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Thursday, June 30, 2022

From the Valley of the Shadow of Death to We are the Champions - Purity 771


From the Valley of the Shadow of Death  to We are the Champions - Purity 771

Purity 771 06/30/2022 Purity 771 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a green pathway to a distant lake of blue comes to us from a friend’s recent trip to Thirteenth Lake in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York.  I love the way the pathway is a mix of sunlight and shadows under a canopy of trees and how it offers the promise of something good at the end of the tunnel.  

Well, It’s Thursday again and as is my custom I share a photo of a pathway to encourage my friends to keep going or to step onto the path of Christian Discipleship by making drawing close to God each day in Bible study, prayer, and by living according to His word, to the best of your abilities.  I say “to the best of your abilities” to indicate that a life of faith is not about perfection and that no matter where you are in your life as a Christian, God is right there with you and that He is encouraging you to keep going because when you walk and talk with Him on a continuous basis there is always more to see and experience along the way as we draw closer to Him and the purposes He has for us.  

I was going to say as “He draws you towards something good”, because after all He does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose, but just as this pathway has various portions that are in light and in shadows, I don’t want to set up the expectation that “good things” or “good times” are always to be found on the path when we walk with God.  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) says
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

to reflect the truth that things won’t always be sunny in the metaphorical “Philadelphia”, the city of brotherly love of Christianity.

The “valley of the shadow of death” could be used to describe a metaphorical period of darkness in one’s life as we could face various trials like disease, relationship turmoil, financial difficulties, or the difficulties of overcoming sin.    But that “valley of the shadow” of death could also describe times of “literal death” as in suffering through a period of grief as we prepare for the death of a loved one who is suffering or after the loved one has departed.   This dark phrase can also describe periods of mortal danger as Christians may be called to walk through a period of persecution where people will literally try to take their lives. And finally, the valley of the shadow of death could be used to describe walking through or fighting through  a war zone.   

I never want to be accused of painting too bright a picture of Christianity because our faith does not insulate us from pain, suffering, persecution, or danger.   Just because we are Christians, it doesn’t mean there won’t be “shadows” in our journey down the path of Christian discipleship.   

But no matter how dark the day is , when we are in Christ and we shape our lives to be lived according to God’s word and  are spent in His presence, there is always the light of hope to encourage us and to guide us.   There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is a good deal of light along the way, if we walk and talk with God.

In speaking of the valley of the shadow of death, the psalmist goes on to say:  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
4  … I will fear no evil;

And why is that exactly?

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

For You are with me;

In the Lord’s presence there is always light.  In His presence, we can find the courage to not fear evil and to endure and persevere through all the various trials of life, and when we walk through life’s, joys and, difficulties with the Lord we learn to be patient and seek His wisdom as we go.  

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) concludes by saying:
4   Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Bible scholars have described the Lord’s “rod” and “staff” as His guidance and His protection, as shepherds would use a rod to drive or correct their sheep’s direction and the staff would be used to pull a sheep out of trouble. When we walk with the Lord, no matter how dep the shadows may be, we are comforted by His constant guidance and protection.    

So when I talk about walking on the path of Christian Discipleship, I’m not talking about some magical tour of sun shiny days that will be free of trials or pain, but as I have received the continuous comfort of the Father’s presence, guidance, and protection in my journey down this narrow road, I can assure you that although I took the path least traveled through this post Christian landscape, it has made all the difference.

So keep walking and talking with God. Others may hate for it or not understand what has happened to you but Your Heavenly Father will guide, protect, and comfort you through the shadows and lead you in the way of His light.   

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 62:1 (NLT2)
1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Today’s Bible verse advises us where our victory come from. It comes from God and quietly waiting before Him. 

We are the champions, my friends….

I am a Queen fan. I’m certainly not a supporter of Freddy Mercury’s lifestyle choices and as I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar award winning film based on a portion of his life,  I was pained by how such a talented artist could be plagued by the sins of the flesh and the pride of life and how the freedom of fortune and fame doesn’t lead us to truth. 

But that song, We are the Champions, by Queen, is simply iconic of the thrill of victory and it transcends, time because it beautifully describes the human struggle and the joy of overcoming.  

