The Pilgrim’s Journey …

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“… having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. … they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13-16 NASB)

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Readers,

In writing to Timothy, Paul instructed him to flee from worldly attractions, especially that of a love for money. He must always pursue those things that to do with our heavenly life. He then said to Timothy,

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (Cf, 1Tim6:11,12)

Two things stand out. First is ‘the’ confession. Did you know that the early Christians were also called ‘the people of the great confession.’ This is because new covenant salvation is based on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And a confession made from the heart concerning Jesus as Lord is what introduces us to the kingdom of God’s beloved son. Listen to the background:

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mat10:2)

“And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8)

“For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God … for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Cf. Rom10:1-11)

The second thing that stands out in what Paul said to Timothy, has to do with the fight of faith.

There are things we must always remember. First of all we are not of this world. We are pilgrims on a journey. But we must also learn to fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the author and the finisher of our faith.

So, let’s talk about ‘the Pilgrim’s Journey.’

The best place to begin is with…


The struggle of temptation

Satan’s primary battle plan against believers is to disquiet their walk with the Lord. He does this by searching for something in our life that he can provide a temptation against.

Satan knows well how to stir our earthly passions with worldly allurements. His attacks are generally towards the mind, but he also uses our senses. (This is why we have to train our own senses to discern good and evil. Cf. Heb5:14)

For a temptation to work it has to be something that is quite alluring to our senses and to our thought life. Otherwise it would not be a temptation.

James says it this way:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone [with evil.]. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed [baited] by his own lusts [desires].” (James 1:13,14)

— The Bible language for temptation carries two thoughts, a solicitation to evil, or a testing from the Lord with a purpose of strengthened our faith, such as was the case of Abraham;

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his own begotten son.” (Heb 11:17. Relates to Gen22)

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A temptation can be powerful

A temptation is quite real and can be overpowering, especially when the temptation is towards something that we desire. The point is that Satan is using something of our own desire to bait us. This is why Jesus said to the disciples,

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mat26:41)

There you have the key. The flesh is weak. This means that most temptations will center on our own human nature and as an attraction to our fleshly life.

But a temptation is also very subtle. This is the reason God’s people need to be cautious when it comes to modern-day prosperity teachings. Most prosperity teachings are earthly focused and worldly minded, and yet are well wrapped in Bible language.

Does this mean that God is against prosperity? Quite the contrary. David had this to say:

“Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; and let them say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant.’” (Ps35:27)

Satan’s prosperity message will always have a worldly attachment to it. True Biblical prosperity is an outflow of a heart relationship with the Lord.

Listen to these promises:

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps37:3,4)

— I would encourage every believer to meditate on the whole of Psalm 37. It explains God’s philosophy of life.  Philosophy means a love of wisdom.

Then we have this from the Lord:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt6:33)

Seeking God’s kingdom was a Hebrew way of saying, ‘Seek the direct rule of God in your life.’ Seeking His righteousness speaks of seeking His way of doing things.

Also keep this in mind – A temptation by its very nature should alert a believer that he is under attack. The enemy is checking to see how far he can get with attracting the believer into an area of failure.

Wow, this sounds like we have little defense. This is not the case at all. We have a number of defenses. Here is one in particular:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1Co10:13)

Paul’s point is that the Lord will never stop providing means and ways for you to overcome Satan’s attempts to draw you away from the Lord Himself. The Lord never stops overseeing our life in this world.

Now let’s talk about…


The Realness of Life

Christians who struggle the most are always those who live compromised lives; sort of one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. (As if such a thing were possible.)

Jesus came to give us real life! To enjoy true life we have to become single-focused. No more double-mindedness.

James said,

“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 NASB)

Double-mindedness is the number one cause of spiritual instability in a believer’s life. Jesus adds to this in saying,

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Mat 6:22-24 NASB)

Where Jesus said the ‘eye is bad,’ this was a Hebraism for ‘an evil eye,’ that is, an eye fixed on greed. You cannot be worldly and spiritual at the same time. When our eyes become fixed on worldly pursuits and pleasures of the world, the result will always be darkness in our lives. We are called to live as children of the light.

Jesus said,

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

The point is that all true blessings come from our walk with Jesus. These are directed blessings. And this is why David said,

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake … Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Cf. Psalm 23)

— Lovingkindness is a covenant expression that speaks of God’s very character, that is, His faithfulness to those in covenant relationship with Him. It speaks a reality that God’s love and kindness are eternal. Paul drew on this word when he said, Nothing would ever be able to separate is from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.

Now for a closer look at…


The Path of Separation

We are instructed by the apostles to see our life in this present world as a a pilgrimage. Where the world lives in a cycle of birth to death, believers are to live as a people of destiny. We must never lose this focus.

This means in part that every trial we will ever face has a single goal in mind. The purpose of the trial is to keep us moving on the highway of sanctification (separation to God) and in the keeping power of God’s love.

