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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Healing

Healing

John Bunyan (author of the classic Pilgrim's Progress) wrote the following in his book Grace Abounding to the Chief Sinners:

As for my own natural life for the time that I was without God in the world, it was indeed “according to the course of this world,” and “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2,3) It was my delight to be taken captive by the “devil at his will,” 2 Tim. 2: 26, being filled with all unrighteousness; the which did also so strongly work and put forth itself both in my heart and life, and that from a child, that I had few equals, especially considering my years, which were tender, for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God.  Yea, so settled and rooted was I in these things, that they became as a second nature to me; the which, as I have also with soberness considered since, did so offend the Lord, that even in my childhood he did scare and affrighten me with fearful dreams, and did terrify me with fearful visions.  For often, after I had spent this and the other day in sin, I have in my bed been greatly afflicted, while asleep, with the apprehensions of devils and wicked spirits, who still, as I then thought, labored to draw me away with them, of which I could never be rid.

Observe this vivid and honest confession of a man who has recognized that he is in fact dead in his sin.  Can you hear the excruciating anguish of his words? Can you feel the struggle of his soul against the utter wretchedness of his estate?  For is that not where Christ finds us all adrift and helpless in the misery of our self-made death?  Is it not life that He offers us?  The question He asks each one of us is, “Do you want to be healed?”

The Apostle John preserves for us this wondrous illustration:

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes.  In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.  One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”  The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. (John 5:2-9 RSV)

We have all kinds of open wounds we call hurts, angers, and fears. We keep them hidden deep within our hearts yet they nevertheless affect the way we live.  These are wounds that must be healed if we are to live our lives for the Savior.  Only He can heal them. The question is, will we let Him?  Jesus says to us, "Do you want to be healed?"  These wounds are fortresses where the enemy of our soul still holds us captive.  They are strongholds of the enemy still because we were the ones who chose to guard the gate with impotence, arrogance and passivity as our weapons: arrogance in our belief that we have, in our own strength, the ability to live a life worthy of our calling; impotence in our perceived, yet hollow, victories against this terrible foe; passivity in our faith experience as we await the holy lightning bolt to set it all straight.

Mother Martyria (1904-1999, the much loved co-founder of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary) once said, “It is your constant patience in faith which will decide the struggle against sin, not occasional victories or defeats.”  Perhaps Isaiah said it best, “ Have you never heard or understood?  Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth?  He never grows faint or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding.  He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.  But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.  They will fly high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT) Get it? “Constant patience in faith which will decide the struggle.” Hebrews calls it entering into the “Sabbath rest.”

Hanna Whitall Smith, in The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, described this phenomena as follows:  “You have found Jesus as your Savior from the penalty of sin, but you have not found Him as your Savior from its power.  You have carefully studied the Holy Scriptures and have gathered much precious truth from them.  You have trusted that this would feed and nourish your spiritual life. But in spite of it all, your souls are starving and dying within you.  You cry out in secret, again and again, for that bread and water of life which you see promised in the Scriptures to all believers. In the very depths of your heart, you know that your experience is not a Scriptural experience.  As an old writer said, your religion is ‘merely talk whereas, the early Christians enjoyed, possessed, and lived it.’  Your hearts have weakened within you, as day after day, and year after year, your early visions of triumph have grown dimmer.  You have accepted that the best you can expect from your religion is a life of alternate failure and victory one hour sinning and the next repenting, and then beginning again, only to fail and repent again.”

It is one thing to know of our great need and yet another to know God’s way of deliverance from our sin. We feel that our life is not what it ought to be. We can see in our past, seasons of spiritual highs that did not last that were followed by the slow declension back into the pit from where we once came.  Andrew Murray said in The Spirit of Christ: “There can be little doubt that the answer must be this: they did not know or honor the Indwelling Spirit as the strength of their life, as the power of their faith, to keep them always looking to Jesus and trusting in Him.  They knew not what it was, day by day, to wait in lowly reverence for the Holy Spirit to deliver from the power of the flesh, and to maintain the wonderful presence of the Father and the Son within them.

For John Bunyan, the way of healing began when the Holy Spirit illuminated this passage from Scripture, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others." 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

Are you drowning in the pool of sin of your own making?  Does the victorious life in Christ seem only a distant dream?  Jesus is still asking, “Do you want to be healed?” Romans 9:16 says: “So receiving God's promise is not up to us.  We can't get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will show mercy to anyone he chooses.”  Beloved we are a vessel of mercy by God’s sovereign choice. We then can learn to rest in His mercy.

“He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  You have been healed by his wounds! (1 Peter 2:24 NLT)

Are You Still Sucking Your Thumb?

Are You Still Sucking Your Thumb?

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. 1 Peter 2:2

Do you ever see a toddler still sucking their thumb or even a young elementary school child?  This habit started as an infant and was allowed to continue until, the child is growing up still sticking his or her thumb in their mouth for security.  Unless this gets under control the child remains a child in many ways.

Many adults who are Christians may be still 'sticking their spiritual thumbs' in their mouths.  In other words maybe you know the "now I lay me down to sleep prayer", hear Psalm 23 routinely read at funerals, know John 3:16 but that is about the extent of it.  To grow up in Christ and become mature and not keep sucking your thumb you have to dig deeper and go beyond the basics.  It is not the rabbi, priest, or pastors job to spoon feed you but when you leave church you have to do your part to get off the pacifier.