I’m not as huge a sports fan as I used to be but I am a Indianapolis Colts fan.  When I was in high school and seeking to form my identity by the things I was “in to”, I didn’t really have a favorite a football team and resisted just going with the New York Teams because I was from New York State nor did I want to be a fan of a team just because my friends or family liked a team. In deciding a favorite football team, I wanted it to be “my team”.      

I had been partial to the Houston Oilers because of their limited success in the 70’s but as history can testify their Super Bowl dreams were never fulfilled and the small amount of criticism I received for being their fan when they missed their chance and began to fade into mediocrity caused me to disavow any loyalties to the Oilers.   I was a young man without a team and as these things matter to young men, or at least they did at the time in my circles, I felt I had to pick somebody!

It was 1986 and I saw a story on Inside the NFL about the Indianapolis Colts and how they were so bad that there was a possibility that they would have a winless season but in the last 3 weeks of the season the lowly Colts turned things around and won their last three games.  Being someone who didn’t have many friends, I could relate to another “loser” and when I saw that the Colts defied the odds, fought back, and won those last three “meaningless” games. That was enough for me. The Colts were my team from that moment forth and I declared myself to be a fan of theirs with absolutely no expectations of future success.    

For someone who wasn’t much of a fan of sports, it was the perfect choice. The Colts’ games were rarely seen on T.V. in my local market so I just would follow them in the newspapers and if they lost I didn’t have to see it.  

And the Colts did go on to have varying levels of success at times because of players like Eric Dickerson and Jim Harbaugh but they never made it to the Super Bowl and would have moments of greatness and success  followed by seasons of struggle.  

But then in 1998 the Colts drafted Peyton Manning and even though the Colts were 3-13, again, in his rookie season, they had increasing success until finally in the 2006 Season, Peyton Manning led the Colts to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory since 1971, the first and only one in my life time.  

So, you can be sure that “We are the Champions” was playing at my place, on repeat, back on February 6, 2007, on the evening of my team’s victory.  After choosing the Colts and waiting 21 years, my team had won!

As great as all that is, I share it not to point to Peyton Manning, the Colts, or even myself.   

I know now that God is sovereign. That means He is in control of shaping world history, that includes sports history.   So that year, the Lord allowed the Colts to win.  And even though I was a man with highly questionable faith at the time, I prayed for my teams success and the Lord was gracious enough to grant my and many other Colts fam’s request that day.    

All victory comes from God. All of it. Every outcome has His sovereign hands moving or allowing things to come into play. Ever see a “miraculous play”, I think we all have. That was God as much as it was the skill of the players.   Why do some balls get dropped? Why do some get plucked out of the air with one hand, off of helmets, off of feet, to be caught?  Gravity? Karma?  Not, God’s sovereign will makes the miraculous possible. He brings the victory in all things. 

But don’t curse God if your team is a loser okay?  

Because God offers all of mankind a place on His championship team.  Through faith in Jesus Christ God seeks to “draft you” to be a part of a franchise that will enjoy the victory that will make a Super Bowl victory seem like a Tee-Ball exhibition scrimmage. God freely offers all men the ability to know what victory really means. God seeks to make peace with us and rewards us with the victory over sin and death when we place our faith in Him. 

With these twin victories, over sin and death, God assures us of a good end and new beginning.   We are secure in His love and promised eternity in His presence for the ever after but we are also given the power to win a victory over besetting sins and the negative ministates, like fear, anger, depression, and anxiety, that come from a life separated from Him.  Through God gives us the victory and the new identity of a champion.  

When we receive the new life that Christ gives to us we can overcome impossible odds to accomplish what we never thought we could: a life defined by peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control.  

So become a part of God’s winning team by making Christ your Lord & savior.  And then quietly wait on Him to lead and guide you in the way you should go because His way is a victory tour that never ends.  

The Lord has a plan and purpose for your life. He gives you the victory the minute you come to Him and you are set on a path to experience more triumphs when you walk with Him.

______________________________________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Influence of the Powers on Society: Pagan Religion

Jewish writers ascribed the rise of all non-Jewish religions to the inspiration of evil powers. In discussing the influence of the powers on the rise of civilization after the flood, the book of Jubilees, a second-century B.C. writing, refers to the beginnings of idolatry. The inhabitants of Ur of the Chaldees “made for themselves molten images, and everyone worshiped the icon which they made for themselves as a molten image. And they began making graven images and polluted likenesses. And cruel spirits assisted them and led them astray so that they might commit sin and pollution. And the prince, Mastema, acted forcefully to do all of this” (Jubilees 11:4–5). Likewise, the apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch speaks of the demonic root of idolatry: “The spirits of the angels … have defiled the people and will lead them into error so that they will offer sacrifices to the demons as unto gods, until the great day of judgment in which they shall be judged till they are finished” (1 Enoch 19:1).

