The Story Behind the Story

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

Christian Challenge_1-001

Where Does a Story Really Begin?

We are about to celebrate our 38th Christian Challenge Homecoming Jubilee. What a story to be told.

When we Christian believers wish to write about our ventures of faith, how do we even find a beginning place. Our entire life has been one great adventure with the Lord Jesus. After all, the Bible says that God knew us before the foundation of the world. 

Now that I wish to share some things about a ministry known as, ‘Christian Challenge International’, I still wonder where the story of Christian Challenge actually begins. But since we are celebrating our 38th Homecoming Jubilee, perhaps it would be good to find one spot to work from.

And so I begin – Christian Challenge held its first service on March 9, 1976. But for an earlier beginning place let me reach back to 1975. 

 

IT HAPPENED FRIDAY MORNING, JANUARY 17, 1975  –

It was during my morning devotion. As I was playing my guitar and singing the Porter Wagoner song, ‘Peace on Earth Begins Today,’ I heard these words, ‘Go home.’

When God speaks, you listen and obey. Betty and I took our children out of school and headed north. (We were living in Lafayette, LA. North was Central Louisiana.)

All I had was two words. ‘Perhaps the Lord wanted me to go to churches that I had held revivals in, and share BettyMe1978some of my testimony.’ That was not to be the case.

We left our children at my sister’s home. Across the road from her was a church that we have ministered in. But it seemed odd. The lights were on and it wasn’t a service night.

Betty and I quietly sat in the back. What I did not know was that the church had recently lost their pastor. They were in prayer, asking the Lord to send them their new pastor.

Then it happened – The minister who was helping them, recognized me and said, “Brother Martin, would you like to share anything?” (I still did not know what was happening.) I simply said, “Brother, I don’t know why the Lord sent me, but I am here.” (A near quote.)

A holy hush. Then I heard weeping in the congregation. The Lord was bearing witness to their pastor.

In looking back, I was glad the Lord only gave me two words. I had no want to pastor again. Yet little did I realize is that this was a major step to another ministry the Lord would commission me to raise up, a ministry called ‘Christian Challenge International.’

What I have found through time is that every step of faith we make, is largely to prepare us for the next step in our journey of life.

My pastorship of that beautiful country church was only for a year and a half, but that year and a half was crucial for me and my precious wife, Betty. It had to be one of the most loving churches in God’s many flocks. The older folk were like grandfathers and grandmothers to us.

I spend countless hours, pouring myself into God’s Word. The Lord was opening my eyes to so many treasures in His sacred writ. All this had to do with the Lord preparing my heart for another venture of faith. But here I must add another story behind the story.

So, let me reach further back still. It took place several years before this time.

 

I FELL IN LOVE WITH AN OLD BOOK -

When the Lord, brought me into His kingdom, in 1964, He did something that set the musical note for my walk with Him. He gave me an intense love for His Word. (Some people search the Scriptures to confirm what they want to believe. Not so with me. I search to Scriptures to see what the Lord wants me to believe.)

I don’t need to skip around to find something interesting to read. That old book is filled with wonderful secrets. I know exactly what Jeremiah felt when he said, “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.” (Jer15:16)

Actually, Betty finally asked me to stop giving my Bibles away. Because of all the notes that are written in them, she wanted me to save them for our kids. (Sometimes wish I had kept them all – Alas, I felt a need to help someone along the trail of life. Bible and MusicBut I do have several saved.)

So why do I use the term ‘musical note’ in describing my Biblical walk with the Lord? The primary reason is that God has taught me to how to recognize His voice in the Scriptures, and it is like music in my soul. (Yes, the Bible is full of music.)

But there is something else equally important with regard to God’s old Book. (Besides the music.) The Bible is always unfolding its secrets. The unfolding of God’s Word is for all His children. David said, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psa119:130)

Well – If I have peaked your interest just a little, then do this. You can pray this prayer now -

“Lord God, please open my eyes to see wonderful things in Your Book. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son.” (Psa119:18; Mat7:7)

See what I mean. You begin with the now, and you keep reaching back. Where do you even find a stopping place?

Well — If you are truly interested, let me let me share more light on the story behind the story.

