Whispers of the Heart

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“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16)

 

Journal,

I’ve enjoyed my semi-pulpit retirement for a while. However, a few weeks ago I had this impression to start preparing for speaking engagements. I’ve come to recognize these impressions as, ‘whispers of the heart.’ (I’ll share more on this a bit later.)

Sure enough, things began to happen. After Nathan went on a retreat, he shared that he felt the Lord wanted me to fill the pulpit of Christian Challenge at least once a month. This would free him up to work on some translation projects. (Our training programs are being translated into Spanish.)

That would be fine. I didn’t mind pitch-hitting for Nathan. But soon after that I received a request to hold a three-day revival at Mora House of Prayer. That was last weekend. I could not have chosen a more heart-warming place for a revival.

It’s hard to put into words my feelings. The revival was more like a homecoming, family reunion. My connection with this church goes back many years. I held my first revival there, forty-two years ago. Then some thirty-seven years ago it was my honor to pastor the same church for a time.

The Mora House of Prayer (formerly known as Red Top Pentecostal Church) was our launching pad for the founding of Christian Challenge International in 1976.

Actually the revival was like…

 

Stepping Back in Time

This was the strange side of the revival. It was almost like I had stepped back in time. Brother Earl and Sandra Hillman were the pastors there at my first revival. Brother Earl has since gone to be with the Lord. It was my honor to speak at his funeral. But now a full circle has been made and Sister Hillman has the pastorate. That of itself was heart stirring. The whole Hillman family are sweethearts.

But then, most of the old timers that I had grown to love through the years, have already made their journey home. There were still a few old-timers there along with children and grand-children. I pretty much knew them all.

Here is the strange part – As I looked over the congregation it was as though I could see in my heart, the many precious believers who had already made their journey home. It gave me pause for what the apostolic writer said about God’s eternal church and our surrounding witnesses.

Listen –

Perhaps this picture says it all.

Then we have this –

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, … 

“…and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12:22-24)

No, I don’t believe we are to have interchanges with those who have made their journey home – but who is to say that those already in heaven don’t know what is happening on earth. Just a thought. 

I’ll leave that with your own thoughts. But that brings me to…

 

Whispers of the Heart

The Lord gave me three messages for the revival – Friday evening I ministered on the subject, ‘Whispers of the Heart.’ Saturday evening it was, ‘The Saga of the Lilies.’ And Sunday morning, ‘What it Means to Be Free in Christ.’

Each ministry was a preparation for the next. Wish I had time to share from all the ministries, but let me simply draw a bit on the subject, ‘Whispers of the Heart.’

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying –

On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 29:18-19)

God’s voice is heard in the Scriptures

The expression, ‘on that day’, has regard to the Messiah and the new covenant. When Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue, and began reading, the people were astonished at the wisdom that flowed from Jesus.

It is easy to miss on what was happening. The book of Isaiah was one of the primary books that were read in the synagogues. They had often heard what Jesus was reading.

So, what made the reading this time so different from any other time? It all had to do with Who was doing the reading.

It was the voice of God that they were hearing from the reading of Isaiah. And in the new covenant, this is what gives life to the Bible. It is when Jesus is speaking to our hearts from the sacred writings, that we truly hear the words of a book.

There is a key to all this. We often refer to the Bible as the Word of God, and that certainly is a truism. The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation has the breath of God in it. This is what Paul meant by the Scriptures being ‘inspired.’ (The Greek term has to do with breath or Spirit.)

But there is the deeper understanding to be had. While the Bible is the book of God, it only becomes the Word of God when we are able to hear God speak from the book. The Word of God is Jesus Christ Himself and when He speaks to our hearts from the sacred writings, it then becomes to us, ‘the Word of God.’

It is important to understand this distinction.

This brings us to what Jesus meant when He said…

 

My Sheep Hear My Voice

The new covenant is a life covenant and the life of the new covenant is Jesus Himself.

This brings us to the qualifier about who is a true Christian and who is not a true Christian. Jesus makes emphatic statements –

“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)

And again –

“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Joh 10:26-29)

And one more –

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16)

Do you see the common denominator in all these verses? Everything centers on who is speaking into your life.

The question might be, ‘Does the Lord speak to us outside of the Bible? 

The answer is simple - ‘Yes, indeed. God can speak to us through nature, through others, and especially in preaching and teaching the gospel. But it is through the Bible that our spirits are trained to know and distinguish the voice of our Shepherd.” 

This is why it disheartens me to hear any believer denigrate the sacred writings. We are instructed by the apostle to never exceed what has been written in the Scriptures.

When Jesus taught the people, He always had the Scriptures in the background of His teachings. The reason for this is that the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is spiritually encoded with all that belongs to God and His kingdom. The Bible is the story of redemption

But I’ll leave that where it is.

What else is left? Perhaps I can return to where I begin with this entry -

Now that I’ve heard the whisper in my heart to to start preparing for speaking engagements, I can simply say to the Lord, ‘Here I am Lord. What are my instructions?’ 

Of course I realize that the revival at Mora and the ministries that I will do at Christian Challenge may have been what the whisper was about.

After all I’m not that thirty year old evangelist anymore. My years are now in the seventies.

But who knows. In any event, I’ve dusted off my …

 

Twelve-Stringed Instrument

Yep, of all the instruments that I have, including a banjo, a banjitar, a mandoline, harmonicas, and several guitars, all my attention is now fixed on my twelve-string guitar. It will always be my favorite. 

Indeed, I love what the Psalmist said –

“Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with harp and lyre.

“Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! (Psa 150:1-6)

Don’t you just love the Lord!

Here is a song for your meditation… [Revelation Song]

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

The Words of the Preacher

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“In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecc 12:9-11)

 

 

Journal,

The greater part of my 71 years on this earth have been as a servant of the Lord. (47 years preaching and teaching.)

I want to add that I have always had a great love and respect for all of God’s called ministers. They will forever be dear to my heart. Yes, all ministers have their share of mistakes and struggles, yet it is the truly God called servant of the Lord who has been commissioned by heaven to declare the message of God’s Son to the world.

The apostle says it well enough:

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?

“Just as it is written, ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!’” (Rom 10:14-15)

For my case, in addition to the gifts of preaching and teaching, the Lord has also gifted me with an ability to explain the gospel in a way that can be easily understood by those who chance upon my writings. On the web alone I have over 500 studies that can be accessed. (This number does not include another 334 postings that are found on an earlier blog.)

With that being said, I wanted to make note of the top ten of my 217 studies that are offered in this Journal. You may wish to find out why they have acquired the most readers.

Here they are beginning with the highest read study:

1. Jesus the wonder and mystery of the Bible

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/11/jesus-the-wonder-and-mystery-of-the-bible/

2. Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/11/mercy-triumphs-over-judgment/

3. Tongues

http://buddymartin.net/blog/speaking-in-other-languages/

4. Passing Through the Valley of Baca

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2010/01/passing-through-the-valley-of-baca/

5. God’s Wings and the Blue Thread of Heaven

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/09/gods-wings-and-the-blue-thread-of-heaven/

6. Salvation

http://buddymartin.net/blog/salvation/

7. How Secure are You in Christ

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2010/03/how-secure-are-you-in-christ/

8. My Story

http://buddymartin.net/blog/testimony/

9. Honoring God With First Fruits

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/12/honoring-god-with-first-fruits/

10. What Can Make Me Whole Again – Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

http://buddymartin.net/blog/2010/11/what-can-make-me-whole-again-nothing-but-the-blood-of-jesus/

I pray these studies will bless you with the peace and grace that belong to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

I want to dedicate this song to all God’s faithful servants. Perhaps you will appreciate it – Daddy Was An Old-Time Preacher

In Christ always,

Buddy

The Believer’s Validation of Faith

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“ … to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith … ” (Eph 3:14-19)

 

Journal,

What is it in a believer’s life that validates their faith in Jesus Christ? The answer really isn’t complicated. What validates any true believer’s faith in Jesus, is the presence of the Lord in their heart and life.

Peter address this validation:

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1Pe 3:15)

Paul also addresses this quite plainly:

“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.” (Rom 8:15-16)

 

The Power and Presence of a Person

When the apostle said that the believer is to be, ‘strengthened with power in the inner man,’ he was not addressing an abstract notion. Paul is speaking of the very personal presence of Christ Jesus Himself.

It is the presence of Jesus in the hearts of believers that enables them live in an overcoming life. Jesus strengthens us, nurtures us, corrects us, guides us, disciplines us, but He will never leave us.

The apostle explained this personal aspect of our walk with the Lord. Listen:

“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)

This is why it is so important to realize something of …

 

The Voice of God

The call of salvation is a personal call to come walk with Jesus. It can never be merely about religion. Nothing can substitute for the call from Jesus Christ. This is why faith in Jesus cannot be conjured up. It is a living reality.

Faith is responding to a living voice.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (or, ‘utterance’) of Christ.” (Rom 10:17)

Paul is stating something that Jesus had 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 … ” (Joh 10:27-29)

The Greek term for voice [phõné] speaks of the cry of a living being which can be heard by others, or by someone in particular. It always addresses a voice. In this case it is the call of Jesus for His sheep to follow Him.

Again from Jesus:

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice [phõné]; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16)

Phõné is the word used when the Father speaks at the baptism of Jesus…

“And behold, a voice [phõné] out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” (Mat3:17)

Then we have this from the book of Isaiah about the voice of Christ leading us to correct paths:

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” (Isa 30:21)

The issue in Isaiah has to do with God bearing witness, even through others.

No matter how much we love where the Lord has placed us in His body, we must never let our religion take the place of our relationship with Jesus.

 

Religion Was Nailed to the Cross – Relationship Takes its Place

It was religion that was nailed to the cross when Jesus was crucified. I realize this may seem difficult to grasp, but it is very crucial to understand when it comes to living by faith.

We are to have faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of where we may find ourselves worshipping.

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul addressed this. Listen:

[To the woman at the well.] “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. … God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’” (Joh 4:21-24)

Jesus is telling her that there is no longer a need for religion of itself to serve as her guide. The time had come when true worshippers will know a personal reality of the Father and will serve Him in spirit and truth.

Paul also shares how the Jewish religion [law of Moses] was nailed to the cross:

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him,

“… having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;

“… and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14)

This brings us to the place where we need to …

 

Expect the Unexpected

The apostle explained that in learning to walk with the Lord Jesus, we must learn to expect the unexpected.

Listen:

“ … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, …

“ … and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 

“ … Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” (Eph 3:17-20)

Every word that the apostle shares, counts.

Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. We are to be rooted and grounded in His love for us, that is, a love that we can never be fully comprehended or that we can ever be separated from.

But we are to seek to comprehend that which seems incomprehensible. Thus we have the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus spoke of this teaching aspect as the schoolhouse of the Holy Spirit. (Schoolhouse is my term.)