Although the Old Testament is not as explicit about the involvement of the evil powers in the origins of idolatry, it does affirm that sacrificing to idols is tantamount to sacrificing to demons (Deut 32:16–17). Such a sentiment is also known in the New Testament (Rev 9:20). Most important is the fact that this perspective about demonic involvement in pagan religion characterized the apostle Paul’s belief, which he in turn passed on to the Corinthian church (1 Cor 10:19–21).

Many streams of Judaism also believed occultic practices were the work of the devil and his powers. According to 1 Enoch, the fallen angels taught people magic, incantations, alchemy and astrology (1 Enoch 7–8; see also Jubilees 11:1–8).

The Influence of the Powers on Society: Warfare and the State

Even civil unrest among the nations and their hostility toward Israel is attributed to the devious work of the evil powers. The book of Jubilees ascribes a murderous tendency in people to the influence of the forces of Mastema, an evil angel corresponding to Satan: “And [Mastema] sent out other spirits to those who were set under his hand to practice all error and sin and all transgression, to destroy, to cause to perish and to pour out blood upon the earth” (11:5). All the weaponry of warfare was also inspired by fallen angels: “And Azaz’el taught the people the art of making swords and knives, and shields, and breastplates” (1 Enoch 8:1).

Egypt’s hostility to Israel, and especially to Moses, is interpreted by the book of Jubilees as stemming from the supernatural opposition of the evil Mastema. It was actually Mastema who used the Egyptian Pharaoh in an attempt to kill Moses; it was also Mastema who enabled the Egyptian magicians to perform the great wonders in opposition to Moses; furthermore, it was Mastema who exerted his evil-inspiring influence on the Egyptians to pursue Israel into the sea (Jubilees 48).

As we have already seen, the Jewish community, which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, gives a similar prominence to the demonic in their understanding of society. According to the Qumran War Scroll (1QM), it is Satan and his powers who are behind the Roman usurpers: “All those [who are ready] for battle shall march out and shall pitch their camp before the king of the Kittim [Romans] and before all the host of Satan gathered about him for the Day [of Revenge] by the Sword of God” (1QM 15.2–3).

The demonic, therefore, had a major role in a popular Jewish understanding of society during the time leading up to the New Testament period. Any early Jewish theory of social justice would have given a prominent place to the spiritual and supernatural dimension of life. In the eyes of the writer of the book of Jubilees, justice and freedom from oppression would have been impossible to obtain for Israel without addressing the powerful demonic hostility of Mastema. The people of Israel were freed from their formidable conditions because Yahweh worked through his servant Moses to redeem them as part of his larger plan for his people. The Qumran community was anticipating the direct intervention of “the mighty hand of God” to deal an everlasting blow to “Satan and all the host of his kingdom.”[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 69–71.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

With Friends Like These - The Right to be Wrong - Purity 770


With Friends Like These -  The Right to be Wrong - Purity 770

Purity 770 06/29/2022 Purity 770 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of blue skies filled with cumulus clouds over a field of green comes to us from yours truly as I was taken by the simple magnificent beauty that was on display yesterday afternoon while I was travelling for work in the Speigletown area of Upstate New York.  

Well it’s Wednesday and I actually had a photo of a mountain peak that I was going to share to visually represent our arrival at “hump day” but I couldn’t easily recall what the location or the source of the photo was so rather than running the risk of offending the unknown photographer, I decided to go with one of my own because I really believe that yesterday was a beautiful day and I knew for certain I wouldn’t offend myself.  

If you didn’t notice lately the overturning of Roe v. Wade, has caused many to voice their opinions on the decision with some rejoicing over the potential to protect the lives of the unborn and with others voicing their outrage, anger, and fears over this potential loss of a woman’s access to abortion on demand.   As we draw near to the celebration of our nation’s independence, many are exercising their right to free speech and are not shy in voicing their opinion in a manner that seems to make it clear that they don’t care who they offend. 