 

Things That Add to the Story

Perhaps you would like to know a bit more about the Martin family. This video has to do with my and Betty’s 50th wedding anniversary. It reaches far back in time.

 

Then there is the number one entry on my blog. It has to do with ‘My Story’. I never mean this story to dishonor my church background. All I can say is that every believer’s walk is intensely personal. We each can only walk in what the Lord has called us to walk in.

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

 

Then there is this, especially for country music lovers.

When the Lord spoke to me these words, ‘Go home,’ I was singing a song by Porter Wagonor, titled, ‘Peace on Earth Begins Today.’ Perhaps the Lord will speak to your heart.

Here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

 

See what I mean.

There is no stopping place. The more I reach back in my life, the more I see the hand of the Lord.

Just one more tidbit – This happened before I entered into a knowing relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I left my last ship in the Navy, I said this to my fellow crewmen: ‘I am sick and tired of this life. I am going to find me a good woman, and settle down.’ 

Was God in that? No one can convince me otherwise. In looking back it was as though the Lord gave me words to speak over myself. Did it happen?

There would have been no Christian Challenge International, had not the Lord given me my wife of His own choosing. My wife is the most loving and caring person I have ever known. And I’m so glad that our three children have so much of Betty in them. 

How easily I could have shared the bigger story of my ‘God-ordained’ marriage to a beautiful Christian girl, and how this was also arranged in time. But, you have your own story.

So – Has not your walk with the Lord been truly an amazing venture of faith.

In Christ Jesus always,

Buddy

 

Whispers of the Heart

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

 

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

 

Journal,

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

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

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

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

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

Actually the revival was like…

 

Stepping Back in Time

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

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

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

Listen –

Perhaps this picture says it all.

Then we have this –

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

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

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

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

 

Whispers of the Heart

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

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

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying –

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

God’s voice is heard in the Scriptures

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is important to understand this distinction.

This brings us to what Jesus meant when He said…

 

My Sheep Hear My Voice

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

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

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

And again –

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

And one more –

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’ll leave that where it is.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Twelve-Stringed Instrument

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

Indeed, I love what the Psalmist said –

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

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

Don’t you just love the Lord!

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

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

The Believer’s Validation of Faith

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

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

 

Journal,

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

Peter address this validation:

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

Paul also addresses this quite plainly:

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom 8:15-16)

 

The Power and Presence of a Person

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Voice of God

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

Faith is responding to a living voice.

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

Paul is stating something that Jesus had said:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish … ” (Joh 10:27-29)

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

Again from Jesus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Religion Was Nailed to the Cross – Relationship Takes its Place

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

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

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul addressed this. Listen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This brings us to the place where we need to …

 

Expect the Unexpected

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

Listen:

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

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

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

Every word that the apostle shares, counts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Call of Love 

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

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

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

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

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

It is the call of eternity.

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

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

This is what Jesus said:

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

 

Do you need a validation for your faith?

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying,

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

Have you called upon the Lord? Think about it.

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

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

Never Go With Strangers

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

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

 

 

Readers,

All true followers of Jesus Christ are given a unique spiritual ability to recognize those things which are of God. This ‘intrinsic’ knowing is functional to our newly created spiritual nature. It is an awareness that becomes even more acute as the believer matures.

The apostle uses the term ‘spiritual’ with regard to our maturity in Christ. Paul said that a spiritual man ‘knows‘ and ‘appraises‘ all things.

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

Then we have the word ‘appraises‘. Anakrino carries a forensic sense which addresses an investigation to decide either the excellence or the defect of a thing.

 

The Crown of a Believer’s Life

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

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

For example, Jesus said,

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

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

 

Fleeing from Strangers

Let’s continue with the understanding of Greek terms. Listen carefully:

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

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

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

Now notice again how the term ginosko is used:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know [ginosko] them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Joh 10:27-29)

Knowing Jesus Christ is knowing salvation.

 

It’s All in the Knowing

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Deepening Knowing

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

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

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” (Isa 40:11)

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

 

Deception – The Hallmark of Satan’s Work

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

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

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

Consider these cautions:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Appealing to the Flesh

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

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

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

The word for ‘natural‘ here is ‘psuchikos’. This word speaks to the sensual side of our lower nature. Notice how ‘psuchikos‘ connects to ‘demonic.’

