Accounting – Top Five Blog Entries

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Journal,

It is time for an update on my blog. Of over 700 personal entries that are accessible on my blog, I wanted to narrow down the top five entries that have received the most readership.

As for blog statistics, to date I’ve had 144,985 reads with total visitors of 116,675. While this isn’t a great number, I remain thankful that the Lord has given me another outlet for sharing the gospel story.

Here is a map that shows where my blog has been or is being read -

Blog readership

 

Entries that Have Received the Most Readers

Here is a list of the top five entries. This simply show where the greatest interest has been. I’ll begin with the most read and work it from there.

 

1. “My Story” continues at the top of the list – For some reason this entry has far exceeded anything that I have written. It includes some of my personal background and my own life-journey of faith. It is not intended to be offensive against my church background, but rather to explains some issues that are hard to understand.

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

2. “Passing Through the Valley of Baca” has high readership. This study reaches back to 2010, and continues to be one of the most read. It deals with the struggles we have in life and how that the Lord can always be found in the background of our situations, in helping us process through our tears and our victories. It begins with Betty and I, at the grave of our child.

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

3. “500+” is next. This includes both the archives and a great many other studies. There are well over 700 studies that can be found at this site. Look at the titles. They pretty much tell you what the study is about.

http://buddymartin.net/blog/500-2/

4. “Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement.” This study reaches back to 2009. This entry takes its lead from the two hurricanes that hit Louisiana, and how the Lord brought to my attention the difference between the sinner-sinner, and the religious sinner. There is a saying that will appear quite strange to many. It goes like this – “The sinner knows the Lord. The priest is trying to find Him.”

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

5. “Jesus, the Wonder and Mystery of the Bible.” This study reaches back to 2009, and takes in the Old Testament, Hebrew background that shows who Jesus really is. It remains one of the most popular and helps to explain what the prophet meant when he wrote, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

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

Hope you take time for these studies. Perhaps the Lord has something to share with you.

In Christ always,

Buddy

What Are We Doing Wrong?

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Messiah Search“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)

 

Journal,

Don’t be surprised at the title of this entry, ‘What are we doing wrong?’

Some years ago I subscribed to the Jerusalem Post. One morning while reading the Post, this statement stood out; ‘What are we doing wrong’.

It was part of an ad that had been placed by the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Tovia Singer. Rabbi Singer was coming against Christianity and against Jesus Christ as Messiah of Israel. He was promoting his anti-Christian audio tapes. This is how the ad read in part -

What Are We Doing Wrong, and What are They doing right?  Why Have more Jews Converted to Christianity in the Last 19 Years than in the Last 1,900 Years?”

I could hardly believe my eyes. If I were a Jewish person reading that ad, I would not be concerned about purchasing Tovia’s audio tapes. I would want to know why so many Jews were converting to Christianity. 

Are you interested? Let’s begin by talking about …

 

The Strange Mix in Israel

Did you know that a great part of the citizenry of Israel is secular and not religious. How can that be?

We know that Israel fulfilled certain prophecies by becoming a nation among nations in 1948. After all, Moses and the prophets foretold of the ingathering of the Jewish people in the latter days.

Since all this was written beforehand, how can it be that so many Jews in Israel are secular, and with a great many Pilate and Jesus2who are either atheists or agnostics?

Does that surprise you that many Jews are atheists? According to statistics a full 37% of the people of Israel are either atheists or agnostics.

This makes the Israel fourth in a list of nations with the highest percentage of atheists.

Yes, Israel is a strange mix. There is even a hatred between the secular Jews and the Orthodox Jews. It got so bad in years gone by that you would often read about a civil war in the making.

It is not as if the Bible leaves all this unsaid. The Bible is the only book in existence that records history before it happens.

Where did it all begin? After all the ancient people of Israel had long believed in the coming of God’s Messiah.

This part of Israel’s history begins with …

 

The Rejection of Jesus and the Sword

Keep in mind that not all Jews rejected Jesus. In fact the early Church was totally Jewish. Yet, Jesus said that His coming would affect Israel so deeply that it would be like a sword.

Take note -

” … whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” (See fuller context - Mat 10:32-39)

Of course it began with the rejection of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah and the King of Israel. When they rejected Jesus, as a nation Israel lost citizen rights to being the people of God. They had long seen themselves as ‘the kingdom of God.’ That was no longer the case.

Jesus said,

“Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’?

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (Mat 21:42-43)

They became a people without a kingdom. The term, ‘kingdom of God’, meant the direct rule of God.

This does not mean that the people of Israel would no longer figured into God’s plan for the ages. Quite the contrary. Their rejection of Jesus and God’s rejection of them as His people is well noted in Scripture. But also noted in Scripture is their coming to know Jesus as their Messiah.

But an issues needs to be make clear.

 

It’s Not About Anti-Semitism

I realize that the first thing that is thrown at anyone who would place the Jews in a bad light, is the term ‘anti-Semitic.’ But anyone who reads and studies the Scriptures knows how ridiculous that statement is.

If someone like me is anti-Semitic, then Moses, the prophets, the apostles, and even Jesus would have to be called anti-Semitic. The very things that I share come from the writings of the Old Testament prophets, and the new covenant apostolic writers. It’s all about redemption history.

It goes back to the first books of the Bible, that is, to the writings of Moses.

When Moses was about to leave the earthly scene, Moses sang a prophetic song over Israel. In this song Moses spoke of the falling away of Israel, of Israels wandering through the nations, of their peril of life, and of Israel’s return. The song of Moses actually lays out the history of Israel. (Found in Deu32),

In his song, Moses says,

“They have acted corrupted toward Him, they are not his children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.” (v5) (Peter quotes from this verse of the song of Moses on the day of Pentecost.)