Now before you unfriend me, goodbye old friends, frankly I’m surprised I lasted this long, my intention is not to offend but to seek bring peace and to encourage my friends to recognize the world system and how it deceives us.        

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would wonder about how or why in the last few years there has seems to be a real “wagging of the dog” in our society as the media continually reports on issues that seem to further divide our society.  Right? Man, we are just so divided, lately? Right? 

Lately? I don’t think so. As far as I can recall, we have always been divided. 

Is our division now worse than it has ever been?   No, not really.  

I was born in 1972 and grew up in the 80’s and as I far as I can recall, the issue of abortion has always been divisive and no matter which way the winds of change blow to change the laws of our land, it will always be divisive.  No matter which side you are on of this issue, your posts, on both sides, especially the snarky or insulting ones, will most likely not change people’s minds. 

For those applauding the decision, congratulations, but before you get too excited just know that many states, corporations, and systems within our federal government will be operating in the same ways they were prior to the overruling of Roe V. Wade, with some agencies even making the offer of transporting persons across state lines, if necessary, to ensure their right to abortion.

For those lamenting of or who are up in arms over the decision, see the  above. Due to the policies of certain states and the championing of this cause of abortion on demand by some, it appears to that the only loss of the “right of abortion” is possibly the loss of convenience.  

The simple truth is that is that “where there is a will there is a way” and if you are not happy with the way things are now, just wait and things will change and if the current trends continue ,the media will one day point to 2022 as the “good old days” as things are always getting worse.   

The thing that shocks me the most is the wide variety of stances that I have seen my friends take in voicing in their opinion over this issue and how in many instances there seems to be an inconsistency in their logic or morality. I have repeatedly been surprised over the testimonies of some of my friends that would lead me to think they would argue for one side of this issue only to discover they are on “the other side”.   Of course, I guess I am only shocked because I have a different view from theirs.  

As someone who has dear friends on both sides of this issue, I wish we could all “just get along”, and we can, as in operating civilly in society, we can, right guys?, but I realize that we will all be divided ultimately and it won’t be the opinions of the supreme court, the president, or your “frien-emies” on Facebook by which you will be deemed as righteous. I want us all to have peace but we will only know peace if we have peace with God.      

As the Creator of the Universe, God will determine the “rights” and “wrongs” of His creation. And even though He has given man the free will to choose what they will think and do, they are not free from the consequences of those thoughts and actions.  And when He calls each one of us into eternity, we will have to judged by His standards and principles reveal in the word of God.  

Hey, brother I was just a sinner saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, I’m not here to judge you because that’s not my job but I would have to echo the concerns of the thief who was crucified on the cross next to Jesus who said: 

Luke 23:40-41 (NKJV)
40  …., "Do you not even fear God…”

While I know that with free will, and regardless of federal, state, or local laws,  “I can do that” but shouldn’t we think about whether or not “I should do that”.   While many will argue that this is only an issue of choice, should we encourage people to make a choice that not only takes away one’s right to live but usually encumbers the chooser with the heart guilt that comes from violating God’s standards?

No choice is morally neutral in God’s eyes and when we go against His will, we suffer. The good news is that God offers forgiveness through Christ but He also calls us to repent of the world’s way and to live according to His word.  

Often with this issue extreme situations are always brought forth to complicate it but in the end we will need to have peace with God and no extenuating circumstances ever excuses the violation of His law.  While man argues for their rights, they usually forsake their responsibilities to obey the Lord.

I can see both sides of this issue and it pains my heart to consider  the sick world broken by sin that we live in that would cause this to be something that is argued over.  

The preponderance of evidence drawn from scripture would indicate that abortion is murder and thus sin. It is something we shouldn’t do. Also the fornication, incest, and rape that would result in the “need for an abortion” is also a sin.   So let’s push for obeying the Lord and our personal responsibility, and maybe it won’t be an issue.  

But alas, that’s not what the word of God indicates will happen, we are not going to fix the world’s problems because it is broken by sin. But one day Jesus will return and set all things right and He undoubtedly won’t be looking to make sure we have the right to do something that is against His Father’s word.   

It’s is through Christ alone that we are saved and made righteous. It is through Him that we are forgiven, given new life, and have peace with God.