We need to understand that we have been forever sanctified to Jesus through the blood of the eternal covenant. (This is a once-for-all eternal sanctification. To sanctify means to make holy. It speaks of anything that solely belongs to God.) The path of sanctification has to do with learning to live in our separation to the Lord.

The path of our separation to God will have struggles and temptations. But its greater spiritual feeling of the heart will be found in its joy. Why is this? It is because someone greater is walking with us every step of the way. His presence in our lives is a constant reminder that we belong to Him.

Jesus adds to this:

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy have be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11)

“Until now you have asked for  nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24)

The joyful heart is a hallmark of our walk with the Lord. We know Him. We love Him. He is our joy of life.

There is so much more to be said about our pilgrim life. I hope what I have written here will bless you.

As a final thought, always keep before you that we believers are saved by grace. Here is a song I pray will minister to your heart.

It is titled, ‘A Sinner Saved by Grace.’

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Be encouraged. It won’t be long before our journey is completed.

Love always in Christ,

Buddy

Holiness to the Lord…

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“For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” - 1 Thess. 4:7,8 nasb

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Journal,

One of the scariest words in the Bible for many people is the word holiness. And even though believers are children of God, there are times we don’t really feel very holy. We are all aware of our failings and our weaknesses.Yet there is something that believers need to understand. Regardless of our feelings, believers have been made holy in Christ

"Head of Christ, circa 1890" Giclee PrintOur holiness in Christ is known as ‘positional’ holiness. Positional holiness is a foundational building truth of the Christian walk.

Positional holiness means that our life cannot be separated from Christ Jesus. This is why the apostle said that we have already been raised up with Christ, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Jesus fully represents all who truly believe in Him. Because He is holy, we are also holy.

God planned for holiness to be the centerpiece of His work of salvation. Adam lost his holiness before God. Thus the human family became what Adam became. Christ Jesus went to the cross so what we could be joined to Him forever. From Adam we inherited sin. From Christ we inherit holiness and righteousness.

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Now let’s consider what holiness really means.

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HOLY IS WHAT GOD IS.

When applied to God, the word holy is equivalent to divine. When applied to persons or to things, to be holy means the person or thing has been set apart from common usage for divine use. For a thing to be holy implies that it is exclusively God’s. (1 Pet. 1:16)

The first time the word holy is used in the Scriptures is at the burning bush. The Lord said to Moses,“Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex. 3:5) What made the ground holy was the presence of the Lord

And this is what makes every born again person holy. The new birth is a holy birth; “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.” (Eph. 1:13) (See also John 3:7,8)

Every child of God carries in his or her heart the divine presence. The problem, however, is that while we carry in our hearts the presence of the Lord Jesus, we are yet in earthly bodies, and in these earthly bodies we are subject to temptations, to failures, to stumbling, and even into a relapse into an area of sin.

The answer is that Jesus said that He would be with us always. He isn’t just with us when we are good. The apostle carefully pointed out that nothing could ever separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Jesus is even present in our badness. Paul said that we are sealed for the day of redemption. He also said that we can cause the Holy Spirit to grieve when we fail to walk as we should.

And this brings us to one more aspect of holiness.

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Experiencing Holiness

We need a power in our lives that can help us to live a life that is truly worthy of the Lord. This is where experiential holiness comes in. Experiential holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit. Experiential holiness is where we experience the power and presence of Christ in our lives. The Holy Spirit is continually at work in each believer, helping the believer to process his or her life from the cross. Thus He empowers us to walk in a way that is pleasing to God. (The perfection of holiness takes place in heaven.)

Is there nothing we can do to facilitate experiential holiness in our lives? Yes there are things we can do. There are certain things all believers can do. These things include giving ourselves over to Jesus daily, being devoted to prayer and the study of God’s Word, learning to live a life that is sensitive to the prompting and guidance of the Spirit, and, finally, learning to live with an attitude of repentance. Song of Mary - Stacy Lee

Oh yes, repentance. Many don’t realize how very important repentance is in the walk of holiness. In the ancient Hebrew tradition, repentance was considered to be an act of worship. It spoke of a daily, or a moment-by-moment adjusting of our life to the will of God.

Think about it. What does it mean to repent? To repent means to change one’s mind, to change one’s actions, to change one’s attitude. In repentances we are making adjustments to come into line with the will and Word of God.

Most of the time repentance is simply an adjustment of the heart. The Spirit of the Lord is always present to help us make these adjustments. In fact the Holy Spirit is the One who brings us to repentance and thereby helps us humble our hearts in making these spiritual adjustments in our lives.


So, if you’ve had a stumbling in  your life, bring it to Jesus. Let Him heal your heart and your life. And let Him provide both the cleansing from your failure, and let Him empower you for your future journey.

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Here is a song by Sandi Patty. This is what Jesus did for you. (Via Dolorosa)



Love to you in Christ,

Buddy