And so you have bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, earthy, natural, and demonic working together.

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

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

When prideful flesh is at work it glories in itself.

 

Making Careful Examinations

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

Listen to Paul’s instruction on teachers:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Learn Spiritual Balance

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

Paul said,

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

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

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

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

Think about these things.

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

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

 

 

 

In the Midst of the Congregation I Will Sing

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

 

 

 

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

 

 

” … And again, ‘Behold, I and the children who God has given Me.’” (Heb 2:11-13 nasb)

 

Readers,

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

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

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

Then we have this in Isaiah:

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

 

Fulfilled in Christ

Jesus said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,

“… working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)

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

 

 

The Author and Finisher

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

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

Here is an example from my walk with Jesus -

 

It was 1974

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

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

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

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

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

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

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

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

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

 

 

God’s Unconditional Promises

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

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

That, dear friend, is an unconditional promise.

This is where we need to understand Biblical promises.

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Bedrock of the Faith Walk

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

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

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

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

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

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

 

A few more ‘never-ever’ promises

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

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

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

 

Our Inheritance in Christ

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

Paul gave insight into this area, when he said,

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

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

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

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

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

 

The stumbling, bumbling apostle

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

Have you caught the point in all this?

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

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

 

 

In the Midst of the Congregation

And so, we agree with the Psalmist who said,

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

We write:

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

And,

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

And,

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

And,

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

And,

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

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

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

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

Think about these things.

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

Your Servant in Christ,

Buddy

 

The Path of the Godly – The Path of the Sinner

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

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

 

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

 

 _______

 

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

 

Readers,

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

Thus we hear David say,

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Ancient Faith Realized

Take note of these Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

The Lord said,

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

And again,

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

 

 

The Way – The Truth – The Life

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

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

Hear another description of the two ways:

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

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

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

The very first thing Jesus says on the mountain is,

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

 

 

The Happiness Of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Bouquet of Heaven

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

David said,

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

The Psalmist adds to this in saying,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Living Word

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

This is why the apostle said,

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

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

Notice again that Psalms 1:2 says,

“In His law he meditates day and night.”

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

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

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

 

 

Firmly Planted by Streams of Water

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

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

 

 

The Path of the Wicked

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

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

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

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

Note Isaiah:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Where the Wicked Cannot Stand

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

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

Psalm 1 completes itself in saying,

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

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

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

The sinner has no one but himself.

Jesus summed it this way:

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

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

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

 

 

In Christ Jesus always,

Buddy

God’s Wings and the Blue Thread of Heaven

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

“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

Taking a Walk in the Spirit

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, …

“… so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1-4)


Journal,

Did you know that God has made a way for us to know Him in a deeply personal way? The apostle describes this deeply personal of knowing as a, ‘walk in the Spirit’.

To simplify things let’s begin with the beginning. A walk in the Spirit begins at the point of our salvation. Our salvation begins the moment the Holy Spirit sprinkles the blood of Jesus on our heart. This happens when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Thus our walk in the Spirit never ceases to identify with the blood of Jesus. It is crucial to understand this aspect of a covenant walk.

And this is where the working of repentance is so important to a believer. The ancients taught that repentance is a form of worship, that in our repentance we are continually adjusting our walk with the Lord to where it should be.

The issue is that no one can walk a Spirit-directed life where sin is not dealt with. This is why believers can experience a ‘grieving’ in their spirit. The grieving is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is a sign that we have a defilement that must be cared for. It is a sign of our call to the Lord’s cleansing work.

John spoke of this, when he said,

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn 1:6-9)

 

 

Humility of Heart

Therefore to walk in the Spirit requires that we be humble of heart, and continually recognize our need for cleansing. The plus side here is that the Holy Spirit affects this cleansing work. This is why the apostle said that no true believer could practice a life of sin. It hurts too much. Whereas a sinner sins by nature, a Christian will find that sin is contrary to his nature. He must have a cleansing.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying,

“… to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’” (Isa 66:2)

 

If you wish to know how to pray a prayer that deals with this aspect of cleansing, read Psalm 139, and then close by praying what David said in verses 23 and 24;

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

 

A Walk of Reality

The second issue of walking in the Spirit is to understand that ‘walking in the Spirit’ means to walk in the very reality of the Lord Jesus. It is His life that we are joined to.