Moses goes on to call them a foolish and an unwise people from whom He will hide His face. He says that God will make Israel jealous with a people who were not a people. He also says,

“Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future.”

The prophets continue this theme with …

 

When God Hides His Face

The fact that God would hide His face from Israel is a theme that trances its way through the Bible. God speaks through the prophet Hosea, saying,

“I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15)

JerusalemRecall what Jesus said over Jerusalem?

“You will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Yet there is something else I need to share about Moses. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Did you know that the rest of the Bible including the New Testament actually work out from the books of Moses? If there were no Genesis, the book of Revelation would make little sense, and thus and so.

I wish I had time to take my readers through the entire song of Moses. Hopefully many of you are already picking up on the prophetic elements in this song.

But that is not the end of the story of Israel. Paul said,

“For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom11:15)

Does any of this tell us why Israel is so secular with so many atheists and agnostics among here citizenry? Yes, there is a lot to be said. There are elements that help to understand this dilemma.

Let’s continue with…

 

A Rediscovery of Jesus

The Jews are only of late beginning a true major rediscovering Jesus for themselves. One Jewish writer said that the number one topic of discussion on the streets of Jerusalem today, has to do with Jesus.

For the most part the Jews never knew that Jesus was Jewish or that He and the apostles were ‘sabras.’ (Of the land.) They were left under the impression that Jesus was some kind of Gentile Roman or Greek God. That is changing on a major scale. They have become intrigued with Jesus.

Their rabbis with their Talmudic Religion, had misled the Jews so often that many became turned off by the Jewish religion. The Bible also told us this would happen. God spoke through Isaiah, saying,

“Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men [rabbis] will perish, and the discernment of their discernment men will be concealed.” (Isa 29:14)

In the heart of the Jew is a vacancy that can only be filled by God Himself. (Of course this vacancy is in every human.) This is why so many Jews are finding Jesus as their Messiah. And this vacancy will be the turning point of the nation. Keep in mind what Jesus said,

“Until you say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’

The prophet Zechariah told us how this rediscovery of Jesus would happen. Israel and Jerusalem are going to face a war in the not too distant future that will bring about this cry for Jesus. I would encourage my readers to read the whole of Zechariah 12.

It is in the time of this war that we read this one verse:

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zech12:10)

Paul said that all Israel would be saved.

Do you not find it strange that Israel’s greatest support comes from Christians today. There is a reason for this. Think about it.

If you would like to know more about what is happening between the believing Jews and those Jews who do not believe in Jesus, take time for this debate between two Jewish men, Rabbi Tovia Singer, and, Dr. Michael Brown.

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2011 in Review – When the Temple Shuddered

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Friends,

Here is an overview of my on-line journal for 2011.

My journal brought in 25,008 visitors along with 71,325 page views. Most of my viewers were from the United States, with the United Kingdom, Canada, Philippines, India, and Australia not far behind.

Here are three of my popular posts (To view each entry, click on the blue web address) -

God’s Wings and the Blue Thread of Heaven http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/09/gods-wings-and-the-blue-thread-of-heaven/

Jesus, the Wonder and Mystery of the Bible http://buddymartin.net/blog/2009/11/jesus-the-wonder-and-mystery-of-the-bible/

 Beware of Spiritual Counterfeits http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/11/beware-of-spiritual-counterfeits/

 

The busiest day of the year was May 18th, with the entry entitled, ‘When the Temple Shuttered.’ For you who have not had the opportunity to view that entry, here it is in its entirety ……..

 

When The Temple Shuddered

“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” (Mar 15:37-39)

Journal,

When Jesus breathed His last, the veil of the temple was torn. There was also an earthquake, and according to some sources, the foundation of the temple shifted. In this entry I wish to concentrate primarily on the significance of what happened in the temple during the crucifixion of Jesus.

Before the torn curtain, darkness had filled the land from noon to 3 o’clock. The ninth hour (3 pm) was the time of the incense offering. A priest and his attendants would be in the holy place.

The priest would not have heard the voice of Christ on the cross, nor the mockery of the chief priests and scribes, who were chiding Jesus, in saying,

“He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the king of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (Mat27:42)

But this moment was the deepest of sorrows for Jesus. And it is here that we hear the saddest words ever to be recorded by a human pen, when Jesus cries out,

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

At the moment of the cry, what the priest in the temple saw must have left him quaking. Hearing the sound of tearing, and looking up, the priest saw the vast curtain beginning to rend, starting at the very top.

 

Historical background

Let me share some historical background on both the curtain and the happenings in Israel during the time of Christ. This would explain any nervousness that the priest would have had.

First the curtain – The curtain was awesome in itself. It was 80 feet high, and as thick as the width of a man’s hand. (According to Josephus and later rabbinic authorities.)

Another point of interest is that the curtain had changed in appearance from the original pattern given Moses. The tabernacle curtain had cherubim embroidered in it. But the curtain in Herod’s temple had the heavens themselves embroidered on it. It was like looking at the sky. So when it began to tear, the priest would have thought of the rending of the heavens. And this is truly what was happening.

 

Strange things happening

There is more. According to the Talmud and Josephus, strange things had happened during that time period. Josephus said that the eastern gate, which was made of brass, and which took twenty men to close, would open and close on its own accord.

The Talmud speaks of something similar. It says that forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple doors would open and close on their own, and you could hear voices coming from within. Forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem was when Jesus took up His Messianic anointing. The Master of the Universe walked the land.

Evidently the temple was becoming a scary place. The priest would have reason to go about his duties with some nervousness. But nonetheless, it happened. He looked up and the vast curtain began to tear. The floor began to shift and shake.

It was as if God were saying, “This is it! No more! There will be no more separation! No more blood sacrifices! No more!!!”

It was as if the temple itself was rending her garments. She shuddered.