First make sure you have asked Jesus to be Lord and savior.  When I became born again in 1975 I craved reading the word. It became my life blood so to speak.  Prior to this I had gone to church and done all the right things but was not excited about Jesus.  So how about it? Time to mature in Christ? Start reading the book of John in New Testament and see how your life changes.

PRAYER:  I choose to go beyond just the basic Bible knowledge of my childhood years.  I love your word Lord and I want to feed myself and not need a baby bottle or my thumb anymore.   I will not allow Satan to make me complacent about things of the Spirit.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Becky Juett Miller
God's Lemonade Stand

https://www.facebook.com/GodsLemonadeStand/
https://www.godslemonadestand.blogspot.com

Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire

Casualties of War — Friendly Fire

Iam grieved in my spirit of late at the breaking news about all of the terrorist activity reported in the news.  Not the television network news, nor even the cable news, but reports from the front lines in the battle for souls.  My ears are still ringing from reports of church splits, pastoral staff resignations, mischief and misbehavior at Christian universities.  What fuels the flame of this seemingly continuous conflagration that destroys lives, churches and makes impotent the work of the Gospel?  It is the sin of anger!  Yes, you heard it here first.  Anger is a sin.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

I did not come to this conclusion by way of thoughtful consideration of my intellectual prowess.  It came instead by incremental illumination by the Holy Spirit as He worked upon my heart during a ten-year long sojourn in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians.  It could not have happened any other way!  It was and is a continuance of the work that God began and will finish on the day when Christ returns (Phil 1:6, paraphrase mine).  For how can mere flesh and blood stand in the midst of Him of whom angels sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  For He who brings everything into conformity with His will had already spoken through the Apostle Paul and said, “Be humble, thinking others as better than yourself…In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing….” (Phil 2:3b, 14)  Instead, our lives should epitomize the “attitude that was in Christ Jesus.”  The only innocent man who lived did not cling to His innocence but rather sacrificed himself on the altar without complaint.  He could have been angry at those who falsely accused and condemned Him.  He could have clung to His excellence and rightly held us in contempt.  Instead He went as a lamb to the slaughter.  How then shall we live?  Shall we continue giving aid and comfort to the Enemy?  Shall we continue inflicting casualties upon each other because our lives are not “blameless,” “clean” and “innocent” “as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.”? (Phil 2:15)  How then can we be angry with another without thinking too highly of ourselves?

I know that there are those who would argue with me, but C.S. Lewis pretty much covers the basis for this conclusion in his book, Mere Christianity.

“The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not.  In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts.  You have the facts (how men do behave) and you also have something else (how they ought to behave).  In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts.  Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way, and certain results follow, and that may be the whole story.  But men behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story, for all the time you know that they ought to behave differently.”

Blow Up Your TV

Blow Up Your TV

Back in ancient times (BC — Before Computers) in a land far away in the midst of a horrible war, I was looking through the resident collection of albums (the round plastic platters with a hole in the middle) when I spied one by some guy named John Denver (released before he was famous).  There was a song on the album whose first line lyric caught my ear, “Blow up your TV, try to find Jesus on your own.”  I don’t remember much about the song itself but the lyric has remained with me all of these years.

Having reached the age where my children have become adults, I now look back on the earlier years and see that life had some spots that were a blur of activity.  Being involved, because of my children, in little league, Boy Scouts, soccer, Sunday School, youth group and also being a full-time sailor didn’t leave much time for anything else.  Life seemed pretty full.  There are indeed so many activities in our lives!   Yet how many are profitable?  How many are profitable for the kingdom?  How much time do I devote to those things that are important to my health and well being as a believer?  Sometimes I think that the world does a better job of conforming me into its mold than I do allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2 paraphrase mine).  I think in my case that the blur of activity was motivated more by my flesh (not wanting my children to miss out) than by the Spirit (wanting to draw me into a closer walk with Him).  This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done both.  It means that my attitude wasn’t right.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

As I was meditating upon Hebrews, chapter twelve, I was struck by the idea of “throwing off everything that hinders.” (NIV)  As I looked up from my easy chair I found myself looking full on at one thing in particular that took up a great deal of my time, the huge one-eyed monster we call Television.  My heart was shaken at its foundations.  The Holy Spirit was showing me in a very clear way that I would rather spend time watching the political talk shows than with Him.  Busted!  So I got up out of my chair walked across the room and pulled the plug!  I would like to say that the angels of heaven broke out in song (However, what really broke out was beads of sweat upon my brow.  Several times that evening, as I was trying to read, I found my hand reaching for the ol’ remote control.  I thought to myself, how many other things are in my life that have become a hindrance to fellowship with the Father.  Am I really trying to work out my faith with “fear and trembling” or am I just busy?  C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” mentions that
one of the “cardinal virtues” is temperance.  The first word that the dictionary (my copy was of course printed in the last century) uses to define this is moderation, “bringing within bounds, avoidance of excesses.”

If you find yourselves breathing hard at the end of the day, might I suggest in all humility (because I promise you that I am NOT the fount of all knowledge and wisdom) that you take stock of your activities and see if there isn’t some time that could be better used in your relationship with the Savior.  “Blow up your TV (hyperbole mine) and try to find Jesus on your own!”

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us.  So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  He did not give up because of the cross!  On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:1-2 TEV


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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