Thus walking in the Spirit is a walk of reality. The Holy Spirit takes the things of Jesus and makes them real to us. This is why it is so important to have a heart for truth.

Jesus explains it this way:

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

He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (Joh 16:13-14)

 

Here is where we simply open our heart and let it be known to the Lord that we want to walk with Him without any preconditions on our part.

Keep in mind that a walk of truth is not about a religion, or a denomination. The Biblical word for ‘truth‘ has to do with the reality of Jesus Christ. Truth speaks of what is behind an appearance. Religion often has to do largely with appearances. Learning to walk with Jesus and you will have a walk of the Spirit.

The point is that …

 

You Cannot Know God After the Flesh

There is probably no lesson greater to a child of God than that of understanding the spiritual dynamics of the new covenant. It is impossible to know true fellowship with the Lord Jesus on a fleshly level.

Listen to the apostle -

 

“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” (2Co 5:16)

 

This is also where the Bible itself plays an important role in our learning to walk in the Spirit. There is no book on this planet like our Bible. It carries in it the very presence of the Lord. Consider your Bible a garden of delights. Don’t read it like a newspaper. Read it like you are looking into the eyes of God. Seek for Jesus.

David gives insight into this, when he said,

 

“Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” (Psa 119:18)

 

Notice that in most translations the word ‘Wonderful‘ is in caps. This is because the term ‘Wonderful’ is a code name for God’s Messiah.

The term translated Law in Hebrew, is Torah, which simply means ‘instruction.’ When David said ‘Wonderful things’, you can be sure He was talking about God’s Messiah. David was a man after God’s heart, and the heart of God is His Son. Isaiah later said that God’s Messiah would be called ‘Wonderful Counselor.’

Listen to the prophet Isaiah -

 

“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.” (Isa 9:6)

 

There is something else that has to be considered. It has to do with …

 

 Giving Up Your Stand Between

The faith we live by does not originate in ourselves. Nor does it originate in any religious setting. The faith we are to live by originates in Jesus Christ Himself, and is energized in us by the Holy Spirit. In this case our faith is joined with the faith that comes out of God Himself. This is what drinking from the fountain does.

A true new covenant spiritual faith walk wraps itself around the Lord speaking into the life of a believer. Thus we hear the Lord say,

 

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Here is where I need to make an emphasis that I hope it will eventually sink in. Listen carefully –

 

 

Don’t Let Your Religion Stand Between You and the Lord Jesus!

I realize this can be a difficult statement for some. However, the number one sign of spiritual immaturity is where we identify our walk with the Lord with our religion or with a certain movement or with a certain someone.

Hear it from Paul -

 

“ … for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1Co 3:3-4)   — Now substitute the words Paul and Apollos with Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and you get the message. 

 

So, can we truly know the heart of God? Yes we can. This is what the new covenant is all about.

Simply stated, learn to fix your eyes on Jesus. He is the author and finished of your faith.

Jesus said that eternal life was about knowing Him.

The better acquainted we become with the heart of God, the more we will be like Jesus.

And if you truly want to know what a walk in the Spirit is about, it is a walk of love, about learning to love the way God loves. This is why the apostle said that when we walk in love we actually fulfill the full intent of the Law of Moses. Paul is not talking about a natural love, but a divine love.

It is in the walk of the Spirit that we come to know God’s love is real life.

Now consider what the apostle Paul said about knowing the Lord –

 

“ … the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1Co 2:11-13)

 

Are you ready for a walk in the Spirit? Let the Lord know it. And remember what I said earlier about Psalm 139. Why not read that Psalm and ask the Lord to speak to your heart.

 

Here is a song for your inspiration – Open The Eyes of My Heart, Lord.