What is the wonderful secret in all this? It was all about God and man. God has been reconciled to all of humanity. Thus, every person on this planet, saint or sinner, has the right to call on the name of the Lord, and be saved. Sin was dealt with in Christ. Not simply the sins of the saints. All the sins of the world were taken to the cross in Christ.

 

When love walked the earth

Through the fall of Adam, the human race came into league with Satan. But that did not mean that God stopped loving humanity. The Bible is a record of redemption. It is also the story of God’s love for humanity.

When Jesus came into the earth, it meant that He had to leave heaven with all its glory and splendor, and to come into a world that was enshrouded in sin.

Sin was our clothing. Did He come in anger? Did He come with vengeance in His heart? No. He came with a heart full of the Father’s love.
And this is why John 3:16,17 will always be the key message in the Bible. It says,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jesus had to be born as a human. And so He was. Thus we have the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus was the only human ever to walk this planet in whom Satan had no power or authority over. Satan knew that somehow he must get Jesus to sin. But it never happened. Jesus was perfect in all His ways.

 

The message of the garden

Oh yes, Satan never forgot the message of the garden –

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” (Gen3:15)

Jesus could have went back to heaven any time He desired. But He didn’t. He walked in our sinful world. He put his arms around sinful creatures. He rebuked the religious leaders for their hardheartedness, and gave nothing but love and acceptance to the most sinful of us all. It still works that way today.
But all this wasn’t entirely new. God’s plan of redemption had been laid out by His holy servants of old, the prophets. In fact the Bible unfolds around God’s Son and the work of the cross.

Hear what the prophet David had to say…

When mercy and truth met together

Somehow mercy and truth had to meet together. Somehow righteousness and peace had to kiss one another. Somehow heaven and earth had to be reconciled. Somehow there had to be the ‘one’ sacrifice that would take away sin forever.

And the sacrifice had to be so perfect that it would remove all the sins of all of humanity, for all time. And somehow, this sacrifice had to become the way for man to return to God.
The Psalmist also spoke of this. He said,

“Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way.” (Psa 85:9-13)

Listen to the words –

‘Truth springs from the earth.’ This is Jesus born of a woman.
‘Righteousness looks down from heaven.’ The voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
‘Righteousness … will make His footsteps into a way.‘ The footsteps of Jesus took Him from the cross and to His rightful place in heaven. His footsteps are now our footsteps.

There is so much more to be said.

But then, maybe this song pretty much says it all.

Take time to listen to John Starns, ‘Love Grew Where the Blood Fell.’


In Christ always,
Buddy

This is My Beloved Son

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“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

 

“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory,

 

“’This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2Pe 1:16-18)

 

 

Readers,

In this study we will take a closer look at one of the most wonderful mysteries in the Bible, that is, the mystery of the Father and the Son. The question we want to unravel is how the earliest Hebrew believers could hold to an absolute monotheism and yet direct their faith and their worship to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as well as to God the Father?

Not everyone is very familiar with the early Jewish believer’s theology of Christ, while others are little aware of how the Messiah was seen in ancient beliefs of that time. Everything centered on the word ‘identity‘.

With this key in mind let’s take a closer look at the Father and the Son.

 

The Hallmark of Hebrew Christianity

Very often we fail to understand terms like, ‘And the Word was with God,‘ or, ‘He existed in the form of God‘, because these terms are in Hebrew thought form. They don’t always mean the same thing to us as they would to a Jewish person. These expressions were deeply embedded in ancient Judaism. They reflect on a great mystery to be found in God Himself.

The earliest believers saw Jesus Christ as intrinsic to who God really is. Jewish believers had been schooled in the Scriptures and in the ancient sages. They believed that in the one true God was a mystery that reflected on terms such as, ‘the Word’, or, ‘the Form‘, or ‘the Image‘, or ‘the Glory‘, or even, ‘the Shekinah.’

The earliest Christians were absolute monotheist. They believed that Jesus Christ originated in and came forth from the Father, that is, without becoming separate from Him in His spiritual essence. This was part of the mystery that they accepted.

However, what made this belief so strong was that the Scriptures actually wrapped themselves around this great mystery in God. These new Jewish believers were discovering Jesus and letting the words of Moses and the prophets unwrap themselves in their hearts and minds.

It wasn’t long before the non-believing Jewish rabbis countered by accusing the Christian Jews of believing in two powers in heaven. The rabbis used the book Hebrews as a backdrop in their accusations against the Christian Jews, and especially where it says,

“In these last days [the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (He1:2)

It was this statement that pretty much qualified the earliest theology of the Jewish church. It says that in the last days God has spoken to us (or speaks to us) in His Son, and that it was through His Son that the Father made the world.

 

An Uncomplicated Theology

The early believers fully accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as Yahweh of the former testament. They also firmly held to a Father-Son view of God.

Paul Himself brings this forth in reaffirming the sh’ma of Israel. He said,

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1Co8:6)

Where Paul says ‘one Lord’, he is drawing on the ancient ‘She’ma’ creed of Israel.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deu 6:4 NASB)

A great many scholars today are beginning to reach back to a more Hebraic form of theology. They are setting aside the notion that the Trinitarian doctrine is intrinsic to Christianity and that to be a Christian you must accept this form of theology.

This is not an affront against Trinitarian beliefs. It is simply for the benefit of a better understanding of how the early Hebrew Christians generally held to a less-complicated theology of the Godhead.

The point is that the earliest Christians were scriptural-centric. Both Jesus and the apostles instructed the evolving church to never exceed, “what is written”. The term ‘what is written’ had regard to Moses, David, and the prophets.