As Christians, we are adopted into God’s family and I can tell you that adoption has worked wonders for my life.  

In the days ahead, let’s seek to make peace but also agree to consider the law of the Lord rather than the opinions of men. And let’s seek to love our enemies and forgive them for they know not what they do because they are spiritually blinded. They can’t see that the right they wish to uphold is wrong, but God gave them the free will to choose it. 

Instead of being offended, offer your friendship and seek to share God’s love and wisdom.   Hey no one said walking and talking with God would be easy, but it’s path that leads to life everlasting and eternal glory in God’s presence, so let’s be patient, faithful, and kind in the hopes that we can lead others into the light and have the peace that goes beyond all understanding.

 

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 4:18 (NKJV)
18  But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

Today’s Bible verse speaks the progressive nature of our faith. 

Our future is so bright that we have to wear shades was a sentiment share in an old song from my youth, and today’s verse speaks of the fact that our walk with the Lord should be one of increasing illumination to His truth and to our personal sanctification.  

The more we walk with the Lord, the more we should know and live out His truth. We aren’t what we want to be yet but we sure aren’t who we were, right?  

This verse also points to the “perfect day” when we will be glorified in the presence of the Lord.  That’s good news! No matter how daunting our progress here on earth may be at times, we are assured that one day we will “make it”.  The perfect day is coming so keep walking and talking with God because, man, our future is so bright we should probably wear shades but we can also enjoy the progress where things get brighter along the way.

______________________________________________________________________

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Influence of the Powers on Individuals

Inimical to the purposes of God, the evil powers were believed to exert their supernatural influence to lead people astray from the revealed will of God. They lead people into all kinds of moral impurity. This is one of the reasons that the Qumran community could refer to this evil dominion as “the company of Darkness.” Note how the Qumran War Scroll describes this activity of Satan and his powers:

Satan, the Angel of Malevolence, Thou hast created for the Pit; his [rule] is in Darkness and his purpose is to bring about wickedness and iniquity. All the spirits of his company, the Angels of Destruction, walk according to the precepts of Darkness; towards them is their [inclination]. (1QM 13.11–12)

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs elaborate extensively on this activity of the powers of darkness and are important for giving us an understanding of Jewish belief. The Testaments, dating roughly back to the first or second century B.C., purportedly record the final utterances of each of Jacob’s twelve sons. The Testaments are largely concerned with ethical issues and attempt to promote virtuous conduct among the Jewish readership. The Testaments paint a picture of common Jewish thinking about the way evil spirits influence people in their daily lives. For this reason, they are especially valuable for understanding Paul’s discussion of evil spirits.

According to the Testaments, every individual must personally struggle against evil spirits of deceit, who are ruled by the devil, or Beliar. They exploit human drives and frailties to promote their evil ends.

Sexual promiscuity, in particular, is pinpointed as one of the areas of sinful activity instigated by evil spirits. In the Testament of Reuben, sexual sin is called “the plague of Beliar” and is inspired by a “spirit of promiscuity (porneia) that resides in the nature and the senses” (Testament of Reuben 6:3; 3:3). The Testament does not give the devil and his powers full responsibility for human lapses into sexual trysts; the involvement of the human mind and senses is given an equal role. In reflecting on Reuben’s incestuous sin with his father’s mistress, Bilhah (cf. Gen 35:22), the Testament places more emphasis on Reuben’s own lust and mental titillation: “For if I had not seen Bilhah bathing in a sheltered place, I would not have fallen into this great lawless act. For so absorbed were my senses by her naked femininity that I was not able to sleep until I had performed this revolting act” (3:11–12). Based on his regrettable experience, Reuben’s advice to his offspring focuses on disciplining their minds: “Do not devote your attention to the beauty of women, my children, nor occupy your minds with their activities. But live in integrity of heart in the fear of the Lord … until the Lord gives you the mate whom he wills, so that you do not suffer as I did” (4:1). Nevertheless, in continuing to reflect on what he had learned from the event, he points to the devil’s involvement: “For promiscuity has destroyed many. Whether a man is old, well born, rich, or poor, he brings on himself disgrace among mankind and provides Beliar with an opportunity to cause him to stumble” (4:7).