 

In Christ always,

Brother Buddy

 

 

 

 

 

A Rediscovering (Recovering) Christianity

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

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

“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Col 1:26-28)

 

 

Journal,

Here are snippets from an article put out by the Associated Press, Sept 3, 2011, titled,

 

Study: Religious faith waning in US

According to Mark Chaves in, “American Religion: Contemporary Trends.”

 

“…over the last generation or so, religious belief in the U.S. has experienced a ‘Softening’ that affects everything from whether people go to worship services regularly to whom they marry. Far more people are willing to say they don’t belong to any religious tradition …

 

“Today, as many as 20 percent of all Americans say they don’t belong to any religious group. …. [Yet] about 92 percent of Americans still profess belief in God, they just don’t use religion as part of their identity…

 

According to Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

 

“Anderson thinks the change is better described as a shift than a decline, as people become more willing to leave the denominations or faiths in which they were raised and look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment.”

 

“Chaves agrees, saying churches are likelier today to consist largely of a ‘hard core’ of believers, and to have fewer casual or lukewarm members that use to swell the ranks.”

 

I have something else to offer about what is happening in Christendom. It isn’t about waning. It is about a rediscovery.

 

Christians are Rediscovering Their Identity in Christ Jesus

Regardless of what people may think, true Christianity has never been an issue of religion.

How easy it is to become distracted by the peripherals, non-essentials, with over-reaching doctrines of various groups, and with the denominational biases that have served to separate believers from one another. The religious world is not always very pretty.

This doesn’t negate that there are truly born again people in all Christian groups. But to look at any denomination as being the cause of a person’s salvation is to have a faulty view of salvation. Salvation will always be personal. Our walk with the Lord will always be personal and not because of our denomination.

A business person shared with me how unique his ‘Church of Christ’ denomination was. He said a Church of Christ member had car trouble while traveling, and that someone from the local Church of Christ took care of him. My response was simple. The one helping could have been a good Baptist, a good Pentecostal, a good Methodist, or a good Catholic. He helped because he was a Christian. The conversation ended on that note.

However, there is an issue that defines God’s people through all the Scriptures. This issue speaks to the faith of the Old Testament saint, to the spiritual freedom of the new covenant believer, to a love that fills the heart of all who have been joined to Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with which religious group the believer belongs.

The apostle said it in simple terms -

“But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1Cor 6:17).

The major indicator that a person is born again is always an intense love for Jesus.

Concerning Christ, Peter says,

“And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Pet 1:8)

Now let’s take a look at…

 

A Kingdom Not of This World

Pilates hears this in his conversation with Jesus –

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be turned over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (Cf. John 18:33-38)

Pilate responds,

“So You are a king!”

Next –

“You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Pilate is bewildered;

“What is truth?”

So there you have it. The rest of the story is played out at the cross. In a short time Jesus will hang on a cross with a sign above His head, saying,

 

“Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews”

But of course the story doesn’t end here on the cross. On the day of Pentecost we hear the apostle declare quite plainly,

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)

What then is the significance of the Man hanging on a cross? If that is where he is left, there is little significance to be had. He would simply be another prophet of Israel, after the trail of the many prophets before Him. This was their lot.

But of course Jesus was far from being a prophet. He was God manifest in the flesh. The significance of His ascension and glorification is that the kingdom of God has entered into its completed redemptive stage. All of eternity will rest its case on the finished work of Calvary.

This brings us to …

 

What makes a Christian a Christian  

When a person is truly born again, which, by the way, literally means ‘to be born from above,’ this person becomes a new creature. This new creature is not only a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, but much of what relates to Jesus can be said of this new child born from heaven.

The point is that once a person is born again their spiritual center shifts. One moment they were earthy creatures, the next moment they have entered into the kingdom of the beloved Son. And this kingdom is, “not of this world.” And its center will not be found in this world.

It is this very thing that is a rediscovering by many of the nominal church today. And it is this very thing that is breaking down denominational barriers that have been in the minds of so many. And it is this very truth that is allowing believers to realize their true freedom in Christ.

When Jesus said, “I am not of this world,” he later said the very same thing about all God’s children. In His high priestly prayer, Jesus reached across time. He speaks of all who will come to Him. Jesus said,

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)

Let that statement sink in. If we were to take Scripture by Scripture about our being from above, it would simply thrill our hearts. And this is the idea.