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (Joh 16:13-15)

 

The Call of Love 

Expect the unexpected can be reckoned as the call of God’s love.

We are to realize that God truly loves us, and that Jesus Christ is not limited in our lives to what we think He can do. His presence and power knows no limit.

Expect the unexpected works on two levels. It works in providence, that is, where we can look back and see how the Lord cared for us through time and circumstance. We even see where our trials were a form of blessing.

Expect the unexpected also continues to work with Christ speaking into our lives. (We’ve already address the voice aspect.)

The point is simple. The Lord’s call to, ‘Come walk with Me,’ is the call of God’s love. It includes the call to a straying child. It is the call of love that reaches past our failures, our sins, and even our greatest disappointments.

It is the call of eternity.

What you don’t hear is, “Follow Me, and I will make a wreck of your life.”

Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundantly.

This is what Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)

 

Do you need a validation for your faith?

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying,

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer 33:3)

Have you called upon the Lord? Think about it.

In the meantime, here is a song for your meditation - ‘How Great is Our God’ 

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

The Desire of the Everlasting Hills

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“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

“He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, …

“… as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Act 17:24-28)

 

 

Journal,

Paul is standing in the midst of pagan-idolatry. But you don’t hear him lambasting. He speaks with grace and with wisdom. You can even feel love of God in His words. Paul knows that the one thing that lost men need to hear in the gospel message is that God loves them.

Ever notice that in gospels that the only people Jesus ever upbraided were those with a religious mind-set? With sinners in general He was kind and merciful. Perhaps we could learn a great lesson here.

What is the lesson? We must learn to see the whole of humanity the way God sees the whole of humanity.

Let’s begin with…

 

The Appointments of God

God does all things by appointment. Whether His appointment is for a nation or for an individual, each has its appointed time. 

Listen again to Paul:

“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Act 17:26)

Did you catch it? Every nation on earth is appointed by God and has an appointment with God. Do we understand this? Not really. This is where we need to trust in God’s providence.

The term ‘divine providence’ literally speaks of the guardianship by God. It addresses God’s a manifested foresight and care for his creatures.

Some have the idea that the Lord God was only concerned with Israel, and that He was only present in Israel. While the Bible does tell the story of redemption, it also allows us to see God’s concern for all the inhabitants of the earth.

Providence allows us to see how God is the God of history; that He has always been present among nations.

Consider these references:

“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For 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)

 “He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.” (Psa 33:5)

 “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” (Psa 36:7)

 “[To Abraham] In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:18)

 “I am the LORD [God the Father], I have called You [the Son, Jesus] in righteousness, I will also hold You [Jesus] by the hand and watch over You [Jesus], and I will appoint You [Jesus] as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” (Isa 42:6-7)

Israel’s role was to be a priestly nation to declare the lovingkindness of God to all men. Israel generally lost sight of her calling. Yet in God’s providence Israel’s calling would be fulfilled by God’s new covenant Christian people.

 

 Where Religion Was Dismantled

It is important to understand that God is not some sort of Jewish tribal God. Neither is Jesus a Catholic Jesus, a Pentecostal Jesus, a Baptist Jesus, a Mormon Jesus, a Charismatic Jesus, or a religious Jesus of any sort. The Father did not send His Son to create a new religion. God sent His Son to bring the world into a saving relationship with Him.

Until we understand the final purpose of salvation, it is easy to fall into the same Pharisaic mindset that many of the Jewish people had fallen into. We so easy name Jesus with a denomination, with a movement, with a certain church, or with myriads of other religious things. We tend to create a Jesus in our own image.

If the truth be known, religion was dismantled at the cross. Jesus spoke to this in His dialog with the woman at the well. See what you can discover in this scene –

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’

 “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. [by the promised line of Abraham]’

 “’But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.’

 “’God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’

 “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’

 “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”  (Joh 4:19-26)

This lady expressed her wish for the coming Messiah. And this brings us to…

 

The Shadow Across the Nations

The term ‘shadow across the nations’ is a reference to a promise made to Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden. The promise was for all of humanity. It concerned the coming Son, the Messiah. All the nations of the world have this promise encoded in their DNA.

When Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms, he spoke by the spirit of prophecy and said,

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles [nations], and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luk 2:30-32)

To appreciate how this promise has worked through time, I strongly urge every believer to get the book, ‘Eternity in Their Hearts’, by Don Richardson.

Listen again to what Paul had to say when he stood before the philosophers and varied religious leaders at the Areopagus:

“He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”

What God said in the garden of Eden, has carried on in the hearts and minds of humans through the ages. This is why there is a Messiah consciousness in every cultural group. It is this Messiah consciousness that often gives birth to various religions.

Consider this statement that Plato contributed to the philosopher Socrates [469 BC - 399 BC]:

“We must of necessity wait, till someone from Him who cares for us, shall come and instruct us how we ought to behave toward the gods and man.” Again: “This law-giver must be more than man, that he may teach us the things man cannot know by his own nature” (see J. W. Monser, An Encyclopedia on the Evidences, p. 528).

This longing in humanity for God’s Messiah is also called…

 

The Desire of the Everlasting Hills

The statement, ‘Desire of the everlasting hills’, comes from Jacob, as he prophesied over his sons. This is where we hear some mysterious statements made to Joseph. These statements are sometimes seen as cryptic references to Christ Jesus and the new covenant people of the cross.