Thus we hear:

[Jesus] “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luk 24:44-45)

[Paul] “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 4:6)

 

The Divine Image

The apostles were expressing a very ancient belief held in Israel at that time. Jesus was looked at as the ‘eikon‘ (divine image) of the invisible God. The Judaic beliefs before the rabbis made their anti-Christ intrusions, believed that you had the invisible God who could not be seen, and God who makes Himself visible across history and across time. Or, as one early Christian writer said, “God brought forth from Himself a beginning.”

For the early Jewish believers, Jesus did not become for them a second god or another deity. Paul explained Christ as the hidden mystery of God. The apostle wrote,

“To me, the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.” (Eph3:8,9)

Regardless of how difficult this may seem to us, the groundwork had already been laid for the mystery of the divine image to be revealed. Here are a few Scriptural considerations:

“Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!” (Pro 30:4)

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. … 

“ … There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isa 9:6-7)

“’What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET”‘? “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Mat 22:42-45)

“I [Yahweh] 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 12:10)

 

 

My Lord and My God

How is it than an orthodox one-God, Jewish man could fall down before Jesus, and say, “My Lord and my God?”

And how is it that everything Jesus did in His earthly walk reveals that He was intrinsic to the very identity of God’s person? Jesus did God things.

And so we must agree with the Jewish author who stated that Christianity is the most Jewish of all the non-Jewish faiths.

I would go further as to say that Biblical Christianity fills out the Jewish faith in that the God of the Hebrews came into the earth as a man to fulfill His own program of redemption. Did the early Jewish believers worship the Father and Son as one God? Absolutely.

Now the big question — Does our salvation hinge on acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Lord God Almighty?

John said it well enough;

“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)

 

 

The Mystery Called, ‘Wonderful’

Do we still have a mystery? Sure we do. It is a mystery that is wondrous indeed. What we do know is that the divinity of Jesus lies within God Himself. And when we worship Jesus we are not worshipping a second deity. We are worshipping the Father in the Son.

For all our Christian, Jewish and Muslim friends, take time for this song. Let the Lord open your heart to hear from God - ‘O Come Oh Come Emmanuel’.

Your servant in Christ,

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

 

God’s Wings and the Blue Thread of Heaven

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“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jer 15:16)

 

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (Joh 5:39-40)

 

 

“You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; … 

 

… in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.” (Exo 20:24)


 

Journal,

There are mysteries in the Bible that when disclosed actually become life gates of transformation in a believer’s life. Paul speaks of these wonders as steps from glory to glory. The point being that these mysteries are not hidden from us. They are actually hidden for us. They belong to all the children of God.

The greatest wonder and mystery of the Bible has to do with Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus is actually the very Word of God come to us in human form. He is the exact expression and impression of all that God is. Thus it can be said that Jesus Himself is the secret life of the Bible.

 

The Scroll of Heaven

I was twenty-five years old. The Lord had called me into the gospel ministry, but I was at a cross-road. I wasn’t sure which direction to take. It had to do with my future. What direction was my life to take?

The Lord has ways of speaking to us. It was in a service when I had my first vision from the Lord. In a moment of time I was totally out of the service. This was when the Lord begins to show me the things that I could have in life. They were things of wealth and blessings. It wasn’t a scene of condemnation. It had to do with a choice He was giving me. He would actually bless me in life.

But then I heard these words, “Or, you can preach My Word.” The very moment I heard those words, an open Bible floated down before me out of heaven. He said nothing else about wealth or blessings. As I looked at the descending Bible, my tearful response was, “Lord, I want to preach Your Word.”

The decision was made. Next thing I am back in the service as if nothing had happened. But the vision was so real that I could hardly contain myself. I couldn’t wait to share the vision with Betty. When we returned home that evening I shared what the Lord had spoken to me.

 

That was forty-four years ago. Have I had visions since? Oh yes. I’ve had dreams and visions and many other speaking of the Lord through the many years. The Lord has often shown me beforehand those things are were to come. (Especially about my calling to the ministry.)

But here is the lesson I want to get across. What I began to realize more and more is that the Bible is God’s speaking book. The Bible we love is imbued with the Spirit of Jesus. God speaks to His people by way of the Scriptures. And this is one reason that the assembling of God’s people in their respective flocks is so important. (More on that later.)

Point being – The reason the Bible carries the Spirit of Jesus is because the Bible originates from heaven, and Jesus is the Man from heaven. Does this sound odd? Let’s see.

 

In the Volume of the Book

There is a sense by which the Bible can be compared to the very garment that Jesus wears, and that His presence flows throughout His garment.

It is in this sense that the presence of Christ permeates the sacred writings.

Listen:

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.” (Heb 10:7)

 

The apostolic writer is quoting from Psalm 40:7,8.

The term for scroll (kephalis) originally spoke of the spindle and knob around which the parchments were wrapped. This is why kephalis can also be translated as ‘volume’ or ‘roll’. The ancients saw Psalm 40:7,8 as referring to Messiah.

For them the Torah contained the very life of God and His Messiah. The problem, however, is that the religious leaders had largely been disconnected from the message of the book. They had become Torah worshipers without taking to heart that the Torah had a message about God’s Son, the Messiah.

This is why Jesus said to them,

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (Joh 5:39-40)

In this we can see that the idea of God’s life being in the book isn’t new to the Christian faith. For the Jews the Torah was a living thing.

Let’s see how this carried through when Jesus began His public ministry.

 

The Tassel of His Cloak

There was a woman who suffered greatly from a female disorder. Hearing about Jesus, she said to herself,

 

“If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” (Mt9:21)

 

We don’t often catch what she was really saying. The part of His garment she wanted to touch was the fringe (probably the blue tassels) of His cloak.

The Jews had a tradition about the fringe that spoke of God’s Messiah. The background for this was God’s commandment to Moses, saying,

 

“Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.” (Num15:38)

 

The cord of blue was said to represent the throne of glory, or the heavenly life. Over time these tassels took on the term ‘wings.’