The evil spirits of error also take advantage of the debase human tendency toward jealousy. The Testament of Simeon reflects on Simeon’s role in the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers (Gen 37:12–36). Simeon relates how a powerful evil spirit exploited his jealousy toward Joseph:

In the time of my youth I was jealous of Joseph, because my father loved him more than all the rest of us. I determined inwardly to destroy him, because the Prince (arch┼Źn) of Error blinded my mind so that I did not consider him as a brother nor did I spare Jacob, my father. (Testament of Simeon 2:6–7)

Simeon thus advises his children to “beware of the spirit of deceit and envy” (3:1). If the influence of such a spirit is detected, one must turn to the Lord. Simeon counsels, “If anyone flees to the Lord for refuge, the evil spirit will quickly depart from him, and his mind will be eased” (3:5). Simeon holds Joseph up as a positive example. Joseph was able to love his brothers, in spite of their treachery toward him, because he possessed the Spirit of God” (4:4).

These two examples help us gain insight into what Jews in the first century believed to be true regarding the role of evil spirits in the affairs of daily life, especially with respect to personal morality. Some of the thoughts on evil spirits contained in these Testaments are also reflected in the apostle Paul’s writings.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 67–69.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769


Instinct, Reactivity and Responding – Freedom in Christ - Purity 769

Purity 769 06/28/2022 Purity 769 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of farmland and  my canine companion, Harley, thrusting his head into some roadside weeds underneath pleasant blue skies comes to us from your truly as I captured this random photo somewhere along Waite Road back on May 29th.  

The power lines in the background that obscure the simplicity of this pastural scene and the fact of my doggie friend’s head is in a bunch of weeds would usually relegate a photo like this to the trash.  But apparently I take more photos than I look at and this photo remained on my phone for the last month and it is oddly appropriate for what’s on my mind this morning.  

My friend, Harley, follows his nose. Although he has learned to respond to some basic commands, he is still mostly pure instinct.  Here his nose causes him to thrust his head into some road side weeds possibly smelling the remnants of the sent of a rabbit, another animal’s spray or waste, or something dead, all of which seem to be a dog’s nose’s bread and butter. As much as I think at times that Harley is a “good dog” who listens, sometimes his instincts kicks in and causes him to behave in ways I wish he wouldn’t.

The Best example of this is when I began trusting him off his leash to allow him to run free in those farmland fields unencumbered as he on several instances would run at top speeds with the unadulterated joys of freedom and would make his way back to me without incident. But then on Easter Sunday, his instincts got the best of him.  While “running free” Harley discovered the delightful scents of cow manure and out of his pure joy and instincts, he inexplicably rolled around in said manure, putting me and him in the dog house of disappointment when his new scent was discovered back at the house. 

I could imagine me asking: “Why did you do it boy?” and his silent unblinking response as if to say: “What did you expect? I’m a dog.”   As if to paraphrase a line from the movie Animal House, which I will edit, “You “messed” up. You trusted us.”   

But he’s a dog. Right? Surely humans should know better and learn from their mistakes and not just blindly react to situations in the ways they have in the past, especially when they have had a measure of success in overcoming their old patterns of behavior.  

OOF, I wish I could say it wasn’t so.  I don’t have to look far, maybe only as far as the nearest mirror, to be able to testify of the difficulty of changing the ways we behave.   “Relapse is part of recovery” is a phrase because of this tendency to react rather than respond and to go back to old thought and behavior patterns when we are not diligent in renewing our minds with the word of God.   

Recently, I was disappointed to hear of a teen who had success in overcoming symptoms of depression, thoughts of suicide, and acts of self-harm had an emotional relapse and reverted to an act of self-harm, cutting themselves. Their parent was dumbfounded because they had been doing so well, having successfully gone through a teen mental health treatment program and been removed from the bullying elements that had caused much of their problems.    

However, this teen, who apparently only moments before been happy and interacting with their family, went to their room overwhelmed with emotions and shortly after emerged distraught with bleeding wounds.  I don’t know the details but the trigger to this outburst was a text message that they had received from someone from their past. So one warped individual with no compassion or empathy decided to reach out and touch someone, and intentionally or not, caused this teen to be dragged back into depression, thoughts of suicide, and an act of self-harm.

It's very easy to place blame here: the texter is obviously at fault here but without knowing the content or context of the message we can only speculate and assume that it was a negative message of derision. But to be honest, with text especially, the message received may be different from the message sent especially when emotions are involved. Communication can be a subtle thing. “I know what you meant” “I didn’t mean THAT!”