Listen carefully:

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile,

“From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

 “The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.” (Gen 49:22-26)

This prophecy is Messianic. It has to be seen through the lens of the Holy Spirit. The statement, ‘the blessings of the everlasting hills’, could well show in Paul’s words to the Ephesian believers -

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph 1:3-4)

And this brings us back to …

 

God’s Compassions and Mercy

Notice again how Paul addresses the religious gathering at the Areopagus, by calling attention to the ancient philosophers, and to their own poets. Many of the philosophers actually believed there could only be one true God. The apostle speaks to this:

“ … for in Him [God] we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Act 17:28-31)

What was the result in all this? Some of the people sneered. Some said we want to hear from you again about this. But there were a number who believed in the gospel message and they joined themselves to the apostle.

And all this fits into the eyes of providence.

What say ye? Do you believe that God is arranging the nations for the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Listen to Jesus:

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:13-14)

And again,

“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” (Rev 11:15)

So, what do you believe? Let’s hear from our Nigerian brothers and sisters:




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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Point of No Return

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“For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Heb 7:25-27)

 

Journal,

The point of no return can be applied to various situations, and especially in the work of redemption it has a place. I decided to draw on this term from my experience as a radioman in the Navy.

I was stationed in the Philippine Islands during the early years of the Vietnam War. (1960-62) As a radioman on a Navy Marlin-Martin P5M (Seaplane), it was our job to check on Chinese and Vietnamese shipping in the South China Sea. We flew low while taking pictures of the shipping. Was never shot at to my knowledge.

When we reached a certain point between our home base in Sangley Point and a forward safety area, I would send a secret morse code message stating, “We have reached the point of no return.” That code meant that if we were in trouble, we could not look back at our home port for help.

There was no turning back. In the event of a problem, we had to go forward to the closest safety port.

 

Points of No Return

There are noted ‘points of no return’ in the Scriptures. One such point of no return involves a last judgement.

Forget reincarnation or transmigration of the soul or any other such nonsense. There are no second chances after death.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Heb 9:27-28) 

Take note that the judgment is for those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. True believers do not have to be judged. Their judgment took place at the cross.

 “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)

The apostle adds to this ‘no damning judgement’ for a believer when he says,

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom 8:1-2)

The Biblical term for condemnation is the word ‘katakrima’ (kat-ak’ree-mah). It speaks of a judicial damnatory sentence. The reason there can never be a damming sentence against the believer is because his life has been placed in Christ. To condemn a believer, Christ would have to be condemned.

The tenses in the Greek speak in this way: ‘There is not now nor can there ever be a damnatory sentence against anyone who is in Christ Jesus.’

All of this wraps around God’s plan of redemption from the beginning. It involves the mystery of the cross in how the Father would place each believer in His Son. It is in this way that no believer could ever be separated from God’s redemption love.

Paul said it this way:

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 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 8:37-39)

It all has to do with the cross.

 

The Cross is God’s Covenant of No Return

The defining point of redemption history is found in the message of the cross. The new covenant is a covenant of creation. It is not the covenant of Moses made better. The new covenant addresses a new humanity. This new humanity is made up of ‘in Christ’ believers.

The Lord said to this Jewish leader,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (Joh 3:6-7)

The Greek term for ‘born again’ is, gennao anothen.’ ‘Anothen’ means, ‘from above.’ ‘Anothen is a Greek modifier. It includes the idea of from the beginning.’

Thus the lost man must have a heavenly rebirth that gives him a new beginning. But it is a birth that has its origin from the beginning. This is where the idea of ‘heavenly‘ comes in. The birth from above is divine in origin. It is from above.

The apostle alludes to this, when he says,

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” (Eph 1:4,5)

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in setting forth a new humanity made up of sons and daughters -

“Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: ‘Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.’” (Isa 45:11)

Paul is drawing on this in describing God’s new creation in Christ.

“The first man [Adam] is from the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1Co 15:47-49)

 

The Centerpiece of the New Covenant

A key issue of the new covenant is that God’s new creation people are not only hidden in Christ, but they are also given the spiritual nature of Christ. Peter makes reference to our new nature -

“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:4)

One day we will fully enjoy the total of our spiritual inheritance, but for now we are the heavenly children of God in earthly bodies.

It is important to understand this. The apostles never discounted the fact of our being in earthly bodies. Believers are still subject to issues in this present life. We struggle with temptations and with our own fleshly weaknesses at times. Yet within every believer is the source of life that helps us to overcome those things that we are confronted with.

Jesus describes this divine source of life in terms of an overflowing heart. In speaking with the woman at the well, He said,

“… but 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.” (Joh 4:14)

One of the most powerful lessons that a believer can ever learn is the lesson of learning to draw from the deep of their own inward spiritual fountain.

The prophet of old tells us how this works. Listen carefully with your heart. This is something every believer should make part of their victory language. -

“’Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.’ Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” (Isa 12:2-3)

 

And it all has to do with…

The Children of the Covenant 

John said,

“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.” (1Jn 3:1-2)

We belong to a kingdom that is not of this world. It is a kingdom of sons and daughters. It is a kingdom of freedom. It is a kingdom where each child is treated as part of the royal family. And even when the Father brings discipline into our lives, it is always the discipline of a loving Father designed to help the child learn how to live in righteousness.

Jesus said,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

So, once again we hear that Jesus did not come to give us a new religion. Nor did He come to give us a visible structure by which we can find ourselves. We must learn to find ourselves with the Jerusalem from above. The kingdom we serve is invisible to the eye. No one can say, “Lo, Christ is here.” Or, “Lo, Christ is there.”

Does this mean that we should not flock ourselves together as believer. Not at all. Actually it is just the opposite. The Lord places each child in the body as it pleases Him. There will always be a proper flock for each believer to associate himself with.