Our hearts need to thrill over what it means to belong to Christ. The greatest need for Christians today is that of learning their true identity as heavenly citizens. We are now heavenly citizens living in earthly bodies. We have to learn what this means to us spiritually. And this is where the ‘transformations’ of the mind come into play.

 

It Has Never Been About Religion

Each time a believer receives a fresh revelation of his or her relationship to Jesus and to heaven, it is often like being born again, again. The effect is a spiritual ‘upward‘ renewing. What is happening is that the child of God is simply learning to think with a heavenly centering. If there was ever a key to a true Biblical faith walk in the new covenant, this is it.

The point is that the child of God has a spiritual support base that is out of this world. The problem is that we have been trained from our youth to think like the world, reason like the world, and to depend on the world’s resources, and to think religiously. Becoming heavenly minded often means going through some shake up periods.

However, when I say it is never about religion, I am not speaking of the public gatherings of God’s people. God has ordained that His people gather into flocks of His choosing. The choosing is in His hands. God places us where He wants us to be.

 

Passing Through Life Gates 

The walk of every child of God will always be personal and under the direction of the Lord. With this in view I want to share something by way of my walk.

I pastored my first church at age 29. (I’m 71 now.) Though I was born again, my mind had been conditioned to thinking in a certain religious pattern.

Dissatisfied with pastoring, I jumped the ship. Next I find myself evangelizing full-time. But something was still amiss. I could not put my finger on it.

Leaving the evangelistic field I settled my family down for the next three years. (1971-1974) During those years my spiritual life underwent a complete renovation. I had my business, still ministered out a bit, but the Lord was using various means to precondition me to thinking ‘heavenly.’

I had to be weaned from the worldly and religious way of thinking.

The Lord brought me to a place of total surrender. My surrender went somewhat like this: 

“Lord, I want to be what You want me to be. I will go where You want me to go. The rest of my life is not mine. The only thing I ask is that You tell me what You want me to do, and not send someone else to tell me.” — I had one other request. I must have my wife. 

That is when it happened —- Shortly after my contact with heaven, the Lord opened a door for me that I have often called, ‘the gate to miracle land.’ The Lord was teaching me to center my whole life on thinking ‘upwardly.’

He was inviting me to enter this new sphere of service.

My wife and I began discovering an awesome world. Even with the struggles, battles, disappointments, and mess ups, this new way of living was like heaven to me. 

I like to describe this new venture as a life gate. These life gates will be many in the believer’s life. Through each gate there is a transition from where we are to where God wants to take us.

Perhaps this is what Paul is alluding to in part when he says,

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

 

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2Co 3:17-18)

 

Becoming Kingdom Seekers

Rediscovering Christianity means to become a kingdom seeker.

Is this not what Jesus was teaching us when He said,

 

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

 

What did Jesus say would happen if we learn to seek the direct rule of God in our lives? The Lord said if we would learn to do that, then everything else in life, that is, all our needs, whatever they may be, spiritual and otherwise would simply be added to us.

Well, enough for now. Was the article put out by the Associated Press right? Is Christianity waning, or is Christianity rediscovering itself. I think rediscovering is the answer.

What about you? What do you think? Have you experienced any life gates. I’d like to hear about them.

How about this song from my special group titled, ‘Walk On.’ (By The Isaacs)

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy

The Point of No Return

Bookmark/FavoritesFacebookTwitterGoogle GmailEmailYahoo MailLinkedInPrintShare

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

 

Journal,

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

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

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

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

 

Points of No Return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul said it this way:

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39)

It all has to do with the cross.

 

The Cross is God’s Covenant of No Return

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

The Lord said to this Jewish leader,

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

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

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

The apostle alludes to this, when he says,

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Centerpiece of the New Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And it all has to do with…

The Children of the Covenant 

John said,

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

 

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1Jn 3:1-2)

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

Jesus said,

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

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

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

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

 

Unique Traits of God’s ‘No Return’ People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

“But as it is, they [Old Testament believers] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:16)

 

 

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

 

 

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven…” (2Co 5:1-2)

 

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

 


In Christ always,

Buddy