Because of the complexity of human emotions and the difficulties of communication the possibilities for an event that would precipitate an emotional reaction and an unwise decision are endless.     

As I considered this situation, I was obviously angered by the texter but as I contemplated the responses of this teen’s support group, I was a little dumbfounded by how there seemed to be little consideration of the relapsed teen’s personal responsibility in the way they chose to react to the text. 

I can only assume that somewhere along the lines in this teen’s previous mental health treatment that they were given instruction or encouragement to talk to someone when they were having problems.  They were surrounded by family. SO why didn’t they go to someone? Why didn’t they show someone the text? Why didn’t they tell someone what was going on in their life? Why didn’t they stop themselves when they had thoughts to hurt themselves?     

And then I thought about it.  We only learn what we choose to learn.  We only do what is required. To get out of a mental health hospitalization, all you have to do is demonstrate that you are no longer a danger to yourself or others.  You have to demonstrate through your affect, you mood, that you have stabilized and can verbally express your intention not to harm yourself or others, verbally, and agree to seek help if you are in crisis.   That’s it really.  

The hospital and mental health systems don’t exist to imprison people and they can not read the thoughts and intentions of the people they treat. Unfortunately, most of modern psychology has an atheistic world view and the relativistic morality that it brings paints the world in shades of gray and is hesitant to instruct clients with the wisdom of good and evil and the basic tenants of problem solving.  

While the world and all that is in it, including malicious texters, is a big problem, it isn’t the problem we should try to resolve.   The problem in mental health is in self perception and the way we interact with the world.  A Christian worldview would insist on each of our personal responsibility for the things we say, think, and do and how that lines up with the very black and white moral principles that God establishes in His word. 

Our guilt feelings, depression, and low view of ourselves may be a result of the fact that we are living independently from God and have ignored all of His wisdom and have instead decided to live by the world’s “dog eat dog, it’s a jungle out there, “I’ll do what I want” mentality.  

In this instance, whatever was sent in the text and whatever it said about the teen who received it, whether it was based on facts regarding the teen’s appearance, behaviors, or past,  wouldn’t overrule what God says about that teen.   The “Who I am in Christ list (https://www.mt4christ.org/2022/06/celebrating-life-and-freedom-purity-766.html) which I shared recently and am sharing a link to the post in which I shared it, spells out what God thinks about us when we are in Christ.  In Christ, we are accepted, significant, and secure.    

If this teen knew this, they disregard the opinions of men.  They disregard the opinion of some teasing adolescent bully who undoubtedly has some unresolved issues in their life if they feel the need to build themselves up by tearing someone else down.    

So as much as the world sucks, and as much as people can suck, it is up to us to know that it is not the world that defines us.

Of course, this all presupposes some knowledge of, and faith in, Jesus Christ.   

While we can use cognitive therapy from the world to develop better strategies to employ when we face triggers.  Those strategies won’t set you free. The world’s positive affirmations are usual pretty general and won’t give you any authority to based your positive affirmations on other than man’s logic which can so easily be derailed in a world that is quite often irrational and chaotic.  

So with out peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, there is only so much you can do: thus relapse is a part of recovery.  This seemingly contradictory statement is accepted wholesale in the world because: What did you expect? You messed up. You trusted us.    

Without Christ, we are in bondage to sin, we are separated from God, and all those good things that the “Who I am in Christ” list says about us, isn’t true for those without Christ, and they don’t have the authority of the maker of the universe to tell them that they are loved, significant, secure, or accepted.   

Christ gives us the forgiveness of sins and life eternal but He also gives us the power to overcome. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ in us, we can say no to sin. With the word of God, we can renew our mind to change our thoughts and emotions. And we can stand on the authority of the maker of all things, to know the truth and to see it grow in our lives.

So, stop acting on instinct, stop reacting, and start responding by seeking the Lord and His ways for our lives.   Step 1 is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ by making Christ our Lord and Savior. Step 2 is to surrender to the truth of who you are in Christ. Step 3 is to start living according to who you are in Christ and by the wisdom of God’s word.  