Let’s look at one more issue. It has to do with …

 

Unique Traits of God’s ‘No Return’ People

There is identifiable traits of God’s new Adam race in Christ. Every person who is born from above has direct access to God Himself. It is this fact alone that does away a need for an intermediary ministry in the new covenant.

No single believer has more access to the divine counsels of God than does another believer. Lots of folk don’t like to hear this, but it is Biblical.

One noted weakness that can be found with many believers today is in their attempt to live the new covenant, on an old covenant level. This is why they continue to look for a prophet who can give them a word from the Lord. Any attempt to live on that level is an open door for disaster.

Listen very carefully to how Jesus describes His new covenant people;

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd.” (John 10:16)

Note the Lord’s emphasis on His ‘Voice.’

In the former covenant, the prophets served as the voice of God. In God’s new humanity, each person born from above, has the Voice of the Shepherd speaking into his or her life.

This is not to say that new covenant believers have no need of mature counsel. Quite the contrary. Mature guidance is especially crucial for the immature believer. But the guidance given must be only from what God has given us to say in the Scriptures.

Then we have another unique trait found in God’s new humanity. Inside each and every believer is found the ‘authorship‘ of heaven. This means that the believer carries a seal over his or her heart. And in this seal is the very presence of heaven. That is what the Spirit of Jesus is all about.

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:13-14)

It is this presence of heaven in our hearts that creates our homesickness. Every true believer knows intuitively that they are only pilgrims and strangers in this life. We know that our true home is glorious beyond words. We also know that we will have a new heavenly body and that there is nothing in this world to compare to the life that awaits us.

Listen to these Scriptures. See where they fit in your life –

 

“But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.” (Gal 4:26)

 

 

“For he [Abraham] was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:10)

 

 

“But as it is, they [Old Testament believers] 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.” (Heb 11:16)

 

 

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Php 3:20-21)

 

 

“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…” (2Co 5:1-2)

 

Here is a song for your meditation. If you have not surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus, now is the time. Let this song be your prayer.

 


In Christ always,

Buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eternity in the Covenant

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Eternal Covenant of Christ

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations [goy ‘Gentiles’.] He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.

“A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice [Judgment of the cross]. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice [Judgment of the cross] in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law [Doctrines of Christ - Not the law of Moses.]

“Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it, ‘I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,

“’And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations [goy ‘Gentiles’], to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” (Isa 42:1-7)

 

Journal,

The new covenant is an eternal covenant made in heaven and contracted on earth. The only way a person can experience the grace and blessings of the new covenant is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ Himself is the new covenant. When you receive Christ you receive the new covenant. This is the law of the cross.

Let’s look at an incident where the Lord sets forth the new covenant in prophetic picture-language. During the feast of tabernacles as the priestly procession goes to the pool of Siloam to bring back water to pour on the altar, Jesus stops the procession.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39)

Where Jesus speaks of the outflow of living water, He is describing the new covenant life experience. The new covenant is about life. God’s new covenant people are made alive with the life of Christ Himself.

Where it says, “the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” the word “given” is not in the text. What John said was, “The Spirit was not yet.” The question is, “How can this be? All the prophets had the Spirit. John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit while in his mother’s womb!”

The new covenant is unlike any covenant ever given to man. The Holy Spirit in the new covenant ministers the finished work of the cross in believers. No person before the cross could have the Holy Spirit in that sense. Why is this?

“Because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

What distinguishes the new covenant from all the former covenants is that at the moment of receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit enters the heart of the believing one as the Spirit of the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ. Every believer is a Christ possessed person. (Cf. Col 1:26,27)

 

The Divine Imprint

Paul wrote the Galatian Christians, and said,

“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal4:19) 

Paul’s concern was for their inability to know and recognize the Lord at work in their lives. It was an issue of spiritual maturity

Because the Galatians believers were still immature in their walk with the Lord, they were being pulled back and forth. They were a young group. Paul said a similar thing to the Ephesian Christians. He said,

“We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects INTO HIM…” (Eph4:14)

It happens today. The immature believe is easily moved by his emotions. They tend to be restless and unbalanced. This is why young believers need a great deal of help in this area. They are easily misled.

Again this is one reason the Lord raises up pastors as servant-ministers. A pastor’s greatest job is to tenderly care for a flock. If a young believer is not under the kind of teaching that will lead him to believe deeply in his salvation and in God’s love, he will manifest a spiritual unrest.

So keep in mind that in the new covenant we have the Holy Spirit to parent us into the processes of the covenant. And it is God’s Spirit who imprints us to the Lord. Yet the Lord does use men and women to help believers make necessary spiritual transitions.

 

A Personal Walk With God

What does being a Christ-possessed person mean? It means that each person born of the Spirit can now judge for himself/herself that which is of God and that which is not of God. It is this discerning and judging of all things by the Spirit that allows the believer to understand the issue of life itself. This is essentially was spiritual maturity is about.

In the old covenant if you wanted to hear from God, you went to the prophet. In the new covenant there is no need for a certain body of prophets or ‘special’ spokesmen to represent God in the earth. Yes, God does place in the body certain God-called servants, but these servants have a purpose in helping believers come to a full maturity in Christ. These servant-ministers are to ever take the place of a believers personal walk with Jesus.

John explained it this way -

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides (permanently indwells), and you have no need for anyone* (Greek word ’tis’ means a special single someone, or a guru) to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, YOU ABIDE IN HIM.” (1John2:24-27 Please read the reference.)

