

The godly person walks in true happiness because he knows the Lord God is watching over his life. And even if the righteous falls, God’s love will pick him up.

The sinner has no one but himself.

Jesus summed it this way:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mat 7:13-14)

And so, it is no secret why some people live a blessed life while others live a life of muddiness and disarray.

Take time for this song. Perhaps the Lord has something He would like to say to you –

 

 

In Christ Jesus always,

Buddy

Welcome to My World – Won’t You Come On In

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Readers,

Many are not aware that the song, ‘Welcome to My World’ was co-written by John Hathcock and Ray Winkler in 1961, but it was first made popular by Hathcock and Winkler’s good friend, Jim Reeves (Gentleman Jim).

Reeves was one of the most well-loved country artists of his time. He became internationally famous and the song, ‘Welcome to My World’ went international. Seems the world is still waiting for the next Jim Reeves.

The list is endless of other artists who took it up. It includes such notables as Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Rikki Hendersen, Faron Young, Eddy Arnold,  Charlie Pride, and the Anita Kerr Singers.

However, there is a secret to this song that not everyone picks up on. Welcome to My World  is a Christian based song. For you who know your Bible, you will quickly pick up on direct quotes from the Bible and/or allusions to the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ.

So, using that song as a prelude to this study let me share something about God’s world.

Let’s begin with…

 

God’s Secret World

In Psalm 31, David expresses sorrow over the strife and struggles of life. Have you been there? Sure you have.

In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me.” (Psa 31:1-2)

What is the answer? The answer is when David breaks out into praise that speaks of God’s love for His people.

Listen to the man after God’s heart:

“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence, from the conspiracies of man; You keep them in the shelter from the strife of tongues.” (Psalm 31:19,20 nasb.)

Where David says, ‘the secret place of Your presence’, the literal is equally translated, “the secret of Your face.” The idea is that God hides His people from the view of their enemies by bringing them to the very place that He Himself dwells.

There has always been a secret hiding place for God’s people.

 

Our Hiddenness Through the Ages

The secret place of God would take in all His people from ancient time on. The Old Testament saints somehow knew in their hearts that the Lord Himself was their ever-present security in life.

Moses said,

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Ps90:1 ,2 )

Moses uses the same word that David used with regard to the ‘secret place’ of the tabernacle.

Listen again to David:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, `My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” (Ps91:1,2)

This truth of our hiddenness finds it fulfillment at the cross. Paul said when a person calls upon Jesus as Lord, the Father takes the total of that person’s life and places it in Christ.

 

The Secret Love of God

Here is where we come to the great mystery of God’s love for His people. The Psalmist Asaph speaks of God’s people as His ‘treasured ones.’ He writes,

“They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones.” (Ps83:3)

The Hebrew for ‘treasured ones’ speaks of that which is covered by God, that which is hidden, or that which is kept secret. But it especially speaks of the secret of one’s heart. God has a secret. God’s treasured ones are the secret love of His heart.

The Psalmist puts things together when he writes,

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

 

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock [the Rock is Christ]. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalm 27:4-6)

 

The Concealment of God

The Hebrew for ‘conceal’ is the same word the Psalmist uses for God’s ‘treasured ones’. God’s people are His treasures in the earth and for all eternity. This allows us to have a better understanding of a kingdom parable of the hidden treasure.

Jesus said,

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field [world], which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt13:44)

The treasure has to do with the hidden kingdom of heaven. The story is the story of the cross. Jesus Christ gave His life for the hidden treasure. Jesus came to seek that which was lost. Now the treasure is hidden again, but this time it is hidden in Christ.

Paul said,

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col3:3,4)

All that David said about the secret place of God have their fulfillment in the finished work of the cross. Being hidden in Christ means that every believer is eternally secured from the power of darkness. We can never be separated from God’s love. Our life is placed in the Light of God’s very being. Peter said that our calling was into, “His marvelous light.”

 

Raised Up and Seated

While this truth of our hiddenness may seem difficult to grasp, one fact remains – Our faith should always rest upon God’s truth of our redemption in Christ Jesus. Our place in Christ is secured.

The truth is that every believer in Jesus Christ has already been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly. This is our place in Christ. And while we yet walk this earth in our natural state, the Father takes of heavenly life, places it in our hearts as a foretaste of eternity. Heavenly life is God’s presence and His oversight of our lives.

The Father never takes His eyes off believers. Listen to this conversation between David and the Lord:

[David] “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.”

[Lord] “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”(Ps27:7,8)

 

The Joy of the Cross

The reason Jesus endured the cross was because of the joy that was set before Him. The joy set before the Lord Jesus was all those whom the Father would give Him from eternity.

Jesus said,

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

 

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37,39,40)

 

The Only Question You can Answer for Yourself

There is one question that needs to be answered – Are you now trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? A heart-faith and trust in Jesus is proof positive that you belong to Him. And if you belong to Him, then you are most certainly one of His treasured ones.

This is what the great apostle said:

“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.

 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph2:8-10)

 

Think about these things.

 

The Invitation Stands – Whosoever will may enter into God’s World

The Lord God offers every person on the planet the key to His world and His kingdom. The key is found in Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son. Call on Jesus. He will answer. In fact, He is standing at your door now. Won’t you invite Him in?

I want to share songs that will minister to your heart. The first one is ‘Welcome to My World,’ by Elvis Presley (1973)

The following worship songs are for your spiritual strengthening. Listen to them. The Lord will speak to your heart.

You Are My Hiding Place/As the Deer


In Christ always,

Buddy