Let’s continue with the tassels…

 

The Wings of God

Ever wonder why the Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove? Recall when the Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus, the Word of God. The apostle said that all the Scriptures themselves are filled with the very breath of God.

Now, keep the throne of glory and the wings of God in view and you’ll have a bit more insight into Scriptures that speak of God’s wings, and why the lady wanted to touch the garment (tassels) of Jesus. A great many of the common people saw Jesus as God’s Messiah.

Listen -

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty … He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge.” (Ps91:1,4)

And,

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Mal4:2)

Then we hear Jesus say,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (Mt23:37)

Follow this with another Scripture:

“Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured. (Mar6:56)

 

What do the fringes have to do with the Bible

It all comes back to the Bible being the book of heaven. It comes back to Jesus being the Word of God. It comes back to the Scriptures containing the very power of God. It comes back to the Jesus speaking to us through the book of heaven.

In addition to our personal Biblical devotions, this is why it is so important for believers to be under sound Biblical teaching.

It isn’t the Bible that causes miracles and gives us the answers that we need. It is the voice that speaks from the Scriptures. Make this distinction and you have the true essence of why we love the book of heaven.

Recall when Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah and began to read,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Cf. Luke 4:16-22)

It says the people were wondering at the gracious words that were falling from His lips. What made the difference in this case? It was Jesus speaking from the Scriptures.

Did you catch it?

The people were hearing living words from a loving voice. It is the voice of heaven that makes the Bible the book of heaven.

 

Hearing the Words of a Book

The Bible explains this aspect of hearing God from the book. For example, Isaiah 29:18,19, says,

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.”

Now back to the woman with the issue of blood. She had been taught that the blue thread in the fringe (tassel) represented the throne of glory and the heavenly life. She saw Jesus as that life.

We’ve also seen where the Bible itself can be likened to the garments of God’s Messiah. It can now be said that the blue thread that speaks to the throne of glory can be found running through the Scriptures.

Is the Bible heaven’s book? Does God’s Christ speak to us from the sacred writings?

Is Jesus is the living Torah, the book come alive?

Now let’s consider why attending church is essential to a life of faith.

 

The Flocking of God’s People

The word church in Greek is ekklesia. This word speaks to the new covenant community of the redeemed. It was used for Christian assembling and not the term ‘sunagogue’ which spoke of a Jewish assembly.

In Christian usage, ekklesia has to do with the call out, called together people of God. Every true believer has been called out of darkness, and called to be given to a flock of his or her assignment.

The Church is the gathering place of God’s people to hear the ministry of His Word. To say that we don’t need the church is a grave mistake. The Church is the body of Christ.

The primary purpose of the ekklesia is for the breaking of the bread, that is, the ministry of the Word of God. Jesus is always present in His Word.

God has always congregated His people in family groups.

“You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.” (Exo 20:24)

Notice carefully the statement, “In every place where I cause My name to be remembered [Heb. Mentioned], I will come to you and bless you.”

This is fulfilled where Jesus said,

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Mat 18:20)

 

 

The Disconnect of Unbelief

A problem remains. Unbelief in its various form will cut a person off from hearing the voice of Jesus.

But it should not be thought that the Bible is God’s only speaking place. What the Bible does is teach us how to hear from the Lord. Whereas the Bible can be said to be His voice, we must also understand that God speaks to us in many ways, none of which will run contrary to what is said in the Scriptures themselves. This balance must always be maintained.

It takes awhile for the child of God to understand the principle of how God speaks to us. This is why it is crucial to spiritual growth that each believer be in the congregation of God’s appointment. As the man of God speaks from the Scriptures, we began to hear the Lord speaking to our own hearts.

It isn’t the man of God who is speaking to us. It is the Lord speaking from the book of heaven.

Notice what Jesus to the unbelievers -

“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” (Joh 8:43)

To those who believe -

“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.” (Joh 10:27-28)

 

Have You Heard From Jesus Lately? 

Has Jesus ever spoken to you out from the book of heaven?

 

Everything rests upon how you view the message sent to us in a Book.

 

A Meditation on Mortality

Here is a song of years gone by, entitled, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone.’ It was originally written by Peter Seeger in 1955. Seeger had communist leanings and yet he found inspiration for many of his songs from the Bible and from Christian teachings. Others later added verses to this song.

‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ speaks to life and how vaporous it is.

As you listen, think about your life and what is happening in the world today…

 

A servant in Christ,
Buddy

The Revelation that Brings Salvation

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“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Mat 16:16-17)

 

Journal,

When Jesus asked the apostles who people said that He was, they spoke of the Old Testament prophets. When He ask them who they thought He was, Simon Peter responded, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is happening here is a prophetic portrayal on how salvation would be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Actually Peter did not arrive at this revelation on his own. Jesus said the Father had given Peter the revelation, and that upon this revelation He would build His church.

Thus Jesus said, “Upon this Rock [the revelation of His divine Sonship] I will build My church.” 

Actually there really is a play on words here. Peter’s original name is Simon. After Peter receives the revelation from the Father, the Lord calls him, ‘Little Stone.’ (The term for ‘Peter’ [Pétros] in Greek always means a stone and never a rock.)  But when the Lord said, ‘Upon this Rock I will build My church,’ he was not talking about Peter. The word He used for ‘Rock’ relates to a mass of rock or a cliff. It is never used for a stone.

The church would be built upon a revelation given from heaven that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God.

 

The Struggle Over the Son

Someone wrote me about their confusion of their being a Father and a Son in the godhead. Perhaps it is a mystery to be understood with the heart. However, the idea of God having a Son was not lost with the Hebrew people. It can be found in their ancient writings.

The Hebrew people were taught that in God was a mystery sometimes called, ‘the Son,’ and often time called ‘the Word’. They believed that God’s Son ‘the Word’ had made appearances in the earth throughout the generations of man.