Where John speaks of the believer’s ‘indwelling anointing’ he is addressing the life of Christ that abides permanently in each believer.

Paul spoke of it this way:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20)

Does this mean we should not listen to others? Absolutely not. God can and does speak to us through others. What it means is that every believer can discern truth for himself. The term ‘truth’ in the New Testaments speaks of knowing the reality behind an appearance. (Recognizing the things of God.)

 

A Covenant of Eternal Life

I Love You Jesus

Jesus said that He came to give us life and life in full measure. Eternal life addresses eternity. It addresses a life that cannot be lost. But it also speaks of a spiritual quality of life that can can only be found in the Son of God.

Not only is Jesus the Son of God, Jesus is the very Life of God. I realize this concept is difficult to grasp. The apostles themselves walked with the life of God. They even touched the life of God. They listened to the life of God.

Listen to how John explains it -

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life– and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—“ (1Jn 1:1-2)

Can you feel John’s excitement? They walked with Eternity! They walk with the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. They walked with God.

The story does not end there. John’s excitement continues to build as he writes his letters about the life of God. Listen with your heart -

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1Jn 5:10-13)

Only a couple of questions left -

Do you have the Son of God, or do you have religion?

What do you talk about, Jesus Christ or your religion?

Think about it.

Let this song will explain what true Christianity is all about. Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

 

 

In God’s Grace,

Buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Place of God

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“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. 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.” (Psa 27:4-6)

 

Journal,

David speaks of God’s secret place, of God’s hiding place, and the place of God’s shelter. Often when he uses these terms, David is referring to the holiest of holies in which only the high priest was allowed to enter but once a year. But behind the symbol lies the reality.

So, why would David say that the secret place is where God hides His people? And David isn’t the only one who speaks of this secret dwelling place.

Listen to Moses:

“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.” (Psa 90:1-2)

All the prophets shared insights into the wonders of redemption. Their full understanding had limitations. Some things were kept in store for the times of Messiah.

Note the apostle Peter:

“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven

“–things into which angels long to look. (1Pe 1:10-12)

 

God’s blue print of redemption

Between the angels and over the mercy seat was a Light. In the Light was a form. The form was Jesus Himself. God spoke to Miriam and Aaron, concerning the form:

“With [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?” (Num12:8

Now Paul:

“… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant … ” (Phil2:6,7)


The blue print of our redemption is in the Old Testament tabernacle plan. The holiest of holies was the most sacred part of the tabernacle. It represented heaven and the throne of God. No one was allowed to entered there except the high priest, and that only once a year. He carried over his breast the tribes of Israel.

In the holiest of holies was the Ark of the Covenant. On each side of the lid were two angels. Their gaze was fixed on the mercy-seat.

This is what Peter is calling attention to. The angels speak of the wonder of heaven about the incarnation of the Son of God, and in His work of redemption. The Light over the mercy-seat was the same Light that blinded Paul on the road to Damascus.

But the angels saw something else. In looking at the mercy of redemption they saw the children of God, seated with Christ in the heavenly places. This is their wonderment.

 

Our secret hiddenness

David often breaks forth into praise when he speaks God’s love for His people.

“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.)

The lives of all believers are hidden with God in Christ.

David could speak of the holiest of holies as the hiding place for God’s people because he saw passed the veil, and into God’s redemption plan that stretched from eternity past to eternity future.

David saw the Lord Jesus. In fact, David called Jesus, his Lord. (Ask me if you don’t know where this is.)

The secret place of God would take in all His people from ancient time on. The tabernacle was a picture-perfect symbol of God’s eternal purpose for all His people.

 

The ever-present One

Even the Old Testament saints knew in their hearts that the Lord was their ever-present security in life.  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 [tsaw-fan'].” (Ps83:3)

These treasured ones are God’s people of the ages. The Hebrew for ‘treasured ones’ speaks of that which is covered by God, or, that which is hidden, or, that which is kept secret. It especially speaks of the secret of one’s heart. God’s treasured ones are the secret love of His heart.

All who are ever going to be saved have their names already recorded in God’s book of redemption. Their point of salvation in this life is determined in Christ. Jesus said that everyone the Father gives to Him, will come to Him. He also said that all who come to Him, He will raise up on the last day.

Such a mystery this.

The psalmist puts things together when he writes,

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal [tsaw-fan'] 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 27:5,6)

 

Sealed and concealed for eternity

The Hebrew for ‘conceal[tsaw-fan']is the same Hebrew word used 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 about a 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 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)

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.”

 

Secured eternally

Our place in Christ was secured at the cross. We have already been raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places. We are to live out our present life with the knowledge of our eternal placement. God gives us heavenly life as a foretaste of eternity. Heavenly life is God’s oversight of our lives. Heavenly life is also the working of heaven in our hearts.

God never takes His eyes off any who belong to Him. 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)

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)

What say ye Christians? Is your heart in tune with heaven. Are you looking and longing for you final redemption?

Take time to listen once again to this song.

In Christ always,

Buddy

Think about it.

A Study of the End Times

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“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Mar 13:8)

“… and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world …

“…when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:11, 25-28)

 

Journal,

Jesus is describing the events that lead up His second coming. The rapture will be the major keynote that precedes the great tribulation. When the rapture occurs the planet will undergo horrors that have never been known. Jesus said…

“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Mat 24:21-22)

In a study of the end times it is important to distinguish between the 1st and 2nd coming of Jesus. It is also important to differentiate the rapture from the Lord’s actual return to the earth. While I remain pre-trib in my beliefs I don’t take an exception with other views. Who knows it all anyway?

