Run to Jesus Your Banner

This story is shared by Ralph Tippin, my dear friend and contributor to the Treasures on this website…

Every day, I am reminded that the enemy of our souls is out to rob us of life. It is at these times that I want to run – right to our heavenly Father. He teaches me how to fight and assures me He is right beside me. When we show up in the right armor, we look every bit like a child of the King, and we put the enemy to flight. The Bible tells us so.

 
Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord my Banner
by William Cowper  (1779)
 
By whom was David taught to aim the dreadful blow,
When he Goliath fought, and laid the Gittite low?
No sword nor spear the stripling took,
But chose a pebble from the brook.
 
‘Twas Israel’s God and king who sent him to the fight;
Who gave him strength to fling, and skill to aim aright.
Ye feeble saints your strength endures,
Because young David’s God is yours.
 
Who ordered Gideon forth, to storm th’ invaders’ camp,
With arms of little worth, a pitcher and a lamp?
The trumpets made his coming known,
And all the host was overthrown.
 
Oh! I have seen the day when with a single word,
God helping me to say, my trust is in the Lord;
My soul has quelled a thousand foes,
Fearless of all that could oppose.
 
But unbelief, self-will, self-righteousness and pride,
How often do they steal my weapon from my side?
Yet David’s Lord and Gideon’s Friend
Will help His servant to the end.
 
 
Whatever our circumstances, let us not hide from the One who offers to stand beside us, our Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner. He asks that we cast our cares upon Him. As a friend is fond of saying, “worship is an encounter with the One who is always bigger than what’s the matter.” In the awe-inspiring presence of God, our worries are put into perspective. Perhaps it is not that our anxieties are smaller than we perceive them, but that God Himself is far greater than we perceive Him.
 
 
Running To Him
 
 
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

I will never forget that beautiful Sunday evening as we were walking across the parking lot to Millrace Park in downtown Cambridge. We were going to hear the Kingdom Kids, an international group of children sponsored by YWAM (Youth With A Mission). People from all over town, some carrying lawn chairs, many in families, eagerly made their way toward the meeting area by the river, anxious to find a seat or an area on the grass on which to settle down for the service. 
 
Just before we got to the entrance of the amphitheatre, Jim, a member of the church we were attending, pulled me aside and said, “Can I talk with you for a minute?” Jim was the head of the deacons’ board of our Baptist church. He had also served as Sunday School superintendent, had taught there for many years, and had headed the youth group as well. He and I had chatted together several times but I didn’t even suspect what he was about to tell me. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.
 
It went something like this: “Last week, I spent a lot of time reading through the book of First John in my Bible. The more I read it, the guiltier I became. In my heart, I knew that if I died right then, I would not have gone to Heaven. I had no relationship with God, I didn’t talk to Him, I rarely read His word, and I was pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes – going through the motions, wanting to be a people pleaser, happy to seem important in the eyes of those who knew me. It finally dawned on me that it was not who I was or what I had done that would save me. Only Jesus could do that. I needed to confess my sins to God, receive His forgiveness because of what Jesus had done on the cross, and sincerely ask Him into my life. Well, I did that and now I feel like a brand new man. I wanted you to know. Will you forgive me for being such liar?”
 
Just Going to Church Doesn’t Make You a Christian. Running to the Lord Does.
 
Of course, my first reaction was to hug him, and then to reassure him that he had done the right thing. My advice was that he tell Pastor Kennedy. That would fulfill the word of God as found in Romans 10, verses 8 to 11. With that we parted, Jim with a smile on his face, me with tears in my eyes and a lightness to my step. What a privilege it is to hear of a man set free from the law of sin and death, having been given life and liberty in Jesus’ name!
 
The next Sunday, at the beginning of the service, Pastor Kennedy began to speak, obviously filled with emotion. He told us how he was shaken that he didn’t recognize that Jim had served the church all those years and yet, was not a Christian. He confirmed hearing the same story I had heard the week before, was happy that Jim had made a quality decision to follow Christ, and grateful the Lord had made things right. The congregation sat in stunned silence as Jim and the pastor asked for forgiveness. As one, we all stood. There was no doubt about our love for these two men. As Jesus said in the Word, “Rejoice, I have found my sheep!” We shared the pastor’s feeling of utter surprise; we welcomed Jim into the fold. Both were winners in our eyes! I recall the words of a chorus we used to sing: “Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there!” Indeed, Jim had run to the banner of the Lord, where love and peace abound.
 
It has been over twenty years since that day. Every so often I see Jim and it causes me to rejoice all over again. I remember speaking at a church near Toronto and telling  the same story I’ve just told you. I challenged the people there to search their hearts and if needed, to get right with the Lord. Two ladies came forward. They both confessed how they had been church goers all their lives but had never surrendered their lives to God. Jim’s story had convicted them – convinced them that Jesus was calling. They received Him into their hearts then and there.
 
Jim’s obedience led to the conversion of two precious ladies. Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Running to the Lord does. He never turns away those who genuinely seek Him. From that point on, as another chorus says, you can “Lift high the royal banner, lift high the Lord Jesus Christ.”
 

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