You find these early beliefs not only in the Bible but also in the writings of Philo, in the Targums, and in a number of other extra-Biblical writings.

The Targums were the Hebrew Scriptures loosely translated into Aramaic. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews both before and after Christ. Hebrew was the temple language. It is from the Aramaic Targums that we hear what the people were being taught. Here are examples:

Genesis 1:1: “From the beginning with wisdom the Memra of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth.”

The Neofiti Targum actually has it this way; “From the beginning with wisdom the son of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth.”

The term ‘Memra’ is the Aramaic word that translates into Greek as ‘Logos.’ It means ‘Word.’

 

More from the Targums 

Keep in view that while the Greeks used the term ‘Logos‘, the Hebrews used the term ‘Memra‘. They meant the same thing. Memra was the Jewish way of relating to the unseen God, in saying that the Most High God did all His personal communication and revelation through the one called ‘the Memra.’

Here are a few more samples from the Targums. Every time you see the term Memra, simply think Logos, or the Word, or think, ‘Jesus’ Himself.

Gen1:27 – “And the Memra of the Lord [Word of God] created the man in his own likeness; in a likeness from before the Lord he created him; male and his partner he created them.”

Gen2:8 – “And the Lord God had planted a garden in Eden from the beginning and he placed there the first Adam.” (Recall how Paul spoke of the first and the last Adam.)

Gen3:8 – “And they heard the sound of the Memra of the Lord God walking within the garden in the breeze of the day…”

Gen12:7 – “And the Memra of the Lord was revealed to Abram and said to him: ‘To your sons I will give this land.’ …”

Gen15:6 – “And Abram believed in the name of the Memra of the Lord and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

 

 A Clear Testimony from Philo 

Now let’s consider the writings of Philo. Philo took what the Hebrews believed and translated it into the primary lingua of the time, which was Greek. Philo was contemporary with the origins of Christianity. Anyone who reads Philo will hear the same language being used by John and Paul.

As Philo was presenting the Judaism of His day into Greek, notice very carefully some of the terms he used with regard to the Words of God. (Some are Targum terms.)

The Logos, the King, Shepherd, High Priest, Covenant, Rider on the Divine Chariot, Archangel, Firstborn Son, the Beginning, the Name, He who sees, the Form, the Glory, the Shekinah, and the Messenger of Great Counsel.

There are other terms, but this gives an idea of just how very Hebraic the New Testament really is. We find some of these terms used by the apostolic writers.

But there was a statement by Philo that has caused much consternation among rabbinic Judaism. Philo wrote,

“For nothing mortal can be made in the likeness of the Most High God and Father of the Universe but only in that of the second God, who is His Logos.”

Philo was not using the expression ‘second God’ with a view to many gods, but rather in the sense of God who can and has been seen, with God who cannot be seen.

There was the belief in a noted distinction between what was called Yahweh Most High, and the lesser Yahweh, or, the Memra. This distinction had to do with God coming forth from God, which brings us back to all the many terms used to describe God who has and can be seen.

Hear it from Jesus:

“You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (Joh 14:28)

 

 

Testimony of Early Church Writers

You find much of these early Jewish concepts not only in the New Testament writings, but also in other writings of the early church believers. Here are sampling from the Ante-Nicene writings:

[Epistle to Diognetus a.d. 130] “…God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, Him who is the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word…”

And,“As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 30-107 a.d.] “…there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians] “…there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man…”

[Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp] “Look for Christ, the Son of God; who was before time, yet appeared in time …”

I realize this may seem weighty but it helps us relate to much of what is written in the New Testament.

To believe and accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God is the crucial element of salvation. To believe in Him is to receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

 

The Hidden Mystery

Yes, the ancients knew there was a mystery in God that was hard to grasp. Paul often spoke of this mystery. It also gives us pause to listen to Jesus when He said,

“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)

And again,

“What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before.” (John 6:62)

The early Jewish believers took what was commonly taught in Judaism of the day, and brought Jesus into the picture. This allows us to see how much of the ancient theology of the Jews was on course with the truth of Jesus Christ.

There is no question that the early Jewish Christians saw Jesus as the answer to what had been long believed among them. This was the ancient faith realized. And this was the mystery Paul said that contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And so the Christian faith in its simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus Christ is the true religion of heaven. Does this not cause us to appreciate John 3:16, which says,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The bottom line is not how you wish to depict your beliefs of the godhead. Christians know there can only be one true God. We have been monotheistic from the beginning. The issue at hand is whether you have confessed and received Jesus Christ as the Son of God, your Lord and Savior.

 

Do You Have the Revelation

Peter made the confession when he said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

How important is this revelation? Does God really have a Son? You must decide this for yourself. The religion of Islam has already decided. On the temple mount you will find these words written inside the golden dome; ‘God has no son.’ [Did you know that Islam can be identified with the antichrist religion?]

This is what the apostles wrote:

2Pe_1:17  “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—

 

1Jn_1:3  “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

 

1Jn_2:22  “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.”

 

1Jn_2:24  “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

 

1Jn_4:14  “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

 

2Jn_1:3  “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

 

2Jn_1:9  “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

While you think on these things, please take time for this song…

 

 

What do you believe?

Buddy

A Word to the Wise – ‘Discipleship’

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“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back.” (Isa 50:4-5)

 

Journal,

My wife and I instituted Christian Challenge International in 1976, as a School for Christian Workers. Since that time we have been able to train several hundred believers for service in the vineyard of the Lord.

The School is non-denominational and non-sectarian in nature. It is our sole purpose to introduce believers into the world of a Biblical disciple. Every course we offer has that focus at heart.

We are not a seminary nor a Bible College. While those venues are good and necessary in many cases, our School has a different design. Each of our classes meet only once a week. But it is out of these weekly classes that the world of the disciple begins to flower.