While we may run off from time to time and make a mess of ourselves, when we are in Christ we know always have a home and we always have peace with our Master. And we start obeying Our Master by believing what He says about us and by doing what He would have us do, we can have one dog-gone good life in the peace of His presence.

 

 

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Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT2)
18  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of receiving spiritual sight and the process of sanctification.

Here the Apostle Paul describes our new life in Christ, our transformation.   We see the truth of God and then we become more and more like Him. 

It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress and the more we seek to see and reflect the Lord’s glory we become more and more like Him.    

Our faith was never supposed to be spent sitting idly in worship services remaining more or less unchanged.  Our faith is process of change, a process of transformation that brings us closer and closer to God until we reflect His goodness, His character, and His glory.  

 

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Angelic Fall

In the Jewish literature of this period one of the most prominent themes was the belief that demons came into the world as a result of unnatural sexual relations between angels and human beings. This belief is based on an interpretation of Genesis 6:1–2 and 4, which says:

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.… The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.

Many Jewish writers interpreted the reference to “sons of God” as angels (called “Watchers”), who rebelled against God. The disastrous consequence of this unnatural union resulted in the birth of the Nephilim, the source of demons and evil spirits. The Jewish apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch spends thirty-one chapters elaborating on this fall (1 Enoch 6–36). According to this account, after the physical beauty of women on earth erotically tantalized some 200 angels, led by a certain Semyaz, the angels made a joint decision to violate their divinely given boundaries by engaging in sexual activity with the women. While they were occupying the earth, they taught people many evil arts, including alchemy, astrology, incantations and warfare. The women, made pregnant by these supernatural beings, gave birth to freakish giants. These giants committed numerous atrocities, yet their deaths did not prove to be the end of rampant evil—demons came from them:

But now the giants who are born from the union of the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies.… The spirits of the giants oppress each other; they will corrupt, fall, be excited, and fall upon the earth, and cause sorrow. They eat no food, nor become thirsty, nor find obstacles. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of the people and against the women, because they have proceeded forth from them. (1 Enoch 15:8–12)

It was believed these evil spirits, which issued from the giants, would continue to corrupt humanity until the end of the age when God would put an end to their hostility and judge them. In Jewish literature this rebellion is referred to many times as responsible for the presence of demons. Meanwhile, the good angels, Raphael and Michael, have bound those angels who were guilty of this crime against women under the earth, where they will remain until the judgment (1 Enoch 10:1–14; cf. Jude 6; 1 Pet 3:19–20; 2 Pet 2:4).

We may wonder about the time before this rebellion, especially in view of the Genesis account of the serpent’s temptation of Eve. Was there some prior angelic rebellion in Jewish belief? It is clear that the same Jewish literature speaks of the existence and malignant workings of evil angels prior to the Fall. There is virtually no discussion, however, about how or when Satan and his angelic cohorts came on the scene. This literature refers to a major figurehead of evil called “Satan,” the leader of a group of angels also referred to as “Satans.” These Satans accuse people and lead them astray. Interestingly, according to 1 Enoch, it was one of these Satanic messengers, named Gader’el, who misled Eve in the garden (1 Enoch 69:6). The Jews must have assumed true some kind of pre-Adam fall in order to explain the evil character and function of this Satan and his hostile messengers (see 1 Enoch 40:7; 53:3; 54:6).

Classes and Names

Asmodaeus, Semyaza, Azazel, Mastema, Beliar, Satan, Sammael and Satanail are just a few of the names used to refer to the evil angelic powers current in Judaism by the time of Paul. While there is a certain amount of diversity regarding the specific functions of each of these powers, there is a fairly common belief in Satan as the chief. These powers of evil are represented as each having a significant measure of authority within the structured hierarchy. For example, Semyaza is identified as the chief of those angels who cohabited with women. Of the 200 angels who came to earth with him, they were divided into groups of ten, with a prince, such as Arakeb, Rame’el and Tam’el, set over each.

A similar concern to name the evil angels and classify them according to their function was typical of much of this Jewish literature. Equally prominent is the arrangement and naming of the good angels surrounding the throne of God.

In the years following the New Testament era this fascination with the spirit realm did not diminish. There are frequent references to evil angels and spirits in the rabbinic literature. Far more evil spirits are identified and described. In fact, one scholar has counted 123 different demons identified by name in the rabbinic literature![1]

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Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

 



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 65–67.