So, whether a person is pre-trib, mid-trib, or end of tribulation view, the evidence is overwhelming that we are in that place in time that precedes the return of Jesus Christ.

In addition to the beginning Scriptures here are other Scripture indicators that figure the end-time era of redemption history. Take time to study these Scriptures. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill in the blanks. (This is a good guide for anyone doing a Bible study.)

Place your cursor over the Scripture reference and it will appear.

  1. Can a land be born in one day? Cf. Isa66:8. (Compare this to the ‘beginning of birth pangs’ of Mark 13:8 Also see Acts 1:6, 7.)
  2. The things of Daniel 12:1-4. (Leads to the great tribulation and the final judgment.)
  3. As in the days of Noah. Cf. Luke 17:24-30; 1Pet1:18-22; Gen6:1-5.
  4. Corruptions of the race. Cf. Rom1:25-32; 2Tim3:1-5.
  5. The focus of Jerusalem.  Cf. Zech12:1,2,9,10; 13:1-6 (Wounds? – Psa22:16); John19:37.
  6. Placement of God’s people. Cf. Eph2:1-9; 4:30-32; Col3:1-4; Hosea 6:1-3.
  7. The rapture. Cf. 2Th2:1-13; 1Th4:14-18; 1Co15:51-58.
  8. 2nd coming. Cf. Mat24:29-37. (Parable of fig tree is Israel. Cf. Mat21:9-20; Luke13:34-25)
  9. Final prayer of God’s people. Cf. Rev22:17-21; 2Tim4:7,8  — Do you love his appearing?

 

What does all this mean to God’s people? I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk a bit about…

 

The Covenant of the Spirit

What distinguishes the new covenant from all the former covenants is that at the moment of believing in and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit enters the heart of the believing one. Every believer thereby becomes a Christ possessed person.

“… the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:26-27)

This means that in our walk with the Lord each believer can learn to judge for himself or herself that which is of God and that which is not of God. It is this discerning and judging of all things by the Spirit that develops in the believer over time. This is crucial when it comes to end time happenings.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1Co 2:12-13)

The issue is that in the new covenant while the Lord does place us in a body of believers according to His will and purpose, yet He does not deal with us as groups. In the new covenant there is no need for a certain body of prophets or ‘special’ spokesmen to represent God in the earth.

All the apostles emphasized this. John says,

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides (permanently), and you have no need for anyone* (Greek word ’tis’ means a special single someone, or a guru) to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1John2:24-27 Please read the reference.)

John’s point is that God’s new covenant people are never to be in bondage to anyone, and especially to someone who sets himself up as the spokesman for God. Does this mean we should not listen to others? It doesn’t mean that at all. God gives us pastors for a purpose.

My main point is that new covenant believers should never become movement chasers, prophet chasers, or group chasers. Listen to the Lord with your heart. Do your own praying. Study for yourself. The new covenant walk opens up in a powerful way when we get personal with the Lord. (The Lord is much more involved in your life than you realize.)

Yes, these can be scary times but not so for the child of God. Our instructions will never change. Listen to the Lord:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (Joh 14:1-3)

 

The apostle Paul said that the Lord was coming after a people who ‘love His appearing.’ Do you love His appearing? Do you long for His appearing? This is one of the preeminent signs of a true believer.

Jesus said it this way:

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (Joh 12:25-26)

Here is your song. Take time to listen to, ‘How Great is Our God.’


 

Always in love with Jesus,

Buddy

 

 

 

 

Jesus Laid Death in the Grave….

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“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1Co 15:54-55 NASB)

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Journal,

If the fact be told, Christianity is the only religion that sets aside death and judgment for her believers. Every other religion leaves humankind in a state of uncertainty and often even in hopelessness. In this entry I want to deal with that most crucial issue in the human experience, death and judgment.

As a beginning place I’ll share words from three men who represent the best that their religion had to offer; Rabbi Saccai of Judaism, Mohammed of Islam, and the Apostle Paul of Christianity. Each man speaks to what their religious world offered with respect to death and judgment.

Let’s begin with Saccai. Rabbi Saccai lived before and after the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  His full name was Rabbi Yochanan ben Saccai. [Yochanan is Hebrew for John.] Some scholars believe that Rabbi Saccai was the ‘John’ who sat in judgment of the apostles and possibly participated in the trial of Jesus.

If that is the case here is the Scripture reference that may apply to Rabbi Saccai:

“On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them [Peter and John] in the center, they began to inquire, ‘By what power, or in what name, have you done this?’…

[After the council had deliberated] And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (Act 4:5-7,18 NASB)

Yochanan ben Saccai was so well known and revered in Judaism that when anyone spoke of John of the Sanhedrin, no futher identification was needed. He was so highly regarded in Judaism that he had the title, ‘the light of Israel, the right pillar of the Temple, and its mighty hammer.’

[The Jews loved titles as do many among Christians today. Jesus warned believers against the use of titles. That's why I have little for those who like to be called 'apostle' or 'prophet' so and so. To me it reeks of pride.]

As for Rabbi Saccai, this man was the major influencing factor in giving shape to Talmudic Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.. But did he deserve the title, ‘light of Israel’? I’m afraid not. That title belongs to one Person alone, the Messiah.