All I can tell you is that beginning with the first class of the Disciple’s Heart Training Program, you will realize the uniqueness of the CCI School for Christian Workers. (Sorry – We do not offer on-line classes.)

The motto of the School is, ‘Preparing Servants for the Nations’. What we emphasis is what the prophet stated, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”

The Disciple’s Heart Training Program I, is the mother course of our school. We have had graduates from this program tell us that they gained more of a spiritual nature from this one course than they did from their entire time at Bible college. There is a reason for that. It is found in the term, Biblical-Discipleship’.

Note: The Disciple’s Heart Training Program I, is a need for anyone who wishes to serve with Christian Challenge. It is also a required course before The Disciple’s Heart II’ or The Shepherd’s Heart’ can be taken.

Think about it. Pray about it. Do you wish to develop your spiritual life? See if the CCI School for Christian Workers is what the Lord would have you involved with.

Here is an outline of the classes we offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.’” (Mat 13:11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Narrative on Christian Challenge 

 

In Christ always,
Buddy

The Wisdom From Above

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“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.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

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

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Jas 3:14-18)

“Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up her voice? … ‘To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. … Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things. For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.’” (Pro 8:1-7)


 

Journal Readers,

This is an entry that you would do well to follow all the Scriptures given. There is nothing more important to believers than to learn to draw on their heavenly life. This heavenly life is in the Scriptures as, the wisdom from above.’

I have a deep concern for many who call themselves Christian today and yet their entire life appears as a contradiction to that term. With some the attitude seems to be, I plan to be saved, I just don’t want God to interfere in my lifestyle.’ The problem is that their lifestyle is bringing ruin into their life.

It is never my point to question a person’s salvation in Christ. If someone tells me that they believe in Jesus Christ, I take that at face value. Nor do I wish to discourage anyone who is struggling over a life issue.

I know that God’s grace is greater than anything we may face in life. We all have our temptations and failures. Having a failure in life does not mean the person is not saved. However, there is an element in our salvation that needs to taken more to heart. It is found in the one word, ‘wisdom.’

Wisdom essentially means how to live. So, let’s talk about this wonderful mystery called ‘the wisdom from above.’ 

 

The Books of Wisdom

There are five books in the Old Testament that are called ‘Wisdom books.’ These books are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

To God’s ancient people ‘wisdom’ was a mystery. Wisdom not only meant skillful living, but it meant directives from God. Very early on the sages saw a close connection between God’s wisdom and Light, God’s power and His Word, and with a special view to the coming Messiah.

We see this in David’s prophetic writings.

“For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” (Psa 36:9 NASB)

In this next Scripture we see the hidden Christ as the fountain of life. We also see a reflection on this, when Jesus 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)

David knew that the true wisdom for life could only be found in the heart of God. This is why it is said that David was a man after God’s heart. Actually there were certain things hidden in God that could only be revealed after the cross. David also knew this. And Wisdom was one of the things that was hidden in God.

 

A Wisdom Hidden in God

God’s ancient people always connected wisdom with rightness of life. Righteousness to them was defined as ‘right-wise-ness’. Yet wisdom still remained such a mystery.

Listen to Job:

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living. The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’ Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can silver be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx, or sapphire.

“Gold or glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold. Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; and the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls. The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold.

‘Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? Thus it is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the sky. Abaddon and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’ God understands its way, and He knows its place.” (Job 28:12-23 NASB)

Did you catch it? The wisdom of God is not an earthly wisdom. It is a wisdom that is hidden in God Himself. It is a heavenly wisdom.

Keep the term ‘hidden wisdom’ in view. This heavenly hidden wisdom is going to reappear in the new covenant writings.

 

Wisdom Found in Creation

The wisdom of God was also connected with creation.

“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens.” (Pro 3:19 NASB)

To the ancients this wisdom from God also spoke of salvation and the coming Redeemer:

 “The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Isa 33:5-6 NASB)

Now see where Job speaks of the coming Redeemer:

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

It is important to keep in mind that Wisdom in the Bible always connects with the very life of God.
Which brings us to…

 

Jesus the ‘hidden wisdom’ of God

When Adam sinned against the Lord, he forfeited his life & his wisdom connection with God. Mankind would enter a world dominated by darkness & death.

The ancient sages taught that the original light of creation was to give wisdom for humanity to live by. When Adam rejected God’s command, the light of wisdom was hidden. They taught that this hidden wisdom would only come back with the Messiah.

This is where the New Testament writings open up. Most Hebrew people would have understood what John was writing, when he said:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Himwas life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Joh 1:1-5 NASB)

To a Jewish reader all these statements about the ‘Word’, spoke to them of the Messiah.
The terms ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ are expressions that distinguish between those born of heaven and those who are yet in sinful darkness of this present world.
Pay close attention to the following Scriptures:

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise [worldly wise] and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.’” (Mat 11:25 NASB)

 

“… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:12-14 NASB)

 

“…rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” (Act 26:17-18 NASB)

 

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”(Eph 5:6-8 NASB)

 

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph 3:8-10 NASB)

 

“Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1Co 2:6-8 NASB)

 

Now we have the need to…

 

Draw on our heavenly wisdom

Paul explains that maturity in Christ actually involves learning to live from the wisdom that comes from above. The moment a person is born again they become a citizen of heaven. This means that all our resources in life, all our directives in life, and all our wisdom and skill in life are to come from a heavenly source.

 

Take note of these Scriptures:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:1-3 NASB)

 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mat 6:33 NASB)

 

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Php 3:20 NASB)

 

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph 5:15-17 NASB)

Now keep in mind how James describes our heavenly wisdom:

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Jas 3:17-18 NASB)

 


Don’t live beneath your privileges.

Don’t let others do all their thinking for you. You will often hear me say this but it is worth repeating -
- Jesus did not come to give us a better religion. And while we should thank the Lord for our placement in the body of Christ, always keep in mind that Jesus came to give us a direct relationship with the heavenly Father. Jesus came to teach us how to live from our heavenly life. -
How do I learn to live in my heavenly life? You ask! Jesus said everyone who asks, receives.
James said some other things about our wisdom from above. If you want to live in God’s wisdom, then you must be a true believer.

 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

 

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

 

“For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:5-8)

 

So, now is the time to begin. Don’t be double-minded. Take the yoke of Christ to yourself. Do it as an act of faith.

Make a quality decision where you can say without condition, ‘Father, not my will but Yours be done.’

Out of this decision will come a step-by-step walk with the Lord. This is how we actually draw on His strength and on His wisdom for life.

Listen to this song. The Lord wants to speak to your heart.

 

 

In Christ always,
Buddy

When the Temple Shuddered

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“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” (Mar 15:37-39)

 

Journal,

When Jesus breathed His last, the veil of the temple was torn. There was also an earthquake, and according to some sources, the foundation of the temple shifted. In this entry I wish to concentrate primarily on the significance of what happened in the temple during the crucifixion of Jesus.

Before the torn curtain, darkness had filled the land from noon to 3 o’clock. The ninth hour (3 pm) was the time of the incense offering. A priest and his attendants would be in the holy place.

The priest would not have heard the voice of Christ on the cross, nor the mockery of the chief priests and scribes, who were chiding Jesus, in saying,

“He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the king of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (Mat27:42)

But this moment was the deepest of sorrows for Jesus. And it is here that we hear the saddest words ever to be recorded by a human pen, when Jesus cries out,

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

At the moment of the cry, what the priest in the temple saw must have left him quaking. Hearing the sound of tearing, and looking up, the priest saw the vast curtain beginning to rend, starting at the very top.

 

Historical background

Let me share some historical background on both the curtain and the happenings in Israel during the time of Christ. This would explain any nervousness that the priest would have had.

First the curtain – The curtain was awesome in itself. It was 80 feet high, and as thick as the width of a man’s hand. (According to Josephus and later rabbinic authorities.)

Another point of interest is that the curtain had changed in appearance from the original pattern given Moses. The tabernacle curtain had cherubim embroidered in it. But the curtain in Herod’s temple had the heavens themselves embroidered on it. It was like looking at the sky. So when it began to tear, the priest would have thought of the rending of the heavens. And this is truly what was happening.

 

Strange things happening

There is more. According to the Talmud and Josephus, strange things had happened during that time period. Josephus said that the eastern gate, which was made of brass, and which took twenty men to close, would open and close on its own accord.

The Talmud speaks of something similar. It says that forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple doors would open and close on their own, and you could hear voices coming from within. Forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem was when Jesus took up His Messianic anointing. The Master of the Universe walked the land.

Evidently the temple was becoming a scary place. The priest would have reason to go about his duties with some nervousness. But nonetheless, it happened. He looked up and the vast curtain began to tear. The floor began to shift and shake.

It was as if God were saying, “This is it! No more! There will be no more separation! No more blood sacrifices! No more!!!” It was as if the temple itself was rending her garments. She shuddered.

What is the wonderful secret in all this? It was all about God and man. God has been reconciled to all of humanity. Thus, every person on this planet, saint or sinner, has the right to call on the name of the Lord, and be saved. Sin was dealt with in Christ. Not simply the sins of the saints. All the sins of the world were taken to the cross in Christ.

 

When love walked the earth

Through the fall of Adam, the human race came into league with Satan. But that did not mean that God stopped loving humanity. The Bible is a record of redemption. It is also the story of God’s love for humanity.

When Jesus came into the earth, it meant that He had to leave heaven with all its glory and splendor, and to come into a world that was enshrouded in sin.

Sin was our clothing. Did He come in anger? Did He come with vengeance in His heart? No. He came with a heart full of the Father’s love.

And this is why John 3:16,17 will always be the key message in the Bible. It says,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jesus had to be born as a human. And so He was. Thus we have the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus was the only human ever to walk this planet in whom Satan had no power or authority over. Satan knew that somehow he must get Jesus to sin. But it never happened. Jesus was perfect in all His ways.

 

The message of the garden

Oh yes, Satan never forgot the message of the garden –

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” (Gen3:15)

Jesus could have went back to heaven any time He desired. But He didn’t. He walked in our sinful world. He put his arms around sinful creatures. He rebuked the religious leaders for their hardheartedness, and gave nothing but love and acceptance to the most sinful of us all. It still works that way today.

But all this wasn’t entirely new. God’s plan of redemption had been laid out by His holy servants of old, the prophets. In fact the Bible unfolds around God’s Son and the work of the cross.

Hear what the prophet David had to say…

 

When mercy and truth met together

Somehow mercy and truth had to meet together. Somehow righteousness and peace had to kiss one another. Somehow heaven and earth had to be reconciled. Somehow there had to be the ‘one’ sacrifice that would take away sin forever. And the sacrifice had to be so perfect that it would remove all the sins of all of humanity, for all time. And somehow, this sacrifice had to become the way for man to return to God.

The Psalmist also spoke of this. He said,

“Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way.” (Psa 85:9-13)

Listen to the words –

‘Truth springs from the earth.’ This is Jesus born of a woman.

‘Righteousness looks down from heaven.’ The voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

‘Righteousness … will make His footsteps into a way.‘ The footsteps of Jesus took Him from the cross and to His rightful place in heaven. His footsteps are now our footsteps.

There is so much more to be said.

But then, maybe this song pretty much says it all.

Take time to listen to John Starns, ‘Love Grew Where the Blood Fell.’

In Christ always,

Buddy