Here is the Saccai’s death bed testimony as recorded in the Talmud:

Rabbi Saccai’s deathbed testimony

“When dying, his disciples came to see him. He burst into tears. Ask, ‘Why?’ ‘If I were now to be brought before an earthly king, who lives today and dies tomorrow, whose wrath and whose bonds are not everlasting, and whose sentence of death, even, is not that to everlasting death, who can be assuaged by arguments, or perhaps bought off by money I should tremble and weep; …

“…how much more reason have I for it, when about to be led before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be he, who liveth and abideth for ever, whose chains are chains for evermore, and whose sentence of death killeth for ever, whom I cannot assuage with words, nor bribe by money! …

“…And not only so, but there are before me two ways, one to paradise and the other to hell, and I know not which of the two ways I shall have to go whether to paradise or to hell: how, then, shall I not shed tears?”

Think about Yochanan ben Saccah’s death bed testimony. Does it sound like he had any assurance in that which was to come?

Then we have this statement from the writings of Islam, concerning Muhammed’s own insecurity.

How Muhammad looked at death

“Muhammad said: ‘By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me.’” (hadith 5:266)In Islam the only guaranteed way to enter heaven is by martyrdom. This is the driving force of suicide bombers.

Now compare these statements to Paul;

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The testimony of the apostle

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain…But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Phil1:21-24)

Paul carried in his heart what old timers called ‘divine assurance.’ Every true believer carries this assurance.

Can we carry this further? How about the Hindu religion? It is the same. They preach ‘another’ Jesus. He is one of the many reincarnations of God, called an Avatar.

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How about superstitions…

It doesn’t matter how many crosses a rock star may hang around his neck, this has nothing to do with Jesus of the gospels. The cross is not some amulet to wear to give good luck. The only cross that saves is the message of the cross. Paul said this message is, “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Co1:18)

What then is the point? The point is that there is only one Jesus Christ. He Himself is in the message of the cross. And when Jesus Christ is preached, and received, and accepted as the atonement of our sins, and as Redeemer and Savior, for the believing one there is a seal placed upon their heart.

This seal carries in it the testimony of divine assurance. The seal carries in it the very life that Jesus came to give us. The seal contains the presence of heaven as a continual reminder that we are simply pilgrims on a journey.

And the seal carries in it that the believer has already been judged in Christ and that heaven is the believer’s assured destiny. Christian believers are the very children of the throne.

Consider:

“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

Follow through with these Scriptures.

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb 2:14-15 NASB)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Php 3:20-21 NASB)

” [God] and raised us up with Him [Jesus}, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:6-9 NASB)


Yes, Jesus laid death and judgment in the grave

This is why there is no such thing as a person not knowing if they are saved or not. You either believe in and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or you don't. There is no middle ground. If you truly trust in Jesus as Lord of your life, this means you have left the world of darkness, that you have turned from your sins, and that you now carry in your heart a divine seal of salvation.

Paul adds to this in saying,

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Rom8:14)

And again,

"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..." (Rom 8:16,17)

John the beloved adds to the record by saying,

"The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself ... and the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life..." (1John5:10)

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Now we know why...

...Rabbi Jochanan ben Saccai faced death with tears and dread. and why Mohammed did not know what Allah would do with him. And we also understand why true believers have no dread of death or fear of eternity. It is because God's 'seal' of the heart carries with it the very essence of our heavenly home.

God's children all carry in themselves a heavenly consciousness. We know that this world is not our home. We share in the testimony of Jesus Christ.

"And He was saying to them [Pharisees], “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” (Joh 8:23)

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (Joh 15:19)

“[Father] I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they [all true believers] are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (Joh 17:14)

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The simplicity of faith in Jesus

God’s divine seal of assurance goes much much deeper than our emotions. It is a thing of the heart. Paul said that with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. What he is saying is that the confession is an automatic response to what has happened in the person’s heart. We speak what is in our hearts. If Jesus Christ is our Lord, we will certainly let people know it.

The apostle also warns against believers following after strange teachings and following after things that may not be of God:

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2Co 11:3NASB)

Did you catch it? Our entire walk in our journey of life is to be based on a simple devotion to Jesus Christ. Don’t be led astray from the simplicity and purity of your devotion to Jesus Christ.

It is the simple message of faith in Jesus Christ, and in the finished work of the cross that we must preach and tell the world. If we are preaching anything else, there can be no work of salvation. The apostle quoted Isaiah, in saying,

“Lord, who has believed our report [message]?” He then says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Cf. Rom10)

Christ Himself actually speaks to the hearts of men and women in the preaching of the cross. This is what makes preaching so powerful. Paul says it plain enough when he said to the Corinthians,

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1Co2:2)

He then explained why this was the only message he preached;

“So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (Cf. 1Co2:5)

With all this in mind, let me share just a bit about…

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The Jordan message…

Crossing the Jordan is a figure of speech that believers use for our passage into the eternal kingdom of God. As a long time minister of the gospel it has been my great honor to attend to the going home of so many of God’s children. It is as the Psalmist said,

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” (Psalm 116:15 nasb)

The Lord called me to preach the gospel of His Son when I was twenty-four years old. I will soon be seventy. But the Lord did something a bit extra on my behalf. He has also allowed me to sing the gospel in the form of songs that He has given me.

Some years ago the Lord gave me a song to share about the believer’s journey into His eternal kingdom. The song is entitled, ‘At the Crossing of the Jordan.’

There is nothing professional about the song, but it does carry with it a message from heaven. Take a moment to listen to ‘At the Crossing of the Jordan.’ Its me on the guitar with help from some dear friends and family. The song speaks to our journey home. Let it speak to your heart.

That’s it for now.

May the Lord be gracious to you,

Buddy